Woman drained by friend’s long cry­ing spells

Child­hood friend like a sis­ter, but what can she say dur­ing rough times?

Chicago Sun-Times - - Showcase -

DEAR ABBY: I am a 14year-old girl in eighth grade. I have plenty of friends, play the clar­inet and pi­ano, and am in­volved in school year­book and the­ater, among other things. My prob­lem is,

I am in my early 40s, and mar­ried with two daugh­ters. I have a friend, “Sally,” whom I have known since the third grade. We are like sis­ters.

Sally has been pro­foundly de­pressed for at least 15 years. She sees a ther­a­pist and a psy­chi­a­trist on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and is on med­i­ca­tion.

My ques­tion, Abby, is what do you say to some­one who calls at least once a week, for at least an hour, cry­ing so hard I can barely un­der­stand her? She calls to tell me how sad she is and how she doesn’t think any­thing in her life will im­prove. While I’m con­cerned for her and care about what hap­pens to her, I don’t feel I can give her any ad­vice or guid­ance that her coun­selor/psy­chi­a­trist isn’t able to give.

Short of lis­ten­ing and pro­vid­ing the prover­bial shoul­der to lean on, what more can I do? I feel I need to be there for her, but I also feel drained dry be­cause this has been go­ing on for sev­eral years. Any guid­ance you might of­fer would be greatly ap­pre­ci­ated.

CON­CERNED FRIEND DEAR CON­CERNED: You are a sup­port­ive friend, but when Sally calls cry­ing so hard she can hardly talk, tell her that the per­son she needs to be talk­ing to is her ther­a­pist.

By al­low­ing her to vent to you, you are pre­vent­ing the ther­a­pist from eval­u­at­ing her while she’s in cri­sis and giv­ing her the tools she needs to im­prove.

Your friend may need to have her meds ad­justed or changed, and see­ing Sally while she is “at the bot­tom” could give her ther­a­pist valu­able in­sights. If Sally isn’t ca­pa­ble of plac­ing the call to her ther­a­pist, of­fer to do it for her. I get sick a lot.

No one can fig­ure out why I can’t go two weeks without pick­ing up a virus. Be­cause of this, I am gone from school quite of­ten. I can han­dle the oc­ca­sional teas­ing I get from other kids, and my teach­ers are help­ful. It’s the two school sec­re­taries I have a prob­lem with.

Once, when I left school dur­ing the day be­cause I wasn’t feel­ing well, one of them said to me: “You need to try to be at school more. I know it’s hard, but you’ve got to try.” Other things they have said lead me to be­lieve they think I’m fak­ing. Now they want a note from ev­ery doc­tor I see. I was gone a lot last year, but they didn’t en­force this.

What is ap­pro­pri­ate in re­spond­ing to their “com­ments”? I’d like to ask, “Is that your opin­ion as a sec­re­tary?” or say, “I’m do­ing the best I can with my sit­u­a­tion, and you’re not help­ing.” Or, I could bore them with a detailed de­scrip­tion of my med­i­cal his­tory, or maybe com­plain to the prin­ci­pal. What do you sug­gest?

SICK OF IT DEAR SICK OF IT: Your med­i­cal his­tory is not the school sec­re­taries’ busi­ness, and you do not owe them any detailed de­scrip­tions of it. How­ever, it’s pos­si­ble that the woman who ad­vised you that you “needed to be at school more” was speak­ing out of con­cern, so try not to be de­fen­sive.

If a note from your doc­tor is re­quired, you should pro­duce one af­ter ev­ery ab­sence. And I rec­om­mend that you have your mother con­tact the prin­ci­pal if there are any ques­tions about your med­i­cal sta­tus.

Dear Abby is writ­ten by Abi­gail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, Calif. 90069.


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