Carolyn Hax: Babysitter struggles with lack of support from friends


Adapted from an online discussion.

Hi Carolyn: Our household has received a lot of bad news: dead animals, prolonged health problems and job loss. As a guardian to almost everyone around me, I feel like while I’m struggling, it’s not reciprocated. I get it, I feel like Eeyore all the time, which isn’t fun to talk to when I’m usually the bubbly one, but it’s also a hard time to realize you don’t really have the support you thought you had. I don’t know what to ask, I just know that I’m depressed and having a hard time getting up. I work with a therapist, so I do my own work, but I can’t get rid of the extra sadness that comes from friendships that don’t feel reciprocated. To help!?!?

Can I take a break? : Please, guardian, seek social assistance. From outside your circle if necessary – eventually you may want to work on retraining your employees to recognize you as someone who also needs attention instead of always providing it, but that’s emotionally difficult work. Right now you want to go with some gravity assist because that’s probably all you have energy for.

So: what restorative thing can you give yourself, or light companionship can you seek. (May I summon a short afternoon walk again?) Don’t limit yourself except to thinking outside of that hellish domestic box that so many of us have come to feel. Remember simple things that you are good at or feel better at, and see if any of them are available to you in a form that fits, say, a 15-60 minute window . Call a hilarious friend, go somewhere with great service, meditate. If you have more time, great – sign up for something fun.

I apologize for advising a task as a solution to abject fatigue, but relief is at hand, to fill as big (or small) a break from your rut as you feel capable of.

Re: Pause: I second this. I am stuck working from home full time while caring for a psychotic adult child who is not responding well to medication changes. When I’m physically exhausted or drained from the hurtful psychotic behavior, I put my ear to one of my cats and listen to it purr. It’s very therapeutic. Yes, I know, I’m weird.

Blocked: I know this suggestion may sting for someone who has lost a pet, but I’m including it because that’s why so many of us have pets, or even re-adopt while still crying . Plus, there’s not one iota, not even one molecule, of weirdness in your purr strategy. And I’m not saying this just because I’m trying to normalize the deep hair inhalation therapy I do with my dogs.

  • Please do a little extra work to figure out what you can ask for (perhaps with the help of your therapist) and ask, ask, ask! If I were your friend, I would like to help you.
  • Seen a tweet it says, “ok, I’m done taking care of myself, everyone can take care of me now” and hooboy is a mood I can relate to. I just wanted to share.
  • I’ve found that taking an aimless drive, singing (poorly) to the radio helps change the scenery even faster than this walk, and let’s assume it’s carbon neutral if I’m not at home burning lights and heat. Plus, I can do it in the endless Northwest rain.


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