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Getting Deep #7: Skank Mom, Eating Disorder, Annoying Perfect Brother

Q&A with Dr. Dorothy: Your tough questions answered

dorothy ratusny
Dorothy Ratusny is a Certified Psychotherapist specializing in Cognitive Therapy.

Lately my 38-year-old mom has been dressing…well…like a skank! I don’t know what’s come over her. I’m really embarrassed to have my friends over now. Should I say something to her or hope she’s just going through a phase?

I would imagine that there’s a very good reason why your mom is dressing this way, and more than likely she’s feeling good about her new look. If you want to speak to her about it, you should be as diplomatic as possible. Being that it’s your mom, you don’t exactly have any control over how she dresses, but asking her what provoked the change might help you to see things from her perspective. Unfortunately, many women buy into the societal pressure of thinking that they should always look youthful. Maybe with some positive suggestions from you as her ‘wardrobe consultant,’ your mom may be able to achieve a better image for herself.

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, or speak to one of their counselors at 1-800-668-6868.

Is it possible to become claustrophobic overnight? Lately, I feel really uncomfortable in small, closed up spaces like the girls’ bathroom or the change room in school. It’s getting really bad. I feel like I’m going to panic and scream or something if I don’t hurry up and get out. Is this normal?

It is not likely that you have become claustrophobic overnight. It does, however, sound like you are experiencing what may be an anxiety attack. Some people when feeling very anxious, have sensations whereby they feel like thing are ‘closing in on them’ or that they can’t breathe in small closed-in spaces. Make a note of what has been going on in your life recently that may be causing you to feel this way. More importantly, pay close attention to what thoughts are running through your head immediately prior to feeling panicky and uncomfortable in small closed up spaces. Your thoughts are a good indicator of your present mood state so noticing your thoughts will give you some important information as to why you are feeling the need to run from the bathroom, change room, or other small spaces. When you begin to feel panicked there are also some really effective breathing techniques that you can use to help you calm yourself down and alleviate the feelings of anxiety.

Here’s more information on self-guided relaxation techniques.

My parents are constantly comparing me to my older brother who is smart and good at sports. It’s driving me crazy. I know it’s not his fault but I’m starting to resent him. What should I do?

You are certainly not the first person to experience this ‘comparison’ problem with an older sibling. Parents tend to compare their children to each other even though I’m sure they realize that no two children are equal. Your parents will probably feel badly when you point out that by comparing you to your older brother who is smart and good at sports, you end up feeling: (a) hurt and ‘not as good as’ he is, and (b) resentful rather than excited by your brother’s accomplishments. Ask your parents to focus on what each of you do well, and remind them whenever they tend to fall back into old habits. Your parents probably don’t realize that they are making you resent your brother.

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From Faze Magazine Issue #13

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