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Straight Talk: Moving on can be hard

By: Lauren Forcella
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Dear Straight Talk: Six months ago, my younger sister was rejected by her boyfriend for another girl. She’s still not over it. She lies around sad and depressed and hardly leaves our room except to go to school reluctantly. She’s also seriously neglecting her personal hygiene and often doesn’t bother to get dressed on weekends. Most people (including me) experience rejection at some point, but they get over it.  I’ve told her she isn’t going to find a new boyfriend by lying around in our room and I’ve invited her many times to come out with me but she just gets mad that I’m not sympathetic. I love and care about her. How can I help her? ~ Miriam, Sacramento Katelyn, 16, Huntington Beach: I’m still recovering from something similar. The boy who used to like me completely shunned me, took up a new girlfriend and blocked me on Facebook. I know it’s a self-esteem issue, but I still miss him occasionally. I cope by talking to supportive friends. If your sister doesn’t come out of it, talk to your parents about therapy. Katrina, 18, Tulsa, Okla.: I was very sad and depressed over a tough breakup recently, but decided I wasn’t going to let him control me that way; I was worth more than that. I dated some old friends, just movies and dinner. It was great and I remembered how you’re supposed to be treated. I started making new friends and I now have an amazing new boyfriend! He buys me flowers, takes me on dates, and is very kind. There are other fish in the sea. Anjanette, 17, Safford, Ariz.: I’ve been through two heartbreaks. My first real relationship ended because I moved long-distance and would never see him again. I was devastated. I never went out, didn’t eat, cried over everything, and smoked to not feel anything. Eventually I made friends at my new school and they kept my mind off things. Brie, 19, Santa Barbara: I went through two bad breakups recently. One was with my off-and-on boyfriend from grade school. After crying myself to sleep a few nights, I decided I wasn’t going to let a guy run my life. The other was my first college relationship and I thought we would stay together. But he broke up with me abruptly by text. I’m still not over him. But I’ve been focusing on work, school, and making my life the best I can. I know it’s shallow, but a mild hookup can boost your self-esteem by showing you you’re still attractive to other people. I cope by avoiding the person and deleting him from my phone and social networks. This makes it harder to contact him in a moment of weakness. The longer you go without talking to him, the easier it gets. Maureen, 18, Redding: If she feels you aren’t being sympathetic, get a chick flick and a carton of ice cream and tell her she can whine all she wants for that night only. Then she has to start building herself back up. Don’t stop inviting her places — and insist she come along to make YOU happy. Make sure she knows you are always there for her and that you’ll help her find a counselor. Dear Miriam: Six months is too long. Combined with the drop in hygiene, this is a red flag warning. Your sister’s behavior has moved beyond situational depression into something more serious. Share your concerns with your parents and press them to get her into counseling. If they don’t step up, alert the school counselor that your sister is depressed and at-risk (because, honestly, she is). Your sister needs counseling, so hounding the right people (including her) until she gets it is your best move.  For more discussion, to ask a question, or inquire about being a youth panelist, visit http://www.straighttalkforteens.com or write POB 963 Fair Oaks, CA 95628. More from Lauren Forcella The personal experiences and ideas that the panel shares about bouncing back after a breakup are honest and inspirational. I hope they help others. When someone doesn’t bounce back within a couple of months, and especially if he or she shows signs of unraveling in other aspects of life (hygiene, grades, social life, drug use, sleep, etc.), the best way to help is to press the person into counseling (which generally involves pressing the important adults in his or her life to help make it happen). It’s been proven that in ten counseling sessions or less, almost every at-risk adolescent regains footing and returns to stability. We did a column about one such counseling study in our column of May 9, 2007 (see our website archives). Counseling works. And the earlier it is received, the better. If it isn’t working, find a different counselor. Ask for recommendations to counselors from people in the know, such as your high school counselor (who normally is too busy to manage regular clients). —Lauren