Don’t miss the next live chat: Dr. Andrea Bonior, a licensed clinical psychologist who has been helping readers with Baggage Check since 2005, hosts a weekly live chat at washingtonpost.com on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. She discusses her recent columns and answers any questions you may have about relationships, work, family, mental health and more. Join or read Dr. Andrea’s latest live chat here.
Q. My close friend leans on my husband too much for my comfort. She almost treats him as her husband. She is a single mom and she has him come over for emergencies, handyman-type stuff — we welcomed this at first, but now I don’t want to share him in this way. I know that sounds petty. How do we take a step back from her? — Not Okay With It Anymore
I hope you are communicating clearly with your husband about this. Your discomfort matters, but it’s not fair to cut things off without getting his take. Might it be worth it for you to figure out why this bothers you so much? She’s a close friend; can he not have a brother-in-law-type relationship with her if she’s struggling? Talk with him and give it some thought. But if you do want the distance, a little subtlety is called for and some white lies can be excused. I’m generally on Team Honesty, but in this case, your husband’s being “slammed with work”/“out”/“sick”/“sound asleep” is the best way to start. And then you can offer to help find a TaskRabbit or whatever the latest gig-economy person-finder is, and hope it’s a match made in heaven.
I’m broken. How do I fix things?
Q. In the past year, my mother passed away, I lost my job and I broke up with a long-term boyfriend, and I’m now getting tested for a chronic illness. I understand what depression is, and mine feels simpler than that — that I am broken and have given all I have. I’d never do anything to hurt myself, but how do you grow strong when you feel you have no strength left? — Beaten Down
In short, you ask for help, and you take it. In your case, a professional is warranted. A big misconception about psychotherapy is that it means something is wrong with you (though of course when there actually is a disorder, therapy’s role is key). In reality, therapy can be helpful support for people who have simply been dealt a lot of blows. You certainly qualify. The fact that your strength feels depleted is not a sign of weakness — it’s a sign of what you’re up against. Resilience is built through behavioral goal-setting, establishing coping mechanisms, exploring and adjusting your thought patterns, having your emotions validated, and establishing a clearer “big picture.” It’s hard to do these things on your own, even with a particularly comfy couch. Please consider help.
Send your questions for Baggage Check to Dr. Andrea Bonior at firstname.lastname@example.org. She may answer them in an upcoming column in Express or in a live chat on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. at washingtonpost.com.
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