The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Teacher Lesson Return to "In the Realm of Guilt and Sorrow"
In the Realm of Guilt and Sorrow
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Linda Rodriguez describes how depression, if kept in the closet or under covers, can be deadly. Growing up in a dysfunctional, violent family, Linda either tries to please her mother or blames herself for the problems. She becomes suicidal and enters a psychiatric hospital, where she slowly discovers the healing powers of expressing her feelings.

Prompts for discussion and/or writing:

--Although there were many problems in her family and Linda wasn’t treated right by her mother, she says she always tried to please her mother. Why do you think she tried to please her mother? What impact did trying to please her mother eventually have on Linda’s mental health?

--Linda would blame herself for the beatings her mother gave her. Why do you think children blame themselves for bad things their parents do to them? How did blaming herself affect Linda?

--How did Linda try to get her mother to notice her problems?

--Linda says, “I wanted help but I didn’t want to let this stranger in.” What is the stranger she is afraid of letting in? Why is she afraid to let him in?

--Circle a passage in Linda’s story you can really relate to. Why do you relate so much to this part of her story?

--Instead of being the “nice, respectful, goody, goody girl,” Linda lets out her anger and feels better when she expresses her true feelings. Why is it healthy for Linda to let out her anger? Why does she feel less depressed when she expresses her true feelings?

Activity: Youth can work in pairs or in small groups. Linda discovers that she begins to recover when she lets out her anger and expresses her feelings. Have the youth list three positive ways that someone who is depressed can get in touch with their feelings, and then three negative ways. (For example, talking to a family member in a direct way would be positive, and so would punching a pillow; getting verbally or physically violent with that person would not be positive.) Go around the room, list the suggestions on the board, and discuss.

Roleplay: Linda and her mother. Linda’s mother visits her in the hospital and blames her daughter for being there, calling her stupid. Linda stands up to her mother, refuses to take her abuse, and expresses her true feeling about how she was treated in the family.
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