Dear Amy:

I am a single working mother (by choice), in my late forties, with no financial woes, but not much of a support system and no family around.

My daughter, who is soon turning 8, has lately been getting really angry toward me over the slightest thing. Sometimes I get angry in response, but it takes me much longer to get over it than it does her.

I was in therapy and on Prozac for three years, initially because I was having trouble handling my daughter and not getting any joy from life.

I had to stop therapy (my therapist moved) and gradually came off the Prozac.

I took a parenting class last year, which helped for a while. Now I feel like I'm right back where I was three years ago.

Here's the thing: Though I would never hurt her, I am feeling very guilty about the fact that I sometimes fantasize that she will die (by accident or illness), and I will have control over my life again.

Is this completely abnormal?

Tears in Virginia

You need help right away.

Having an 8-year-old who challenges and exasperates you is normal.

Wishing that you had a break and fantasizing about having a boyfriend, a vacation or a massage is normal.

Fantasizing about your daughter's death is not normal.

If you have thoughts about harming yourself or your daughter, put her in another room and call 911 immediately.

You're lucky in one way. You know that you suffer from depression and you know what works for you (therapy combined with medication).

Call your former therapist immediately and tell your doctor about your relapse, or call the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (www.dbsalliance.org) at 800-826-3632 for information and a location for a nearby mental health screening. You need therapy and ongoing medical care by a doctor who can oversee your progress in fighting this disease.

Follow through on your parenting class; you may need a refresher course to develop the skills to deal with the challenges of preadolescence.

I know it's hard when you're not feeling well, but if you seek out structured experiences that you and your daughter can share outside of your home, it might help you relate to each other. If there is a Girl Scout troop at your daughter's school or in the community, get your daughter involved. I hope that you will also find a steady mentor -- either another mom or perhaps a teacher -- to guide and support you.

Dear Amy:

"Steve" and I have known each other for about 17 years.

We began dating two years ago.

Seven months into our relationship I found out he was cheating. I was devastated and asked him to move out.

After a few months, we began dating again.

We agreed to date exclusively.

Unfortunately, I found out that I wasn't the only woman Steve was dating, so I cut all ties with him.

After several weeks of avoiding his phone calls, I finally gave in and talked to him.

He vowed to be faithful if I would give him one more chance, so I let him come back.

Well, it's been six months and I believe that he is up to his old tricks.

Should I pray that he will keep his word or should I go ahead and kick him permanently to the curb before he breaks my heart again?

Brokenhearted in Atlanta

I vote for praying.

And because this is a full-service advice column, I'll even supply the prayer.

"Lord, give me the strength to kick Steve permanently to the curb and give me the will to resist him now and forevermore."

Amen, sister.

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

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