Dear Annie: My boyfriend, “Jarrod,” has always been very anxious about social situations and has a hard time making friends. Since graduating from high school, he’s lost touch with the few people he considered friends and has become very isolated. Together with the stress of passing his college courses, he has spiraled into a serious depression.
Jarrod constantly laments that he has no friends and that his family only wants him to get a job and move out. (They recently staged an intervention and referred to him as a “failure to launch.”) He thinks no one besides me would care if anything happened to him. He often states that he wishes everything would just end.
I want Jarrod to see a doctor and get help, but he says the idea of talking to someone about his problems scares him and stresses him out even more. He’s convinced no one can help him. He thinks antidepressants would make him feel worse. When I suggest that a better sleep schedule, healthier eating habits and more exercise could help, he says he doesn’t care enough to try.
How do I help him find the motivation to get the help he needs? I love him and am terrified that he’s just given up on life.
— Worried in the Mountains
Dear Worried: Jarrod is depressed, but his unwillingness to get help prevents him from getting better and has become a burden on you. First, please understand that you are not responsible for his mental health, and you cannot help him without his cooperation. Tell him that one little step could make all the difference, and suggest he speak to a counselor at the college. Offer to go with him. You can notify the counseling office about Jarrod’s depression and ask them to check on him. We also recommend The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (dbsalliance.org).
Dear Annie: My wife and I frequently drive her 80-something parents around. Here is the problem: From the time my father-in-law gets in the car until we reach our destination, he sings, whistles and hums. This grates on me like fingernails on a blackboard.
I have tried turning up the radio, but he just increases his volume. I attempt conversation, but he only stops singing long enough to answer my question and then immediately resumes his serenade. I know if I were to ask him to stop, it would be the beginning of World War III. He has a bad temper and a short fuse.
I get along with him fine otherwise, but I find this incredibly rude and increasingly unbearable. I try to avoid driving them, but our proximity and common gatherings make it hard. My wife seems oblivious. She has been subjected to this all her life. No one has ever had the gumption to poke this wasp nest with a stick. What can I do?
— Want Duct Tape
Dear Want: You could try singing along at the top of your lungs. But really, we don’t think Dad does this deliberately to annoy you. It sounds like an ingrained habit. Either tolerate it, drive separate cars or ask your wife to drive while you listen to something else through a set of headphones.
Dear Annie: If “Technically Impaired in New York” wishes to learn how to text, great, but she shouldn’t feel obligated to invest in this extra feature or spend time learning how to do it.
My extremely techie children took the time to write old-fashioned postcards and handwritten letters to their grandmother, who greatly appreciated their consideration. I taught them that they should be deferring to her needs rather than the other way around. This important relationship of respect and special care has been remembered with great fondness since she passed away in 2011.
— Soon-to-Be Grandmother
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