Crisis worker finds herself in crisis
DEAR AMY: I work on a crisis line, and this year I'm also in a rigorous academic program. The schedule has been incredibly isolating, and I've noticed that I'm having symptoms of anxiety and depression.
A few well-meaning friends have tried to offer me perspective. The thing is, I speak every day with people who have survived a lifetime of trauma, and I know how good I have it. Knowing this doesn't make me feel better; it just makes me feel guilty for feeling the way I do.
I'm being proactive about spending time with old friends, and I'm working with my supervisors to make my schedule more manageable. I'm also taking care of my body and creating healthy daily routines. It's helped a lot, but I still feel like I'm struggling.
I've considered seeking therapy, but I feel silly seeing a professional about isolation when I could have used that time to meet up with a friend. I also worry that they wouldn't understand why I'm struggling when I have so much to be grateful for.
Do you have any advice about responding to friends who offer me perspective? Would you recommend therapy? -- Worried
DEAR WORRIED: It can be a gift to be reminded of all of the good things in your life, but telling someone who is struggling and depressed, "But you are so lucky! Look on the bright side!" is tantamount to saying, "Your authentic humanity is really getting in the way. Please, shut it down."
Everybody struggles. And when someone is in trouble, compassionate listening often trumps reality checks.
You must see a therapist. And the reason is simple: Healers need healing. You need to be able to deal effectively with your own sadness, isolation and depression in order to optimize your usefulness to others.
No therapist will ever judge you for having problems, but if you want you can start every session by telling your therapist that you know how lucky you are. And once you have offered that caveat, you can roll up your sleeves and get to work. Your experience in therapy will deepen your understanding of the human condition and will be a great use of your time.
DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I are divorced professionals in our 40s. We have been together for almost two years, and we have discussed marriage. We don't live together, and we have kept our finances separate. Although sometimes I pay when we go out, he has always been generous.
Last weekend, we spent the weekend together. Twice during the weekend, I noticed money missing from my wallet. On Saturday, I noticed $20 missing. On Sunday evening, I withdrew more money out of my bank account to pay some bills. On Monday morning, I saw $100 was gone from my wallet. I haven't said anything to him, and I don't know how to handle this. What do you think is going on with him, and what do you think I should do? -- Anonymous
DEAR ANONYMOUS: I don't know what's going on with him. But I think you should jump in and flail around until you get some kind of answer. You are simply going to have to confront him about this. Losing $20 can be written off as a clerical error of some kind. But having $120 lifted from you over the course of two days puts this in another category.
After you hear an explanation, you are going to have to decide whether to accept it (you should be very skeptical). If so, you should proceed cautiously. At the very least, you need to hold tight to your wallet.
DEAR AMY: Regarding "Torn," who was worried about moving five hours away from family, friends, etc. You were 100% correct. Give it a try -- you have nothing to lose and all the experience to gain. I remember in an episode of The Big Bang Theory, Leonard said he heard a man regrets more the things he didn't try than the things he did. Very true. -- Colin
DEAR COLIN: My mother used to say that too. And it is so true.