|Heart TO Heart
For relationship advice and more, talk to your super-smart Sis.
Q: I think I have obsessive compulsive disorder. I am 18, and get anxious about a lot of things. I wash my hands many times a day because I can't bear the thought of dirt and germs. I had to use a spare key the other day which had been hidden in an outside box. I made sure not to touch the ground or the box but even just knowing the key had been in contact with both made me freak. Most people wouldn't panic and cry over such a petty thing. My bedroom has to be organised with my pens and pencils lined up before I can start to do any work. I am turning into a hoarder too. I cannot bear to get rid of anything, even scraps of paper are filed in my room. I watch the same films repeatedly and read the same books. It's the same with food. If I fancy something I then become obsessed with eating just that one thing. My parents say I do not have OCD and I am just attention-seeking. I am wondering if I should talk to my doctor for advice. I really want to get myself relaxed and in the right frame of mind. Nazia, Karachi
A: Lots of people have minor obsessions but of course they become a problem when they get in the way of leading a normal life or cause great anxiety. Your parents mean well, but aren't helping you by denying your anxieties. You can help yourself by learning relaxation techniques. Each day sit down quietly and do some breathing exercises. Breathe in to a count of four and out to a count of six. Work your way through your body clenching and relaxing each group of muscles. It is what actors and performers do before going on stage and that can really help. Do speak to your doctor about your symptoms.
Q: I am a 17-year-old boy and I'm stressing out at the thought of having braces on my teeth. I wish I'd had it done before. When I was younger I never used to brush my teeth. I didn't know how important it was. Now I need a lot of fillings, and I've been referred to an orthodontist to get braces. If this had happened when I was 14 or 15, I would have been fine with it but not at this age. I do want to have perfectly straight teeth, so I do want to go through with it, it's just that I'm scared about how people will see me. I know my friends at school are supportive but I'm deeply self-conscious and worry about what people will think of me. I know I shouldn't feel this way – but I do. Please help. Ali, Karachi
A: It's natural to feel self-conscious at your age, but keep things in proportion. You've got good friends and I can't believe it will matter to them if you have braces on your teeth or not. Would it matter to you if one of them started wearing braces? Have some trust in their friendship. Besides, the good news is that orthodontic technology is progressing all the time. Talk to your orthodontist about your worries and discuss the different options available. Get the work done now, while you're still young enough. Many adults need to get their teeth fixed much later in life and it doesn't come cheap.
Q: My friend keeps trying to take over my life and other friendships, and to control which friends I see. I am 16 and have a group of friends I see out of school for some years now. Another friend from school kept badgering me to take her along to one of our get-togethers. She has established that she has a crush on one boy and is now friends with all my friends, which is fair enough. I expected nothing less but she joins in with our private jokes and has been backbiting to them about me. She has also started using the personal nickname I have for another friend. It makes me feel like she is trying to out-do my friendships with people I have known for many, many years. If she cannot go with us when we have arranged a group outing she demands I call the whole thing off. If I go out with friends without her she gets really annoyed and tells me not to do it again. I have tried but I cannot stop her taking over my life and controlling me. Seemi, Lahore
A: Friendships rarely stand still. They change and develop, especially during the teenage years when people begin to pair off with one another. You have a good group of friends, concentrate on keeping them and enjoying their company. Your friend from school cannot come between you and them if you don't allow her to. Don't cancel an outing because she tells you to. She needs to learn that you are a free agent and can go out without her whenever you want. Getting annoyed because she uses a nickname you thought up is a waste of your energy though. Ask yourself whether this really matters much. Learn to be more assertive. Say how you feel and what you want clearly and effectively without excuses, anger or embarrassment. That way she will get the message and you will feel you have said what you need to say.