Category Archives: Family Voice

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Proud To Be A Nerd

June 4th, 2013


Nerd, geek, dork, dweeb, poindexter; words that used to have a nasty sting to them in the fifties and sixties have now either become a badge of honor or disappeared altogether. The nerds of the olden days have persevered, giving the nerds of today an intrinsic value to society; no small feat considering the social stigmas back then. But this isn’t about the pioneers, this is about us.

Ever since the day I entered kindergarten, I have always expressed nerdy attributes. I was one of the smartest in the class, unathletic, asthmatic, and collected things. Elementary school was where I really started to shine, and then middle school happened. I am wholly convinced that middle school has the most persistent and extreme cases of bullying, and ours was no exception. In my case, the bullies were everyone. Everyone in my middle school class were just nasty to everyone else. The popular kids targeted each other, as well as the unpopular ones. Thankfully, I happened to have a thick skin when I entered middle school, so I just laughed off the attempts at lowering my self-worth.

High school, on the other hand, was and is the best thing that ever happened to me. It was here that I finally embraced myself. I learned new things that I found fun, even though they made me even more of a nerd, things like Magic the Gathering and chess. I also made some of the best friends I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. I’ve started writing and doing math in my head just to pass the time! I’ve even embraced my love for videogames and videogame theory, and I hope one day to make one of my own.

Enough with my story, now I think I’ll give some advice to some fellow nerds struggling with their lives. Firstly, accept yourself. There is absolute truth to the saying “You are your own worst enemy”, and once you are comfortable with yourself, no one can stop you. Second, accept yourself. I can’t stress enough how important this is. This is critical, and will help you not only though middle school and high school, but through all of life. Third, work on your sense of humor. This helps not only to laugh other people off, but also to get in people’s good graces. Finally, be passionate about something. Whether it is books, anime, videogames, or anything else, try to make your own.

— Mike, a youth

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February 5th, 2013

Depression has been my constant companion for as long as I can remember. There in the background even before I knew its name. Sometimes it is very small, just a slight nudge that you can ignore. Sometimes it is full blown, wanting me to just shut down the world around me.

It is a constant struggle to keep depression in the background. Get up each day, go through the motions. Make a list; check off what has been done. Do not focus on what has not, focus on what has. Elusive happiness.

When will it be in the forefront? Existing each day is not enough.  Happiness has visited before. It will come again. Treasure the happy moments. The smile, moment of laughter, hug of a loved one.

Believe in yourself.  Believe that it will get better. Hope is the key.


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Understanding Bipolar

December 2nd, 2012

My daughter began getting into trouble in the seventh grade. She had gotten into three fights within a two-day period. The police knocked at my door to tell me my daughter had to go to court for disrupting the school assembly. At court, I refused to allow the school to file a CHINS (Child in Need of Services) petition on my daughter. After hearing about her behavior, the court ordered an evaluation.

After the court-appointed social worker came out and did the assessment, she suggested I take my daughter to see a therapist and a psychiatrist. My daughter refused to talk to the therapist, but we kept going anyway. I took her to see the psychiatrist who, in a matter of 15 minutes, said she has bipolar and gave us a prescription.

I got home, looked at the prescription and threw it on the dresser. I refused to give it to my daughter. I had no idea what bipolar was, nor did I know anything about the prescription I was given.

As time went on, my daughter was still getting into trouble in school. I knew I was going to have to figure something out, and fast. I began reading about bipolar disorder on my own. I saw the similarities between what was being described and how my daughter was acting. Once I understood bipolar, I felt more comfortable with the psychiatrist’s diagnosis and we began treatment.

—Chantell, Parent of five children

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October 4th, 2012

When your first-born child is diagnosed with a disorder as a toddler, it is life altering.  The thoughts and dreams you have had for years about being a parent are completely changed.  Challenges you never thought you would be faced with are now very much in your face. Almost three years later, a second little one is added to your family and the sibling has her own challenges. The little sister’s attitude, determination and moodiness do not mix well with the first-born son’s diagnosis.

Sibling rivalries are normal, but try sprinkling in the dynamics of this recipe:

The first-born cannot cope with the ever-challenging, pushing-every-button person who is his little sister. The little sister, in turn, is unable to understand why her big brother does the things he does.  Why is he always going to the doctor, the therapist or a specialist?  What about me? Because she is feeling left out and needs to gain attention, bad behaviors begin to rear their ugly head.  As a parent you give her a lot of attention, but the little sister is unable to understand the big brother’s diagnosis and special needs. She cannot comprehend he might actually need more of mommy’s and daddy’s attention.  That is just not fair!

What is a parent to do when faced with those dilemmas?  Where is the handbook for those challenges? (A book For Dummies or Monarch Notes preferred, because there is no extra time in the day to read.)  At what age will the little sister be able to show empathy and grasp the challenges her big brother deals with every day?

It is exhausting being a parent of a typical kid. Now, throw in a child with a diagnosis and try having a harmonious and peaceful family life.  It is overwhelming and exhausting, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my life. My kids are just perfect!

—Diana, parent of two children and education advocate

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Coping Skills

July 2nd, 2012

I am an adopted 21-year-old with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Because of this, I also have some self-esteem issues. It can be hard to be me, especially when I’m trying to do school and things like that. It can be difficult sometimes to convince myself that I’m worth it, that I deserve success. I also don’t generally like to be alone. As a result, I have developed several coping skills throughout the years to help me deal with life.

One of the ways I deal with these things and try to help myself out is through my writing. I first got into creative writing in eighth grade, when my great-grandfather died. One of my ways of dealing with this was to write a song about it. It was kind of a cheesy song, not very good in my opinion, but it was helpful for me at the time, and it is how I came to like writing outside of school. I have written many poems and several short stories since then, as well as a couple of songs. However, I generally consider my poetry to be my best work, when I can find inspiration.

Another way that I try to help myself out is by listening to music. I am a huge fan of the TV show Glee and I spend a lot of my time outside school and work listening to the soundtracks. This is particularly helpful when I’m home alone and need to focus on getting my work done. I also tend to try to listen to radio stations that play a lot of different types of music, because if it’s all one kind of music, like classical, I will get bored with it and end up tuning it out, which sort of defeats the purpose. I usually prefer music that is upbeat but not inappropriate or offensive, so I don’t normally listen to hip hop or rap. Mostly I listen to pop, rock, and Glee.

Probably the best way I help myself out is that I spend a lot of time with my parents and my best friend. It doesn’t really matter what we’re doing, whether it’s eating dinner together, watching a show, or, in the case of my best friend, even just texting each other back and forth during the day. It’s always very helpful and puts me in a good mood. They are also instrumental in helping me overcome my emotional and self-esteem issues. They have helped me get through so many things over the years that I’m not really sure what I would do without them. I am extremely grateful to have them in my life.

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