I reconnected with an old friend several years ago.
We spent a lot of time together and our daughters got along well.
She started dressing like I did, cutting her hair like mine, suddenly having my same interests and saying we were soul mates.
It felt almost scary. I distanced somewhat, but she still texts me almost daily.
She frequently mentions her lesser income, compares everything I have to what she doesn’t have.
She constantly talks about her health problems (never diagnosed), and how hard her life is. She says she plans on dying at 50.
We last hung out last summer, on a weekend with our teenage daughters. She was negative the whole time. So was her daughter.
I still talk to her and listen to her problems, because I feel badly for her.
She’s been spending a lot, insisting she only has a few years left. Her “plan” – which she’s shared with her daughter - is to put her daughter through university, travel for a year with her, then kill herself.
I know she’s probably very depressed. I don’t know if she’s seeking attention or serious.
My first instinct was to distance myself more, but that would make me a horrible person.
Emotionally Draining Friendship
It’s a tragic “plan” and understandably uncomfortable for you to hear and worry whether she’ll carry it out.
Yet you apparently don’t want to just walk away.
She probably is seeking attention, so give her what you can of yours.
Say that unless she sees a doctor for her health issues and likely depression, you can’t sit idly by while she plans a suicide.
Ask her whether she’d prefer that you alert mental health authorities to help her get treatment, or that she does it on her own. (Call anyway yourself, to get professional advice).
Tell her that if she stays with her plan, you can’t support the stressful friendship any longer.
IF you can reach any of her relatives or other friends, you could consider organizing an intervention with professional help.
If not, you can only do what you can handle emotionally.
FEEDBACK Regarding the "multi-phobic" husband who hid his phobias until the day after the wedding (Jan. 22):
Reader – “This writer should seek counselling to resolve her resentment.
“The husband sounds like he's agoraphobic (it’s far more complex than a fear of open spaces) and has a number of triggers which he’s identified.
“He should be seeking cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) which is highly effective and can be augmented by medication to help take the edge off anxiety until talk therapy and practical methods begin working for him.
“His greatest challenge will be overcoming defeatist self-talk. Worrying about the worst- case scenario (e.g. a panic attack or a screaming fit that’ll embarrass both he and his spouse) often provokes that very thing he fears, even before he’s in the situation.
“My greatest concern is the likelihood that this man’s being mocked and ridiculed for something over which he has no control.
“Before they married, he likely steered their activities away from potential triggers.
“But resentment over a flight is trivial. (A mild medication can get him through the flight, but how does he feel about being so far outside his comfort zone?)”
Ellie – They’ve been married many years, though she only learned of his phobias after the wedding. Therapy would help him, IF he’d accept it, but unfortunately he’s also phobic about hospitals, doctors, etc.
My granddaughter, 28, and her husband accept my gifts of money - $100 each for their birthdays and $100 Euros each towards their trips.
But they never can say two little words - "Thank you" – neither by phone, email, or a written note.
I am deeply hurt. My granddaughter knows how sensitive I am about it, yet they both ignore this polite acknowledgement.
I taught my children and grandchildren manners and to have an attitude of gratitude.
What should I do about their lack of it, or can I do anything?
Stop the money gifts. You’ll surely be asked about it, and should then say you didn’t think they ever received the previous gifts since they never acknowledged them.
If they don’t get the message, apologize, and thank you belatedly, save your money. Their rudeness is insulting and their sense of entitlement is depressing.
It’s unlikely they’d respond if you ever need help.
Tip of the day:
If someone with suicidal intent won’t accept your help, alert mental health authorities for advice.