Q: I’m a 13-year-old girl in the eighth grade. I moved in with my father and his girlfriend five months ago. (My mom is estranged.)
They are very strict and controlling. I’m not allowed to go anywhere, have friends over or be in my room with my phone for any amount of time, and I have to do all the chores in the summertime. They also go through my phone even though they have no reason to.
They post embarrassing pictures of me under my Facebook account, take my phone away constantly (so I can’t talk to my friends who live far away), force me to play softball (that’s a big one), which I hate, etc. My privacy is nonexistent, especially considering how I used to live before. I feel like I have no independence.
I know I can be disrespectful at times, but I don’t get into trouble and I don’t understand why they act like they do. I’m really stressed out. In the past I have gotten so upset I cut myself on the wrist, and I have drunk liquid pain medicine. (I know it was stupid.) But sometimes I seriously think about killing myself. So what should I do, Abby? — It’s Unfair in New Hampshire
A: What you should do — and right away — is talk to a counselor at school and tell that person everything you have told me. I don’t know your father and his girlfriend, what conditions you were living under previously, or why you are being treated the way you are. But if you are so depressed that you are harming yourself or contemplating suicide, you need more help than I can give you here. I repeat, PLEASE DON’T WAIT.
Q: My girlfriend, whom I have been dating for more than a year, has isolated herself from me and all her friends because her makeup came off while she was in a hot tub and everyone saw her without it. She’s insecure about her appearance and has worn heavy makeup every day since she was 12. When she went into the hot tub, the heat melted it off, and when she saw it was gone, she started crying and left the party early.
She hasn’t talked to me or any of her friends since. Her brother said she was embarrassed about being seen without makeup and doesn’t want to talk to anyone. It has been two weeks since I last spoke to her, and she hasn’t even talked to her sister in more than a week. I don’t know what I should do. — Hot Tub Meltdown
A: Assuming that your girlfriend isn’t an actress, model or other celebrity who must be camera-ready at every moment, she seems overly preoccupied with her appearance. Unless she has an unsightly skin condition she’s self-conscious about, her extreme overreaction isn’t normal. If she is a minor, her parents should be told what’s going on so they can get her some psychological help, because she appears to need it. If she’s an adult, then the person who should urge her to do so is you.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.