The problem, however, is that my sister only seems to see that part of me.
She means very well and really cares about me.
I understand that and appreciate her worry, but almost all of the communication I get from her is about my depression: daily suggestions about things I should do differently, lots of unsolicited advice, frustration if I don’t put it in. not always implement his suggestions, etc.
How do I get him to understand that while I appreciate his concern, the barrage of “suggestions” can sometimes sound like judgment or criticism, especially when advice has not been sought?
Also, how can I gently suggest that I would like to talk about other aspects of my life than just mental illness?
I feel like all she sees in me is the breakup.
– There is more to me than my illness
There is more to me than my illness: Anyone living with a serious chronic illness must grapple with this identifying question, and it is essential that others realize that their own expressions of compassion and concern can instead come across as a desire to control the outcome.
My own theory is that when people constantly offer unsolicited suggestions and advice, they are actually expressing their own very deep anxieties.
Depression is an isolating illness, and your sister’s eagerness to connect and talk about it seems to make you feel even more isolated from her.
I hope you will express exactly how you are feeling: “I know you worry about me, but when you only want to talk about my depression, I feel like all you see in me is the breakup. . I am much more than my illness. If I promise you that I will gratefully let you help me out if things go wrong, can you trust me that I’m handling pretty well? I yearn for a sense of normalcy and would really like to talk about other things. I really miss it!
Your sister may be sitting on her own valid fears about what might happen to you if you are in a phase of severe depression, but she needs to understand that her fears are hers – not yours – to deal with.
I highly recommend the TED talks by writer and psychologist Andrew Solomon, and in particular his masterful and comprehensive book on depression, “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression” (2011, Scribner).
Solomon’s own depression led him to study illness, and his insight is both unique and helpful. He writes: “Depression is the secret of every family.”
Dear Amy: My husband and I planned a trip abroad with two other couples. We were hoping to travel together as a group.
We had started planning this trip before the pandemic, but had to put it aside. So we’re back to planning for 2022.
I realize that overseas travel may need to be canceled if travel restrictions have not been lifted.
However, the husband of one of the couples does not know if he wants to be vaccinated.
If the host country we plan to visit requires vaccination, would it be unethical for the rest of us to travel without this couple?
Eager to travel: I don’t see this as an ethical dilemma.
If this man chooses not to be vaccinated, that is his business, and whatever the consequences of that choice will be his responsibility, including the possibility of having to stay home after a hoped-for trip. It is important that all international travelers follow the destination country’s visiting guidelines.
Dear Amy: A question from “DNA Dispute” noted that two first cousins learned that while one shared family DNA through his father, the other cousin did not.
These two people concluded that the “other cousin” could have been the result of infidelity, which led to the estrangement.
You neglected to point out the possibility that the DNA split occurred in the previous generation and that the two fathers of these cousins, who were brothers, may not have been.
Reader: Many people have pointed out this possibility. Thanks everyone.
2021 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency