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I AM in Iowa Adolescents Making Choices to Control Their Future Teen:Health, Relationship, Body and Sexuality
May 1

Follow us on Twitter!

Posted By iamincontrol | May 1, 2014

Want to find out when IAMincontrol has a new post?  Follow us on Twitter @IAMincontrolIA for tweets about our posts and events for teens.  Retweet to share your favorite posts with your friends!
Jul 20

Hoping for the Best, Planning for the Worst

Posted By iamincontrol | July 20, 2017

Picture this: You are home alone in your bedroom when you start to smell smoke. You probably know that in the case of a fire you should get out of the house, but do you know the best route? Do you know another route if that route is blocked by flames or smoke?

Having emergency plans are essential for surviving disasters. There are many types of disasters, which each require their own plan. Here are some examples:

  • Electrical blackouts
  • Droughts
  • Earthquakes
  • Extreme floods
  • Home fires
  • Hurricanes
  • Landslides/Debris Flows
  • Meteorites
  • Thunderstorms and Lightning
  • Tornadoes
  • Tsunamis
  • Volcanoes
  • Wildfires
  • Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

Even if you do not live in an area that experiences a certain type of disaster (example: tsunamis do not occur in the Midwest). It’s still important to be prepared for them, as a disaster could happen while you are visiting a different region. The following link provides a planning tool that you can fill out with your families. It includes common emergency contacts, meeting places for when communication is disrupted, and fire escape plans

There are also a lot of apps you can download onto your cell phone that can help keep you safe in the event of an emergency. Follow this YouTube link to learn more:

While we are talking about cell phones, here’s a tip: Unless calling for help during a disaster, it’s best to text or communicate via social media rather than call. Phone lines will likely be jammed with 911 calls, while texting and social media use lower bandwidths that are less likely to become jammed.

We all hope we will never be in an emergency situation, but there’s no harm in planning for the worst. As they say… it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Jul 18

Understanding ADHD

Posted By iamincontrol | July 18, 2017

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a behavioral disorder that is characterized as having difficulty focusing and/or impulsivity that causes problems with daily functioning or development. It is key to understand that it can affect a student’s ability to perform in school and can make it hard for a student to make friends. Dealing with ADHD can be very difficult, but there are a few things you can do for your fellow students that may have ADHD.

  1. Start by being patient and forgiving. ADHD can make it feel like your friend isn’t paying any attention to you or cannot hold a conversation as well as you would hope, so try your best to be understanding of their disorder.
  2. Keep in touch. People with ADHD have difficult establishing friendships, so be sure to find a regular time of the day to catch up and see how they are doing.
  3. Establish structure. Individuals with ADHD benefit from having structure in their lives. Encourage them to keep a regular schedule and maybe use a diary or planner to help. (You can even find online apps or diaries!)
  4. Encourage them to continue their medication. Medications help your friend focus and perform well in their daily life, so be their supportive reminder and listen to their needs.
  5. Remember that it is out of the person’s control. Your friend with ADHD is not trying to frustrate you and they are managing their disorder as best as they can. Your support can help make a difference.
  6. Self-care is important. Helping someone with a behavioral disorder can be very hard on you as well. Take time out to relax and participate in activities that are stress relieving or fun for you.

If you want to find out more about what it is like to have ADHD from those who have it, check out the following video or

Jul 13

What You Can Learn About Mental Health From ‘13 Reasons Why’

Posted By iamincontrol | July 13, 2017

The Netflix Series ‘13 Reasons Why’ became popular very quickly after its release. Many people love that the show talks about important social issues, such as bullying, mental health, and suicide. While these issues are important to talk about, the way that the characters address some of them could have been handled better. Here are some of the problems with ‘13 Reasons Why’ (warning: spoilers ahead) and what you can do to help someone you know who is struggling with their feelings or mental health.

  1. Get Help Right Away

While many of the characters react to the stress in their lives by turning to reckless behavior, no one really talks about mental health. The characters keep the information of the tapes to themselves and don’t reach out for help while they are processing their emotions and grief. Hannah herself does not reach out for help at any time until she goes to talk to the school counselor. This makes it seem like reaching out for help with your mental health is something that isn’t normal or only happens when a person has thoughts about suicide, which isn’t true. If at any point a person is struggling with their feelings or mental health, they should talk to someone (a parent, a school counselor, or another trusted adult) right away to get help.

  1. Bullying Can Contribute to Suicide, But It Is Often More Complicated Than That

Towards the end of the series, Clay confronts the school counselor about not believing Hannah’s story and not doing enough to help her. Clay’s blames Hannah’s death on the classmates who bullied her and believes that he could have saved her by telling her he loved her. Bullying by itself does not automatically cause suicide because mental health and suicide are a lot more complex than that. A person’s mental health, relationships at home or school, academic performance, and even physical health contribute to suicidal thoughts including.

Having loving and supporting people in your life can make it easier to deal with bullying. However, mental health conditions like anxiety and depression can make it very hard to believe the nice things that people say to you or about you. While being kind to others is important, there are no magic words to make someone’s mental health better. If you know someone who is being bullied, get help right away.

