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I am 15 and was diagnosed with lymphoma the first day of summer. All I ever wanted in life was to be an average girl and fit in at my new school, but as soon as that goal came close, my life got flipped upside down. The intensive chemo I go through messes with my mind and I have gone into psychosis and committed a lot of self-harm because of how mad I was at my body. I hate the way I look now, the medicine made me gain 40 pounds. I had to stop dancing, my hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes fell out, and everything I looked forward to was taken away. People I knew in the hospital have died.  I can barely cope with that, knowing the doctors couldn’t help them, help me consistently. I isolate myself from everyone because I don’t want them to see me, but at the same time, I feel so hopelessly lonely. A month from now I will have finished treatment, but I don’t know if my thoughts will ever recover like everything else. Teen Writing in to Teen Central

Do you watch the news?  Listen to the radio?  Check out top stories on social media?  How often do you see or hear stories about terrible things happening in the world around us?  How often does it hurt to hear about things our young people are going through today, and how often have you wished you could help?

KidsPeace has spent almost 140 years working with children who have stories like those in the situation above, with more every day.  Our wide array of services are out there for so many of these painful situations, but there has always been difficulty in reaching out to those who can’t seem to help themselves – the ones who may be going through terrible situations, but don’t want the world to know who they are.  Maybe they don’t have the supports to get them the help they need, or they’re scared of retaliation.  Those who seem unreachable…

I’m 9 years old.  My mom abuses me.  I’m tired.  If you have time call 911 and send it to the address I’m giving you. Another Teen Central Story

That’s where Teen Central comes in.  We’ve established a website that reaches out to those who may not feel able to access the resources they need, or who may just want to ask for advice on how to move forward because they’re stuck and don’t know where to turn.  With Teen Central, we encourage teens to write in their stories.  We don’t print any identifying information so their anonymity is safe, and we will have a reply for them from trained people within 24 hours. Stories may range from contemplating suicide, suffering from abuse, to breakups.  

I want to kill myself. I’ve told myself many times that I have no purpose here. I’m starting to think that’s true. I mean I don’t have many friends, my family hates me, they’re not supportive of anything. Every time I feel like talking to someone about something serious, I get shut down every time.  They say the same words, “you’re fine”, just because I’m too young to understand what depression is. For so long I have been told that I’m fine and for so long I have been manipulated until I became numb. Self-harm hasn’t fixed that. I’m sick of living. I just want to end it all, but I’m too scared to die. I’m scared that one day I’m actually gonna end my life. I hate being like this, I confuse myself too much. I make myself angry. I don’t understand, I want to die but at the same time, I don’t. I feel like I’m just not brave enough to risk it all. But I want to sleep forever. I don’t bring this up very often because I feel as if no one would care, so I push people away. I push everyone away. I hate being hugged or touched or kissed. But at the same time, I just want someone to hold my hand. Am I gonna be alone forever? Why would anyone love someone like me? I’m too confusing for people. I don’t want to sound mean when I tell someone “don’t touch me”, but I just can’t help it. I get scared when someone reaches for me. I feel like something bad is gonna happen. It’s like a monster reaching out for me trying to hurt me. The monster tells me to hurt myself or hurt others. The monster tells me to kill myself. I think the monster is me. I feel like I’m drowning in all of these words and thoughts. I’m drowning to the point where I don’t have any motivation or I have loss of interest in everything. I miss the feeling of happiness. I hate being aggressive and angry all the time. I hate being sad. I hate being confused and not being able to focus. I hate everything about myself. I just hate myself. Whenever I see a happy little family, I just get so jealous. I just want someone to love me, care for me and tell me that everything is going to be ok. I just don’t want to be abandoned all the time. Is that too much to ask for? I feel like I’m being selfish again, which always brings me back to the option of killing myself. Teen Central Story

In Teen Central all of our counselors and administrators take time and effort in formulating their responses to the impressionable young people who write to us.  There is always the consideration of how hard it must be to put themselves out there, even anonymously, and to share their anger, fears and insecurities in their stories.  We always want them to understand that we are truly honored that they feel comfortable sharing their stories with us, we have respect and concern for them and what they’re going through, and – most of all – they are NOT alone. 

We all know that there are children out there who may not know how to reach out to anyone. Because an online presence is so common for today’s youth, this site provides an available and much needed resource.  This site is not just a local resource, but has reached youth around the world.  Not only have we received stories from across the United States, but also Africa, Asia and Europe as well.

Think about how many children are out there in the world today who feel hopeless and alone.  In their mind it could mean the world to have just one person understand what they’re feeling.  One person to tell them they’re enough, and they’re valued. Teen Central is one of the things I’m most proud to be a part of here at KidsPeace.  By encouraging these teens to write in their stories, we can do what we’d all like to do- find a way to reach the unreachable.

So, I have a lot to say and I just…ugh. You guys at teen central helped save my life. I went through a phase of depression during the pandemic and you guys sent police to my house and if you hadn’t…I probably would’ve ended my pain. I’m back this year in in person school and it’s WONDERFUL. I have so many friends, I’ve become popular, I’m still single (sadly), I’m getting good grades. I’ll be back with my story that will help a lot of people but for now…..Thank you guys so very much. You have my full gratitude. –Teen Central Success Story

Barb Kendall

Barb Kendall

Barb Kendall received her degree from Cedar Crest College and has now been working at KidsPeace for 24 years.  For the last nine years she has been a member of the Organizational Development and Training team, where she is currently the Pennsylvania Training Manager.  She is among the first trained facilitators for the C.O.S. Play game. Barb is also a counselor for Teen Central and a member of the Critical Incident Response Team at KidsPeace.