Dear Annie: Nearly 23 years ago, at the end of my Ph.D. studies, I became ill with severe depression. Not recognizing the problem, I self-medicated with illegal drugs and became an addict.
I was so messed up that I had to move back in with my parents, who provided a roof over my head but nothing else. My father, a doctor, sent me to a psychiatrist who misdiagnosed me with bipolar disease.
I was unable to work and had no money. At the end of a year, I was no better. I tried to burglarize my father’s office to get drugs, and my parents had me arrested. They then disowned me, and I became homeless. I lived in a shelter and began working at simple jobs I felt I could handle.
After two years, a friend insisted I be hospitalized in a mental health facility. A psychiatrist there correctly diagnosed me with major depression and began treatment.
Within a matter of weeks, I was much improved and able to stop using illegal drugs. From there, I found a job near my educational level. I later married and have since lived a productive and happy life.
Here’s the problem: I have seven siblings. Some of them still speak ill of me to others, even manufacturing dramatic lies about me. My recovery has seemingly meant nothing to them.
Can you help me understand why they drag me down like this? After all the years I lost, it seems like a very ugly thing to do. Is there anything I can say or do to stop it? — Long Recovered
Dear Recovered: You need to tell your siblings how much this hurts you. People who exaggerate and gossip often do so because they crave attention, and in some perverse way, your siblings believe your story gives them celebrity status while making them feel superior.
You might ask them why they feel the need to denigrate you to others. Then ask if they will please stop because it is hurtful and undermines whatever sibling relationship you have.
Dear Annie: I sympathize with “Fed-Up Roommate,” whose friend insists on controlling everything within their apartment and makes life miserable.
Years ago, I was in a similar situation. With the landlord’s approval, I gave my roommate 30 days’ notice to find someone else to live with her, and I moved out.
If “Fed Up” can afford to do this, she might consider taking this action rather than suffering through another nine months of her roommate’s bossiness until the lease expires.
When people are considering moving in together, it is important that they have a serious talk beforehand about housekeeping, bill paying, visitors and anything else that can come up when you room with another person.
Even best friends who think they know each other well can be unpleasantly surprised when they are sharing close quarters. In my case, moving in with my best friend ruined the relationship. — Sadder but Wiser
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045.