Counseling/Friends

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Hi Patricia,

I have a problem with a friend, and just can't take it anymore.  I am 32 years old, and am stuck living at my mother's house, which is far from ideal.  Since I have arthritis, and I can't get away, I need a means of coping.  My mom has a neighbor, whom I'll refer to as Summer (she is 59 years old).  I started spending a lot of time with Summer at the start of this year.  Although she does kind of seem like having my best friend from high school around again (we'll call her Stephanie), I really don't have any desire to contact Stephanie again, as she is a mother of 3, and I probably never cross her mind anyway.  Really, I don't have fun with people my age, so it makes no sense to me to try to open doors in that respect.  At first, Summer and I would simply talk as friends, and to show that I value our friendship, I gave her a birthday card, with a Starbuck's gift card, and I wrote a note, inviting her to come to my cousin's restaurant.  Resulting from a tragedy that Summer had to go through, we never made our plans.  I have been really respectful of boundaries.  On the third Thursday of each month, us "housewives" in our neighborhood (Summer is self employed) get together for lunch.  I am always the youngest one there, which is good, at least in my eyes.  Here is what happened there:  I sat down next to Summer (I think it seemed a little bit like she had a shadow), and the lady on her other side asked her to make plans, and she just agreed right in front of me.  I am very hurt by this, but can't tell her, even though I want to, because nobody forgives for anything these days.  What is a good approach to convey this to her?  She may dismiss it, but I can't spend everyday of my life having crying spells, and wishing my life were something different.  No relationship ever works out for me, which is why I'm single, and Summer is my only friend.  It would be different if I could live in the state I want to be in, but since I can't, I tend to expect perfection around here.  We do have a neighbor, who has been saying horrible things about me for a long time, and she is basically the devil in disguise... she comes across as the sweetest lady to the Average Jane.  She may have said something about me to somebody who knows Summer well, whom Summer just would not doubt.  I know I'll never be a really, really important part of Summer's life, however, she means a lot to me right now, and I wish she would try spending a half an hour with me, even if it just means going to the local yogurt bar.  I know I can't force her, however, I think I need to at least find out what the problem is, because I cry all day long everyday, and struggle to cover up my misery.  It makes it hard to go on, knowing that I'm going to wake up everyday to an unwanted living situation.

Answer
Hy Alyssa,

It sounds like you may be suffering from depression.  You mentioned you cry a lot.  So, it might be
a good idea to talk to your doctor about feeling sad, crying, and maybe you have depression.

Since you are confined to your mom's house, confinement can also be depressing.

It sounds like you and "Summer" get along pretty good.  However, if you are lonely, and want to see Summer more, your lonely feelings may be pushing her away.  It is hard being confined because we can unintentionally want to lean on others to make us happy without knowing it.

Summer made plans when the other lady asked her.  To be honest,  Summer is an individual and she has the right to make plans with others without having to include anyone  else or feeling  obligated to include someone else.  The other lady probably just wanted some of Summer's time alone, just like you do.  In other words, everyone is an individual, and we all need different types of people and friends around us. We need our independence.

Since you are confined it is hard to feel independent. So, you may need to look up programs you can join and where people may come  to the house to pick you up to go out.  Check out if the arthritis association knows of any groups; check with the social worker at a hospital who works with people with arthritis problems to see what social activities you may be able to get into.  You need to know more people than just Summer.

If you are in a religion where people get together to go out places, call some of those people.
Take a fun course at a community college. If you need transportation check with the arthritis association to find out how you do that. Your community may have free transportation for the elderly and also the handicapped.

Check blogs on the internet for people suffering with arthritis and see what they do to feel more independent.

I hope some of these ideas help you.

Take care,

Dr. Pat

Counseling

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Patricia A. Schafer, Ph.D.

Expertise

I specialize in various forms of depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and also stress, phobias, life changes, grief, women's issues, men's issues, etc. My licenses are: Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor -Supervisor(LPCC-S) and Licensed Professional Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC) in the state of Ohio and a National Certified Counselor (NCC).

Experience

12 years experience. I counsel substance abusers, families of alcoholics/drug addictions, and codependency issues. I also specialize in social phobia; stress; anxieties; women`s issues; grief and adjustments to life changes. Some therapeutic techniques used are: CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behaviorial Therapy)REBT (Rational Emotive), SFT (Solution Focused) and 12-Step, etc. If you live in the Cleveland area, you can contact me at my office for an appointment at: 440-349-4521. I am on various insurance panels and EAP programs.

Organizations
ACA, OCA, NCOCA, OMHCA

Publications
Experiences of prejudice among individuals in African American and Caucasian Interracial Marriages: A Q-methodological Study (Doctoral Dissertation - December 2008; Wilsnack and Beckman's book: Alcohol Problems in Women (1984). Alcohol use and marital violence: Female and Male Differences in reactions to alcohol(pages 260-279.

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. In counseling MA In Counseling BS In Psychology

Awards and Honors
Previous president of NCOCA (North Central Ohio Counseling Association); previous president of Chi Sigma Iota. Two years VISTA volunteer on Navajo reservation in Inscription House and Shonto.

Past/Present Clients
Do to HIPAA privacy laws, I do not release any info about my client.

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