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DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m a 17-year-old high school student. I have been struggling with mental health issues for some time now. Unfortunately, my parents do not seem to believe that I am struggling. They accuse me of exaggerating and even outright lying about my feelings. I understand that it can be hard for someone who hasn’t experienced these challenges themselves to understand, but it is extremely frustrating to feel like I am not being believed. Do you have any advice on how I can get through to my parents and get the support I need? – Lacking Validation
DEAR LACKING VALIDATION: Can you talk to the nurse at your school and ask for support there? Do you have access to your health insurance information? If so, the nurse may be able to help you find a mental health specialist who can support you. Likewise, if you have a pediatrician, you can ask the doctor to refer you to someone who can help. Of course, if you feel that you are in an emergency situation, you can reach out for help without insurance. You can call 988, which is the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline for 24-hour support.
As far as your parents go, they probably don’t understand mental health challenges.
It may not be that they are intentionally brushing you off. A lot of people don’t have a sense of what mental illness looks like, as it is less tangible than a cold, flu or some other disease. Ask your parents to be kind and love you even if they don’t understand. Tell them what you need if you can — a hug, restraint from dismissing your concerns, help finding a doctor — but also find others who can help you if your parents are unable or unwilling.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My work colleague has a bad habit of constantly interrupting people midsentence, and it’s beginning to wear thin on me. Even worse, she doesn’t even realize she does it. She does this even when we’re speaking with clients, which completely annoys them and everyone else in our meetings. I don’t know how to approach this, as I am not her superior. How do I make her aware of this without coming off as rude? — Let Me Finish
DEAR LET ME FINISH: Next time your colleague interrupts you, stop her. Say something like, “Hold on. I was saying something, and you interrupted me. Let me finish.” Privately, you can remind her of that moment and tell her that you have noticed that she regularly cuts people off. Tell her that you find it off-putting. Ask her to stop. If she shrugs it off, give her a couple of examples of when she has cut others off, including in meetings. Suggest that she wait to let people finish their sentences before she jumps in. She may or may not heed your advice, but you do not have to be her supervisor to attempt to support her and the rest of the team.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)