Print This Post

Dear Readers,

We’ve been together for 20 years. In that time you have shared personal and often painful stories. You trusted L.A. Youth to provide a haven and support for teens dealing with a variety of problems.
    The teen writers of these stories, guided by our adult editors, encourage other teens to discover they are not alone and have the power to express themselves.
    It is gratifying to think that L.A. Youth is an important resource for teens and how many lives have been touched by these stories.

Donna Myrow
Founder and Executive Director


Illustration by Rebecca Villanueva, 15, Ramona Convent (Alhambra)

I [still] count calories and fat percentages, obsess over my next meal and feel guilty about my last. The guy I was seeing told me, “I’m afraid I’ll break you,” because I’m so thin. He worried about me a lot, but now he’s gone and I’m depressed. In fact, a lot of people are worrying about me lately. I can’t blame them, I worry about me, too.
From “300 calories a day: If I don’t eat maybe they’ll love me,” Author’s name withheld, November-December 1994

I saw models on TV who had perfect bodies. I wanted to be like them, with the perfect waist and body. So I started to starve myself. I wasn’t fat, but not perfect.
From “Starving to be perfect” by Yajaira Hernandez, Wilson MS, March-April 2007

Sometimes when Isabel’s emotions get out of control, she feels like not eating. It is not easy to let go of old comfortable habits. But it does get easier with time and each day her self-confidence is restored a little more. Now she understands that anorexia does not have to control her as long as she never gives up. She knows that she is not alone, that there have been others before her who have conquered this disease, and that she can conquer it, too.
From “Starving for answers to why my friend won’t eat” by Liesel Haskell, 17, Louisville HS, September-October 2000


Illustration by Terrenz Vong, 16, Nogales HS and Duygu Aytac

Once when I was reading, someone yelled “faggot!” I continued to read, pretending to ignore it. Someone yelled “Shut your mouth, you f***ing queer!” I was hoping that the teacher would hear but with so many students speaking at once he couldn’t, or he chose not to. Some laughed while others had a look of shame on their faces. They knew they were witnessing an injustice but they were too scared to do anything about it.
From “Gay and so alone” by Marvin Novelo, 17, Franklin HS, October 2004

I challenge all of you to tell others that phrases like “that’s so gay” continue to put others down. And when you do hear people use “gay” that way, make them aware of how demeaning it is. This has been my challenge for quite some time and I know it’s not easy to tell people to change the way they speak and think. Family and friends have said to me: “Oh, so you’re gay?” I tell them: “No, I’m just a person who speaks up for what I believe in.”
From “Stop and think” by Connie Chung, 17, Gabrielino HS, October 2004


Illustration by César Delgado, 17, Foshay Learning Center

Even though my grandpa survived, I still had questions about life and death. When we die, what happens to us? Do we become nonexistent?
From “Face to face with death” by Laura Alvarez, 17, Bravo Medical Magnet HS, January-February 2004

Some people tell me that when you commit suicide, you go to hell. I don’t know if I don’t believe it, or just don’t want to believe it. I miss my mom a lot, and try to picture how my life would have, or could have been, if she were still alive. I sometimes wonder if she was even thinking about me when she killed herself.
From “I will never have a mother” by Natalie Reed, 13, Wilson MS (Glendale), March-April 2007

Hash’im’s death affected me I guess, but I’m still not sure exactly how. I tried to keep my feelings to myself and not think about it. I didn’t cry like people say you should, but I’m not discouraging it either. I just don’t think crying helps me. It just makes me feel worse. Writing this article has helped me be a little bit more open with my feelings.
From “My brother’s death changed our family forever” by Sophia Mostella, 16, City of Angels, January-February 2000


Illustration by Ben Sanders, 15, Temple City HS

Nothing’s perfect in life. Everyone has challenges, whether it’s being depressed when a family member dies or having trouble understanding schoolwork. My challenge is a mental illness. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a natural thing that happens to some people.
From “The voices no one else can hear” by Brian M., November-December 2005

Every year in America, tens of thousands of teens are committed to private [psychiatric] facilities, sometimes against their will, sometimes without being informed of their rights, and much of this trend seems to be tied to slick advertising and the money to be made from adolescent care.
From “The Nightmare of teen patients’ rights” by Joy Shioshita, October 1988


Photo illustration by Mira Jang, 18, Beverly Hills HS

Although Sara was fortunate to escape the abusive relationship with her health, her life will never be the same.  “People who haven’t been abused don’t understand that getting out of a bad relationship isn’t as easy as it seems, especially if you think you’re in love,” she said. “I’m a lot smarter now. I know what types of symptoms to watch out for. No one deserves to be abused in any way, no one.”
From “Twisted Love” by Mira Jang, 18, Beverly Hills HS, January-February 1996
The bruises left on her body were visible signs of hatred and pain. When I asked her why she continued to stay in a relationship with him, she replied, “It was my fault he hit me. I was asking for it. I deserved it.” “No, you don’t deserve it,” I said. “No person deserves to be hit. If you love somebody, do you show it by hitting them?” My friend is no longer here on this Earth. The last time her boyfriend hit her, he broke her neck and killed her.
    By witnessing this event I am now able to read the abusive signs, and now I know when to stay away from it.
From “She didn’t deserve to die” by Michelle Miller, 17, North HS, January-February 1996

Her best friend told her to leave him but she was so confused. Sometimes he was really sweet and she didn’t want to leave him. Other times, she was angry but she thought she loved him. She couldn’t really tell her parents—they thought he was a “nice boy.” When he hit her, it made it hard for her to think clearly, and she’d start to believe what he said. “He brainwashed me,” she said.
From “He seemed like the perfect boyfriend …” by Julissa Espinoza and Christy Buena, Los Angeles HS, March-April 2000


Illustration by Mike Perez, 16, Bellflower HS

The world was slowly fading away. My body was slow and heavy as if I was walking on the bottom of a pool. Just lifting up my hand to write my name was a chore that required much concentration. When I spoke, I felt like my words had to break down walls, and even then I couldn’t properly relate to anyone. Everything lost meaning. It’s like I was watching the world on the silver screen while I sat in the back row.
    I saw a counselor who put me on anti-depressant pills. No, I didn’t walk around with a stupid grin all day, it just gave me some control of my depression. Through counseling, I was able to put the pieces back together and figure out what went wrong. I found out I was keeping a lot inside, even things from elementary school, like the time my best friend moved away, and another time when I accidentally broke another kid’s arm. I was able to link things together in a chain I could never see before. And I began to be free from that chain the day I decided to talk to someone.
From “My life was crumbling away” by Joe Taraszka, 18, Westchester HS, September-October 1997

Cutting quickly became addicting. It felt like the only way to get help with my problems, not from other people but from myself. I finally had something in my control. Every time I cut, I would think, “Why am I doing this?” But I still wanted to because I hated the feelings inside me.
        I know I won’t cut again. I have learned to deal with my problems in a way that will not hurt me. I write songs and sing. I also write for this newspaper. Through therapy, I’ve learned to talk to my parents about how I can live my life in a way that is different from theirs, but is not wrong.
From “Cutting away the pain” by Karina Onofre, 16, The Linden Center, November-December 2004