DEAR ABBY: "Smiling Through the Pain," a reader who has suffered with chronic pain since childhood, offered some wonderful suggestions to other people in her predicament.
I am 13, and I want her to know her message was very inspirational to me and helped me to realize a lot. I have depression and suffer from an obsessive-compulsive disorder called trichotillomania (hair pulling). I have considered suicide and I am in therapy.
When I read that letter, I felt like "Smiling Through the Pain" was talking directly to me. It made me realize that there IS a way to bounce back from the pain I have been experiencing.
I would like to thank that person for giving me back the hope that I lost a long time ago. -- A NOT-QUITE TYPICAL TEEN IN VIRGINIA
DEAR TEEN: I'm sure the writer will be as delighted as I was to read your letter. I wish you continued success in therapy. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Like "Smiling Through the Pain," I, too, suffer from chronic pain. When my doctor told me that there were no medications at this time that would make the pain go away, I asked, "How am I going to endure this?"
She replied, "Live one day at a time. Live each day to the fullest. Laugh heartily, love deeply, pray daily -- and let the rest roll off."
I then asked, "How am I going to live with the pain?"
She said, "Surround yourself with positive things -- positive people, sunshine, rainbows, roses, puppies and kittens."
After reflecting upon what she had said, I realized that this is a great prescription for anyone's life. That doctor probably saved mine. Not only did she give my monstrous disease a name, she helped me to make my life worth living again.
I have good days and bad. I curse the bad ones and praise God for the good ones. The "good" pain comes when I have accomplished what I wanted to do that day. The "bad" pain comes when I refrain from doing what I want to do -- and hurt anyway.
Every day I get up, get dressed and have something planned to do. And, Abby, I try to perform at least one act of kindness for someone each day. Regardless of my pain, it makes each day seem fuller.
I hope you will find this letter appropriate to share with your readers. If it helps someone else who is hurting (for whatever reason), then my effort will not have been in vain. -- TRYING TO SMILE THROUGH THE PAIN, PARK HILLS, MO.
DEAR TRYING: I don't know what act of will it took for you to compose your letter, but it is certainly worth space in my column. Your doctor is a wise woman, and you are far more than a survivor. Your philosophy will help more people than you know, and on my behalf and theirs, I thank you for sharing it. I wish you continued success in your daily battle. You are an inspiration.
DEAR ABBY: I am 13 and have an older sister who ruins our family vacations. She turns everything into an argument and makes it impossible to enjoy family time together. We're going on a two-week trip soon and I don't want it to be a disaster. How can I get my sister to behave and not start World War III? -- SISTER TROUBLES IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEAR SISTER: You are not responsible for your sister's behavior. Don't give her the power to spoil your vacation. When she acts out, distance yourself and tune her out. It appears you are more mature at 13 than she is.
If things do not improve soon, suggest to your parents that you ALL get to family counseling. It will be an opportunity to express your feelings with a professional therapist who will listen and help to improve your family's interaction.
To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600