Hello! It’s time for the monthly ritual where I answer short questions and give priority to the patrons who keep the lights on and the web-hamsters running. We’ve got twelve questions this week, I’ve written up the first batch and will post the rest later in the weekend. Topics: Passive-aggressive coworkers, celebrating a climb out of depression, figuring out fit a new job, settling in in a new town, becoming a therapist to the stars, and becoming better at conflict.
TW for mention of suicide/suicidal ideation, if you would appreciate the warning (“mention” like “this thing exists in my past” mention).
Behind a cut for a discussion of suicidal ideation, obsession, and suicide. The post has been edited a bit from its original form thanks to constructive feedback from commenters on ways that word use heightened stigma around mental illness around suicide. I deeply apologize and hope that this draft serves the LW without making the pain of others worse.
Thread closed, 9/22. LW got what they needed and I have other duties and cannot focus on moderation today.
I was wondering if you could help me sort something out with my friend S. My life has gone through the wringer the past 2 years, in terms of friendship dynamics turning scary and unhealthy, being assaulted/ stalked, my emotionally abusive/ homophobic parents, and the basic drama of becoming an adult. My friends have been an incredible support for me, and balance the acts of being there for me and still just hanging out and having fun.
I’ve been in therapy for these issues, and am working really hard on my anxiety and depression. I am working hard to ensure that my stalker (who has a history of violence and threatens harm to himself and others) does not threaten my physical or mental safety. I am proud of how assured I am in how to do self-care and how I am able to doubt myself less. My biggest issue has been trust issues and worrying that the people closest to me don’t believe me.
S. has been there for me, even when we were in different countries this past couple months. Now that we are back in the same place things have gotten… weird. Her new attitude is “question everything”, because she wants to be a teacher and apply that philosophy everywhere. Yet to me, her questions don’t seem to be coming from a place of wanting to know or understand, but to get me to self reflect. She has also said it is important for her to question me so I can “have a better understanding of the larger situation”, especially because I tend to “overreact”. It may sound dramatic, but I feel like I’m being interrogated a lot of the time. I don’t want a life coach that inadvertently victim blames me (which is why I go to my super lovely therapist), I want nerd out with my friend.
I told S. that I love her ability to ask good questions, because it means we have really excellent dialogues, but that sometimes just jumping into questions about my personal issues without starting with validation or support is too much for me, and she responded with “I can’t change who I am.” She also brought up my previous request for verbal affirmation, and told me it was annoying to tell me she loves me all the time.
I love her to pieces. She has been an incredible friend. But this new shift in how she communicates/ treats me is bringing up major trust issues, yet I feel like I am asking for way too much. She has also been talking a lot to my friend G. about me (something she told me, not something I am “overreacting” to), and all of a sudden G. isn’t talking to me. My immediate move has been to step back and let them initiate contact, because managing this group dynamic feels really hard on top of taking care of myself.
I don’t want to change her, but I also want to feel safe hanging out with her. Is this my anxiety/ just my problem? Or do you have any suggestions for scripts that I should use? Are there any paths of action to get my relationships with S. and G. back to mutually healthy places? I really love them and our histories together, regardless of the tensions now.
– Questioning the Questioner
Hello, readers. My friend Anuradha Rana and her colleague Doris Rusch are looking for documentary subjects and collaborators for a transmedia (game, audio, video) project on emotional health and wellbeing among young people. She is a regular reader of the blog and asked me to share her project and call for volunteers with the community here. Here is a note from Anu explaining what she’s looking for:
I am a documentary filmmaker based in Chicago, currently working on a transmedia project about issues of Mental wellbeing and health, especially in young people between the ages of 16 and 28.
The project uses a web-platform to host documentary episodes (audio and video) & experiential games that focus on emotional health and wellbeing. The goal of the project is to explore and de-stigmatize mental health issues faced by college students and youth (for instance ADD, OCD, Anxiety, Stress, Eating Disorders and Body Image issues) challenge major cultural attitudes toward them, and showcase groups geared toward making these a reality in Chicago.
We are looking for people, especially between the ages of 16-28, who have been diagnosed with ADD, OCD, Eating Disorders, Bipolar, Anxiety, Stress, Insomnia, or Depression, to share their stories with us on or off camera. We will respect your wishes to remain anonymous, if desired.
We are interested in showcasing groups, organizations or non-profits in Chicago that are good resources. If you had to recommend one such group that we should film, which one would it be?
If you need more information, or are interested in participating, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to forward this email to others who may be interested.
Please get in touch with Anu directly if you’re interested in sharing your story or have an organization to recommend.
How do I see the whole of a person?
Hello! I was hoping you could help me with something. There is a guy at uni I am friends with, who has depression. Over the past semester at uni, we have grown very close, mostly on the basis of me becoming the person he turns to when he needs someone to confide in about the depression. We have also fairly recently become sexually involved with one another, which started in June for a week and the one time I’ve seen him since based on a couple of months of text/Skype conversations that became more and more explicit over time. I was also recently reminded of his mean streak, in regards to casual mean comments and tendency to strike out hurtfully at others when hurting or in misplaced jest/humour.
The issue is I can’t seem to integrate these three aspects of him in my head. When I think about him I am essentially thinking about one of three different versions of him – the one I listen to and comfort, the one whom I am sexually involved and also turn to for comfort, and the one with harsh comments and the mean humour. How, oh wise one, can I integrate these parts in my head and thus treat him as the whole person he is?
Thank you sincerely,
I vote that you believe hard in the Mean Guy and view the rest of his personality through that lens.
Now, some letters about living situations gone bad (#451) and very, very bad (#452).
I need some help with relationship ambivalence.
It’s been 3 years and we live together. This is going to sound awful, but I recently has the thought that I am better than him at almost everything. He is extremely unsure of himself and is very dependent on me. He needs help/frets about making even the tiniest decisions. His indecision about inconsequential things used to be something we joked about, but now I just feel very smothered. He often makes his problems/feelings my problem or responsibility. I have had the occasional moment of, “this is definitely right for me”, but more often I have had doubts about whether I really want to be with him.
Here’s the wrench: My whole life has been in a shake-up recently. In the past two weeks, I found out I am losing my job (a job I REALLY love), found out I didn’t get accepted into grad school, then, last week I witnessed a stranger’s death. I was one of the first people to stop and help him. I stood over him as he died, before medics even arrived. The experience has really had a profound effect on me. I was very disturbed by what happened. BF knew I had all this going on though that didn’t stop him from wanting to have a big relationship talk about feeling that we’ve been in a “rut” for the past week. This was two days after the stranger’s death.
On one hand, I feel like I should not make any major life decisions in such a period of upheaval. On the other, I get the feeling I am being tested and have a gut feeling towards making changes in my life.
I have a gut sense telling me to end it, but I can’t *rationalize*why because everything seems fine between us. He is a very kind person, intelligent, insightful, sweet, cute, great sense of humor and he loves me very much. We live together very harmoniously. On the downside, he has depression that he has never attempted to do anything about. Recently, on my urging, he agreed to talk to a psychiatrist and then asked me to give him the number to a psychiatrist. Later, he blamed me that he hadn’t called because I never gave him the number. This is the kind of responsibility-shifting that really upsets me and makes me sad.
In my society, there is a slavish devotion to “rational” thinking and I doubt many of my intuitions. Then here I am being the one who is indecisive and generally at-sea!
I have no idea what to do and could use a little wisdom!
Dear Private Secretson:
Your vague gut feeling that you want to end it IS the reason.