Q&A with Dr. Dorothy: Your tough questions answered
Dorothy Ratusny is a Certified Psychotherapist specializing in Cognitive Therapy. Send your ‘Getting Deep’ questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
A friend of mine is cheating her way through school. She finds the most creative ways to scam on tests, exams, quizzes, you name it! I’ve never said anything to her but now that we’re both trying to get into university, I’ve begun to resent it, especially since her marks are better than mine, but I actually know more!! Should I be feeling this way?
Since your thoughts create your feelings, the more you think about how dishonest it is that your friend is cheating, the more you will feel resentful of her actions. If this is a friend that you see being in your life for a long time, you may want to have a serious talk with her about how her dishonesty is affecting the way you feel about her and your friendship. The bottom line is: it will catch up with her. Feel good about earning your grade the honest way, and know that when this friend gets to university, she will really have a tough time. You don’t get away with cheating as easily in university and the consequences are far more severe. You in the meantime are learning good study habits, which will serve you well the rest of your life.
Check out this link for information on how the stress of academic achievement may lead to cheating.
Someone I know brought a gun to school to show it around. He’s really harmless and a nice guy – I think he’s just trying to seem cool. I don’t want to get him in trouble or anything but I thought it was a loser thing to do. What should I do?
Since you know this person, please tell him to never bring the gun to school again. Assuming that the gun is not still on school property, you may also decide to let him know that your first concern is for other’s safety, and that it is your obligation (and the obligation of others), to let the school authorities know if he chooses to bring the gun back. By taking a pro-active stand, the ball is now in his court. If he chooses to bring a gun to school again, he does so knowing that there will be consequences for his actions. It sounds like this person is looking for attention and also respect from his peers. Remind him that there are so many other positive ways to get others’ attention.
Below is a link of the timeline of school shootings in Canada and the U.S. from 1996 to 2001. Remember, these all occurred because someone brought a loaded gun to school.
I think my dad is cheating on my mom! When mom’s not home I hear him whispering on the phone and other stuff like that. Should I tell my mom what I suspect even if I don’t have any real proof?
If you suspect that your dad is cheating on your mom, then you probably have other ‘evidence’ to support the notion that things are not going well in your parents’ relationship. Approach your dad in private and tell him your thoughts. Let him know how important it is that he tell you honestly what (if anything) is going on. Based on his answer to you, you may lay your suspicions to rest. If he is cheating, then it becomes a tougher issue. Hopefully, with your encouragement, he will have the strength to be honest with your mother, as this information should ideally come from him.
Every now and then when things get really bad I sometimes think about suicide – I don’t plan it out or anything, I just think about it for a while and then forget about it. I know I’d never do it though. Is this normal?
Having fleeing thoughts about suicide every now and again when things get really bad is something that many teens experience. Continual preoccupation with thoughts of suicide and the creation of a plan to actually carry out those thoughts is far more serious. The next time you are feeling depressed or hopeless about things, ask yourself, “What do I have to be grateful for?” You’ll be surprised with the things you come up with and, more importantly, your focus is now on what is good about your life. Your positive thoughts will help you to feel better, since your thoughts create your feelings and your feelings create your behaviors. If you can remember to think about the positives in your life when things get bad, you will not only start to feel much more positive and optimistic, but you will eventually get in the habit of having greater control over your mood state.
The Kids Help Phone is a toll-free, 24-hour telephone counseling service. Check out their site or call for more information on what you can do when you have thoughts of suicide.
Kids Help Phone, 1-800-668-6868
I’m pretty sure my friend has a serious eating disorder. I’ve mentioned that she’s been losing a lot of weight and she just shrugs it off. What should I do?
The best thing you could do for your friend is to be there for her. Let her know that you are concerned for her and that she can come and talk to you (confidentially) at any time. As much as you want to help her, unfortunately, your friend has to want to receive your help. If she does have an eating disorder, you will probably come to know about it sooner or later because of the amount of time the two of you spend with each other. If she does confide in you, encourage her to see a nutritionist in order to draw up a ‘healthy’ eating regime. People who develop eating disorders tend to have negative body image and poor self-esteem, so your friend may also want to seek out a counselor to talk about what may be bothering her and to support her in overcoming the eating disorder.
Your friend can obtain a referral to see a Nutritionist from her family doctor. Alternatively, she may want to check out the information on eating disorders at www.kidshelp.sympatico.ca, or speak to one of their counselors at 1-800-668-6868.
For more on Dorothy check out www.dorothyratusny.com