So how do you help? You can do several things:

  • Be a good listener
  • Offer to support a friend by walking with them to the school counselor
  • Be there when a friend talks to their parents to help them be more comfortable

In a situation where you think the other person is in danger, don’t try to handle it yourself. Tell a trusted adult what is going on right away.

  1. It Is Never Too Late To Get Help

When the counselor responds to Clay, he says Hannah had already made up her mind about dying by suicide and nothing he could do would help. This is wrong. Often, people talking about suicidal thoughts or behaviors is their way of reaching out for help. Knowing the signs and symptoms of someone who is suicidal can make it easier to reach out to them so they can get help sooner. If the counselor had been better at listening to Hannah and then directly asked her if she was thinking about suicide, he might have been able to have a longer conversation with her and gotten her help.

If you are having thoughts about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK.

For other help lines, check out this link:

To help a friend or learn about signs and symptoms, check out this link:

Jul 11

What to Do with Your Bodily Functions

Posted By iamincontrol | July 11, 2017

You’re sitting in class, and all of a sudden, you fart! You think, “OMG did that really just happen?” Yes. Yes, it did, my friend. Your body has functions that you can’t always control! Besides farting, your body needs to burp, sweat, poop, pee, and many other things! But don’t be embarrassed! It happens to literally everyone. In fact, if your body doesn’t have these functions, you’re probably dead.

Here are some things you can do to deal with public displays of bodily function:

  • Ignore it. Doctors say that bodily functions are more common than we think! The best thing to do is to ignore it. You don’t have to try to explain every unexpected burp or blip that happens throughout the day.
  • Briefly acknowledge it and move on. If you can’t just ignore it, then you can briefly acknowledge it. Just say, “Excuse me” and be done with it. Nobody is asking for an explanation for why you’re yawning or why your stomach is growling.
  • Go to a doctor. If embarrassing problems are happening unexpectedly when they never happened before, and if they are getting worse, it may be a good idea to see a doctor. These may be signs that you are actually ill.

To learn more, please visit:

Jul 6

Intellectual Disabilities

Posted By iamincontrol | July 6, 2017

Have you ever had emotions that you don’t understand? Why are they there, and why do they feel the way they do?  That’s how I felt most of my high school life. My name is Brandon and I have Autism. I have grown up with Autism. At age 4, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. That is a mild form of autism. It causes problems with social skills and emotions. I struggled throughout my childhood, high school, and well even now with some of this stuff. I am very fortunate to be on the other end of the spectrum. I have an intellectual disability, but not nearly as severe as others. I can function for normal things, which I am so thankful for. I lack in other areas though. I can become depressed or have my anxiety peak for no or little reason. There is hope.

When you have an intellectual disability, not just Autism, but anything, it doesn’t define you, you define it. That is what I did with MY Autism. I DEFINED IT. I started to advocate for myself, and use it as an ability, not a disability. Since I advocate, it has lead me to what I have. I am a member on the Autism Society of Iowa’s Board of Directors, and the Iowa Autism State Council, at age 21 and if I have helped one person today, that’s a start.

For more information on autism, check out

If you have a friend or classmate who has autism you can help! Visit to learn your role.

Jul 4

How to Stay Healthy when Life is Tough

Posted By iamincontrol | July 4, 2017

The results are in and it shows that Iowa teens believe they know what to do to take care of themselves in stressful situations and in life in general!

When life gets tough with school, work, family, friends or just everyday issues you need to take care of yourself first. I know it is hard to imagine a day when everything is better but trust me its out there. You are NOT alone. A few things you can do to help your body distress and lower your stress includes:

  • Exercise. Just as Legally Blonde talks about “exercise creates endorphins. Endorphins makes people happy.” Exercising even once every few days will help reduce your stress! It will also allow you to feel better about your body.
  • Take a hot shower. Hot water will relax your muscles as well as allow you to have time to think to yourself. Things I enjoy are getting in the shower and standing there just breathing. You can even play some soft music and create an in-house spa night.
  • Write in a journal. Writing your feelings out knowing you won’t hurt anyone’s feelings is something I love to do. You can rant all you want but then leave all the issues in that book.
  • Spend time with an animal. Animals such as dog and cats can help with relieving stress. Just playing around with them and petting them will allow you to keep your mind off other things.

I know things will get better for you even when you can’t see the bright days ahead. Stay positive.

For more information about how to distress, visit:

Jun 29

5 Tips on How to Productively Argue with Your Partner

Posted By iamincontrol | June 29, 2017

Sometimes we don’t agree with people. When two people don’t agree, they argue. Arguing can ruin relationships if it isn’t done well. Here are some tips on how to argue productively!

