Ask Amy: Roller-coaster relationship exacerbates depression

April 30, 2012

DEAR AMY: I’ve been in a purely sexual relationship for a couple of months. I suffer from anxiety and depression. A few times in the past months we’ve stopped talking to each other (her mother doesn’t feel that I’m the right person for her). During those times, I have severe depressive episodes.

She makes me happy, and I’ve been told I make her happy. My friends tell me that I shouldn’t continue this way, but I’m happy. I’m conflicted on what to do. -- Conflicted

DEAR CONFLICTED: Being in a sexual relationship releases a rush of endorphins — this is part of the “chemistry” that people often feel when they connect with each other. This chemistry masks your depression and anxiety, but it doesn’t treat or cure it.

The roller coaster of attention and distance you describe in this relationship isn’t good for you because you don’t have the resilience to tolerate it. In fact, it could amplify your anxiety and depression and make your symptoms worse.

Stability is what you need, and this relationship (at least the way you describe it) doesn’t offer it. I agree with your friends that this isn’t good for you.

You should concentrate on developing the tools to cope with your particular personal challenges; this is tough because working to tackle your own issues means committing to a long and sometimes lonely path. But once you are stable and content in your own life, you will attract people and relationships that nurture you rather than offer temporary patches.

DEAR AMY: I’m a sophomore in high school. I have a sophomore friend who has an 11-month-old baby.

For the past month, she has been asking me for rides. This involves taking her from school to the day care center, waiting about 10 minutes there to pick up the baby and then taking her to her house. By that time, it’s almost 3:45.

I don’t always have time to do this every day of the week, and these past few weeks she’s just kind of assuming that she has a ride. She doesn’t even ask me anymore.

On top of all that, there’s a safety issue. She doesn’t buckle him in when they ride in my car, and sometimes faces him toward the front! And I obviously don’t own a car-seat holder.

I don’t want to get in trouble for this if anything happens. I don’t know how to approach this situation. Please help! -- Unsure

DEAR UNSURE: You should never, under any circumstances, transport a baby in your car untethered. Even if the baby is in a bucket-style portable carrier with a handle, the baby should be properly and securely strapped into the car, and always in the back seat.

If you are too young and timid to insist on this nonnegotiable when you are the driver, then you shouldn’t be driving this little family around.

Take the safety issue as your primary reason to talk about this with your friend. I think it’s absolutely great that you have been so helpful, and hope you can continue — on a schedule that works for you.

She must make sure you have the appropriate baby carrier properly installed in your car. These are readily available secondhand, and the people at your local fire department will be happy to check it and help you install it securely.

And where, oh where, are your parents (yours and hers)? Your friend needs very basic parenting instruction, and you need help to assert yourself over what is a very important safety issue.

DEAR AMY: “Anxious Spouse” reported that her husband is contacting women on Facebook, preparing dossiers on them, and engaging in personal and intimate conversations with them.

You agreed with the husband that this wife doesn’t have the right to tell him whom he can be in contact with.

I disagree. It’s called marriage. And spouses can definitely tell each other whom they should be in touch with. -- Interested Reader

DEAR READER: Spouses can and should talk about this. But they simply do not have the power to control it.

Spouses do have the power, however, to declare this behavior completely unacceptable — because it is.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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