Baggage Check Live: "Two trees, one seed"

Oct 09, 2018

Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Bonior was online to take your comments about her advice column, Baggage Check, and any other questions you might have. These comments may appear in an upcoming column running in Express and online.

Want to read more? Read Baggage Check columns.

Follow Dr. Andrea on Facebook here.

Hi, everyone! So thrilled to have you here.

I am playing a bit of catch-up after a surprise power outage (that loud crash couldn't have been good.) Thanks to the people at this coffee shop who have not batted an eye after I ran in in a rush with a head full of just-showered-and-barely-time-to-towel-dry hair, suspiciously eying the lights to make sure they were on. If I'm slow to answer questions at first, please forgive me, as I lost a very large chunk of prep/reading time.

In today's Baggage-- we've got a question about lottery tickets. How much is too much, when it's your spouse doing the spending? And in Question 2, what do we think about pulling the plug on a friendship?

Bring it on!


I'm miserable, and I can't seem to bring myself out of this slump. I hate my job, and have been actively looking for a new one. But despite lots of interviews, I'm always the bridesmaid. My husband claims to be supportive and helpful, but never seems to back it up with actions. Ex: he just made a giant mess of the house, then left for a 1 week business trip. I've tried to connect with a therapist, but the ones that bother to reply to me aren't taking new patients. I try to eat well, get plenty of sleep, do fun things, etc. but I'm miserable. I know that I need to keep applying for jobs and eventually I'll get a new one. But I don't know how to keep doing all of this in hopes that things will get better at some point. What can I do to get me through this low time?

Please, please, please keep trying on the therapist end. That is disheartening to hear, but there are ones out there that are taking patients.

First things first, I am trying to tease out how much of this misery is due to the job, and how much the job is just on the periphery of it. I know firsthand how much a bad job situation can wreck someone's mental health-- it seems this year in particular I've worked with a lot of people trying to dig themselves out-- but I'm unclear what's underlying what.

You've got to communicate with your husband about how you're struggling, and ask for specific things he can do to help-- example: don't leave me a big mess to clean up and then disappear for five days. Be concrete and ask for what you need.

Two things you don't mention are socializing and exercising. Yes, they are often classified under "fun things" (well, not necessarily the exercising-- depending on who you talk to), but they're crucial for trying not to fall too hard into the slump.

It's quite possible that your thought processes and ruminations are making things even more difficult. Can you start identifying some negative thought patterns that are bringing you down? "The Happiness Trap" and "Learned Optimism" (as always, no kickbacks) are good places to start.

Your answer is right on. My spouse and I have a set amount that transfers every 2 weeks into a separate bank debit account for each of us. I cannot see what he uses his for, he cannot see what I use mine for This way we have a set amount of money to “burn” on anything that we want without affecting the budget. We can also set money aside and buy each other gifts without seeing the price/store. This requires trust and might not work if your spouse would use that money for addictions or affairs, but if it’s just wrangling over petty cash it works great. We can each have our hobbies or peccadillos without the other having to deal with it, and we don’t interfere with the money in the communal account that pays the bills.

Thanks. Yes, I do think there's a larger question here, which is how much freedom they have to do what they want with their money, both joint money and individual money (if it exists.) I've seen a lot of couples work things out your way, or just simply having a don't-ask-don't-tell understanding for joint accounts as long as it's not past a certain amount. Trust, communication and respect are key!

but it's only about $10 worth, and as Andrea says, he could spend that much on a fancy drink once a week. I consider a bottle-of-wine's-worth of $$ to be money well spent. The cost-benefit ratio includes fun.


Anyone who's ever happily lost a few bucks to a smiling Tabasco bottle on a slot machine (while knowing that they had barely any chance of winning whatsoever) gets how sometimes it can just be viewed as an entertainment expense.

I went back to my hometown, and was dining out with two old friends plus the husband of one of them. We three women shared a bottle of wine. The bill came and the husband put a credit card into the portfolio. I picked up the bill, calculated my share, added cash, and handed the portfolio to the third friend. She was texting with her babysitter and let the portfolio sit on the table for quite a while. When she did finally attend to it, she couldn't figure out how to split the bill and add tip. The husband exploded and yelled "I'd rather pay for the whole dXmn thing than put up with this bullshXt." He was looking at me as he said it. I was stunned, said "I can't handle your anger," and got up and left. I should add that I have seen him suddenly anger like this in the past, but his yelling has always been directed at his wife; this was the first time he yelled at me. I waited outside for the texting friend to join me but she did not. Later that night, she called me and proceeded to complain about MY "anger issues." She even brought up an incident from earlier in the summer (when I had asked for a better table in a restaurant than the one initially assigned) as evidence of my "problem." That is the second time during our friendship that she has called me after she was drinking to tell me what is wrong with me. Ironically, when sober she vehemently claims she does not judge people, and I think she sincerely believes she does not. It's been two weeks and I have not heard from any of them. I feel the husband owes me an apology for yelling and the texting friend owes me an apology for the hurtful things she said on the phone. I would also like the wife to stand up to her husband's outbursts, but I doubt she ever will. Both of the women are scheduled to come visit me in the coming months (different times), but I really do not want to host them and pretend as if nothing happened. Should I cancel the visits? Send them an email explaining why I am hurt? If I do either, should I ask for an apology? I'll be sad if these two old friendships are over, but I try to live my life in a positive way and I just don't have the emotional energy for negative behavior and hurtful words. Thanks for any advice you can offer.

Okay, it's hard for me to know exactly what tone the husband said it in-- one person's "bullshXt" is a light-hearted nudge, whereas the other one is fire coming out of the nostrils-- but I do think he was being rude regardless. And if it was a true explosion, I honestly worry for your friend's well-being.

I don't generally think that "asking for an apology" is a very fruitful endeavor. If they want to apologize, they will, and if they're forced, it probably isn't what you want anyway. I'm more for expressing one's feelings and having a dialogue about it. So, be respectful and use the I statements I'm always jabbering on about. "Look, I don't want things to harden after what happened at the restaurant. But I'm upset about it and I'm hoping you had some time to talk it over..... I felt pretty hurt when Jon said that to me. I felt like I was being personally attacked, after what had been a nice evening, and I was disappointed that it seemed to escalate from there. I'm hoping we can talk this all through respectfully, because I value our friendships and this has been eating at me, and it would be difficult for me to pretend like nothing happened." 

This. Or leave the mess there, if that's possible, and point out when he complains about it that you work full-time, too, so how is it your job to clean up a mess he made?

Yup, but I think that tit-for-tat probably is even more exhausting. Hopefully OP can get some better support soon.

Can you have a walking date with a friend? Getting outside - and into countryside, especially the woods - is also hugely uplifting.

Two birds, one stone! (Oof-- that's an analogy that doesn't sound so pleasant when you think about it.)

But yes, yes, yes. Thank you.

only about the judginess and negativity. Leave out, completely, the "stuff I consider frivolous like shopping and makeup." One person's frivolity is another person's self-care.

Very good point! Thank you!

Perhaps the letter writer should examine her own role in the friendship running its course. While she says her friend has become judgmental and negative, the letter writer comes off that way too: "She spends a lot of time on social media and things I consider frivolous about shopping and makeup." Ouch. While those topics wouldn't interest me at all, I also wouldn't call a friend frivolous if that's what he or she is interested in. It's entirely possible for a friendship to run its course because the people involved have interests that have diverged over the years, but I'd suggest the letter writer consider how her own approach to the friendship has changed before pursuing a discussion.

Absolutely. You are the second person to pick up on this, and I should have made a bigger point of it too. Many thanks!

I've just learned I have a small, grape-sized mass in one of my kidneys, and have an appt. today to see the doctor (GP) who ordered the CT scan, to discuss the results. Results were posted online before appointment & that's how I know. My daughter, who lives with me, is 23 and doesn't handle health scare issues well. Her dad became very ill slowly when she was about 10 and passed away in a nursing home of kidney failure when she was almost 13. Now I'm facing a possible diagnosis of kidney cancer 10 years later. I'm just not sure how to tell her, or when. I'd like her to be with me when I have a biopsy (assuming they'll order one). I have a great deal of respect for her as the intelligent adult that she is, but health issues turn her back into a little girl and she withdraws emotionally. Signed, Trying Not to Freak Out.

First, I am really sorry. I hope you can take some deep breaths and get through this appointment. This is one example of one of the pitfalls of digital health records—sometimes we see something on a screen that would better be delivered by a human, with professional expertise and nuance and context, and the ability to answer our questions.

Given your daughter’s sensitivities (which are totally understandable—speaking of which, I am sorry for your loss as well), I think it best to try to stabilize the roller coaster before you let her on. As many positives as there could be for having her at the biopsy, I can’t help but think that a trusted friend or other family member could be a better bet for now. Is there such a person you could bring?

It seems like waiting past the Scary Huge Question Mark stage until you know more could help her cope better when telling her. You would have had more time to process it, and you would be better able to present the specifics, have answers to her questions, have a plan, and be more grounded yourself. Please do keep us posted.


My partner has been going through quite a rough patch. I have been really worried and listen to him, but I am obviously no professional. I want him to seek professional help, but he seems to push back whenever I mention it. How can I bring this up to him? I know I can't force him, but he just hasnt been himself and I really think it could help.

I think you have to address the push-back, depending on the nature of it. Is it denial that he needs it? Worry about the expense? Distaste for opening up to a stranger? Intimidation about the logistics of it? A lack of awareness about what it's all about?

Any of those can be addressed individually, with lots of support and trouble-shooting. If it's denial that there's a problem, you can simply say what you see-- that he hasn't been himself (maybe with some specific but lovingly brought up examples), that it's worth a try, that you're worried about him, that it's not that something is wrong with him but just that he deserves to feel better.

And even if he continues to push back, at least you know you are planting the seed for now.

(In response to last week's chat.)

So, my husband has thankfully chilled out on a lot of things. But now his mother is taking over the job of nagging me, and spent a recent visit making little comments about everything. My baby shower was too fancy (I guess I should have smacked the decorations out of my friends' hands?), I need to hire a handyman (I don't), my husband needs my help with (various tasks her fully competent adult son could manage), I need to go back to work (I'm virtually unemployable due to chronic illness, I find other ways to contribute, husband is fine with this), and on and on. What aggravates me is that another family member, with MIL right there, asked how to be supportive. I said unsolicited advice causes me a lot of stress, and I just need everyone to chill and give us space. I also told MIL several times that we're in survival mode, and if not all my tasks get crossed off the list life will go on. It just does not register. I talked with my husband, and his idea was that I tactfully explain to her why she needs to back off. 1. I don't have it in me to be tactful right now, and 2. I've tried that! What part of "we're in survival mode, and unsolicited advice makes things worse" does she not understand? My husband wants her to come help when the baby comes, because I'm likely going to have a rough recovery. But I can see that being a complete disaster. Are there solutions I'm not thinking of?

Thank you for this update.

Husband is the solution here.

Or, unfortunately, potentially part of the problem.

Seriously, it is his mother-- he needs to run interference. Especially given that you have already tried in the moment to convey to her that this is extremely stressful to you. Why can't HE tactfully explain to his Mommy that she needs to back off? And why can't he intervene in the moment when she is picking at you? 

He's got to be able to set appropriate boundaries with her now, on behalf of his family. He came through before-- let's see if he can do it again.

Hang in there.

The LW seems to believe that his/her wife should have exactly the same priorities about money that s/he does, and that the wife's choices reflect on him/her. Too many spouses have this unconscious attitude and it can be really destructive. LW needs to think hard about this.

I agree.

I really think it's not about lottery tickets per se, but about a lack of acceptance of a different perspective. I'm hoping LW can see this. (Are you out there?)

Hi Dr. Bonior, I’m relatively new to the chats, but glad I found them - they’re great! Generally I think you give excellent advice, but over the past few weeks I have found that when a poster writes in with anger/angst/etc. over political issues, you allow your own biases to come through in the answers, which I find surprising. With one writer who is still feeling anger about the outcome of the election and basically feels that half the country aren’t real Americans/don’t share their values/“would torch our democracy,” I think there was an important point to be made that you sadly missed. Those feelings might be real, but they are also incredibly destructive. I think it’s worth saying that the vast majority of people who voted for Trump are NOT terrible people. Trump voters are not some amorphous racist/homophobic/etc. blob living in the middle of the country. They are regular people with jobs and families and hopes of a better future who were faced with two less-than-ideal candidates for president and made a choice different from the one you made. I think that is something that needs to be said over and over and over again. (And, you might know more of them than you think!) And as for getting over the anger, I think a good start is taking a week to turn off social media, read/watch/listen to the news only once per day, and don’t listen to the political commentators. Your anger and frustration and other big, negative emotions are great for politicians and media outlets. They are not great for you. And for the record, I did not vote for either major-party candidate, so I’m not advocating for any “side” - just trying to lower the collective blood pressure in this country.

I appreciate this perspective, but I think where we differ is that I think it's my job to understand and listen to people's big feelings. I'm not sitting here calling anyone a terrible person. But I also am going to give airtime to the vast amount of people who are really struggling with anger right now. There are a lot of people feeling incredibly disempowered and scared, and for what I consider very valid reasons. I also differ with you in the fact that I don't think that these types of feelings are destructive. Feelings are feelings. They are made to be heard and expressed, and when people feel disempowered and invalidated, they get angry and scared. Yes, how you act on that anger can be destructive. But I will never tell someone not to feel an emotional reaction to something because doing so is "bad."

So, the acting on them-- how I've always encouraged people to act on their feelings is to listen, understand, validate, respect and communicate. And in many cases, take action in a way that makes you feel less disempowered. If that's a bias, I am totally guilty!

My veg pacifist friend coined 'grow two trees from seed'.

Two trees, one seed-- I love it!

Thank you.

Sorry you're going through this. No added suggestions, just a ringing endorsement of what Andrea said. I see the aspects of why you'd like your daughter at the biopsy but realistically, She won't be able to wear that hat. Who amongst your friends / family can be the person you want with you at the biopsy. Hoping for good outcome for you.

Thanks for this.

OP, we are sending you such good thoughts right now.

Did the friend become judgy and negative after she started spending a lot of time on social media? Because this is a known phenomenon: the ability to publicly react to social media posts gradually becomes what feels like an obligation to react, and since clicking "like" or "Angry" are some of the few options available, people start doing it automatically, thus training themselves to react to things they would otherwise have shrugged at and ignored. I don't know how one would address this with a friend, just putting it out there.

I do think it can be a vicious cycle! Sadly, I think you're identifying a really common dynamic that can be really easy to fall into.

(So, thumbs up or thumbs down on this answer? ;-) )

It's been a few years since I looked for one, but my experience in the DC area is that most therapists who take insurance are not taking new patients. It's almost impossible to even get a return phone call. I found only one who did take insurance and was taking new patients, but she was really awful and unkind. She actually used something I said in therapy against me, and it would have been really damaging if I had been more vulnerable. After many more months of searching, I ended up going with someone who does not accept insurance and I just used my (meager) out of network benefits to defray some of the costs. So all this is to say it is extremely difficult to find a therapist and it takes energy that many people who need therapy don't have. Keep at it if you can. I wish you good luck.

Ugh. I am always so sorry to hear these experiences, though I do know they happen. I'm really sorry that you went through it-- and glad it didn't do more damage. Glad you kept at it, too.

Exercise has slacked off this month because of being so busy, but in general I work out 2-3 times a week. Yes, I socialize with friends (part of the being so busy). I think it's mostly the job and job hunting. It makes me so much less patient with my husband and in constant stress-mode. I'm having a hard time feeling optimistic about anything, even the idea of getting a new job. I feel so burned out, I want to quit my job and just figure out what I want to do next, but that isn't an option (I believe the metaphor is "golden handcuffs"). I will check out the books. Thank you

Got it. Yeah, I have worked with a lot of people who know this struggle well.

At some point, is it worth escaping into a temp job of some sort, just to get the change of scenery?

Keep sending those resumes. It's a numbers game, after all, and I will have my fingers and toes crossed for you!

In no way can your MIL come and help after your pregnancy. Is there someone you'd like there who could actually come. That would be the best but if not you need to make sure your husband does not offer and invitation to his mother. As Andrea says - can he please step up more with this mum!

Sounds like you will be willing to join me in creating a human shield between OP and this MIL in the days immediately following the delivery!

Thanks for this.

My seventeen year old daughter has debilitating anxiety and depression. I have taken her to multiple therapists, who she refuses to see after a few appointments ("they don't help to me"); she refuses to try medication ("it won't work for me"); refuses to try meditation, mindfulness, exercise, etc. ("they don't work for me").

The only thing that works for her is dumping all her pain and anxiety onto me, as soon as I walk in the door from work until I go to bed at night, expecting me to "fix" her problems. I listen to her and try to guide her to ways to help herself, but she doesn't want to help herself; she literally says to me, "make me feel better."

I dread coming home. I am emotionally exhausted. I want to help my daughter find ways to manage and cope with her anxiety and depression but I don't know what else to do at this point.

I am sorry. This really does sound absolutely exhausting. I wonder if some sort of contract/reward system would help. Telling her that yes, you want to help her "fix" things, but there are some basic psychological truths that make it impossible for you to do it on your own. And that you can only help to the extent that she is willing to work on it as well. So, you want her to try X medication/behavior modification/therapy appointment/exercise/mindfulness and then she can earn [insert something that could potentially be a motivator for her here.]

I get it, that there may not actually be something that works as a motivator. And that's part of the depression problem. And in that case, you might have to go the modeling route. Start doing meditation/exercise/mindfulness yourself. She comes home and asks you to "fix" things, you say, "Great, let's take a walk and talk." She enters the door and starts dumping her pain on you, you say "I am ready to help but can we please take ten minutes to do these breathing exercises together? It will help me calm down and be more ready to listen."

Also, are there any teachers/coaches/guidance counselors who have a little more insight into what might be going on in other areas of her life? What might be a motivator? The more information you have, the better.

I know that watching your kid struggle in this way can be really, really tough. Have any chatters been there?

"They are regular people with jobs and families and hopes of a better future who were faced with two less-than-ideal candidates for president and made a choice different from the one you made. " No. They are people who actively chose to give power to a mentally unstable, anti-democratic, anti-woman, racist fearmonger, and there was abundant evidence of these qualities well before the election. They're also not the majority of the country. I'm tired of the "Hillary was just as bad!" trope, because it attempts to absolve Trump voters for their disastrous choice. This is not a "both sides" or a "reasonable people can disagree" issue to me, it's a bright line of basic human decency. And I wish Trump supporters would at least acknowledge that my point of view is valid, instead of playing the whataboutism and false equivalence games.

I suppose by printing this, I will be further placing myself directly into the line of bias-accusation-fire. But hey, false equivalence is a cognitive error that needs to be highlighted and stopped!

For him, the issue seems to be, how can I open up to a stranger. I have told him that it is a relationship he builds over time, but he seems to make up excuses to avoid it (it won't fit in my schedule, etc.)

Gotcha. It's a common discomfort, but he should know that therapists are so used to this-- and are pretty well-trained in making people feel comfortable who by definition are NOT feeling comfortable. (They can also be pretty good at making people feel uncomfortable when the need calls for it, but that's a different issue.)

And those second-line specific concerns about scheduling, etc., are things you can help address. "Hey, do you want me to call some therapists for you and see what's available?"

Dear Dr. Bonoir, I'm struggling keeping relationships, i used to have a couple of friends whom i spend my free time with but we are not in touch anymore (they started a family, moved out, lost the contact, etc...) since then i tried to make some new friends but as an introvert myself it seems like i lack the skills to start new friendships or keep them at all, i feel like the new people i try to start a friendship with don't like me cause even if I'm the one who starts the conversations, the one who calls, the one who suggests the events to hang out at the weekend or the party they don't put the same effort, show any interest at all or just don't answer. I eventually lost the interest myself and i still don't know what i do wrong. I came to the point where i don't have no one to spend time with. I enjoy my solitude as an introvert but sometimes i ask myself, when should I start to worry?

I hear from a lot of folks like you out there, so please know that you are NOT alone. Meeting new people and developing continuing relationships with them takes time and effort and is a numbers game-- and luck will determine what that number is. But the part that you can control is to keep up the effort.

Finding activities you enjoy, or doing volunteer work, has become such seemingly cliched advice in this situation, and yet it really is the best way to go about things. Because not only are you more likely to meet people you are compatible with, but also, even if you don't, it is a two-trees-one-seed (thanks, OP!) situation. So it's not like you haven't still gotten something out of it if the friendships don't take.

What kinds of things do you enjoy? Is there volunteer work (which can provide a mood boost in its own right) that can go along with that? What about starting to establish a sense of community with a certain gathering place, going to the same gym or coffee shop.... think about listservs that cater to people who have your interests, meetup groups, etc. Think about how you like to spend your time, and how the people that you are drawn to would be spending their time.

And no, you shouldn't start to worry just because you like your alone time! But if you want more connections, those are some ways to start. Good luck!

I'm the OP who asked about sharing a therapist with a soon-to-be-ex at last week's chat. Since I wrote in the first time, which was a couple of days after being blind-sided by my spouse's announcement of their decision to separate, I have been able to get some clarifications regarding the timeline and therapist's involvement. Having individual sessions did indeed start out as a supplement to joint sessions focused on parenting and marriage issues, and I now know that my spouse's hatching of the plan to leave did not extend over as many sessions as I at first was led to believe. I was also able to get confirmation from both my spouse and the therapist that the therapist did express her concerns regarding my spouse's plan for revealing their decision the way they did. Perhaps most importantly for my own therapeutic purposes, I had the opportunity and ability to express my feelings of betrayal to the therapist, and began working through those with her. She agreed that the situation had become very difficult ethically, and could not continue as such. I expressed my desire to keep seeing her individually (because of all the progress I had made with her) as well as in joint sessions with my spouse (as we navigate our separation), and for my soon-to-be-ex to stop seeing her while I have individual sessions with her. My STBX agreed, and we are going to try this arrangement for the next month. It's clear that we are heading for divorce, so who knows how it'll all turn out in the end.

Thank you for this update. It is a relief that at least you will continue to be able to get this therapist's support, and that the ethically untenable situation was also recognized by her-- and is about to be stopped.

Please do keep us posted. I know you have a long road ahead, but I am glad you have some support.

I think BPD has been mentioned in some of your recent chats, and that prompted me to think more about my mother, who shows numerous signs of the disorder (her mother did too). I'm looking into resources to help myself come to terms with this, but my question isn't about me, as I think I'm dealing with my mother in healthy ways (although it took many years to get to here).

My question is actually about my step-kids (both teenagers). Based on what I know about their mom and how I have seen her treat the kids, I think she shows numerous signs of BPD, as well. Their dad (my husband) and I have a stable and loving home, and we have a great relationship with the younger kid, who seems to be pretty well-adjusted. The older kid is really close to his mom and seems to show a lot of symptoms that children of BPD parents show.

Is there anything we can do for the kids, besides continuing to give them a stable and loving home, to counteract the damage that their mother may be doing? Therapy is out for now - their mom doesn't believe in it, and both parents have to sign off on any treatments like that. We only have the kids every other weekend, so our influence is limited (although they often talk to their dad during the week, when their mom isn't around).

Your influence may seem limited, but if you and your husband are on the same page about this, it can be a wonderful, solid influence that can definitely help counteract what they might be going through if their mother is showing these signs.

In cases of BPD, it's the unpredictability and instability that can hurt the most. ("You seemed to love me yesterday, but now you seem to hate me because I spilled the sugar.") Love can seem conditional and is often used as a weapon. The more that you and your husband can provide an environment that is the opposite of this, the less they will come to think of that other world as "normal."

And you can start to notice and ask questions and listen. Not to accuse their mother of anything or to bias them against her, of course, but more to show that THEIR feelings matter. That you want to talk to them about their sadness/irritation/happiness and that you notice it and that it's valued in its own right and that they are able to talk to you about it.

I'd avoid hypothesizing about their mother and more just focus on seeing and embracing and loving what you have in front of you. It sounds like you are on the right track about that!

I second this. I think professionals forget or don't realize how difficult it is to A. find one who takes insurance and availability 2. finding the right one. It often makes depression worse just trying to find someone. We live in a capitalist country, not a socialist one. Society doesn't' make it easy to be healthy.

This really does break my heart.

I very rarely have openings but do try my best to respond to everyone who reaches out in search of one. I know that sometimes I may accidentally let people's reachouts fall through the cracks, though, and I hate that and am sorry for it!

I don't have any living family, and all of my friends work full-time or have children of their own. Husband is overwhelmed at the idea of going it alone, but says he can try if that's what's needed. Hiring help is not in the budget. So it's either get MIL under control, or simultaneously manage a newborn, a very freaked out husband, and recovery.


But "getting MIL under control" does not have to be an all-or-none thing. She can come for a specified time after a certain amount of time has elapsed, or come for specific duties, or yes-- even come to the area but not stay with you.

The more you talk with your husband about what you need, the better you'll be able to come up with a solution and also put her on notice about what you need.

This is a problem in my immediate family. They are adamant about this. So all I can do is react thus: "If you're not going to get help with this problem, I'm not going to have this discussion with you." Which makes for even more tension but it at least makes my position clear. It's exhausting having this as a perennial issue.

For sure, it can be so frustrating when someone you love needs help and yet they can't seem to get over the barriers to getting it.

I wonder if sometimes a medical analogy can be made. Sure, none of us wants to have a proctological exam from a stranger. Who would choose that? (Actually, don't answer that.) But if you had a problem that necessitated an exam up there, would you refuse to get it treated because you didn't want a stranger being involved?

We caught my teens' depression far earlier, in 6th grade, when they came forward to us, before it could really fester. They were amenable to therapy, and we got very lucky and got a great therapist with an opening relatively fast. Teen went, and they complained after a few months the therapist was not helping. I asked my teen how much they were sharing. My teen had the unrealistic expectation that the therapist could nearly read minds and just help without much input from them. I said you need to do your best to be forthcoming, because I can't read your mind, and I'm your mom and even know you better than the therapist does. The deal was that teen would try to be more forthcoming, and if it still wasn't working, we'd switch. Teen made much more progress after that. We ended up switching to a new therapist after a couple of years, based on mutual agreement, and teen is on low dose meds, which have worked great. So - try to find out what's not working and try to get them on board. If they are very depressed, it might be best to seek out a psychiatrist, who can prescribe meds right away - and keep tabs. My teen got lucky - we hit the bullseye on the first med and first dosage, but we know it's not always like that. Teens have to understand it's a process. Good luck. It's tough.

Really great, empathetic take from someone who has been there. Thank you for this.

I am so glad that you have found a treatment path that works well for your child.

Thank you for saying what I was going to try to put into words. The people I know who voted for Trump do lean toward sexism, racism and a lot of other terrible -isms, and it's been really difficult realizing how many of them don't see a problem with those views.

I hear you. Of course there is a large spectrum of personalities and morals who voted for any given candidate. But it's a bit strange to try to imagine why people would happily support someone who is saying things that are 100 percent against their views. Just doesn't compute.

Thanks, all, for being here today! Can't believe it's done already.

And in all the power-outage hooplah I neglected to give a very special shout-out to a very special person I'm celebrating with today-- you know who you are and I adore you!

See the rest of you next week, and on Facebook and in the column comments in the meantime!

Take good care.

In This Chat
Dr. Andrea Bonior
Dr. Andrea Bonior is a licensed clinical psychologist and the voice behind Baggage Check since its start in 2005. She serves on the faculty of Georgetown University and is the author of the Publisher's Weekly best-seller "Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World" and "The Friendship Fix.”
Recent Chats
  • Next: