Emotional Intelligence | Stevehein.com
17 as of April 2005
This image was on Sarah's MSN one day. I asked
her what it was about.
She said, "It's symbolic. I'm a prisoner in my own life."
The first email she sent
A paper Sarah wrote on teenagers and depression
An email to me about fears & school
What Sarah said about Rob Emmerling
My name is Sarah, I'm 16, and I live in London. I just wanted to let you know that I love your website, and i quote it a LOT when I'm explaining things to people who dont understand SI or self-harm. It has helped me to understand my own motivations too. People's ignorance on these subjects and people's inability to listen to each other infuriate me sometimes (I'm a self-harmer). I do think that evreybody should read a site like yours, i have yet to read your book but im trying to get my hands on a copy here in the UK.
Anyway, I wrote an article about teenage depression in the UK for a class assignment and I quoted your website, and now a couple of people would like to publish it, in very small local magazines and newsletters, but I havent been able to say yes to anyone because i felt it was unfair to do so without getting your permission first. I dont want to be in breach of copyright either. So, I have attached the article for you to read. Would you mind if it was published? Your name is credited, of course. If you say no, I promise I will edit out that quote.
Hope to hear from you soon, though i realise you must get a lot of emails.
Societys role in a national health crisis
Anxious, anti-social and depressed. The teenage mind has proved elusive to outsiders for as long as adolescence has been accepted as a stage in life. Eating disorders, drugs, self-injury, drinking and even suicide have all seen shocking rises in teenagers in recent years. But while these problems are slowly beginning to be taken seriously, is society really any closer to meeting the needs of adolescents? Does anyone really understand why?
The statistics suggest not. One in ten British teenagers are affected by depression. Nearly half of British 15-year-olds have tried illegal drugs and nearly a quarter are regular cigarette smokers. In the UK, more than 24,000 teenagers are admitted to hospital each year after deliberately harming themselves and around 5% of young girls are estimated to have Anorexia. But perhaps most shocking of all, more people now die a year from suicide than in all the worlds armed conflicts combined. Most of these disorders and behaviors have been related to "trigger-events"- times of intense stress or pressure, often which causes a large amount of emotional strain. It could be parents getting divorced, the experience of puberty, or even, exam pressure.
But these actions are still widely misunderstood. Most adults and many adolescents themselves when faced with a depressed or suicidal teenager will attribute it to just their hormones. Similarly, 41% of people believe self-harm is selfish, and many people consider that self-harm and suicide are just to get attention. Steve Hein, author of Emotional Quotient for Everybody says, This shows how little they really understand how the teen is feeling and what his or her needs are. To tell someone that they "just" want attention, or they "just" want any one thing, assumes that you know their motives better than they do When a person is told their motivation for doing something is "just" this or "just" that, they feel misunderstood and over-simplified. Teens who are told they are "just going through a phase" feel insulted and offended as well as judged and not understood. Weve all heard an adolescent say nobody understands me but this is rarely, if ever, taken seriously, and so the suicide rates continue to rise.
The social pressures put on young people today are much stronger than in the past, particularly pressure to succeed, in school, in exams, in a career. Parents put pressure on their children from a young age to do well, and often they are punished when they dont. Then theres the increasing problem of bullying. Emotional abuse from peers can destroy a young person's self-esteem. Emphasis from parents needs to be placed on self-worth, and an innate sense of beauty regardless of physical appearance. Emotional and physical abuse by parents is known to have a huge effect, but many underestimate the effect of communication problems in families. Young self-injurers, for example, frequently have divorced parents and as many as 90% grew up in homes where communication between parents and child was lacking and where messy problems were ignored, avoided and ultimately left in silence.But these communication problems dont stop at home. The stigma surrounding emotions in society today and pressure to hide negative emotions and put on a brave face constantly is causing huge psychological harm to young people and adults alike. People simply dont discuss their problems; they want to avoid bringing other people down, or appearing weak or attention-seeking. And when they do talk about it, nobody knows how to deal with it. Teenagers dont need to be told why they shouldnt feel the way they do, this only invalidates their feelings and badly injures their self-esteem. But when we accept the way people feel, they wont feel like they have to defend themselves or convince us, and we can help them try to understand why they are feeling that way. And once we understand WHY people feel like they do, then something can be done.
An email to me about school-related fears
Ok so, the reason ive been upset, in a nutshell:
The last couple of days I've started to become very anxious about going back to school on Monday. Particularly because i have to do a Spanish speaking exam soon and i am completely terrified that I will fail and have absoloutely no confidence about it at all, which is very frightening. Also, I have 2 English teachers, one of whom I really like, and the other I despise. Im not 100% sure why- partly because I am sensitive and partly because he is critical and moody and has in the past shouted or raised his voice at me- but i feel completely intimidated by him and very frightened of him.
I had to try and redraft some coursework for this particular teacher today and I couldnt help getting very anxious. I find being in his class and doing schoolwork for him really hard to cope with. In class, I'm afraid that he will get angry at me, and when im doing work for him I feel as though no matter what I write, it wont be good enough for him and that makes me feel awful. But, i think its just me being sensitive, and i wish i could just... accept it and not care what he thinks.
Anyway... seeing as how you like "feeling words" a lot here are some for you.
I feel: anxious, afraid, overwhelmed, stressed, upset, panicky, distressed, insignificant, trapped, frustrated.
Ill be okay I just need to try and calm myself down and get on with it.
Hope you are alright. hug.
What Sarah said about Rob Emmerling
In one of our chats I asked Sarah if she had read my new items. She said "you mean about Rob whatever his name is?" I said yes. She said, "Yeah, I read it." I asked her what she thought. She said, "I think he is an asshole." (See Rob Emmerling page)