  • Take 5. If you feel yourself getting worked up and headed towards an argument, take a second to calm down and get your thoughts in order. Take a deep breath, and think about what you’re going to say. Anything you say can and will be held against you for the rest of your relationship, so make sure you really mean it.
  • Don’t be mean. Even though you’re in a discussion with someone, you don’t have to be mean, even if you really, REALLY want to be. There is a difference between describing why you are upset and being straight up nasty. You can productively express your emotions without destroying your relationship. For example, instead of saying “you’re a piece of crap, I can’t believe I’m dating you,” you can say “I’m really upset that you didn’t talk to me at the party.” This is a nicer way of talking to your significant other and articulates what is actually upsetting you.
  • Remember your goal. Remember that the goal of any disagreement is to resolve it. Your goal isn’t to make your significant other feel bad. Sometimes saying “I’m sorry” is the best way to resolve the fight, even if you don’t see eye to eye. Although you may not be sorry about why you are angry, you can be sorry that you upset someone that you love.
  • Fight productively. Instead of being accusatory or hostile, just explain how you feel. Don’t say things like “you did this…” or “you’re a that…” Say things like “when you did________, it made me feel __________.” Disagreeing this way will make your partner much less defensive and will allow you to express yourself.
  • Learn from it. The best thing you can do after an argument is to learn from it. You and your significant other will never be the same. You can learn about things that upset you and things that upset your partner. From now on, you can avoid those things and have a stronger relationship in the future!

To learn more, visit:

Jun 27

Body Positivity

Posted By iamincontrol | June 27, 2017

Growing up I learned that it is not appropriate to call people fat because it is rude and can hurt their feelings. As a girl who has always been stick thin, I can tell you that people calling me too thin hurts just the same. There was a time that I would try and eat more just to not be so thin, but that never worked. One way I found to be healthier for me is exercise! Going for runs and lifting weights is not only good at getting me toned, but it is an amazing stress reliever! Whenever I feel overwhelmed or anxious, I just go to the gym and try to forget about all of my problems. I have noticed since I started that not only do I notice a change in my body, but I notice a change in my mind. I feel more confident about myself and I always try to push myself to be the best I can be.

One thing I have learned is that if you want something bad enough, you have to make time for it and try everything you can to make it happen! Also, if there are people in your life who do not support you or try and bring you down, it is best to remove those people from your life. You will be much happier. Surround yourself with positive, hardworking people! You don’t realize what a difference this little change can make in your life. Finally, if anyone makes a comment about how you look, or if you think you are too fat or too skinny, just remember you are beautiful the way you are!

For more information about a positive body image and self-esteem, check out

Jun 22

Well-Visits: What are they?

Posted By iamincontrol | June 22, 2017

Adolescence and young adulthood are periods of time that individuals experience a lot of physical and emotional changes. By establishing healthy behaviors early on, these behaviors can be carried into adulthood. How do you know if something is healthy or not? Talking to your doctor is a great start!

It is important for adolescents and young adults to receive a well-visit each year. A well-visit is another name for a checkup, but is very different than a sports physical. A sports physical is a physical exam that determines if it is safe for you to participate in a particular sport. While during a well-visit with your doctor a health assessment or questionnaire about your health behaviors is completed and there is a chance for a health topics discussion.

  • Some topics that can be discussed during a well- visit are:
    • healthy eating
    • physical activity
    • mental health
    • substance use
    • sexual behaviors
    • violence
    • stress

Having a well-visit gives the doctor an opportunity to help you maintain healthy behaviors, avoid health-damaging behaviors and preventing diseases.

For some facts about adolescent health read:

Jun 20

Dealing with Social Anxiety

Posted By iamincontrol | June 20, 2017

Throughout most of the years I’ve been in school I’ve had a lot of issues with social anxiety, also known as social phobia. When most people hear the words social anxiety they think of fearing social situations or wanting to be alone, but social anxiety can have different meanings. I always enjoyed hanging out with friends and never wanted to be alone, but I was always living in fear of what people thought of me. It became hard to deal with and I never felt comfortable in my own skin, especially when I was alone. I always thought people were looking at me and thinking horribly of me. It took a good friend to teach me some tips on how to get my anxiety under some control and to worry less about what other’s thought of me. Once I started to realize I wasn’t alone in the world, I found ways to make myself happy.

I took more interest in things I’ve always wanted to do – I started taking more walks in the fresh air, changed my college major to something that interested me instead of what was expected of me by friends and family, and I’ve slowly started working on a YouTube channel as my creative outlet. Once you find a way to be comfortable in your own skin and express yourself in the best way, you can start gaining control over your anxiety. At twenty-two years old I’m just now finding myself, and I’ve never felt so motivated or driven. I decided to not let my social anxiety run my life. It may always be there, hidden in the back of my mind, but it will not control who I am every day.

Seeking out professional help is valuable in treating social anxiety as well. There are different types of treatment plans and talk therapies that can be discussed with a mental health professional to find out what the next best steps are to taking care of your social anxiety. Meditation is something that’s also helped me, but watching videos with breathing patterns like this one is what started to get me through.

If you are interested, here is a video that may help relax you:

For more information about social anxiety, visit: