weekend free-for-all – March 17-18, 2018

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: The Newlyweds, by Nell Freudenberger. A Bangladeshi woman comes to the U.S. to marry an American man, and ends up caught between two cultures.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,438 comments… read them below }

  1. Totally Minnie*

    We’ve had so many hairstyle threads this week already, I’m feeling kind of hesitant to start a new one, but I really need suggestions. I have really fine hair. Like, small child level. It slides right out of bobby pins and barrettes, and don’t even get me started on the time I tried spin pins.

    Any other fine-haired posters around? What do you do? I’m tired of ponytails.

    1. Amey*

      I do! I had my hair put up professionally when I was a bridesmaid a few years ago and the hairdresser used basically a whole can of hairspray to keep it up. Curls just fall right out as well as bobby pins.

      To be honest, these days I tend to have it cut so that it looks as good as possible without putting it up. At the moment, I have it about shoulder length with quite a bit of layering and I use volumising shampoo. I used to just twist it up with a big clip but I had to keep redoing it during the day.

      I’ll follow with interest!

    2. Cristina in England*

      I use small clips, like they’re about one inch across. I have long hair so a lot of the time I pull the hair right at my forehead back and secure it with a clip. Or I might pull some hair back on either side and clip it back. Both of those are mostly down, half-up at most but more like a quarter up.

      You can google braids for fine hair and get some different ideas for special occasions. I particularly like the braids that go across the top of the head like a headband (in one direction, not a Heidi look).

    3. Caro in the UK*

      I use dry shampoo (even when my hair is clean). Not a lot, but just a spritz to give my hair a bit more grip before i put it up. It really helps clips and braids stay in my super fine hair!

      1. dawbs*

        and tinted dry shampoo helps with the ‘hm, at certain angles, you look slightly balding’ that is part of super thin hair (or maybe it’s just me)

    4. Emilie*

      I had my hair cut to a shoulder lenght bob. All it takes is a bit of hair mousse for the roots while it’s damp, and then it stays in place all day without getting flat. It’s so easy and looks nice and professional without me having to deal with bobbypins and hairspray throughout the day!
      And I can still put it in a ponytail or up in a clip if I want to/have to :)

    5. American in Ireland*

      I was having issues trying to braid, or even keep my hair in a ponytail. I got those teeny rubber bands that are designed for 5 years olds, and those didn’t even stay. I gave up and chopped my hair short. But I couldn’t figure out why I could wear braids and buns when I was in ballet as a girl, or how I managed to do it on holiday a few years ago. My fine-haired sister reminded me–it has to be done when hair is wet! aha, I must have been straight out of the pool when I performed my last successful braid.

    6. OperaArt*

      Chin length bob cut by a hairstylist who knows how to handle fine hair.

      I occasionally work as an extra in films and TV. Once I was one of about 200 playing wedding attendees. A hairstylist basically followed me around for four days with a can of industrial strength hairspray, trying to keep my baby fine hair to stay put in its fancy hairstyle. I decided that if a professional hairstylist couldn’t keep my hair in place, what chance did I have?

      1. Lauren*

        Fine hair here too. I too wear a chin length bob. Embrace the fine and get a cut that accentuates it. Bobs are good for that.

        1. NJ Anon*

          Going for this myself. Used to wear it super short but got tired of it. Ive been growing out the layers and tomorrow going for the cut.

      2. Overeducated*

        Yup…sounds familiar!! I had the chin length bob through my 20s, and then I switched to pixie cut a couple years ago, and it actually looks like my hair has body now. It also can’t get messed up because slightly messed up is how it’s supposed to look. Sometimes I want to grow it back out to a bob, but even that requires more fussing (drying, straightening, dealing with helmet hair after biking to work).

        1. Triplestep*

          Pixie hair cuts really do solve a multitude of problems. I have wiry hair, and they work for that, too.

          1. Going anonymous*

            I wish I could do a super short cut, because it always worked for me when I was younger, but I had surgery a few years ago that left me with a fairly large bald spot. Pixie cuts or even bobs just don’t fall the same way anymore. So I’m trying to figure out good styles for shoulder length.

            1. Betsy*

              I need tips for shoulder-length styles too. I also absolutely loved having short hair when I was younger, but as I hit my mid-thirties there’s a sort of harsher quality to my face that means I’m not so sure short hair suits me as much. However, my hair is dreadful as it grows out. At shorter lengths, it’s wavy and full-bodied, as soon as it hits my shoulders it’s flat and limp. :(

            2. Amelia*

              I do tiny half ponytails flipped under and it looks great. I wore it that way to a wedding and people mentioned liking it! Take less hair than you would do for half up but from the same region, pull it back like your going to do half up, put a pony tail holder on same as half up but do it a little loose. Then in the back part your “up” hair in half above the pony tail holder, grab the bottom of both sides and flip it through the part. You’re going to have to wiggle it some, thick hair people this won’t work for you as thick just tends to knot at this step. Then just tighten it up some. It’s super simple, half up, pull the tail back through once. But it looks like you put effort in and beats just being down or in a ordinary ponytail.

              1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

                They make a tool for this… I believe it’s called a “topsy tail” (click my name for a link in Amazon). I love this look, but just got my hair cut short, so I’ll probably have to let it grow a bit more before I do that again :-)

          2. Bigglesworth*

            I’m another advocate of pixie cuts. I have thick fine hair (so a lot of hair that still doesn’t keep curls and whatnot). However, when a I went pixie, I’ve received nothing but compliments. That said, it doesn’t work for everyone.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          That worked for me. I need hair to stay out of my face, which means long enough to tie back, or very short. I wear it very short, and I can wash it in the morning or evening, and style the dry hair with a bit of styling putty, which gives it body.

    7. LissyLou*

      Lord, yes! I have insanely fine/thin hair, too. I use Batiste dry shampoo for dark hair (even when it’s clean), and Herbal Essences Body Envy Volumizing mousse and hair spray. It works great-not expensive and so effective! I have the haircut in the link(mine isn’t nearly that thick), and that’s also how I style it.

      If I need to hold hair out of my face, I use Scunci Snap Hair Clips :)

    8. CatCat*

      I’m echoing the chin length bob and, if your hair is also not thick, also suggest that it be shorter in the back and longer in the front. I’ve had it like that for years. I recently have been growing it to shoulder length, but I’m not feeling kind of meh on how it’s working (my stylist who also has fine hair warned me that our hair is not kind when it’s in the process of growing out and I’m finding this true).

      My hair stylist used a wand (kind of like a curling iron) and hairspray to give me some fun sort of beachy waves. I might get one since it looks like an easy way to change things up.

      I like Bumble and Bumble surf spray for volume or Cibu root booster. I find both don’t weigh my hair down.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ve had some luck with the stretchy hair combs–search that term on Amazon–which are two combs 2-3″ wide with a web of stretchy bands between them. I twist my superfine hair into a knot, drive a comb under one side, stretch over the top, and push a comb under the other side. It stays put pretty well, and looks more done that a pony tail.

      Nthing finding a cut that looks good if your hair just falls down, which is what it’s going to do anyhow.

        1. Wendles*

          I think these are the things I buy under the name African Hair Butterflies, and they’re ace. You can get different sizes, materials and weights of comb to cope with lots of hair types, and loads of decorative styles from formal to fun.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Fine hair here. It barely made it through my wedding service. The minute the service part was over down it came. And this is with pins, clips, spray, gel, etc.

      I have a short cut, just touches my shoulders, layering all around, but it is longer layers. I have to have bangs in the front because of how my forehead/face are shaped.

      I kind of fell into the style. I looked for years for something that I liked. Finally I found a woman who did a really cool job on her own hair and I decided to just let her help me do something with mine. It stays in place all day. I can wash it and let it air dry on the way to work. I am not a big hair/make-up person and simple is super important to me. I get some compliments so that is a bonus.

    11. Coalea*

      Right there with you – left to its own devices, I have baby fine, stick straight, limp, flat, uncooperative hair. To deal with it, I use thickening spray when wet, texturizing spray and/or paste when dry. My styling skills are basically nonexistent, so I keep it short and low maintenance – pixie cut.

        1. Coalea*

          I’m always on the hunt for the best one – haven’t found it yet! Right now I’m using Bumble & Bumble Thickening Spray. I also like their Surf Foam Spray.

    12. Too Early to Think of a Name*

      Ficcare Maximas clips have awesome hold and are pretty versatile. They’re pricy, but they never break and have great resale value if you find out they don’t work for you.

    13. Excitable Sim*

      How often do you wash your hair? I wash mine every 4-5 days and by the end I can get almost any hairstyle to hold. Curling your hair will also help it hold a style.

      You can also look into texture sprays/powders (I like sea salt sprays) and forget about those expensive hairsprays that claim to have great hold and keep your hair soft – a 5$ can of tresemme will keep everything in place and turn your head into a helmet.

      1. Ali G*

        This was going to be my suggestion. Invest in some good quality dry shampoos and texturing sprays. Then only wash your hair as much as you need (and if you can skip the conditioner).

        1. Reba*

          Echoing the suggestion texture-adding products. Dry shampoo, spray wax maybe? If you blow dry, there are lots of products that are intended to add volume with heat styling that are pretty effective.

          For smoothing out flyaways I really like B&B brillantine, very sparingly done.

          I have fine hair, but rather a lot of it at the moment, and I do have the advantage of some natural wave. My default hairstyle is a french-twist-ish thing with two square plastic clips. It’s a bit casual but it works.

          1. MRK*

            Echoing that dry shampoo is my secret weapon for my fine, pin straight hair. Helps add texture on clean hair days and perks up everything (my bangs in particular) other days. I really like Batiste brand as well. I also only wash around twice a week/as needed. My hair is long/processed so I condition only from about the ears down. Not at the roots.

            Also those silly donut shape bun forms help for bun updos. I’m going to buy some child size bun forms for smaller buns. Without one I have a sad tiny tiny bun. They seemed silly but I like it so far.

    14. AnonEMoose*

      Fine, straight, limp hair here, too. I’ve done the chin length bob, which works, and currently I have a slightly asymmetrical cut that I love. I can wash and wear if I want, or I can add a bit of volume with a round brush and the blow dryer, plus hair spray (I use the Suave that comes in the pump bottle, it works fine). I also use the Aveda Rosemary and Mint shampoo and conditioner. It keeps my hair clean and soft and doesn’t weigh it down.

    15. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I also have hyper fine hair, but I do have like, a lot a lot of it, so that might be helping. I use bobby pins a lot, but I make sure the straight side is up and the bumpy side is the side facing my scalp. And then I cross them, so two pins form an X. This is the only way I have found to get them to stick, but it works. I have my hair long at the moment, so mostly I side part it, and then twist the front section and pin it back. I also love French braids.

      In general, I hate product, so I mostly try to hook hair pins to other things in my hair so they can’t slide out – other pins, ponytail holders, whatever! When all the exits are blocked they can’t escape ;)

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        Yes, I go with not washing hair and the bobby pin X as well.

        Also, a Bobby pin knot:
        * catch hair in pin
        * flip pin 180 degrees so it’s pointed the opposite direction from where you caught hair
        * clip in

    16. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

      Team super fine ponytail here too. When it gets really long, it goes up into a glamourous messy bun. I only wash it every third day, and dry shampoo the other days, and that helps give it some stick to do a French braid every now and then. I feel your pain though.

    17. Kimberlee, no longer Esq.*

      Honestly, I just have an asymmetrical haircut that doesn’t require any daily styling at all, and I love it. I just brush it all to one side and as it air dries it sort of gives itself some volume from drying in that position, and it works out really well. I really like my hair, and all I do is get it cut every 3-6 months and sometimes dye it. And washing it daily cause it gets oily so fast :(

    18. Quickbeam*

      I just grew it very long. Because nothing else worked. If I am going to something formal, I pay someone else to wrestle it into an updo.

    19. sophieChotek*

      I put my hair up in a bun. I braid it first in a single braid then I put it up in a bun that I secure with hair pins. Usually works fine and stays secure for hours. If I want to make sure the ends don’t escape or add some color I add one of those scrunchie things.

    20. Overeducated*

      I just want to say I appreciate this thread and hearing from other people with similar fine hair challenges because it’s the opposite in my real life! All of my friends who talk about hair issues have ones like “my hair is so thick and long, it takes forever to blow dry, so I just have to let it air dry” or “my hair is so curly and full of body, I couldn’t possibly style it or cut it short” or “I can’t wash my hair daily, it would dry out.” Basically problems I wish I had!

      1. GM*

        I hear you on this! Very much the same issue for me. And don’t get me started on all those with the ‘Oh your hairs looking so thin! WHy don’t you do something?’
        I support the dry shampoo solution. Works for me and my mom who has the same problem!

    21. Catherine from Canada*

      I have no advice – I went with a pixie cut – but I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to find so many other people with stubbornly straight, finickly fine hair!

  2. Jess R.*

    I want to like fruit, but I don’t.

    I like bananas a lot. Apples are sometimes okay. Pretty much no other fruit appeals to me at all. I think it’s mostly a texture thing — fruit is either squishy or it pops like Gushers, both of which I find deeply unpleasant. I do like fruit juice, though, and fruit smoothies.

    Are juice and smoothies my only options? I am sure I could use more fruit in my diet, but I haven’t found a way that doesn’t make me recoil in disgust and horror. Any ideas?

    1. Emilie*

      Have you tried apple crisps/chips? They’re pretty easy to make and are sold in some supermarkets (the homemade ones are the healthiest option in my experience). Bananas crisp up pretty nicely too!
      Besides this, noone says that you have to eat fruit. You can substitute with vegetables (they contain less sugar, so they’re a great substitute!) if you want to. Carrot sticks with hummus makes for a great snack. Kale chips are awesome. And roasted chickpeas are such a nice snack if you’re more into crispy than squishy!
      Salads with less-squishy vegetables like avocado, carrots, beetroots and broccoli count towards your daily fruit and veggies intake as well.

      It’s totally okay to not like fruit. There are plenty of nice substitutes!

      1. Koala dreams*

        Yes, I was going to suggest vegetables! I like baby carrots and ordinary carrot that I cut to pieces. Cucumber and tomato are maybe too fruity, but otherwise they are great alternatives to fruit since they are less sweet. Cauliflower is great in addition to broccoli.
        If you think beans or peas sounds good, do try different kinds. They can vary a lot in texture depending on if you eat them fresh, cooked, dried or whatever.

    2. Matilda the Hun*

      No ideas, really, just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone- I can only handle bananas, grapes, the rare apple, and yearly honeydew slice.

      If canned fruits aren’t your thing (they’re more dense, less textured, to me), then juices and smoothies are our only other option besides vitamin supplements. It is what it is, and at least we’ve tried.

    3. Lauren R*

      Is there any particular reason you’re hoping to eat more fruit? If you don’t care for it, I would imagine the nutrients from a smoothie or juice would be fine. As long as you otherwise have a balanced diet, I don’t really think you need to push it unless you’re just trying to explore new things. Like Emilie said, eating more vegetables could be a good alternative; they tend to be less “squishy”.

      But if you’re just determined to get into fruit, watermelon can be pretty crisp and doesn’t have any “pop” to it really. Also there are many variations of apples so maybe you could try a bunch of different kinds to see if any stand out as having the texture and flavor you want. Pears are somewhat similar in texture to apples as well. I also really like pomegranate but that may have that “pop” sensation you’re describing (I’m assuming you mean like when you bite into a grape but could be off base?). Also if you mostly like fruit juice, you could maybe try just slicing up an orange and not really “eating” it, just focusing on getting the juices from it (again that may be the gusher sensation you’re wanting to avoid though).

      Does fruit bread count? Since you like bananas, you could add some blueberries and raspberries to a banana bread recipe. Or try making muffins with berries in them or fruit pancakes (there’s a recipe on allrecipes called Veronica’s Apple Pancakes that’s amazing, and also one I love that’s for Banana Peanut Butter Pancakes). That would technically get you more fruit in your diet but without the texture you’re wanting to avoid.

      Maybe commit to trying one “new” fruit a week (even if you’re really just revisiting an old one). And if there’s a farmer’s market in your area, the people there might have some suggestions for you or some unique options for you to try!

    4. Helpful*

      Try slicing your fruit. Quartered grapes won’t “pop” and might be more palatable. Dried fruit but be sure to brush afterwards! Chips are a great idea. Perhaps make a low-sugar jam or compote and use as a spread.

      Ultimately, if you are eating a good variety of veggies, you’ll be fine and don’t HAVE to like fruit! :)

    5. Lauren*

      I don’t like fruit much either. I hate bananas. I don’t like honeydew melon or watermelon. Oranges are messy. I do like apples, raspberries and cantaloupe. Sometimes grapes. So I eat those and also eat dried fruit which I like more. Mostly I find most fruit in grocery stores not that flavourful.

      If you like fruit smoothies then eat those! There’s nothing wrong with that. You are still getting the nutrients. You can get fibre in other ways in your diet.

    6. LissyLou*

      My husband is the same. We were able to figure out that he prefers fruit that has a firmer texture, and prefers the flavor of fruit just before it gets ripe. He likes apples, mangoes, nectarines/peaches, and plums while they’re still hard. Maybe give that a try? He also can’t handle the flavor of the skin of the fruit.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        For people who don’t like the texture or the juice, I recommend trying dried fruit. I love most fruit, and I find I like most dried fruit even more, because it intensifies the flavor and even I enjoy the firmer texture. I’ve dried apple and banana at home on a dehydrator, so it doesn’t have to be expensive. I usually dehydrate them so they’re a little firm but not tough, and getting them to whatever texture you want will take a practice run or two, but after you find the time required it’s obviously simple to reproduce.

        1. Kay*

          Yes, I was going to recommend dried fruit! My favorite are pineapple and mango. Totally different texture, and similar flavor profiles.

      2. AnonEMoose*

        You can get freeze dried fruit, too, and that’s a different texture that’s a little difficult to explain. It’s almost crunchy, but still has the flavor.

    7. Dead Quote Olympics*

      Yes, I’m a texture, not taste, rejector and fruit is the most problematic category for me. 75% of my classic fruit consumption is very crisp apples, I don’t like mushy ones.

      Mangoes, pineapple, strawberries, firm blueberries, firm pears, firm melons (honeydew), clementines are more palatable than peaches (ugh!) and the like for me. Because clementines are so small, there seems to be less of a squish factor, I guess. But once I realized that tomatoes, olives, and avocados are all actually fruit, I stopped worrying about it, because I eat plenty of those, and I eat a ton of vegetables. Honestly, I think the “eat lots of fruit and vegetables” saying is because most people are more inclined towards fruit and nutritionists are trying to encourage vegetables. But the benefits are in a varied diet within that whole combined category.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yes, this is very good advice. A varied diet is much more important than X number of servings of fruit per week, IMO.

      2. CityMouse*

        Seconding this device. There’s a lot of variation in texture in fruits and vegetables, so don’t make yourself miserable trying to put yourself in this box – find a healthy food that works for you.

      3. Dead Quote Olympics*

        I knew there were more “you think it’s a vegetable, but” fruits and as far as botanists are concerned, peppers, eggplant, squash, and cucumbers are all technically fruits – I guess anything with seeds. So you are might already be eating plenty of fruit. I will now think of my taboule as a fruit salad.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      It could be that your body is responding to the potassium in the bananas. Cantaloupe might resonate with you because it’s got good potassium also. As mentioned above you may like it before it gets really ripe.

      When picking out a cantaloupe, figure out where the stem was on it. On the opposite side you will see a little spot, that is called the blossom end. Press your finger or thumb into either the stem end or the blossom end. Ripe cantaloupe will give or flex when you do that. Cantaloupe that is not ripe will be as firm on the stem or blossom end as the rest of the cantaloupe. This might help you chose something more to your liking.

    9. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Veggies are healthier than fruit. If you like veggies, it probably doesn’t matter that you don’t eat fruit. Just eat a variety of vegetables.

      1. Mephyle*

        Seconded. The nutritional value of fruit is basically like vegetables, but with more sugar and water. If you eat vegetables and have sufficient fluid intake, you’re getting all the benefit of fruit.

    10. Too Early to Think of a Name*

      If you toss frozen blackberries or raspberries into oatmeal before you microwave it, they basically disintegrate. You get some of the flavor and none of the texture.

      You may like frozen grapes or blueberries in the summer, since they’re firm and not gushy if you eat them before they thaw. You could also try pure fruit popsicles or sorbet.

    11. dr_silverware*

      I don’t know if it matters that you don’t like fruit, in terms of your diet, if you’re eating other types of plants! If you’re worried on that front, book an appointment with a nutritionist (your GP likely doesn’t have specialized nutrition knowledge) and have a check-in about your diet.

      If you want the taste of fruit and not the texture of fruit, smoothies do seem like a good bet, especially if you look up recipes that let the fruit (instead of the sugar or vanilla yogurt or what have you) really shine through.

    12. Canadian Natasha*

      If you want to try other ways to eat fruit, have you tried eating frozen fruit? I used to (okay I still do) love eating frozen cherries while they’re still mostly frozen and there are a few other fruits that do well frozen like peaches and blueberries. (As a plus, frozen fruit has all the nutrition it had when it was fresh and doesn’t have any sugar or chemicals added like most canned fruit or dried fruit and it can also be cheaper than buying fresh).

      But otherwise, I’d agree with other commenters that as long as you have a varied diet you should be fine even without eating fruit.

      1. LilySparrow*

        My children have always enjoyed frozen fruit, sometimes more than fresh. Frozen berries, in particular.
        I used to give it to them to help with teething, and it stuck, I guess.

    13. HigherEd Person*

      It’s also okay to just not like fruit. Really, it’s okay. You’re a grown-ass person, and if you don’t like fruit…don’t eat it! You can get the same nutrients from other foods.

    14. Short & Dumpy*

      If smoothies work, go smoothies! But please remember juice is NOT terribly healthy despite the marketing. It is better than drinking the same volume of soda, but if the choice is “no fruit & a multivitamin” or “juice”, the vast majority of real nutritionists (as opposed to bloggers or pseudoscience jokers) tell you to skip the juice.

      If you are even APROACHING diabetic, juice is one of the first things they want gone even though they may have you increase whole fruits & veggies.

    15. G*

      There are lots of different types of fruit. For example with apples I personally love Pink Lady and Cox’s apples but I don’t like Braeburn apples. Although it might be interesting to try more unusual fruit such as lychee berries, durian fruit, dragon fruit, pomegranates, etc.

    16. Triple Anon*

      Just to make sure, have you tried really fresh, maybe organically grown fruit? Stuff that was picked the same day. There’s a big difference between that and what you can buy in the store. I’ve acquired a taste for a lot of fruits by trying them fresh. They’re not as squishy and the flavor is more complex.

      But you don’t need fruit. Vegetables are fine.

    17. Mikasa*

      You like bananas? I do banana chia pudding. A ripe banana, almond milk, honey, cinnamon, and chia seeds. If you like peanut butter, you can throw that in there.

    18. Gingerblue*

      Nthing all the comments that you can get by just fine without eating fruit! But I’ll also add that if tou find you like dried fruit, dehydrating your own can be a food option. Commercial versions may have other stuff added that you don’t want, like added sweetener, and I’m partial to a couple of dried fruits that are hard to find commercially. (I hate honeydew fresh, but dehydrate it and suddenly it’s delicious.)

      1. Natalie*

        It’s pretty easy to find dried fruit with nothing else added at any kind of natural foods co-op or Whole Foods! But yeah, pre-packaged stuff like Ocean Spray probably has at least fruit juice added to make it sweeter.

    19. MissDissplaced*

      Pears, Asian Pears are crisper slong the apple line. Kiwi? Not quite as gushy. Dragonfruit or mango are also a bit firmer

  3. AintAboutThatLife*

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Ireland! What are you doing (if anything) to celebrate?

    1. JenM*

      Watching the match and then lounging like a sloth. It’s been a long week! I’ll go out tomorrow night – love when it falls on a weekend and we get a bank holiday!

    2. American in Ireland*

      No parades, staying home for the match. I don’t do pub crawls, my body doesn’t cope well with alcohol. I’m a two pint max kind of person, which doesn’t go down too well on the social scene.

    3. Irish Em*

      Watching the rugby. Suffering with a godawful cold. But mainly watching the rugby and praying for victory :D

    4. Thlayli*

      Going to parade with the kids then hopefully I’ll get to see some of the match between wrangling toddlers.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Feasting! As in, I gave up sugar for Lent so since today is a feast day I’m having sugar, in the form of a beautiful chocolate stout cake with white chocolate cream cheese frosting.

    6. Nicole76*

      Corned beef and cabbage in the crockpot has become our tradition the past few years. Didn’t even think I liked it until I tried cooking it that way. I’m also going to try making soda bread for the first time.

      For lunch we’re thinking of a Shamrock shake from McDonald’s. I try to limit myself to only one or two each year and haven’t had any yet. Gotta get one before they go away! I’m making my husband split one with me to lessen the damage.

    7. Clever Name*

      I’m going to a street festival in a nearby town and then I’m serving corned beef and cabbage to some out of town guests. I’m really looking forward to the celebration this year. :)

    8. Totallt Minnie*

      Krispy Kreme sells green donuts on St. Patrick’s day, so I’ve had my celebratory breakfast.

    9. Tris Prior*

      Staying inside and hiding from drunks wearing green. (My city gets rather….. out of control for St. Patrick’s Day and I have no desire to step over pools of green barf.)

    10. Lcsa99*

      My husband and I had three shots of real Irish whiskey and a giant glass of white wine that we turned green (food coloring doing it’s thing is especially pretty after three shots of whiskey.)

      My husband also had some of his homemade Irish soda bread.

    11. PB*

      We had a big dinner, with roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, and homemade cake, and washed the whole thing down with beer. I am so full.

  4. Lauren R*

    I’m about to have to file a petition to have my mother committed. I haven’t spoken to her in years (since I left home at 18, I’m in my 20s now). She was abusive and I don’t want to have to deal with her ever again but no one else is doing anything and she’s clearly a major danger to herself and others. Has anyone been through this before? What can I expect? How long does it take and how do they determine whether to act on the petition? How will they notify her? And will it be necessary for me to speak to her directly during this process? The thought of that makes me nauseous and I don’t know if I can handle it, especially because I imagine it’ll just be me and no emotional backup.

    Also, if the petition is approved, who is the one who takes care of her bills/house/etc? She’s divorced, I’m her only child, and her sister is currently in the hospital after a stroke (she’s okay but obviously not in the best position for all that). So would that mean I would take it on by default or does the court appoint someone to handle it (or let her appoint someone herself)? I’m not seeking guardianship and am sure that she won’t want me involved but I can’t see anyone else accepting the role. If someone else she knows did accept that’d be fine. But I at least would like to help her dogs. One of them I grew up around and she’s old and sick and can be anxious with change – I can’t imagine her doing well with a stranger and I feel so awful for her. When my mother is in treatment, am I legally okay to take her in do you think? Does the court get involved in those decisions or just let the family work it out? (As for her other dog, I’m thinking I’d just need to contact the rescue group and ask what their policy is; I know a lot of rescues want the dog returned to them in cases like this so they can properly vet a new owner.)

    I feel confident the petition will be taken seriously. She’s had run-ins with law enforcement, she’s sustained injuries as a result of her drinking, and there’s plenty of witnesses who have seen her drive drunk (though they haven’t called the cops to report her for god knows what reason). She’s also needed the police to intervene when she was threatening to hurt herself. But if the petition is rejected and nothing is done, is there anything I can do to at least challenge her driver’s license? I’ve read that in Alabama (where she lives) relatives can file unsafe driver reports in cases such as an elderly relative who can no longer drive safely. But I’m not sure that will yield any results here. I just really don’t want her to hurt anyone.

    I feel so overwhelmed. When I left, I really didn’t think I’d have to go back. Especially not for this. But even her sister acknowledges something needs to be done (and did prior to becoming ill) and yet things are getting worse no one is acting. Even though I don’t like her or think of her as my mother, I can’t believe how the people around her are just watching her deteriorate like this and watching her put others in harm’s way. They’re doing nothing and then acting surprised when nothing changes. And while I know this isn’t really fair to feel, it’s upsetting and makes me so angry that a lot of the people who are saying they’re just fed up and done and that they can’t take any more are the exact same people who acted like I was in the wrong for leaving her behind in the first place, because they thought I was being “dramatic” or “unfair” for not being able to take more of her abuse. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, they won’t even take basic actions to protect her (and innocent bystanders on the roads!) from serious harm before bailing. I understand where they’re coming from on some level but selfishly I just really wish they’d at least acknowledge the disconnect between their own actions and the statements they made to me and about me when I left. Ugh it’s just been a long week. Thank you all for listening.

    1. Anonymous Ampersand*

      I don’t have any advice but I just wanted to say well done for taking action. It sounds like a horrible situation and it must be so hard for you. Sending support and good luck.

    2. buzzbattlecat*

      I’m sorry you have to deal with this. If no one else tells you, this internet stranger is proud of you.
      Is there such a role as a Public Trustee where you are? They are court appointed here to administer a person’s finances, property etc and are free (and heavily regulated). They would take most of the practical problems for you. I’m not sure about pets but I’ve attended a few Guardianship hearings and people are able to voice their concerns and bring up all sorts of issues. For what it’s worth, the Guardians and Trustees have always been reasonable, fair and approachable.
      You are absolutely doing the right thing, I really hope your family steps up with some support for you.

    3. Thlayli*

      Good luck. I don’t have any experience or advice related to committal. And I’m sure you already know this, but just in case it’s new info: there are anti-alcohol drugs now that are far far better at treating alcoholism than 12-step programs and the like. But they are not widely used in some countries for various reasons unrelated to their effectiveness.

      I know that’s not the question you asked and I’m sure I sound patronising, and I also don’t know if you could even convince her to take them. but just in case you didn’t know I thought it might be useful information. You can find lots of info on them online.

    4. Helpful*

      I’m sorry. This sounds terrible. May I ask why you need to be involved? It sounds like you have an estranged relation. Is it healthiest for you to let her live her life, even badly?

      If not (and it sounds like that’s where you’re at) I think I would consult with an attorney or social worker on this. There are so many layers to the process that are a concern that I would want extra help to make sure I’d be getting the outcome I’m looking for.

    5. neverjaunty*

      I am so sorry you are dealing with this. What a nightmare.

      Civil commitment is often a different thing than becoming a conservator (where you have the right to make decisions for the person). Is there any way you could talk to a lawyer in your state? Often state and county bar associations have referral programs where you can talk to a lawyer for half an hour or an hour, and it’s free or really cheap (like under $50 cheap). That would be enough to get an overview of the process.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Been there, sad to say. If you haven’t been to Alanon, please go to six meetings and see if it is for you. My experience is that Alanon gave me the tools to deal with crises with regards to the alcoholics in my family.

        First things first. “I can’t believe how the people around her are just watching her deteriorate like this and watching her put others in harm’s way. They’re doing nothing and…”
        Other people. Yes, other people had lots of opinions when I ceased contact with my abusive mother. I learned that other peoples’ opinions were none of my business.

        Helpful, “May I ask why you need to be involved? It sounds like you have an estranged relation. Is it healthiest for you to let her live her life, even badly?”

        If she is a danger to herself or others, report to appropriate authorities as you would if you had a neighbor driving drunk.
        If the dog is in an unsafe environment or not cared for, call animal control and tell them you are will to provide a home until your mother is stable.

        Be kind to yourself. Take care.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      [Dull ache in heart.]

      Yeah, I needed psychiatric care because of my “lies”. Then they found out it was worse than what I was saying.

      No apology ever came. But they did expect me to work 24/7 to take care of her. When I did not do this I was marked as a bad person. These folks have passed away now. I ended up having minimal contact with them also. When they passed I was too far away and too involved in my own family problems here to attend the funeral. Not a good ending to all that. But perhaps it was for the best.

      You did the right thing by removing yourself. See, what we can accidentally end up doing is blocking other people’s complete view of what is going on. So they need to have their learning experiences also.

      I am trying to think of low cost/no cost ideas. One idea that occurs to me is to find out who the prosecuting attorney was on her DWIs. In my state this would be someone from the county’s District Attorney office. You want to talk to the actual person who prosecuted your mother’s cases in court. It might be an Assistant DA who prosecuted but that is okay- s/he is just the one who was assigned to the court your mother was in.

      You can also talk to the police agencies involved. Ideally talk to someone with some rank. This could be local police or county/state police. In my state, the state police take stuff super seriously and are professional. It’s good to know the reputation of the agency you are dealing with.

      Tell these people what you are saying here. If you have any relevant documents bring them with you. If you have a journal of what has gone on with her bring that with you. (Or if you chose to call them, then have it handy when you call.)

      Perhaps you can get a side plan on how to get the dogs. Maybe a non-police type person would be willing to help or maybe the police would have some tips. If you think the animals may be abused, then be sure to report that suspicion. Studies show that people who abuse animals are more likely to abuse kids also. That is why I mention this. If your mother is not home because of treatment and the dogs are alone in the house by all means report that neglect.

      I am so sorry you are going though this. I already know that it will forever shape you and change you. Let it mold you in good ways. Continue to protect yourself from further injury, this includes emotional/psychological injury. Seek out the people who have already worked on your mother’s cases. This may help to keep your out of pocket expenses down, because this can get costly both financially and psychologically.

      I do know as a daughter I was the LAST person my mother would ever listen to. So where people thought I was the magician who would fix all this, the exact opposite was true. If I intervened stuff would have gotten worse than it already was. The same might be true for you. Please seriously think about this before you get in too far. Perhaps your best plan is to get the dogs and leave the rest alone.

    7. Anona*

      My husband’s mom has schizophrenia, and periodically has episodes where she’s a danger to herself or others. Usually someone calls the police, and then if they think she’s a danger/in danger, they take her to a hospital or mental health facility. But it’s brief- I think only like 3 days or something, where they give her meds and then reassess her to see if she’s still a danger. If she’s not, they legally have to release her, unless she voluntarily agrees to stay longer. At that point she doesn’t have to be sane- it’s legally fine to be crazy, but not dangerous. My understanding is to do a more permanent commital through the courts is very difficult. Good luck!

      1. Anon Mental Health Professional*

        I do risk assessments(threat of harm to self/others) as part of my job and this is correct. Generally when someone is committed for a mental health evaluation it is a 48-72 hour hold for observation and to help the person stabilize. When they do keep the person past the 72 hour period, it is normally only for a week or 2. There are limits to what insurance will cover, so the hospital has to be able to prove that the concerns are severe enough that the treatment cannot be completed on an outpatient basis. My mom was a court clerk in a courtroom that heard guardianship cases before she retired. Getting temporary/permanent guardianship is a long process. A social-worker would have to do a home visit and evaluate your mother, so it could be months before your case is even heard in court. Good luck! You might want to consider finding an advocate to help you navigate the legal process. If you search for legal advocates in your area, you should be able to find volunteers who will do this for you. Some lawyers will also do the 1st phone consultation for free before they take your case.

      2. paul*

        I deal with this at work on rare occasions; I can count on both hands the number of clients I’ve seen go longer than a 72 hour hold. Up that to 96 and it drops to *one* hand. That’s not just me personally; that’s the number of times anyone I work with has done this to a client, over the course of a decade now.

        This will almost certainly not be a permanent or even long term committal.

    8. Anona*

      Oh and in my state you can anonymously report someone as an unsafe driver. If that’s an option i”‘d do that. That’s how my grandpa was required to either retake his driving test or give up his license. Not sure if that would be helpful if it’s a alcohol issue, but worth a try. Also, if you ever do know she’s driving drunk at a particular time, you can try reporting that to the police then. I’m sorry :/. Family stuff like this where there aren’t great options is sooooo hard. Try to get counseling for yourself if you can. My husband loves that prayer (St Francis?) about learning to accept things that you can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference.

    9. Thursday Next*

      I’m sorry you’re going through such a difficult situation. I really admire you for intervening, given your history with your mother, especially because you’re concerned about the safety of people whom your mother might otherwise hurt.

      Is there a local department of health that you could contact? They may have a list of resources. Or perhaps a local hospital? It seems like you should be able to get a social worker or some kind of advocate to help you navigate this process.

      Wishing you all the best.

    10. danr*

      I hope you’re doing this with an attorney. She can advise you how to handle the financial obligations of your mother.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        This is a really good point. People in this kind of condition are rarely fastidious about their finances and you want to know for yourself and others where your financial obligations begin and end. And make sure you don’t inadvertently take on financial responsibilities you don’t have to. Some creditors will try to take advantage of ignorance, guilt and feelings of responsibility in family members to get them to pay debts that are not legally their responsibility.

    11. Hmm*

      In my experience, it’s very difficult to get someone committed. I think looking into other options, like getting her license taken away, would be helpful too. Maybe even get a lawyer.

      But I agree with a commenter above… Is it even wise for you to be doing this? If any contact with your mom is so painful, maybe continuing no contact would be best.

    12. Jean (just Jean)*

      You might contact your state or local/regional chapter of NAMI — National alliance for the mentally Ill. They help people with mental illness and their families and my hunch is that someone in that organization would know how to help or where to refer you. Good luck and good wishes to you. Take care of yourself so you don’t also spiral into a bad place while trying to minimize the damage your mom can do. I’m sorry you have this in your life.

    13. No Easy Answers*

      I’m a social worker in community mental health and petitioned my mother a few years ago. Other commenters have touched on the difficulty of your situation and I’m typing on a phone with limited time, so I’ll stick to concrete suggestions. My heart goes out to you, though, around the not wanting to get sucked back in. I’d recommend:
      1. Seeing if there’s a crisis response team in your county. They may be able to give you guidance more relevant to your state/situation and facilitate the process.
      2. If your mother sees a PCP, reach out to them about certifying her, which may make the petition more likely to be accepted.
      3. The petition is going to be a temporary stop gap, as another commenter mentioned, likely a 48-72 hour hold. The fallout could be more damage to your relationship with your mother or you being tugged back in. To have a better chance of there being follow up, I’d recommend either going to the ER to advocate for your mother to be given a PAS screen (transferring her to a nursing home) or calling the ER and asking to speak with the social worker/crisis worker/psychiatrist assessing her to explain the full extent of the situation.
      4. Getting guardianship for your mother, especially if no one in the family wants to be a guardian, can take months to years. The state can assume guardianship, but it will take a long long time, especially if your mother wants to fight it. I’d recommend reaching out to legal aid agencies in your city or state, particularly ones that work with older adults.
      5. You may also be able to get assistance or at least advice by calling your local senior help line (google Area Agency on Aging) if your mother is 60+. Try might help with the petitioning, resources to help prop our mother up, or let you know the limitations of what’s out there.
      To summarize: you shouldn’t have to do this all your own. Reach out to your local mobile crisis unit, followed by the local area agency on aging, legal aid agency, and your mother’s doctor if she sees one. There is a good chance that even if you see the situation as dire, it may have to deteriorate more before safety net mechanisms kick in. Above all, this is not all on your shoulders to fix. Your mother, as compromised as her decision making capacity may be, is still her own person and has made her own choices in life and if bad things happen they will not have been because you didn’t do enough. Feel free too to list your city/state and I can locate some more helpful phone numbers for you to call.

      1. No Easy Answers*

        To answer your questions about guardianship more fully: someone needs to petition for guardianship. Since you don’t want to petition to be the guardian, you’ll likely need a psychiatrist or neurologist to initiate the process. Ask about this if she gets admitted. The courts will likely assign a guardian ad litem—-a lawyer to come out to make recommendations. If you decline and your aunt says no, the lawyer will assign the state to be her guardian. If there is money, for example if you wanted to pay or there is
        Money in your mother’s estate, there could be a private guardian, which would be faster and easier. The guardian ad litem would take your mothers preferences into account if it was something like deciding between family members. Guardianship is a major taking away of rights though so it will not be a fast or easy process, especially if your mother fights it. In the meantime, google about sending a letter to your mother’s DMV—they may require her to retake her test and take away her license if she fails. Again, if she has a PCP this would be a good person to contact. Regarding the animals, call your local animal abuse reporting line to have someone come out to assess. I don’t know much about animal abuse, but I suspect it will be easier (though possibly damage your relationship with your mother more) to just take the dogs for safekeeping if she goes into the hospital.

    14. Fingers crossed for you*

      I am so sorry she abused you. It sound like you are doing better now, so please really think about if you need to get involved in this or if it’s better for your own mental health to stay out of it. Good luck either way.

    15. FD*

      My parents are the conservators for one sibling with substantial disabilities. As a disclaimer, the process we went through is likely different than what you’d go through because we went through a guardianship/conservatorship process, not a civil commitment, and the process is different when working with people who aren’t yet 18.* However, I learned more about the process when we were going through it. I also live in Minnesota so the laws may vary. As I understand it, there are a few levels.

      1. Involuntary short-term hold. This is usually used with people who are in immediate short-term danger of hurting themselves or others. In our state, that can last up to 72 hours and there must be a hearing during that period to determine the next steps. This can either lead to an end to the commitment, or an agreement that it needs to move to the next step.

      2. Civil commitment (technically, #1 is also this too but it’s distinct from #1 in how it’s handled). This will require a court hearing with evidence. In most states, it’s fairly difficult to get a civil commitment (this is generally a good thing as it reduces cases of improper commitments but sometimes means that people who really should be committed aren’t). In MN, a lawyer will be appointed on behalf of the person who might be committed (or they can choose their own). You may not need to speak to your mother, but I would suspect you’d be asked to testify.

      In the state of MN, I understand that a civil commitment’s initial period can’t be more than 6 months and then has to be ‘renewed’ every twelve months or so. The process generally leans towards wanting it to be temporary around here. (This is not a bad thing in principle but does mean that some people end up back on the streets who shouldn’t be.)

      3. Conservatorship. A person who is a conservator has the right to make some decisions on behalf of a person unable to make them for him/herself. This person can be a family member or someone appointed by the court. I believe there are both limited conservatorships and more broad ones, and my understanding (though my Google-fu failed me in verifying it) is that people who are committed need to have a conservator for the period of the committment. In my state, they require re-assessment every year and my parents have to file paperwork and serve each of my adult siblings once per quarter.

      Honestly, I would…really not try to apply to be her conservator if there are any other choices. In most states, you have to supply a lot of different information that would be difficult to obtain without interacting with her. To be honest, I’m not certain you really could do a good job of being her conservator without interacting with her, so you probably want to go with a third party.

      * Generally speaking, the process before 18 is meant to help identify folks with disabilities who will never be able to care for themselves independently and will require a permanent guardian. The process after 18 tends to be more difficult because it is designed to deal with people who were able to care for themselves at one point, but can no longer do so.

    16. Kuododi*

      This is a terrible situation to find oneself in and I wish you the best as you.work to navigate the problem. The jurisdictions where I served as a mental health counselor did crisis commitment for a limited time between 48-72 hrs. I don’t know what the rules in your area but more than likely if you are looking for a more long term management of your mother’s treatment, there will need to be a petition to the courts for some type of guardianship over your mother. For that, I would definitely look into the support of an attorney. That person can also advise you regarding how to manage your mother’s finances, household, etc. Best wishes, keep us posted!!!

    17. Loopy*

      I have been in your shoes. My mother ended up passing away before I began the process but I was thinking about it for the same reason (severe alcoholism that led to very dangerous situations). Others have had very helpful advice about the process but I want to chime in with this:

      If you start this process, make sure you have a support system for YOU in place first. I was left wanting in terms of support during my situation and wish I had been able to take a deep breath and put some support systems in place before getting tangled in everything. Sometimes this isn’t an option but please try and consider if it is. First, a therapist is a great support if you’re open to therapy and have the time to find one you like.

      Have a solid home situation and family or friend support. I was more or less homeless and sleeping on a couch in someone’s house (I was in college when this happened) and it was so so hard not to have my own space where I was comfortable to go when I was overwhelmed and didn’t want to face people.

      As other have said, be okay with putting yourself first. This kind of relationship takes a massive toll. It’s okay to step away for your own well being.

    18. LilySparrow*

      I’m in Alabama, and I’d start with Adult Protective Services at the state Dept of Human Resources.

      They focus on issues of abuse, but their site lists assessment, case management, and mental health treatment for individuals who may be a danger to themselves or others as part of their mandate.

      I haven’t dealt with the adult side, only the child side. The caseworker who took my call was helpful in giving information about what was or wasn’t within their scope. They sounded a bit suspicious of false reports, but did do independent follow-up.

      I hope you get some peace of mind!

      1. Nines*

        Adult Protective Services is a great place to start! They are very good at answering hypotheticals as well! So you could call and see what their recommendations are, if it sounds like a situation they could intervene with or not.

    19. Mm Hmm*

      I’m so sorry. Chiming in to say that it sounds like the first step is to set up your support system. I’d want a team of folks who could help me with emotional support, negotiating bureaucracy & information, etc. Hope you can find a way to retrieve & rehome both dogs.

      And to echo others here: if something bad happens it will not be because you didn’t prevent/fix it.

      Please keep us posted.

  5. Junior Dev*

    Mental health thread! How are you doing? What are you struggling with? What are you proud of?

    I had a rough week. I couldn’t sleep Sunday night and I called in sick on Monday. Some stuff happened on Sunday evening that was a major, unexpected PTSD trigger. I also was feeling pretty messed up about my meds causing side effects and not being sure if I could continue to take them.

    I called my psychiatrist on Monday after waking up around 1 PM and she helped me adjust the dosage and timing of the meds so they didn’t cause as bad of side effects. I also talked to my therapist for the first time about some trauma stuff I had been triggered about on Sunday, it was my first time discussing it with her. I’m proud of myself for doing those things.

    I also impulsively signed up for a boxing gym. I took a kickboxing class the day after talking to my therapist about the trauma stuff and it helped a lot with dealing with anger and tension that had built up in my body.

    How are you doing?

    1. Amey*

      Following on from the makeup thread a couple weeks ago, I’m trying to shake up my daytime natural makeup routine. I normally wear a light foundation, mascara and a bit of eyeliner and just some natural lip balm or lipstick depending on what I’m doing.

      The liner is no longer working for me as a look. I’d like to just use mascara but I have basically no lower lashes, they’re tiny and don’t really seem like a complete set. But my eyes look weird with just the top defined! A bit of liner on the bottom used to balance it out, but it gets smudgy and doesn’t look super professional. Any tips?

      1. Amey*

        Ah, not supposed to be here at all!! Sorry Junior Dev – frivolous doesn’t even describe it..

      2. Makeup Addict*

        If it’s just that the liner is smudging that’s the problem, you can probably fix that by using a different liner or changing application method. What are you using for liner currently? I almost always use Urban Decay 24/7 pencils for my lower lash line, and they do not smudge on me at all once they set. If your skin around the eyes is very oily, you might need a drier formula, but those pencils work great on everyone I know. If you find that your liner tends not to set, it might be worth using a matching shadow shade over the liner to set it in place. Or even just softly blend a suitable shadow shade on as your liner.

        If you really don’t want to use liner, how do your lower lashes look with mascara on? You can buy mascara specifically designed for lower lashes, but I usually just use my regular one. A light coat of something volumising could add some definition and fullness to your lower lashes if you aren’t already doing that.

      3. LissyLou*

        Google smudge proof eyeliner to find the price point you’re looking for. Also, YouTube has hundreds (thousands?) of makeup videos for a natural look. They also have lots of videos showing how to use eyeshadow as a liner.

    2. Effie, who is pondering*

      I’m sorry you’ve had a rough week. Sleep deprivation is so awful. Sounds like you’re taking care to deal with it and everything mindfully, which is great.

      I think boxing will help! Being able to hit something physically is a great way to release stress/tension/strong emotions. I stretch (and sometimes cry while stretching), something about working through the physical pain is a great release for me.

      I’m coming to grips with the fact that no one wants me. That sounds bleak, but what I mean is that I need to be okay with being rejected again before I’ll be ready to start dating again. I have a really hard time dealing with rejection and I want to get myself in a healthy state before trying to date again.

      I want to look for a therapist, but I don’t have time to look and since I’m doing “okay,” it’s hard to prioritize and make time. I’m functional even though I’m not functioning as efficiently/healthily as I could. I know I should because I could very well be developing unhealthy coping patterns. :/

      I miss my exes, both my horrible toxic ex who cheated and awesome incompatible ex who is still kinda in my life. Horrible toxic ex because I still love him, and I’m just letting myself love him and being honest with myself. A tiny part of me has been holding out hope that awesome incompatible ex and I will get together, and I’m trying to extinguish that hope. Because we won’t. He doesn’t want me anymore than any other romantic interest does. Which is to say, not at all.

      I’m still young, I’m cute/beautiful/gorgeous depending on who you’re asking, I’m smart, I’m sexy, I’m attractive, I support myself, I have a decent head on my shoulders, I’m practical and reliable. I need to keep reminding myself that I am enough for me, and that is good enough. And I am being mindful of taking care of myself, because I want to be good to myself, not just because someday I might meet someone. Who cares about a hypothetical future? I exist now.

      And if I ever date again, that I will still be enough for me.

      1. Betsy*

        Dating is so hard! It’s easy to feel that no one wants you (but realistically there are probably plenty of people out there who would). I’m in the same boat (if it helps). I have a decent career, am a good conversationalist, at least used to be good-looking even if that’s maybe faded a little recently, am kind and make people laugh.

        I think sometimes people have a bad run. That’s what helps me not to despair. I’ve had friends who are great people- intelligent, very attractive, good careers, everything ,who have had a bad run for a number of years. The particular friend I’m thinking of is now married to a nice guy and has beautiful children. When I think of people like her, and other friends who are great people but single, I realise that it’s not that I’m completely flawed, it’s that sometimes you just have a run of bad luck.

    3. JaneB*

      Not great here either. I miss my cat so much, the strike has been soooo wearing emotionally, and I had a minor eye infection which was just very very annoying.

      Played a lot of games on my phone which is calming but unproductive!

      1. nep*

        Calming can be productive in its own way.
        Sorry you’re not doing great right now. Hope the stress and pain will ease soon.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        It’s odd, you know. Sometimes we can grieve our pets more than we grieve some people. They certainly fill our days and our lives.
        Am very sorry for your loss.

    4. matcha123*

      I was invited to post here a few weeks ago, so here goes…
      After one poster suggested taking in more vitamins and minerals, I did that and while I’m not perfect, I do feel a lot better, my skin looks better and I don’t feel as bloated as I did before. I’ve been having a vitamin drink every morning before work for the past week and a half.
      I also decided to face my fears and allow myself to be in situations that make me uncomfortable. Not in a bad way, but talking to coworkers about my ideas for work or deciding on different ways to approach them.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Rock on.

        Yep, strategically pick a fear and confront it. Go one fear at a time. Build a plan for what you will do to handle it. Just do one at a time so you stand a good chance of some level of success. It’s not wrong to set yourself up to win.

        I found I had a lot of fears, for [reasons]. Reading became my biggest path out. So I would read up on things that scared me.

        OTH, there are times where we can reach out and ask a friend to help. I asked for help bringing my previous dog to the vet to be put to sleep. That was such a wise move. So I invited the same friend to go with me to get the new pup. The pup slept in her lap alllll the way home. She said she enjoyed that a lot, she kept giggling at how he was out cold, sound asleep the whole way. This is a good example of how asking for help can work into a nice experience, too.

        As you look at each fear, give it this test: “Would other people have a concern here?” Nine times of out ten, the answer is probably yes. It’s okay to be concerned, it’s okay to have fear. This is a heads up so that we protect ourselves. Fortify. Read, learn, bring in a friend or trusted individual where it makes sense.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I should have added. Keep in mind, that it won’t be long and it will be your turn to be that trusted person for someone else.

          1. matcha123*

            Thank you and nep, too!
            I’ve been the trusted friend for a long time now and I’m just starting to cash out the, hopefully, good-will I’ve built up. School friends would tune out when I asked for help, and that made me feel like my problems weren’t worthy of assistance. But a few years ago I decided that if a friend is willing to come to me for advice, they should be willing to give me advice. I love helping my friends, and I feel comforted that the ones I’ve reached out to are returning the favor.

      2. Polar Bear don't care*

        Can I ask you what vitamin drink you’re using? I think I need to give it a try!

        1. matcha123*

          Sure! Unfortunately, I don’t think you’ll find it. It’s a Japanese Minute Maid drink. The one I drink is a banana yogurt flavor with bits of…jelly? so you kind of have to chew it a bit.
          I’ll put the Amazon link in a separate post below. It has a lot of B vitamins, which might be what I need.

          1. matcha123*

            The name is Minute Maid Morning Banana Jelly Drink (ミニッツメイド 朝バナナ)
            The package says it has the calcium of a cup of yogurt (not sure how large that cup is), the energy of 2 bananas, and 1 meal’s worth of multivitamins (E, B12, B6, B2, B3). It’s 194 calories. Don’t know how much that helps, but hope it does!

    5. Thursday Next*

      Junior Dev, I’m sorry you had a rough week, but it sounds like you handled it brilliantly. The boxing gym was a perfect idea—hurray for impulse decisions (sometimes)!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That is such a smart move with the boxing idea. Anger is something that can simmer in the body and eat away at the body and the mind. Finding ways to push it out is an investment in overall health for years to come.

    6. Foreign Octopus*

      This week was very negatively emotional for me.

      I drew a line in the sand with my toxic older brother (more on that below in a separate posting) and whilst I’m proud of myself for doing it, I have been struggling to deal with the emotional fallout from that decision. I’ve turned to my old friend books to help me feel more positive and it’s worked, which I’m grateful for.

      Other than that, I’m doing quite well and feeling positive about the future as I have some big and exciting changes in motion that I hope will serve to make me even happier and more productive.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        And I know this might sound stupid, but I’ve just read through everyone’s comments, but I really do recommend watching Queer Eye on Netflix.

        It is honestly the most positive show I’ve ever seen and it has really helped me this week, even if it was only just for an hour. The Fab 5 focus on improving the emotional aspect of their people’s lives and they have such great advice for looking after your mental health that I feel the show could help a lot of people feel a little better for a time.

    7. Blue Anne*

      Kickboxing sounds awesome. My equivalent is going out to a batting cage. Knock that crap out of something other than yourself.

      My new medication has settled in and I’m doing so much better. I’m still having a lot of disturbing thoughts, but my mood is so vastly improved that it’s easy to just look at the thought and then let it go away.

    8. Tiny Crankypants*

      Kickboxing is great! Try out some gyms and find a safe environment. I went to a women’s only gym and the instructor used a lot of humour to teach. She also helped me feel really comfortable.

      I have tried Muay Thai for trauma stuff, but the vibe of the gym (very noisy, two instructors conducting two classes concurrently) was bad. I am trying out calligraphy instead, but I do need to let loose some pent up rage.

      Let us know what happens at kickboxing.

      1. paul*

        the TKD place I used to go to went out of business within about 18 months of opening. God I miss that place. I don’t typically like hurting someone but a match is a bit different. You both agreed to be there after all and neither of you really want to kill the other. That helps. I think it suffered from not marketing itself as premier for self defense (which TKD really isn’t so props to the owner).

    9. Mimmy*

      Anxiety has been a bit high this week due to a number of things. The biggest thing is that a family friend–one of my mom’s closest friends–is dying from cancer (she’s in hospice now) and have been constantly checking Facebook for updates from the two daughters with whom I’m friends.

      Also antsy about work. Struggling with the feeling of not wanting to settle in this job despite the rave reviews I get from the students and staff.

      I’m proud of the fact that, despite my anxiety, I’ve decided to attend a major conference in Pittsburgh. Now, to actually register and make travel plans……

    10. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I’m finally coming out of a few week long depression spiral. I took last Thursday and Friday off so I had a four day weekend and it really helped me feel less like I want to stab everyone.

      1. Unseasonably SAD*

        I’ve got seasonal affective disorder and am finally coming out of my January to February depression. Is that your dynamic too? Not diagnosing, just looking for a SAD compatriot. :)

        It really sucked because I started Wellbutrin for SAD last year and got 100% coverage and was blindsided by having symptoms come back this January—not as bad, but still really affecting me. It was so discouraging! This week I could feel myself doing a bit better. I switched from thinking “why am I not getting anything done at work? where do the days go? what kind of person am I that I’m doing so badly?!” to “well there’s stuff to get done and let’s do it! okay, one more project completed on to the next” mode that always happens in March.

        I’m so grateful for the gains I’ve made after a probably lifetime of undiagnosed SAD, but it was so upsetting to feel myself going back down into the pit again. I was reminded of how in the past I’d lose about half the year to it—a few months of depression/anxiety, and then a few months of cleaning up the mess I’d leave behind because I wasn’t fully functional. Bleh.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          It’s something I plan to discuss with my doctor actually. My Prozac has been a godsend with managing my anxiety, which is usually a bigger concern for me than the depression, so now I’m wondering if maybe I need something a little extra in the winter. Looking back at my FB memories it seems to be a pattern around this time of year, so SAD crossed my mind.

          1. Unseasonably SAD*

            Oh, that’s a surprising answer! I didn’t even think of SAD myself until my doctor diagnosed it when I was in my late forties and then I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed it before. Every fall I’d get nostalgic and weepy, then depressed and anxious, with it peaking in January. The anxiety especially was so bad. Usually each winter I’d have some precipitating, minor event (“I think I hurt someone’s feelings,” or “that client said I should have done better”) that would trigger a six-week anxiety and depression. Then every March or so I’d have a “personal breakthrough” which I’d attribute to therapy or willpower, and it would miraculously go away. Repeat each year. I feel like I’ve been living in Groundhog Day.

            After diagnosis I looked at my records to see if I could document the pattern, like when you looked at FB posts. Back when I was writing checks for therapy sessions, and keeping up my bookkeeping system, I had about five years of therapy. During that time I never once went to therapy in July. My therapy sessions would pick up again in the fall and taper off after March. The chart was kind of stunningly clear. I also was keeping journals, one Word file per journal, with the date in the name. I don’t generally write anything in my journal that isn’t problem processing. More journal entries in winter, similar chart.

            Light therapy is really helpful and you could consider it in conjunction with Prozac as a boost if you decide you don’t want to do extra medication in the winter. I found it a real nuisance to do once I was no longer self-employed, as it should be done in the morning, but other people seem to manage, and it got me through two winters before I decided it was too much work and that I’d try Wellbutrin. Exercise is also huge. I think I’ll be increasing my Wellbutrin this coming fall as I can’t deal with another bad winter. I’m so over it. Good luck to you!

    11. Betsy*

      This week was much better- was very busy so not much time at all to think or feel anything. Still dealt with intrusive thoughts today, but coped a lot better with them.

      I’m nervous about the new job, finishing the old job, organising an international move, but I’ve been a lot better about accepting all that this week. Money will be really tight and I sense that I’ll just scrape through on the other end of the move– I always do. Even if I have to add even more to my credit card debt, well, I’ll make it.

      Today I wish I could relax a bit more, but I have a minor headache and I keep thinking about a few important emails I need to send. I did make it to yoga and I feel proud about that. I’m getting muscles again, and it’s an added incentive to keep going regularly, even if it’s just for vanity reasons.

    12. Shrunken Hippo*

      I’m super frustrated after this week. I’ve been in a lot of pain and I was trying to get forms signed so I could stay on financial assistance but it all ended up being super stressful and made me spiral into depression a bit.
      Apparently in order to get assistance until I get a diagnosis and help my doctor has to sign a form that states my diagnosis. I have asked what to do and the oh so helpful answer has been “just get diagnosed”. Well thanks tips. If I could get diagnosed I would be on my way to getting physical therapy so I could actually function like a normal adult again. The stress has made my depression and anxiety much worse and I just want to curl up in bed and cry all day. The physical pain doesn’t help at all and it’s made it even more difficult to get to appointments and make phone calls.
      To top it all off I have to go into to see my doctor for some reason but they wouldn’t say what it was about over the phone so I’m even more anxious. I wish I could just fast forward in time to a point where all of this was dealt with and I could get on with the rest of my life.
      I’m just proud that after all of this I haven’t become suicidal again.

    13. Ali G*

      I hope this question isn’t inappropriate, so I apologize in advance if it is (and feel free to ignore or let me know).
      I’m wondering how you know if you need some help on the mental health side of things. I’ve never had problems in the past (I’ll be 40 later this year), but 2017 was a ROUGH year. Back in September I left a toxic job and threw myself into getting my husband and I settled into our new house (we agreed I did not need to job search right away – long story but I had income coming in). We had moved back in Jan of 2017 but due to 2017 being a big old bag of shit we never really unpacked and settled. That was great for a while, but now I am still unemployed, overweight and just feeling…lost? Unmotivated? IDK. I was hoping the “clean slate” of 2018 would bring me back, but here I am still feeling overall crappy.
      Sometimes I think I am just lazy and need to just get my butt in gear, but then I start to stress about returning to the “real world” and I kind of just shut down. I think I need help, but have no idea where to start. Am I wrong and just lazy? I honestly can’t answer that question.
      Any thoughts appreciated – this is a new world for me. I am not used to not feeling in control of my life and not knowing what comes next.

      1. Thursday Next*

        I think if you’re asking the question, and open to the idea, you might benefit from therapy. There are all different kinds—some of it can be quite short-term and focused on a specific situation or goal, or even the process of goal-setting. It sounds like last year was a challenging one for you, and that you might need some support in taking stock of things now.

        Please don’t beat yourself up with the word “lazy”: we all run into things that throw us for a loop, and seeking help is not a sign of laziness or weakness. Quite the opposite, actually. Keep us updated!

      2. Unseasonably SAD*

        I’ve been there. I’ve got seasonal affective disorder so you’re describing my every winter. It’s hard to switch from being functional to not-so-functional—you’re feeling bad plus you’re like “this isn’t me!”

        As a really brief response, are you exercising and getting outdoors? I’m very much a take medicine kind of person but…there is great clinical evidence that exercise and outdoor time make a very big difference in mood. If you live in an area where you can walk, walking is a great thing to do. I love listening to podcasts (try the fiction podcast “The Walk”! they encourage you to walk while you listen to the adventure and I admit it’s a pretty fun way to listen to it) or talking to a friend on the phone. If you can only do one thing in the day to try to improve your mood, go for a walk or a run or do heavy yard work or swim or whatever it is. I could never get into exercising until I joined a running group out of our local athletic shoe store. It was cheap and supportive and I quickly made running buddies who held me accountable and missed me if I didn’t attend. I was hooked and went from couch potato to 5k in a few months.

        You may feel better (not 100% but better enough to start you in a positive direction again) in just a few days. Good luck!

        1. Ali G*

          Thanks you! I actually didn’t think about it until I saw your post above. I have very low-grade SAD (mostly due to low vitamin-D) and now that I think about it, that could be a part of the problem. Since I didn’t have to go out and function in the real world like I did when working, I let my routine slide. I didn’t really need it so much because I was on my own time, but that may be contributing to my overall malaise.
          I should start using my lightbox again and taking my vitamins.
          And yes I can walk and I should – thanks for the podcast rec! I hope winter lets go of you soon!

          1. Unseasonably SAD*

            Oh, a fellow SAD sufferer! Yeah I have to take Vitamin D all the time or my levels drop to the single digits, so I haven’t had to worry about taking it specifically for SAD. Guess I’d be even worse without it?

            Well, if your symptoms are indeed SAD related, then the good news is you should be coming out of them soon. I had breakthrough symptoms this winter and am so glad that they’re receding. Now of course I have to catch up on all the work that I didn’t get done. I do hate this cycle! Fingers crossed for a better 2018-19 fall/winter season for us both!

      3. Tuna Casserole*

        Having someone to talk things over with can be very helpful. You could look for free or low-cost counselling in your area. My local unemployment office has free job counselling, you could look for something like that. Support groups are often free as well. You could try something, see if it works and then try something else. You could check out your local library for books on job-searching, anxiety and more. Volunteer work can be a great way to meet people and gain some new skills. Do what works for you.

        You are not lazy. Nothing wrong with taking time to re-charge. If you were lazy, you wouldn’t be worried about any of this.

      4. Junior Dev*

        I think seeing a therapist could be great for you. I have usually done talk therapy with people who are licensed as clinical social workers, not psychologists or psychiatrists, and they’ve been pretty good about being someone I could talk through my problems with, without automatically having them attributed to a diagnosis. So if you’re not sure if the issues you’re experiencing are due to life circumstances or something else, a therapist can be a great person to talk them through with and get some perspective.

      5. Betsy*

        I think it depends if you’re unmotivated and happy, or unmotivated and sad or apathetic or numb or some other similar quality.

        I (recently) booked in for therapy when I started feeling a bit overwhelmed and teary at work. I didn’t really mind feeling teary so much, but I do a lot of public speaking in my job and was terrified I’d cry in front of a room full of people. Therapy has helped with work, but has also helped a lot with a lot of issues outside of work.

        On the other hand, sometimes it can be really normal to go through a patch in life where things don’t work so well, or you don’t feel great. I was sure I’d be diagnosed with depression when I went in, but the therapist said I wasn’t depressed (although I do have anxiety issues). I think the threshold for having a diagnosable issue is pretty high. And if you’re used to feeling in control, you might feel like everything’s dangerous and you might feel a bit mad, but there’s actually a pretty wide range of emotions and reactions that fall within ‘normal’.

        As for the laziness, I think we all worry about that. I think very few people are truly lazy, and they’re pretty easily identifiable because they have a long history of not being able to hold down a job (without any valid reasons) or are the kinds of parents who just play video games all day when they have children to support, or won’t contribute to the household in any way at all (financial/cooking/household chores/childcare). If you’ve spent 40 years being a reasonably productive human, then I doubt laziness is your main issue.

        1. Ali G*

          Wow! Thank you all! Who knew there would be such positive and supportive random interweb strangers :)
          I really appreciate your comments. I start new health insurance on April 1 and I very much am going to prioritize some form of therapy. And I’ve known for a while I need to start exercising again, but I keep putting it off.
          Thank you again for all your kind words!

      6. Vincaminor*

        For me, the tipping point was thinking to myself, very clearly, “I can’t do this anymore.”
        If you were staggering under a heavy weight, no one (including you, I hope!) would blame you for putting it down, or asking for help carrying it. For me, asking myself if I needed help was the cue that yes, I did.
        You deserve support and taking care of yourself. You could start by googling low cost counseling in your area? I started by going to my gp and saying “Halp.”
        Re: your mention of being vitamin D deficient – when I saw same gp recently, she told me she’s basically “prescribing” everyone a D supplement because odds are they need it! (Not much sunshine. Not much shirtsleeve weather.)

      7. paul*

        If your’e asking if you need help I’d default to yes. I’m highly biased here of course, but I’ve found it helpful. My old therapist left the state (I foudn out this week after calling her old practice to see if I could get in) but really, it can be ag odsend.

      8. Not a Mere Device*

        If you have a GP/primary care physician, talk to them about it. (I saw below that you have health insurance as of April 1; you could call Monday and ask about making an appointment for April.) The first time I saw my current doctor, one of the things they handed me with the new patient paperwork was a depression screening form, so they likely have some idea of where to start.

    14. Tuna Casserole*

      I had a health scare this week, but all of the tests came back negative, so WHEW! Then all the stress caught up with me and I had a massive headache. Better now. Drinking tea with a kitty on my lap.

    15. Kay*

      I’m kind of struggling this week. At least largely because it’s been a good week for my husband’s drinking, which means that something bad is due soon. (He’s a high-functioning alcoholic.) And I just…am tired and am not sure I can cope with it with the way I know I’ll need to.

      Work is also really ramping up and my anxiety is spiking. I’m six weeks away from the culmination of a project that I’ve been working on for 18 months, and all I can see is what still needs to be done.

      I did find a therapist who I like enormously and it’s been a good relief to be able to talk to someone in person about these things, so that’s a plus.

    16. Red*

      I found martial arts really helped me when I was dealing with untreated PTSD – I hope this works just as well for you! Truly, it was amazing.

      My birthday is coming up next week. It’s a strange feeling. I thought (and hoped, at points) that I wouldn’t make it to this point, and yet here I am. I should send my psychiatrist a “congratulations” card.

      1. paul*

        One caveat; if your trauma has to do with violence, martial arts may be kind of triggering. I found the hard way that grappling arts really leave me in a bad space mentally, which is part of why I went with TKD and muy thai.

        1. Red*

          I think that’s why they worked so well for me – my ptsd is because of an incredibly violent event, but the discipline of TKD really helped with the anger and such

    17. no name here anon*

      My fiancee left me because of my anxiety and OCD. I do admit I am not easy to live with even with medication and therapy. We had a fight which was partially my fault. She made a dinner to celebrate our 4th dating anniversary and 6 month anniversary of us getting engaged and living together. She didn’t give me the right kind silverware. I can only eat with the ones that are mine. I know these are my issues. I shouldn’t have yelled. The fight was partially my fault. She stormed out and has called it off. She paid the rent to the end of the lease and cut off all contact from me. I know I have issues and I am working on them. She won’t even talk to me. Ever since she left things have been rough. Thank you for listening.

      1. Book Lover*

        I am so very sorry. It sounds so hard to be in the grip of something like this. I hope it gets better.

    18. HannahS*

      I commented last weekend that I was having a tough time due to my chronic health issues kind of–not flaring up, exactly, but just being a bit worse that usual and I was really upset that I was having trouble coping with it. The upside is that I had a better week this past week, largely helped by my mom in another city calling me every morning to make sure I wasn’t sleeping through my alarms. One morning I made an effort to exercise more which was disastrous and I’m still in considerable pain 3-4 days later and used more painkillers than I usually do. So that sucks. But I’ve made strides towards meeting with an OT to get some help with my mobility, and I’m fairly sure I’ll soon be living in a condo with a pool so that I can try to take up swimming again. Provided I keep up with the PT for my shoulders, swimming is an ok, if inconvenient, form of exercise for me to do. So, I’m cautiously optimistic, seeing that if I can just manage to regulate my sleep, everything else seems to work out ok.

    19. paul*

      My wife and kids left for a 10-day visit to her extended family back east the day I went out of state to bury my grandfather; they’re coming back *late* tomorrow. My aunt and cousin broke down pretty badly at the funeral and my mom was pissed about it, which made me mad. Yeah her and grandpa didn’t get along but he was the closest thing my cousin had to a father (his bio-dad is a worthless POS and I hope he dies badly–he tried to bill my cousin for the little child support he ever actually payed once Cousin hit 18). Of course they were broken up…JFC.

      I’ve…not been handling it all very well. About 2 handles of Old Crow this week, combined with near violent cleaning of the house. Squarely into “physician heal thyself” territory here. At least the house looks good! Nightmares every damn night this week. Rogue One and Kelly’s Heroes this afternoon after a long hike this AM though. Hopefully no dreams tongiht!

    20. Book Lover*

      I had written a huge long spiel, but really, it comes down to – how do you live with yourself for bringing new life into this world where there is global warming and mass extinction and complete madmen in charge of deciding whether to start a nuclear war. I am having a hard time right now….

      1. Junior Dev*

        It’s hard. I’m trying my best to do what I can to keep myself and others safe in the little corner of the world I can influence. I think that’s all we can do.

        Regarding the political situation, it’s helped me to remember that there has always been suffering and violence in the world. I don’t blame anyone who thinks now is particularly bad, but I also think the fundamental challenge of being a person and not drowning in despair when there’s war and oppression and cruelty and disasters is kind of the same as it’s always been.

        1. Book Lover*

          I feel guilty being worried about my kids when I see the desperate faces of those trying to flee the Syrian catastrophe. But I just…. ugh.

          1. Junior Dev*

            Guilt isn’t productive here. I know it’s easy for me to say that, but it’s really not helping the Syrian kids for you to feel bad about worrying about your own, you know?

            Is there anything you can do–preferably a routine of volunteering or calling representatives or automatic donations you can set up–to help people that are more affected by these problems? That might help you feel less powerless about it.

            1. Book Lover*

              I donate to MSF, among others. But it really is something that requires political leadership, if anything is to change.

      2. Windchime*

        The current political situation is distressing, but the bright spot for me has been the surge of activism from our young citizens who are approaching voting age. So maybe focus on the fact that there the hope for our future is in our younger generation, and that includes the person that you brought into the world. I hope that’s a helpful thought for you.

        1. Book Lover*

          I will march on Saturday and perhaps it will make me feel better. It all seems futile. And maybe there will be change come November, or maybe same old same old. Rich powerful people get to do whatever they want without consequence and other people suffer.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        If we could zoom out 30 years and you could see this child doing major things to save the planet and save people, how differently would you feel now?

        After the WTC, I deliberately read the birth announcements to see that life indeed will go on. Each child is an affirmation for hope. Some day I will be old and this will become other people’s world. They will have skills that I do not have and I did not need for my lifetime. Each generation has their own thing that they do well. I think every generation carries a certain amount of despair/concern for future generations.

        The best thing I think to give a child (speaking only as a former child, not as a professional) is to teach children how to teach themselves things. Information is coming at us faster and faster. Technology is moving at a crazy clip. We are going into an era where being able to teach ones self on whatever topic will be necessary for survival.

    21. Windchime*

      My sister, who is also my best friend, moved away from my town last week. She is still fairly close by (3 hour drive) and will be coming back weekly for at least awhile to check in at her office. This has left me feeling more anxious than is comfortable, so I think I need to go back to my doctor and consider upping my anxiety meds.

      I’ve lived with anxiety my entire life and I hate it so much. Hate, hate, hate.

    22. Elizabeth West*

      Still figuring out how my anxiety manifests itself. Last year, I discovered it’s fight before flight, and if fight is allowed to go unchecked, it turns into a panic attack. Now I’m realizing that if I start to snark about something, like a potential job, it’s probably because I’m anxious about it. But I guess recognizing your reactions is half the battle, eh?

    23. Scott L*

      I have horrible insomnia. Not just “it takes me an hour to fall asleep,” but the kind where sometimes I don’t sleep at all for two days and feel terrible, then I sleep just a couple hours.

      I went for evaluation at a sleep clinic but didn’t fall asleep so had to go back a second night. I don’t have sleep apnea, and have tried all the suggestions: turkey and warm milk, dark room, no screens 2 hours before bedtime, extensive exercise, etc.

      My doctor put me on medication finally (Ambien) but I have really mixed feelings about this. It’s working great–I’m sleeping six hours without waking up once–but I feel that this is “artificial,” i.e. I’m not sleeping because my body is tired, I’m sleeping because of a drug.

      Not sure what I’m asking, but thought I’d bring this up in case anyone else has a similar problem. If it means anything, my dad is the exact same way, but he’s retired so he can and does sleep whenever he wants, some days from midnight to four, others from 1-5 in the afternoon!

      1. fposte*

        There’s also Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder–did that get mentioned at all?

        While I get you on the artificial assistance thing, I’d think of it as being like a cane for sleeping. Maybe one day you won’t need one, but right now you need to get there and that’s what allows you to do it.

      2. Nines*

        I know a lot of people have had horrible experiences with Ambien but it’s been a real lifesaver for me.
        Generally when I’m in a pretty good place (for me) I try to only use it every other night, even if that means I won’t sleep a full nights sleep on the off nights. When I’m really struggling I go back to every night. But the every other night pattern helps me feel like I’m not hostage to the medication. Just an idea. YMMV

      3. SS Express*

        The way I think of it is: bodies kind of suck sometimes. They’re meant to work in a certain way, but they’re so complex that there’s almost always at least one component that doesn’t do what it’s meant to. Sometimes our eyes don’t see as clearly as they could, or our lungs don’t breathe as deeply as they could, or our legs don’t walk, or the chemicals in our brains make us sad for no real reason. It’s not how our bodies ideally “should” work, but it’s unfortunately how they do work. So we get glasses and inhalers and wheelchairs and antidepressants that allow us to do (or approximate) the things we “should have” been able to do anyway, were it not for our bodies being annoyingly imperfect. It’s not about using human-made products to make our bodies do stuff that doesn’t come naturally, but rather about correcting the bugs in the system so our bodies can do what they “should” have been doing “naturally” all along.

        1. Junior Dev*

          This is such a clever way of putting it. I’m too concerned with physical side effects to worry about the philosophical implications of taking meds right now but it’s come up for me in the past. When I find the right balance of meds I don’t feel good or stoned or numb or strung out; I feel normal.

          I have emotional reactions proportional to the things that inspired them. I feel tired when I do a lot of exhausting things, but I don’t feel tired by the very thought of existing in the world. I get upset when upsetting things happen but I’m able to figure out what to do next instead of freezing in terror or breaking down crying.

          People who assume I want to feel something other than normal when they find out I take meds have no idea what it’s like to live in my body, with my experiences, viewing the world through the emotional lens I do.

  6. Amey*

    Following on from the makeup thread a couple weeks ago, I’m trying to shake up my daytime natural makeup routine. I normally wear a light foundation, mascara and a bit of eyeliner and just some natural lip balm or lipstick depending on what I’m doing.

    The liner is no longer working for me as a look. I’d like to just use mascara but I have basically no lower lashes, they’re tiny and don’t really seem like a complete set. But my eyes look weird with just the top defined! A bit of liner on the bottom used to balance it out, but it gets smudgy and doesn’t look super professional. Any tips?

    1. Al Lo*

      I often use some dark shadow on my bottom lash line, rather than defined eyeliner. These days, I don’t go all the way along the bottom lid, but just sort of smudge/soft line the corner. It’s not a smoky eye, but it gives a little more to that outer corner/ bottom. You mention that it’s too smudged; can you lean into that a bit and make it more intentional?

      For eye makeup in particular, though, a setting spray and a good primer can do wonders. I know there are lots of good brands for that; Urban Decay is a good one.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        The Urban Decay eyeshadow primer is amazing. Just apply before you apply your eye makeup, allow to dry, and apply makeup as normal. And your makeup will stay put.

    2. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I have always just done mascara on top, and then a lighter colored liner on the bottom – I use a golden brown, for example, and I only put liner where the lashes grow, and smudge it a bit. It ends up looking like I have lashes, but not super noticeable.

    3. Nana*

      Is permanent make-up feasible for you? I have eyeliner (very thin line) done every five years…with a Groupon, of course. Love it. Very subtle and a make-up game-changer.

    4. Totallt Minnie*

      I have trouble with crayon style makeups with my skin, so I always use eyeshadow and an angle brush instead of an eyeliner. It doesn’t seem to smudge as much as a standard eyeliner.

    5. LemonLyman*

      Do you use black eyeliner? That could be why it’s such a stark difference. Have you tried something lighter like gray? If I line, I use Stila Smudge liner in a gray color and then smudge it out a little. It accentuates the eyes and looks more shadow-like without being very eyeliner-looking. Also, rather than lining your upper lid, have you tried tightlining? For a lack of better description, that’s basically lining your upper lash line (at the roots) rather than the lid itself. It is hardly detectable and gives the illusion of thicker upper lashes. I use a gel liner (my preference, but you can use whatever) and angle my pencil or brush upward and line from under (not above) the upper lash line. I find that using a pot gel and a brush makes it easier for me to get at the roots between the lashes. It helps to put a mirror on a table below you or to kind of look up. (There are YouTube videos that explain tightlining. Personally, I stay away from using powder for this technique.)

      Like you, I have very few lower lashes but the ones I have are LONG! So if I put mascara on them, it looks like I have spider legs under my eyes. I usually don’t wear mascara on the lower lashes and since I tightline the upper (rather than lining the lid) it doesn’t look so off balanced.

    6. Sunflower*

      Every pencil eyeliner I used smudges- now I use gel liner and the smudge problem is gone. Maybelline is a good drug store one but Bobbi Brown is my fav since it’s waterproof so I think it wears longer.

      1. LemonLyman*

        I’ve had the same problem and I agree about gel, too. I always go for the pots since I hate having to sharpen pencils. I can never get them sharp enough and I feel like I’m wasting product.

  7. London Calling*

    It’s snowing in London. Again. I am a winter person normally but I am entirely over this winter and want it to just stop.

    1. London, London, her er London*

      It’s snowing in Copenhagen as well. Last year it kept snowing all the way through April… I’m starting to suspect that someone has actually cancelled spring without telling the rest of us.

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I don’t know if you mean north east England or north east US, but I’m in the former and I am getting very tired of being cold and wet outside every day! Come on spring!!

    2. Rebecca*

      I’m in central Pennsylvania, USA, and am also totally over winter! Yesterday after work, it was windy, as in 20 MPH + wind and 33 degrees :( it felt like January. And we’re having snow squalls. To make matters worse, pictures “on this day” on my Facebook page are showing me taking pictures of blooming daffodils! This year we’re still locked in the frozen tundra, with no relief in sight. And they’re forecasting snow on Tuesday and Wednesday. I wish I was in the South.

      1. London Calling*

        Oh yeah, the trees are starting to bud and last night on the way home I could see some were already out in blossom. Ha, this wind’ll teach them not to get all flaunty just because SPRING is coming!

        Sigh. Heating up, blanket out.

      2. Cruciatus*

        In my neck of PA we’re nearly about to break a U.S. cities record currently held by Buffalo of 199.4 inches (506.48cm). We. Are. Over. It. It snowed six feet in 2 days over Christmas. We’re currently at 193″. Mercy! It usually snows this late into March but since we already broke our snow records IN DECEMBER we are ready for just about any other weather.

        1. London Calling*

          Cripes. What on earth am I complaining about? One hundred and ninety three inches? that’s sixteen feet!!

        2. Rebecca*

          Oh, I am so sorry about that! At least where I am we didn’t get a ton of snow, just little snowfalls here and there that cause slippery roads and shoveling :(

        3. Belle di Vedremo*

          Wow! Does this move your city into Golden Snowball contention? Sounds like you could win it this year!

          1. Cruciatus*

            Oh, we’re winning it. I refuse any other possibility at this point! We’re always in contention (and have won a few times in recent years), but the nearest city is like 40″ below us this year so we’ve definitely got it on lock this year. Yaaaay?

            1. Mm Hmm*

              Ha. It’s all yours! I’m in one of the Golden Snowballs contender places, too. We’re a couple feet over our average, with no desire to catch up with you folks!

    3. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I opened up the windows yesterday and did some gardening in the sun (on my lunch hour working from home). It was marvelous and the cats sure appreciated the time in the yard and sitting in the window breeze.

      Unfortunately cats don’t understand changes of weather and now there has been much crying and confusion given today’s weather.

    4. Mrs. Fenris*

      Atlanta here. Our winters are mild, but dammit, it IS winter. The trees are starting to bloom and it looks like it should be really pleasant outside, but it isn’t. No snow, thank goodness. We had snow on December 8, when we NEVER have snow before New Year’s, and none since then.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        Please send me your summer! It snowed again here yesterday and I almost cried. I am DONE with snow.

    5. Quickbeam*

      Here in Wisconsin we really are not in the clear until mid-May. Sort of makes a mockery of Beltane.

    6. Valancy Snaith*

      No snow in my neck of Ontario, but it was -18 today, which is 0 Fahrenheit. So we still have about two solid feet of snow on the ground that’s accumulated all winter. I haven’t set foot in my own backyard since November. Where is spring?

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t like winter much, but I kind of wish I could be there. People I know keep posting pictures and honestly, London can be really pretty in the snow. Winter is the only time I haven’t visited.

      And yes, it’s because the Arctic is warming up. Sorry, but I think you’ll have to get used to it.

    8. G*

      Im trapped in my village in Northamptonshire, the roads are icy and perilous. I like a snow day but this is getting ridiculous now. The spring equinox is on Tuesday. I might not be able to get to work tomorrow if this doesn’t clear up which means they won’t let me have Saturday off. I promised my Mum I would babysit for her that day.

  8. ..Kat..*

    Hi all. Yesterday I was rear ended in my car. It was low speed. Since the air bags of the person who hit me did not deploy, can I assume that my car is okay? For what it’s worth, I have the name and insurance information of the person who hit me, plus the name and phone number of a witness who pulled over as well.

    1. American in Ireland*

      I hope your neck doesn’t hurt, and glad there were no serious injuries. The bumper likely took the force and there worse damage, but you might want to pay attention to your alignment when driving. When I was rear-ended (twice), both times the driver paid for it privately rather than go through insurance, but insurance rates are punitive here so that worked out best for both parties.

    2. Helpful*

      Airbags deploying are not the indicator. The car can still get messed up. Take your car to your mechanic and get them to look it over. You may also want to get looked over by a doc depending on the speed at which you were hit.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Yeah. Get the car checked out and go to the doc – if there is anything wrong, you want to know now, not later. Also, it will save worrying over it, at least if you’re anything like me :)

    3. Blackcat*

      Neck injury symptoms can show up weeks later, so don’t assume you’re in the clear on that front. And I’d definitely have the car checked out by a trustee mechanic. Something small (eg tail lights) or major (bending of the wheel casing) may have happened and not be noticed.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        Yes, I had a low speed accident years ago and had mild problems for years. It didn’t help that my head was turned when it happened. My chiropractor said that sometimes these low speed accidents cause a surprising amount of damage.

        Most likely, your car did it’s job and protected you from serious harm so definitely get it checked out by a mechanic.

    4. Drop Bear*

      I’d get it checked out. I was rear ended without any air bag deployment and my chassis was bent out of shape even though to the naked eye there was only some minor bumper damage. Admittedly I have a very small car and she was driving a ‘tank’ but better to be sure than sorry.

      1. copy run start*

        Yes, my car was backed into by a pickup and the back …piece? of my trunk had to be replaced. My car is small enough that the pickup missed the bumper and shock absorbers and went straight into the metal. It was expensive.

    5. Enough*

      Airbags are no indicator of damage. Airbags deploy to protect the passengers. It’s about the force of impact.

    6. neverjaunty*

      No, don’t assume that. Cars have a lot of little fiddly bits and parts to absorb impact – you don’t want to drive around with those broken! Do make a police report (you don’t have to call 911, just call nonemergency or go in to the station) and report to your insurance company.

      Also, carefully monitor how your body is doing; soft tissue injuries sometimes don’t show up right away. If you have any pain or stiffness in your neck, back or limbs, get to a doctor!

    7. Clever Name*

      It will be on the other person’s insurance, so I’d get it checked out just to be sure. You won’t owe any money. Same with any medical expenses you incur as a result. Their insurance will pay.

    8. Penny Lane*

      Next time, what you do is you call the police and wait there til they come and make a report. You don’t just exchange numbers and walk away.

      And the other person’s airbags deploying have nothing to do at all with assessing the damage to your car.

        1. Someone else*

          Where I live, if the total damage across the entire accident is over $500, you’re required to file a police report. That pretty much means anyone who gets in almost any accident (unless the two parties agree to walk away and neither intends to make a claim) is probably going to need to file a report because even minor fixes on one or the other car, and especially both, almost always pass that threshold. Not that you definitely need police onsite. It is possible to file one separately later, but in many cases it’s easier if the cops just come. They’d not refuse to come unless there were some kind of major catastrophe happening pulling everyone on duty to it.

    9. Trixie*

      OMG, me too! Just got this car two months ago :( Car behind me did a number of my bumper and both my air bags deployed. My insurance company is filing claim with insurance company of driver (we’ll call her Rebecca) who was beside herself. All over the police, saying it was her fault. Now I have to wait for her insurance folks to look at damage on my car and determine what they’ll pay. (Plus rental car?) Granted this car was 2014 but only had 33K and was in MINT condition.
      Here’s my question. I put down a good size down payment but majority is still financed. I was planning to put down two sizable payments to pay off as quickly as possible before this happened. Wondering if I should still pay off as much as I can now. Not sure if this is question for my financial or car insurance folks.
      Kat, hope you’re feeling okay!

      1. copy run start*

        I would make only the regular payments until you find out what the damage estimate is. The insurance companies will look at the estimate vs. the value of the car and determine whether it’s totaled or not. Different companies have different formulas I think, it’s not always just that the cost to repair > value of car.

        If it is totaled, you may owe money if the amount of money you can get from the insurance agency is less than what you owe on it. (You can negotiate that amount somewhat if you can find better comps I believe.) I would check to see if you have gap insurance.

    10. Lady Jay*

      I was rear-ended about a year ago, with no visible damages. I drove the car right in to an auto body shop near me and got them to crawl underneath and look at the parts of the car most likely to have been damaged; by having the check done right away, any damage spotted would be linked to the accident.

      There was no damage, and I wound up not getting a thing done, but it was nice to have the car checked in case.

    11. DietCokeHead*

      I would take your car to a body shop and get it checked out just in case. I’m glad no one was injured and I hope you continue to feel OK!

    12. MeM*

      I’ve had someone hit my back bumper several times over 10 years. Beyond the cosmetic damage, there are parts within the bumper that “take the impact.” They are basically good for one impact at ~5 mph. The repair shop will first give you an estimate for repairing the outer damage, and will tell you that they can’t tell if the interior needs repair until they take the bumper off. For me, this makes the repair cost between $700 and $1500, depending on final damage report. I have always gone through insurance.

      It is important to get it repaired – right now, you may be driving with a bumper that will no longer protect you in a low impact accident as it is designed to.

    13. Merci Dee*

      I got rear-ended a month ago, and ended up with $4,000 worth of damage to the rear of my car. Initial estimates were in the $1,500 range, but there was tons more damage when the body shop took off the rear bumper. The guy who hit me was going no more than 15 – 20 mph, and it was enough speed to crack his radiator and make his car undrivable since all his coolant was puddled on the road. Neither of our airbags deployed.

      1. Jen*

        My husband rear ended someone last month. Her car had $700 worth of damage and no damage to her person.

        My husband’s car had $18,000+ in damage. From a low speed (traffic, so like 5-10mph) read end. It was a 2017 bmw, which apparently has things like $1800 headlights, both of which were destroyed.

        Husband is in the dog house, let me tell you…

    14. Mm Hmm*

      No. My car was totaled with no air bags in either car.
      Also, know that in low impact collisions the humans (& any other critters) absorb the bulk of the impact. In high impact collisions the bulk is absorbed by the vehicles. So pay attention to any aches & pains that show up over the next while.

    15. Vincaminor*

      Adding to the chorus of check the car, check you. A few years back, I slid off the road at low speed and hit an outcrop – airbags did not deploy and I felt only a small bump, but the chassis was skewed from true by more than an inch. Don’t go by the airbags when it’s (literally) your neck!

    16. ..Kat..*

      Thanks for the advice. I and my neck are truly okay. Am getting my car checked out. I had no idea that this could be a big deal for my car. As I have said before: better living through AAM!

      1. Elizabeth H.*

        If I noticed zero visible damage I would ignore it, for what it’s worth. It depends on how hard the collision was I guess – every time a very minor collision has happened to me it’s never even occurred to me to take it to mechanics to check for extra damage to the car, so maybe if the collision was hard enough to exchange numbers, and maybe hard enough to damage the other person’s car? it might be worth it. That’s the kind of thing we ignore in our family though and all our cars last a million years. We have old cars though which are maybe more durable.

    17. SophieChotek*

      I am glad to hear you are okay.

      I was rear-ended last weekend; my air-bags did not even deploy. (For those who urged me to turn the claim in and have an estimate) — the minor scratch mark is still going to cost $1,150 to fix. (Shock).

      I would have your car looked at and turn in a claim.

    18. SS Express*

      Airbags only deploy if the car is going over a certain speed. In a low speed collision they generally won’t deploy regardless of how severe the impact is, so no, it doesn’t necessarily mean your car is okay.

  9. Anonymous Ampersand*

    Turns out my mortgage application that was supposed to have been put in on 26 January DIDN’T EXIST.

    I am so angry with the mortgage firm. They are award winning and big but something went seriously wrong.

    My own application is going well. But there’s a chance I won’t be successful in interviewing for my role in work next week and will have to find another internal job which would be mega stressful and potentially put everything in jeopardy so please keep all fingers and toes crossed for my mortgage.

    I’m hoping I can get back into my flat for the end of this month. I just want to he able to move on now. It’s hard for all of us, including my ex, and I don’t want to prolong this limbo for us all.

    1. Thlayli*

      Grrr. I HAATTTEEE mortgage companies. My own has given me information that later turned out to be incorrect pretty much every single time I’ve interacted with them. I don’t know if they just don’t train their staff well, or if they deliberately mislead customers. Im starting to suspect they deliberately mislead their employees, because they can’t all be that incompetent and they can all be such brazen and cheerful liars.

      Their most recent series of lies has cost me €1200. So I’m pretty annoyed.

      It’s so annoying that your company’s failure could potentially screw the entire thing. If you lose your job you won’t be able to get a mortgage for a while. And it’s not like you’ll get to stop paying rent in the meantime!

      I hope it gets sorted for you.

    2. Reba*

      I’m in a different country, so doubtlessly the processes are different, but our big, national mortgage company also screwed up so many times. From sending lots of sensitive info unprotected over email (!!!) to reading the wrong line so they miscalculated the actual amount they were contracting for (!!!!!!) leading to a phone call along the lines of, “Well, the options are, we can redo it, or you can bring $16,000 more to the closing tomorrow.” Which do you think we chose?

      This is also how I learned that lots of companies give a bazillion people the title Vice President — it has no meaning but is just meant to make you feel you’re talking to someone important and/or competent.

  10. Long Time First Time*

    I’d love some advice on how to talk to a friend who has relationship problems!

    Or rather, ‘a lack of relationship’ problem. She’s in her late twenties and has never been in a relationship – the one time she thought she was, she found out about 6 months in that she was the other woman! And yet she continued to see the guy on/off for over a year. She is plagued by low self-esteem and seems to only be attracted to guys who use her for sex and never want to see her again. She’s constantly trying to put herself out there but she ends up in the same situation. She is a beautiful, smart, wonderful woman and I want so badly for her to be happy with herself, and find someone who treats her well.

    I guess my question is – what can I say? What can I do? We live on opposite sides of the country so I don’t see her regularly, I just get texts bemoaning how fed up she is, and complaining about the latest guy that jerked her around. I used to try offering advice because the methods she chooses to meet guys (getting drunk and going home with guys she meets out) seems to lead to her not meeting great guys, but I want to avoid shaming her for her lifestyle – she claims she really likes going out and partying and if it makes her happy that’s great! But it just doesn’t seem like it’s making her happy.

    Lately I just try to play generic supportive friend role and say ‘Wow, what a jerk’ etc. But is that enough? I just never know what to say! Has anyone been on either side of this situation and have thoughts?

    1. American in Ireland*

      The essential problem is low self esteem, and she is caught in an endless trap of looking to others to validate her, which includes both the dating scene and also in her interactions with you. Unfortunately, only she can change how she views herself. I think I would encourage her to not date, but to get busy doing other social things, volunteering, dance class, women’s book club, sports or running club. What are her interests?

      1. Triplestep*

        I was going to say exactly this, only I would add that a good counselor could help her with her self-esteem issues.

        Also, I would say that helping her to see that her way of meeting men is not leading to the kinds of relationships she truly wants is not “shaming” her. It’s pointing out a pattern she perhaps is not seeing for herself. She can continue to do it if she wants to, but maybe not look at it as a means to an end.

    2. .*

      I personally can’t put up with people who are chronic complainers, of course everybody vents and shit happens, but always hearing about their failed love life… I wouldn’t engage in those conversations and steer away to more interesting or just light-hearted topics.

      You can’t change people who don’t wanna change, or their behavior. I know it might sound a bit cliché but finding a loving relationship starts with loving yourself. Low self-esteem isn’t gonna be solved by a person and is asking a lot from a relationship. The fact that she was okay with being with a cheater is very sad and telling. She doesn’t believe she deserves better and lets men step over her boundaries over and over again.
      I really love Heather’s kind words in this article:
      “The relationship that matters the most right now is the one you have with yourself. Build that relationship. […] You are worthy of love. You know that in your heart already. You’re done with living in chaos and confusion. You’re exhausted, from working so hard for so long, just to run in circles. So be kind to yourself. You’re going to live a new life now. You’re strong enough. You were always strong enough, you just didn’t know it until now.” https://www.thecut.com/2017/12/ask-polly-how-do-i-leave-my-lying-cheating-boyfriend.html

      She has some other columns tangent to this topic, if that’s your style, I know she’s not for everybody. Hope your friend finds happiness.

    3. Thlayli*

      She needs to be happy with herself first, then find someone to be happy with her. It also seems she has a high desire for sex. I sympathise with that!

      Maybe you Could suggest to her that she stop thinking of guys she’s sleeping with as “boyfriends” until they pass some sort of threshold. I used to have distinct sets – shag pals, boyfriends, friends with benefits, and guys I was dating. That way you get the sex but you don’t get the emotional stuff until you decide you want it.

      Maybe advise her to think about it this way and it might help her separate her desire for sex from her desire for an emotional attachment.

      In case it helps I’ll tell how I used to do it (before I got married). I would get quite anxious if I didn’t know where my next sex was coming from. So for me the first priority would be to find a sex buddy. Starting from a position of having no-one I would go out clubbing every weekend and meet guys. I’d also have my eyes open for flirting opportunities during the day (except at work – never a good idea). This way I would meet lots of guys. Depending on the level of attraction/drunkenness I might sleep with them or just get their number. But always i would first screen for sexual attractiveness and only chat to / flirt with guys I found attractive physically. Next check for personality attractiveness. This would be flirting, chatting, maybe a little kissing.
      If they were obnoxious I might consider a one night stand if I was desperate and hadn’t had sex in 3 months, but they definitely wouldn’t be considered for a shag pal position.
      Assuming they pass the physically and personality attractiveness stage, I would usually not have a one-night stand with them, because that’s usually a good way to ensure you WONT see them again, but this depends on context. Sometimes you go home with a guy based on nothing but drop dead good looks and it turns out he has a personality! So then you look into shag pal options. But usually at this stage you’d be looking at a first date.

      At the date I’d be screening for suitability as a boyfriend/partner. Do they have baggage (eg ex wife and kids). Are our goals aligned? What do they work at? Are they smart and ambitious? Are they a smoker? Do they want to settle down and get married some day (not necessarily to me). If they don’t pass this stage then I wouldn’t consider them for boyfriend, but I might consider them for shag pal, so I would start asking about sexual positions they liked, what’s the longest orgasm you’ve ever given a woman etc. Based on that then I’d either say bye bye or go home for the practical exam for the shag pal position, or else say good night with a nice kiss and a squeeze but no sex and go for a second date.

      Usually one night stands are the easiest to find but the lowest quality, so that would be just if I was desperate. Shag pals are guys who are good enough in bed to keep around (must be able to give good orgasm and have a bit of a laugh between sessions). And once I got past date 2 with a guy (a rare event) I would start clearing the decks of the other guys and date 3 would be the special one. We would have a special date and go home for nice sex – no kinky stuff, this guy is auditioning for a long term role, not a cameo. Needs to be all quality no gimmicks. I had a strict rule of only sleeping with one guy between mentrual periods (just in case of a contraception slip-up) so to get to this stage could take a few weeks.

      Assuming he passes that test we would have more and more emotional talks, and eventually mutually confirm verbally that from that point forward we would be exclusive (including kissing ie no kissing anyone else) and open and honest with each other, and would call each other boyfriend and girlfriend. At that point we would be “official”. This could be months later.

      So for me the priority would be: 1 make sure I have enough shag pals that I can be sure of getting a decent ride and having a laugh at least once a month. Then 2 put some real time and commitment into finding a long term partner without the pressure of having to have sex right away.

      This worked for me. It might not work for your buddy. But maybe you can convince her to make a mental separation between “guys I’m havinf sex with” and “guys I’m emotionally involved with”. It seems she’s fallen into the trap of assuming that because she’s had sex with a guy she has to give it a shot with him. Help her give herself permission to mark it up to experience and move on, to decide to keep him on as a shag pal while continuing to look for a proper partner (both parties aware of and consenting to this relationship), or if she really likes a guy, to get his number and give him a chaste kiss at the end of the night and arrange a proper date.

      Let her know that it’s ok to do these things, and she doesn’t owe a guy anything emotionally just because they had a drunken one night stand.

      1. Thlayli*

        Just in case it’s not totally clear, the shag pal thing needs to be mutually agreed that it’s just sex and fun, not emotional. Friends with benefits, shag pal, sex buddies, whatever. Just make it crystal clear it’s not exclusive and it’s not about emotion. In my experience guys can only handle this for a few months coz then they start getting all clingy and want to go out properly, that’s the time to end it before someone gets hurt. It’s also good to have a few shag pals coz since your not exclusive either of you can meet someone else at any time then you’re high and dry and back to square one.

        Sometimes you can move between categories, but it rarely works out. I had one guy I was friends with for years, shag pals for almost a year (we lived in different European countries so we used to meet for a weekend every few months in different cities like Paris or Amsterdam), then we became officially boyfriend and girlfriend and it only lasted 2 months. ‘‘Twas a shame but sure that’s life.

      2. INTP*

        I think these categories make a lot of sense for some people, but it hasn’t worked out for any of my friends with low self esteem around men. They wind up getting attached to the shag pals even if they don’t like them very much as humans, I think probably because something in them needs those guys to prove that they are lovable by falling in love with them. I have a lot of friends that try this over and over again, but it seems to end in pain or drama every time. I also don’t know that it’s healthy for someone that has a serial issue with winding up in relationships where they’re being used to be in a relationship where they’re explicitly being used for sex, even if it’s mutual use.

        I have no issue with casual sex itself in any form that’s consensual and where both sides are transparent about their intentions, btw. My secondhand experience is just that people with low self esteem about relationships in particular and crave validation in that arena aren’t able to maintain those emotional boundaries and it’s not good for them. It would probably be better for OP’s friend to take a break from the casual sex awhile, long enough to break the cycle, and learn to feel the difference between really liking someone and wanting him to like her because she’s already slept with him.

        1. OhNo*

          That whole thing of wanting/needing a sex buddy to fall in love with you is something I’ve seen in some of my friends as well. I think western culture and western media plays into that, too – there are a ton of movies based around the idea that if you bone enough, you’ll fall in love, and if you fall in love, that will magically Solve Everything.

          Might be worth suggesting, though. One of my friends managed a lot of her anxiety around dating/men by making every feeling and interaction a conscious choice. As in, “I am going to have a one-night stand with this dude, I am not going to call him again, and if he calls me I will ignore it, because even though part of me wants him to fall in love, I have decided in advance that a one night stand is all that this will be.” It did wonders for cutting back on the pining, will-he-won’t-he emotional morass she was going through every time she met someone new.

          1. Thlayli*

            Exactly. Women are taught that we have to have emotional attachment to a guy if we’ve had sex with them – Im also convinced there’s some sort of chemical that makes you like a guy you’ve had sex with too. I remember my first time ever having a one-night-stand. It was a friend of mine, he was nice but I didn’t particularly fancy him let alone want to go out with him. We mutually decided to have sex since neither of us had anyone and we both wanted sex, and a day or two later I found myself thinking wistfully of how much I liked him and how we should get together. I realised that there must be some sort of hormonal thing going on and I said “hell no hormones you are not the boss of me,” reminded myself that I very much did NOT want to go out with him, and got over it. It was a bit difficult as I recall but I successfully taught myself to separate sex from emotions (something most men seem to be able to do much more easily than most women), and it totally changed my sex life. No more putting up with guys I didn’t really like coz I felt I would be being a “slut” by deciding it wasn’t for me after having sex.

            I’m not suggesting you tell her to go out and ride rings around herself, but she really does seem to like sex, so suggesting to her that she not have any at all is Unlikely to work. The key to breaking her cycle might just be to tell her to figure out how to separate sex from emotion in her head.

            But at the end of the day, she’s a grownup, she can figure out her own sex life. So the alternative suggested by someone else ofjust asking her if she wants advice or just wants you to listen is probably a better starting point than launching into a tirade in why she should have a shag pal.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              This is a good way to think of it. I think it’s also worth paying attention to yourself in terms of your own wants and needs–where are you in your life, and what do you want out of any relationships? Once you start thinking about forming a more permanent attachment in general, just getting laid is much less satisfying. In my twenties, I used to have no trouble with that sort of thing, but at the time, I didn’t want an attachment. Now I do, and it’s harder to think of someone as just a shag.

              I like the whole tell yourself how it’s gonna be beforehand thing, however. But I think the friend should take some time and figure out what she wants, and then look at dating people who want the same kind of thing rather than just whoever turns her on.

      3. Elizabeth H.*

        I love this comment! This is really similar to how I feel about sex and dating in a lot of ways. I like casual sex, but sometimes I also am looking for somebody to be in a relationship with and sometimes it can be challenging to try to look for both objectives at once. It sounds like you came up with a very systematic approach!
        I do think that in many cases, if you’re more on the market for long term potential it can make sense to have a no sex date first. I am not sure exactly why, but I think that for BOTH people, having sex the first time you meet someone can be a little bit of a challenge for future relationship – I think there’s just some subconscious thing for a lot of people to separate “relationship potential” from “sex potential.” That said, I have pretty much never successfully done this. Of my four serious relationships two started with having sex within hours of meeting (the other two I was friends with the person first for some time). The first time, I was just about at the point that OP’s friend is at (interested more in a relationship, but getting sick of going out to bars and trying to pick people up) and decided that I’d try NOT sleeping with someone right away on my next date, but then ended up going back to the guy’s house after an hour and a half at bar. We ended up dating for like three years, he’s still one of my closest friends and I met almost all my other friends and my current boyfriend through him. Another time I had a one night stand while on tour with my best friend (a musician) and it was so much fun I went back three months later for my spring break and stayed for eight days. So you really never know. I do think if I were on the market right now I’d try to have a non-sex date first as an initial strategy. Ultimately I think being absolutely clear about what you want from any given interaction is the most important thing.

    4. Oilpress*

      Let her manage her romantic life. Only provide advice if she is genuinely seeking your help. Otherwise, it sounds like she just wants someone to complain to. I wouldn’t blame you for not answering a lot of those texts either.

    5. Parenthetically*

      I have a friend like this. I’ve found it’s best to say, “Hey, when you complain about this situation, I want to get all advicey and tell you to totally change the way you do things romantically. And if you want me to keep saying that, I will, but I feel like it’s an unhelpful pattern for us to get into — you complaining and wanting to vent, me wanting to tell you how to run your life. I think it’s probably for the best if we just skip it and talk about other things.”

      1. Come On Eileen*

        I really like this approach and would suggest the same thing. So many of us get into uncomfortable patterns of conversation with friends and family – myself included – and I’m starting to learn that it’s often best to find a way to talk about that dynamic with the other person. It can be hard and uncomfortable to kick off, but ultimately addresses the fact that we’ve fallen into a pattern that’s not working, so let’s see if we can find a new and better way of connecting.

      2. Betsy*

        Gosh! I wish I could use this with my really complain-y friend. It sounds like great advice (but I may not be quite brave enough yet to use it). She’s a really lovely person, but I can’t handle the constant whining.

      3. Ali G*

        What would you say if she replied that she did really want your advice (but your past experience shows that she doesn’t listen to you)? Would you say something like “In the past I have given you what I thought was good advice and you didn’t take it. Why is that and what can I do differently to help you now?”

        1. Parenthetically*

          I think you can bring it back to an it’s-not-you-it’s-me thing: “I just don’t think it’s my place to tell you how to run your life and I don’t like indulging my control freak tendencies.” But yeah, depending on the frankness of your relationship, I think it’s absolutely fine to say, “Look, you don’t typically take my advice, which is your prerogative, so even if I did want to indulge my control freak tendencies and tell you how to do you, there doesn’t seem to be much use in me babbling on, right?”

      4. K.*

        I’ve done this twice. Once with a friend who was dating a terrible guy, and we had the same conversation for literally years until I said something similar to this. And another with a friend who has ONLY dated terrible guys, for very long periods of time, starting in high school. (The last one was particularly terrible – she recognized that he was emotionally abusive and started going to therapy after she split with him.)

        I had my own on/off situation with a guy who treated me poorly, and the first friend said more or less the same thing to me that I’d said to her. The answer to both our situations was “Break up with him, he’s trash,” but you have to be ready to take that in and sometimes that can take a while, and if you’re not ready to hear it, there’s not much more to say.

        1. Parenthetically*

          “you have to be ready to take that in and sometimes that can take a while, and if you’re not ready to hear it, there’s not much more to say.”

          This is True Truth.

    6. matcha123*

      Hmm…I’ve only had two real boyfriends and a very small number of “it’s complicateds.” I’m the one that started asking friends about how to meet people. One thing is that I am more cautious than your friend seems to be. It also sounds like she wants to be in a relationship so that she doesn’t feel alone. You could start by asking if she wants advice or wants to let off steam. If she wants advice, then go at it again.
      I don’t know. I never dated when I was in school and am very much behind my peers who are all starting to get married or are married or whatever. Does she have people around her who are in good relationships that can provide an example? I don’t have friends in my area that can provide examples of good relationships, and that makes it harder for me to judge if some behaviors are acceptable or not.

    7. Yams*

      Goodness. I’m on the same boat as your friend, just keep doing what you’re doing. There’s not much more you can do, and I’m sure she appreciates someone who is kind to her and listens to her problems. In my case if someone tells me they are annoyed at hearing me whine about men I cut it out, if you get annoyed it might be worth raising it with her.

    8. neverjaunty*

      You can point out “whatever it is you’re doing to meet good guys clearly isn’t working, so maybe try something different?” without shaming her for hook-ups. Gently point out there’s a pattern and suggest she try to look at ways to break the pattern. If you can make it about her having the tools to fix this, rather than being dumb or having bad judgment, that might work.

      (However, do accept that your chances of success are low. When people prefer familiar, comfortable patterns over happiness, they’ll sabotage themselves fifty ways to Sunday rather than change.)

    9. Not So NewReader*

      You could say, “Gee. I am so sorry this keeps happening to you. What do you think you would like to do differently so that you get different results?”
      There’s an expression, “If you do as you always did, you will get what you always got.” If we don’t want what we always got, we have to change what we always do.
      Let her figure out what she would like to change. People can be incredibly intuitive. They can go right to the core of the matter and make the exact change they need, as opposed to the change we THINK they need. Ha! That is one to watch, what we think and what is actually needed can be two different things. I like this type of open ended question because I don’t look like so much of a fool and I can stay in the conversation. And staying in the conversation is the whole point.

    10. AnonEMoose*

      Maybe try pointing her at the Captain Awkward and the Paging Dr. Nerdlove blogs? Then she can read at her leisure, do some thinking, and decide for herself if she wants to do anything differently. Heck, she could, if she wants, write to either or both.

      I don’t know how she’s feel about seeking some therapy. But it could help her find some ways to improve her self-esteem, which it seems is driving a lot of this. It’s one thing to sleep with a lot of guys because it’s what you want to do…and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it seems like she’s coming at it from an emotionally unhealthy place, and that doesn’t seem likely to end well for her.

    11. Emilie*

      I’d be very honest with her. That you of course understand her feelings, and that you’ll totally help her with good advice and support if she want’s to make a change in her life, but that it’s very hard to just sit by and listen to her complaints, since you care for her, and want her to have a succesful lovelife.

      The advice I’d personally give is that stepping back from it all have really helped me. I’ve totally enjoyed partying and one night stands, but at a point in my life I decided that I needed to sort myself out, and that I couldn’t do that while being intimate with a constant stream of new people (not that I felt like it was a bad thing – it was just taking up some focus, that I wanted to put on myself). So I went celibate. I set out a time frame, and it really helped me focus on myself and my needs.

      It might not be for everyone, but I thought I’d share it as a suggestion how to deal with these sort of things.

    12. Not A Party Girl*

      I had a friend who was in a very similar position. Her low self-esteem makes her always want to be in a relationship, even if the guy she’s with is not so great. In college, she seemed to have a new boyfriend every semester. It’s hard because my other friends and I tried to tell her that we love her for who she is, boyfriend or not, but I think she wanted to feel desireable by having a boyfriend.

      Honestly, there wasn’t anything we could say to her. She’s now in a serious relationship that’s doing her good, going on two years. There’s nothing I could do to talk her out of her pattern; she just got lucky in that she actually landed a good guy.

      Good luck!

    13. LilySparrow*

      The best thing I know to say to people who complain about the same thing over & over while making choices that exacerbate it is,

      “Wow. You seem really unhappy with this situation. What do you think you might do about it?”

  11. The Crusher*

    Today is my first 5K of the year! It’ll be windy and about 35 degrees F, so it’s unlikely to be a personal record for me. Around the end of mile 2 I’m sure I’ll be cursing my decision to open here this year.

    I have another race next week that I do every year and then I won’t race again until late April.

    1. CherryScary*

      Good luck! My husband and I are running our second one (ever) tomorrow, and I’m nervous because we haven’t been able to train in a week and a half due to moving and bad weather.

      1. The Crusher*

        I hope it goes well for you! I had an early fall race last year that I took some time off for and it didn’t go well, but moving is probably still giving you enough aerobic work that you won’t lose too much of your fitness.

  12. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    So in a wild update from last week, my moving situation has gone from “ugh I’m going to be paying rent on two places for two months this summer” to “I’m getting my keys in TWO WEEKS.”

    My soon-to-be-former landlord received my notification of my intent to not renew and basically said “Okay, but how about if you don’t wait out your lease and instead leave IN A MONTH.” From what I can tell, I’m in one of the last apartments they haven’t renovated and they’ve been salivating to get me out so they can redo it and start charging someone half again as much as I’ve been paying. Which — not complaining!! Financially this works out better, I’m happy to not move in the middle of a grueling Baltimore summer, and I’m looking forward to being closer to the office, but I’m not used to moving on short notice so there’s this constant background radiation of SKREEEEE in the back of my head.

    Happily, my new landlord was just as happy for me to move in early — the unit I’m renting was already completely finished and ready for someone to move in, so the sooner I start paying for it the happier they are. This way, my folks will also be able to bring their massive van up and help me haul things, which reduces the stuff I need to pay movers $100/hr to deal with.

    So overall, very positive. But still.


    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      (As for why I’m sitting here typing this instead of packing… it’s 7am on a Saturday and I’m a little hesitant to start tromping around overhead quite so early. Living on a creaky top floor has made me very self-conscious about my morning-person habits. New place will be on the ground floor!)

      1. ValaMalDoran*

        I’d just like to say: you are an awesome, kind person. Thank you for the consideration for your neighbors. *glares at the ceiling*

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Congratulations! I’m breathing a major sigh of relief for you. So glad it worked out, and so well. Good luck with your move!

    3. Little Bean*

      You can do it, Countess! I once accepted a job that meant moving 500 miles with 3 weeks notice. And then my dog seriously injured himself and needed major surgery one week in. It was one of the most frantic, stressful periods of my life. Just make yourself a list of everything you need to do each day, sit down and get it done. You’ll be fine!

    4. DietCokeHead*

      That’s awesome! It sounds like this will work out for all involved. I hope your move goes smoothly!

    5. Merci Dee*

      Congrats! I’m so glad this worked out well for you! Packing and moving is a total pain in the backside, but it’s temporary. I hope you love your new place!

    6. FrontRangeOy*

      I once made a cross country move totally about 18 hours of drive time, on 5 days notice. While 6 months pregnant. From 1,000 feet of altitude to 6,000 plus feet of altitude. In July. To a high dessert environment. You can totally do this in 2 weeks! Congrats on getting the new place you wanted!

    7. Free Meerkats*

      Since they are going to immediately renovate, they should take the pressure off fixing picture hanging holes and worrying if the carpet is too dirty.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        For real. I’m still gonna do everything I can to leave the place in good order, but hopefully they shouldn’t be getting on me about the carpet since they’re gonna rip it out and put in something nicer than Wholesale Beige anyway.

  13. Loopy*

    Feeling very burnt out from the thing we don’t talk about here. One night this week I was thinking of doing a self care night and just… none of the traditional things appealed to me. Bubble bath? nah. Painting my nails? Too much effort. Cooking a nice meal for myself? I have cooking haha.

    I tried to find some good mindless Netflix (thinking baking shows, house shows etc.) in the end but couldn’t get into anything (on that note I’m going through The Great British Bake Off withdrawal and the British home cooking show did not fix it, so any post GBBO recommendations are welcome)

    Does anyone have any non-typical ideas for a kind of relaxing self care weekend? I generally don’t like to drive around because traffic where I am is a stressor so maybe something inside? Literally thinking of a way to treat myself has become stressful. I must be doing something wrong.

    1. Srsly*

      Maybe a really long walk? You say you don’t like traffic, so I’m making the presumptive jump to you living in/near a city like I do. So maybe just walking 2-3 miles to something interesting (park, restaurant, tourist area?), chilling for a bit and then walking back would be good.

      Or if you don’t want to leave home, maybe find a beginner yoga tutorial on YouTube and follow along?

      Good luck with the relaxing!

    2. Jess*

      It’s such a personal thing, but if it was me, I’d be thinking along the lines of getting a massage /walk somewhere in nature (beach/park/trees) / meet up with a friend for cake and wine and put the world to rights / curl up on sofa with blankets, a good book, and a pot of tea / bake something nice (I also hate cooking, but love to bake) / go for a swim and time in jacuzzi. Sometimes if I’m feeling burnt out what I really need is a lazy weekend hanging out at home though.

    3. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      This one might be odd.

      I plan trips I will (probably) not go on. I’ll pull up flights in my area and pick somewhere interesting. Then I’ll look up places to stay. Wander around the area on Google maps. Find historical things that interest me there and go on a Wikipedia deep dive. I’ll pull up Instagram accounts of the area. Basically, do all the stuff I’d do if I was actually going there. Gets my brain into a vacation mindset, without ever leaving. (I’ll also look up recipes and cook a few, but since you don’t like cooking maybe skip that part. ;-) )

        1. Odelie*

          Me three! I do this! I’ll plan trips and look up all of the info- would love to go to the places *one day* but it’s not in the cards right now. But it definitely takes my mind off of other things for the moment.

      1. Dead Quote Olympics*

        Ha, I just realized I do this occasionally with “redecorating” certain rooms in the house. Swap out all the bath and light fixtures, choose fancy Moroccan tile for the shower, etc. and then just close the browser. It’s relaxing because price is no object, since I’m not actually going to do it. It probably only works because the rooms involved are perfectly fine as they are, so I don’t get frustrated and there is no anxiety about the implications of actually choosing. I find it entertaining.

        1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          This is why I love Pinterest. I can choose all kinds of amazing things to “keep” and never spend any money at all. Works for clothes, books, garden stuff, gadgets, all kinds of things.

    4. Helpful*

      Call a friend for a long chat, go browsing at a shop you like. What are your hobbies? Carve out some time for one. Think about what makes you feel happy when you do it.

    5. Parenthetically*

      “Literally thinking of a way to treat myself has become stressful. I must be doing something wrong.”

      I used to get like this ALL THE TIME. You’re not doing anything wrong. I always needed to “close the loop” when I got mentally stuck like that, and that usually involved having a big shouty vent/cry at a friend, going for a run, dancing like crazy, basically something intensely physical — my therapist even said just jumping up and down and shouting could work — it let my body kind of catch up with my brain, or vice versa? THEN I could do my normal self-care things.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      For me, I love getting takeout that I don’t get regularly, or from a place that I really like but don’t often go to, that’s one of my favorite treats for myself. What about sitting with a book or newspaper? Do you like Sudoku or crosswords? I find them both very therapeutic, almost meditative, because when I’m working on them I stop thinking about everything else. Do you have any hobbies like that, even if they seem like a waste of time? It’s your time, so think of it as spending time on you.

    7. anonagain*

      I find it easier to think of fun, interesting, and useful things instead of relaxing things. Do you have a hobby? Is there one you’ve wanted to try?

      I don’t think it’s possible to have a weekend that will fix burnout, unfortunately. I’ve felt lots of pressure to really make my weekend count, which then makes it hard to even have a bit of fun. (I also know that when I feel really awful, my favorite activities don’t sound fun and I just have to get started.)

      When all else fails, I stay in pajamas all day and order delivery.

      (Therapy is also self-care.)

    8. dr_silverware*

      What usually works for me is to do something productive but low-stakes, and to make sure I’m eating something nutritious, showering, moving my body, etc.

      1. Clean something messy. It gets you moving, is productive, and for me I get extra stressed by having a gross living space.

      2. Take a walk, and take pictures, listen to a podcast, call someone.

      3. Reach out to someone. If it feels possible for you, tell them you’re feeling burnt out at work, and either talk about it without venting, or ask them to do something to take care of you (watch a movie together online, meet somewhere, suggest a fun activity).

      4. If you have some crafting hobby you haven’t picked up in a while, pick it up!

      These aren’t low-effort suggestions, but my guess is the most important thing you can do for yourself right now is, do not spend all weekend sitting on your couch before just slogging back to work. Treat yourself like a dear friend who’s really bummed–you’d put in effort to help her feel better, so do the same for yourself.

    9. Fiennes*

      If the weather permits, a long walk or bike ride in a park is often nice—or if any physical activity feels like too much, just reading in a gorgeous natural setting can be a treat.

      Are you a museum lover? Go by yourself and indulge. It may seem lonely but I actually find you’re more able to immerse when you’re not worrying about a conpanion’s interest or lack thereof.

      Go thrift-store browsing. Your default should be that you’ll only buy something truly amazing—and then let yourself check out the craziest stuff.

      Maybe a DIY art project, if you’re so inclined? HGTV and Apartment Therapy have several that can be done in a couple hours, for cheap.

    10. Parenthetically*

      Damn, the internet ate my previous comment apparently!

      “Literally thinking of a way to treat myself has become stressful. I must be doing something wrong.”

      Definitely not! This used to happen to me all the time! Something helpful to me, suggested by my therapist, is an intense/strenuous physical activity — hard gardening work, or scrubbing something really dirty, or going for a run, or dancing, or just standing in a room and shouting at the top of your lungs and jumping up and down — to help your brain “close the loop” on the stuff that’s stressing you out. Apparently there’s something in “matching” your physical tiredness to your mental tiredness that helps your body/mind move forward. I often find, for instance, that a long run on a Friday afternoon can kind of wash my brain out so I CAN relax on the weekend.

      Also I love Big Dreams Small Spaces — it’s gardening rather than cooking, but similarly nice and low key.

      1. JenC*

        Seconding this show. Perfect perfect perfect for relaxing and feeling good feelings about the state of humanity. They work hard! Turn crappy rubble filled yard into beautiful garden! Monty Don praises them and cheers them on. So heartwarming and satisfying.

    11. Betsy*

      Lately I have enjoyed ‘cooking’ myself nice food that doesn’t involve much cooking, like baked potatoes with all the toppings. Food that only involves assembling is the best. Maybe you could buy some nice ingredients to put on top of toast to make fancy toasts (like cream cheese and blueberries and walnuts, or roast capsicum, avocado and fetta)?

      After my baked potatoes tonight, I had some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. I’m going to find something to watch on Netflix now. Maybe you could download yourself a series you really like on iTunes if Netflix isn’t cutting it?

      I did yoga this morning and tomorrow I am going to therapy. I like to go and have coffee and avocado on toast afterwards (so millennial!) I might even check out a film at the new arthouse cinema that’s just opened up, if I have the time. Anyway, those are all the things I do when I’m trying to relax.

    12. Reba*

      For shows, Grand Designs! I hope that’s not one of the ones you couldn’t get into. It is light years beyond HGTV. We are obsessed.

      (slightly illicit advice ahead) get a VPN (decent ones can be less than $5 per month) and you can stream Channel4 programs. The new Bake off is there, Grand Designs has a bazillion seasons plus offshoots in other countries.

      My suggestion for an activity would be a walk–maybe to a bookstore or library, so that the walk ultimately ends in a cup of hot something + new book. Hope the rest of your weekend is result

    13. Pollygrammer*

      I like sorting things (craft stuff, collections and whatnot) when I’m stressed. Actual organizing won’t work, it has to be something small, unimportant and meditative. I’m down to my last pair of clean pants, but I’ve got the bead box really tidy! For whatever reason, it gets me out of my head better than anything.

    14. Tuna Casserole*

      I make bracelets and earrings and I crochet simple things like wash cloths and baby hats. Making something small can be a great way to fight burn-out. It allows you to focus on something else for a while, and in a short time you have something new you can use, or wear, or give away as a gift. Reading can also help, as it allows me to be somewhere, or someone, else for a while.

      TV show recommendation: I’m currently hooked on Project Runway All-Stars and The Great British Sewing Bee.

    15. Middle School Teacher*

      I also love Bake Off, and I’ve been watching the new celeb episodes, but I also recommend the new Queer Eye (it’s so relaxing and I love the emphasis on being good and comfortable with yourself as a person) but I’m also watching Nailed It on Netflix. Totally not like Bake Off, but very funny. Plus I have a lot of respect for people who willingly go on tv to make doofuses of themselves.

      1. Full Speed Ahead*

        I too love the new Queer eye. I watch it while on the treadmill and the time flies by. I love any makeover show really – people, homes, gardens. It’s satisfying to see things made so better in less than an hour. So unlike real life…..

      2. PB*

        I binged Nailed It in one day, and watched it again when my husband came home. It a lot of fun! I also loved Zumbo’s Just Desserts. It’s a similar format to Great British Bake-Off, where one person is eliminated every week. In each episode, they compete on a theme. The bottom two chefs then face off on recreating an elaborate dessert created by pastry chef Adriano Zumbo.

        I’ve also had good success taking up crochet in the last year or so. I know a lot of people who teach themselves from YouTube videos. For me, the best way of learning was to buy Crochet for Dummies and work my way through from beginning to end. I made Christmas presents for a lot of my family last year, and made myself a blanket which I use almost daily. I like that it’s something I can just pickup, do for a few minutes, and put it away again. It also doesn’t require a ton of concentration, so I can do it while watching TV or chatting with my husband.

    16. Cousin Itt*

      Re: GBBO recs – have you seen the charity specials? There’s a short series of one off episodes with celebrity contestants airing right now in UK and I’m pretty sure they did a similar series a few years ago when it was still on the Beeb.

      Also check out The Great British Sewing Bee which is like Bake Off but they make clothes rather than cakes. It’s sort of like if Project Runway was taken over by the Women’s Institute.

    17. Damn it, Hardison!*

      A good book, cozy blanket, and a special snack is my go-to when I want to really slow down and chill ou.

    18. moql*

      For shows – Call the Midwife is very sweet and very well done but there is little conflict and little “thinking” and I use it as a comfort show when I just want something nice to watch.

    19. Totallt Minnie*

      Have you ever played a musical instrument? I play the piano, and sometimes when I’m really burnt out, I choose a piece that’s slightly too hard for me so I have to count beats the whole time. There’s no room for fixating on the thing that’s stressing you out when you’re trying to count out measures in 5/8 time.

    20. Kendra*

      If you like animals, going to an animal shelter or somewhere that will let you cuddle a bunch of cute little fluffnuggets might be fun!

      Or giving yourself permission to go wholeheartedly enjoy something on your own that you would normally do with other people – maybe try a restaurant that sounds interesting, go see a good movie, go shopping for something fun without necessarily buying anything.

    21. Koala dreams*

      I know that feeling! I have lists of things to do, so I can just look at it when I get in exactly the position you are in now. ;)
      Here are some examples:
      take photos of the weather outside
      go swimming at the swimming pool
      eat salad
      check out youtube videos with cute pandas
      coloring (I like those popular adult coloring books)
      solve crosswords

    22. Loopy*

      Wow, this community is amazing!!!!

      The responses alone made me feel better- especially those that could relate. In the end I think what I decided was what might be the right path for me is to take a weekday off and plan a self care day rather than trying to do things spontaneously. I think maybe I’m not great at waiting until the weekend to figure something else because I feel indecisive and like I’m scrambling to figure out what I want to do and how to get it done.

      For example, I adore nature walks and long walks but I’m very weird (and admittedly obnoxious) in that I want solitude and get very (internally) annoyed at other people existing in my space when I go this route. Since that’s not practical nearby I need to plan for a weekday excursion AND get up early and go someplace before people show up. Early morning nature with zero people around is the best nature. Sorry other human beings.

      Also, I love the idea of take out or going someplace to treat myself but I’d want to go out when it’s not St. Patricks Day (lots of people probably already out and about where I am). Also the dog cost me an unexpected extra 75 dollars today at the vet so spending suddenly dropped out of my things-the-are-possible-list!

      These ideas were great though. Sadly, I am very much in need of a long overdue vacation so planning one I can’t book would drive me insane- same with room decor :P But I think I’ll use this post to come up with an epic weekday off. Keep the suggestions coming!

      Also, for show recs, I only have access to Netflix and Amazon Prime, so I’ll go check if the suggested ones are on either of those.

      Thanks again to everyone!!!

      1. Fiddlesticks*

        Re: Netflix recs for baking — there’s a new show called “Nailed It!” which is amateur bakers tackling challenges with…extremely varying levels of success. It. Is. Hilarious.

        Might be something fun to put on in the background when you’re decompressing? I feel the same way about Mythbusters, too, which doesn’t demand my full attention but is fun and interesting, and a nice pocket universe outside of the politics/stress of everyday life!

    23. LilySparrow*

      I’m in GBBO withdrawal too, and I just found Bug Dreams Small Spaces with Monty Don.

      Really, really lovely gardens. Only 6 episodes on Netflix right now, but they’re delightful.
      So many flowers!

    24. Elizabeth West*

      I like to just do nothing. This works better if I’ve already cleaned the house during the week. Though I’m now busy on Saturday with my group stuff. Sunday is usually chore day, but if I’ve been stressed, sometimes I’ll clean over a couple of weeknights and just do nothing on Sunday. And sometimes, putting the house in order can be a stress reliever, especially if I’ve neglected it for whatever reason.

      If I need to get out of the house, I go to the flea market, not necessarily to buy anything, but it’s relaxing and fun to just walk around and look at stuff.

    25. Shannon*

      I watched a few episodes of “Nailed it” on netflix this weekend. It’s a baking competition with people who can’t bake. It’s a little low budget but it’s really funny.

  14. Anonymous for Now*

    For anyone who was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult or knows someone who was, how did they realize what was going on and go about getting a diagnosis? I’ve been struggling with a number of different focus and concentration related things in life and in one of those lack-of-focus moments, stumbled across an article detailing how symptoms tend to manifest in adult women and hugely identified with it. Further investigation brought up the generic intake checklist where I also found I identified a lot with the symptoms. I don’t currently have a doctor and am hesitant to go, as I don’t want to “self-diagnose” and be completely wrong. I was curious what the process was like and how people started it/recognized it.

    1. anonagain*

      I was DX’ed in college, but it was identified by my psychologist who sent me to a psychiatrist to confirm the diagnosis and do the meds part of treatment. I had never considered the possibility myself.

      You say you’re hesitant to go to the doctor because you don’t want to self-diagnose. I understand what you’re getting at and am still going to say that part of why you go to see a doctor is so they can diagnose you. ;-)

      There are lots of things that can cause problems with focus and it’s reasonable to seek help for any of them. You don’t have to know a priori what the cause is. Ideally your primary care doctor will check that you are generally healthy and rule out any other medical issues that could be causing or contributing (thyroid problems, etc.) Then you can be referred to a specialist if your primary care doctor doesn’t diagnose and treat psych stuff. If it’s an option for you, I would do that.

      Even if you don’t have ADHD, you’re still struggling with focus and you can still learn strategies for coping better. Whatever the diagnosis is in the end, you definitely aren’t wrong about the challenges you’re having.

      You don’t even need to mention ADD. You can just talk about what you’re experiencing. If you want to mention it, you can say something like, “I’m having trouble with x,y,z. I recently took an ADHD screening test and scored quite high. I don’t know if it really is ADHD, but it helped me see that this is having a bigger impact on my life than I fully realized. I would like to find some better ways of dealing with whatever this is.”

    2. DBGNY*

      My wife actually figured out that I had it in the process of researching something else. I think it was because she read “Driven To Distraction”.

    3. Dopameanie*

      Happened to me! I avoided diagnosis for a long time because I watched kids in my high school skip up to the nurse’s office full of life and jokes and then trudge to class as lifeless zombies. I finally gave in when I forgot some very important work and life appointments. Got a dr, who referred me to a psychologist, who referred me to a psychiatrist, who gave me pills. Good news: the pills are more varied nowadays, so you can find what works for you better. Bad news: suuuuuper expensive.

    4. Late-Age ADHD*

      I was diagnosed in my late forties, by accident really. I had been looking up ADHD symptoms out of concern for my young son, noticed I had a lot of those symptoms, but dismissed it. About two weeks later my therapist suggested I might ADHD out of the blue and because I’d been thinking about it, I was open to the idea of being tested. At that time I was in a health care system that didn’t do a good job with mental health care, so this therapist wasn’t great, her testing wasn’t great, and the psychiatrist she referred me to was terrible. I got an ADHD diagnosis and because I was having so many issues with attention I was willing to try taking Adderall even if I didn’t really trust the diagnosis. In retrospect, their process was terrible but their diagnosis has been confirmed and I personally feel very comfortable with its accuracy now.

      First tiny (2.5mg) dose of Adderall was a revelation. It was like I’d had a marching band playing in my head my whole life, and I didn’t notice until the Adderall turned it off. Things were so much quieter in my head, even at that dose. I got more benefit as I slowly (I was feeling very cautious) increased my dose. I still questioned my diagnosis until I started listening to the ADHD Experts podcast. Episode 114 talks about ways in which ADHD is misdiagnosed or missed, and because I have concurrent mental health issues that have probably been obscuring my ADHD that episode really spoke to me. Frankly it was a revelation. I felt like there was a life before listening to it that was different from my life after. It really changed my conception of myself. As I further educated myself it helped me understand more what was going on when I had symptoms, so therefore I could better manage them. And when I got on the right dose/type of Adderall (long-acting was SO much better for me), my symptoms were more manageable.

      Now I still find having ADHD to be challenging, but I also can better appreciate its advantages. I feel better about myself and less hard on myself for the things I don’t do well. Also, being on Adderall dropped my anxiety by about half, especially my post-social-interaction anxiety where I would inevitably find something I’d said wrong at a party or a meeting and obsess on it for weeks afterwards (geez, you got that guy’s name wrong, what’s the MATTER with you? he’ll never forget that you did that! and on and on even though I knew it was irrational). First meeting I had after I was on Adderall, I braced for the usual self-castigating thoughts…and they didn’t come. That was an incredible moment.

      The process for getting a diagnosis is to see a psychologist or psychiatrist for an evaluation. They should do a lengthy interview with you and ask you lots of questions about many aspects of your functioning. That podcast episode I mentioned, and also ADHD Experts Podcast #180, which describes how a proper evaluation is done, are great introductions on that. I don’t know about your insurance, though. In one system I was on, I could get referrals to a psychologist or psychiatrist from my regular doctor. But on my current plan we have a separate mental health plan and I could choose to go straight to a psychologist or psychiatrist for testing.

      This post is already way too long so I’m stopping here. Good luck!

    5. MommaCat*

      I actually tried to get a diagnosis last year (I’m in my mid-30s), but the questionnaire they gave me came back with more anxiety than ADHD, but not enough that the doctor felt comfortable diagnosing me with either. They also felt that my grades were too good in school for me to have it, even though I literally only did well when I had a very physical sport after school every day. I’m considering trying again, but it just seems like too much work. I’m still getting a lot of use out of all the advice for ADHDers; if you haven’t yet, you should check out “How To ADHD” on YouTube. Anyway, try to get a doctor who specializes in ADHD to administer the test, which is where I think I went wrong in the first place. Best of luck!

      1. Late-Age ADHD*

        Oh my gosh, I can’t believe they said your grades were too good for you to have it. That just made me see red! That’s ridiculous. I had great grades and am competent, functional and productive at work. But I have to work extra hard to get there because of my ADHD symptoms. I’m fortunate that I have a high IQ and an obsession (usually but not always a positive one) for problem solving. That’s how I get through. I have to overmaster my own brain to make it. It doesn’t mean I’m not really, really struggling. I remember waking up on a weekend a couple of years ago and immediately starting to cry with shame about how much I was behind on. That’s what things looked like from the inside, regardless of how it looked on the outside.

        Also, on the anxiety, for me Adderall cut my anxiety so significantly that separating ADHD from anxiety is sort of pointless. My ADHD compounds my anxiety and vice versa. It’s a pity that many clinicians worry about giving people with anxiety and ADHD stimulants, because many (not all) respond really well and stimulants make them calmer, not more anxious.

        I’ll definitely check out “How to ADHD.” I never think of YouTube for this kind of thing because podcasts fit into my need for something to listen to while I do boring tasks. Great tip!

        1. Chrysanthemum*

          Would you be interested in saying anymore about how you feel that Adderall helped your anxiety? I have anxiety and have been taking Wellbutrin for it for a long time. A couple of years ago, I wanted to try taking Adderall because I had often thought that it would help me with motivation and having the energy to do things that I felt too depressed or anxious to do. I don’t have ADHD (I’m positive) and had floated the Adderall idea by my doctor and he wasn’t interested in that approach. I had an opportunity to get it without having my own prescription and I’ve been taking it as if it’s a prescription every day for two years. I do think it helps a lot but I really feel like it’s more of a focus and energy thing (like with people who use it as a study aid) and not an ADHD thing. Like I don’t feel exactly “calmer,” I feel energetic and speedy and I can get stuck intently doing unproductive things by mistake if I’m not careful. The interaction between focus and anxiety is very salient for me because at times of worse anxiety it’s definitely manifested as having more trouble focusing, and that’s something that INSTANTLY became better the first time I saw a doctor for anxiety and got prescribed Wellbutrin, late in college. But I feel like Adderall generates the “help with focusing/with being productive” by a different mechanism than by reducing my anxiety, if that makes sense. That’s my personal experience.

      2. LilySparrow*

        Any doctor who says you can’t have good grades with ADHD is a freaking idiot and needs to learn to read.

        ADHD isn’t a cognitive impairment or a learning disability (though ADHD and LD’s often coexist because neurodivergence is divergent).

        I had 4.0’s through high school and graduated cum laude from a highly competitive school. I couldn’t find my socks, stick to a reasonably healthy diet, remember to tell my mom Happy Birthday, or drive anywhere without getting lost. But boy howdee I could get grades, no problem.

        As far as the comment on anxiety below, I think my anxiety has gone down for a couple of reasons. First, knowing what is going on, and that it’s not a character flaw where I’m just supposed to “try harder” & “do better,” has been *huge.* HUGE.

        Second, the meds & management skills help me do more things that are good for my brain, in terms of food, sleep, exercise, etc.

        Finally, a big source of anxiety for me is feeling overwhelmed & out of control, and like I need to be hypervigilant so that I don’t miss something important or dangerous. This is not irrational. When my symptoms are acting up, I do miss things that are important and potentially dangerous (like when I’m driving), and I do get sensory overload in some situations, like crowds.

        The Adderall makes those things work better, so I can relax and be confident that I can cope with those situations.

    6. Combinatorialist*

      So this isn’t for ADHD, but last fall I was extremely stressed and I was also having a real hard time focusing on anything. It literally felt like my brain was fogged. A lot. Eventually I went to a doctor who did some blood work and found that I was B12 deficient. Went on a cheap supplement and I feel like a person again. It’s amazing the difference it is has made. So depending on your symptoms, there could be other causes so I would start just by going to the doctor, describe the symptoms you have, and see what tests they can run.

      Also push until you get an explanation of some kind. I have gone before for similar stuff and wasn’t told an answer and then it cleared up so I stopped pushing. Then it would come back.

      1. Late-Age ADHD*

        Yep, it sure can be physical issues instead or in addition. Low thyroid can make your thinking slower. And no one told me that perimenopause causes brain fog. No amount of Adderall is fixing that or me but at least I’m overall much more functional.

    7. Anonymous for Now*

      Thanks so much for the input everyone! This was really helpful and gave me a lot to think about. =)

    8. LilySparrow*

      I was struggling with my weight (again) and ran across some articles suggesting that chronic overeating and weight management issues have a strong link to ADHD in women. I took some assessments and was rather shocked to see how well it fit.

      I talked to my primary doctor, who sent me to consult with a psychiatrist for assessment/diagnosis. The assessment was really just a verbal history and some questions about what I was struggling with and what my experiences were like as a kid & young adult.
      Then the psychiatrist sent a report to my PCP, who wrote me a prescription. She said it’s not unusual for folks to need to try a few different meds before finding one that works best for them. She started me on a fairly low dose of Adderall, and said it was usually pretty well tolerated.

      I’ve been happy with it and haven’t tried anything else. It’s not magic – I still need to use my various coping techniques, but it helps me use them better.

      The biggest shift is that things don’t seem overwhelming, and I can get started on stuff without dithering forever. And without whipping myself into a crisis-frenzy to overcome the inertia. I can just decide to balance the checkbook (or whatever), and then do it.

      That probably sounds odd to some people, but it’s a big deal to me.

    9. always anon for medical stuff*

      I think it would be a good idea to look into ADHD coping mechanisms, too.

      In my pre-diagnosis and medication days, even before I really thought I had ADHD, my mom encouraged me to use a bunch of ADHD coping mechanisms that saved my bacon. Even if you’re completely wrong, if you have concentration issues you may find something that helps.

      But also important to keep in mind that loss of concentration/brain fog can be a symptom of other conditions or can go along with them. So if you’ve been experiencing any other medical stuff that’s something to consider.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      This was kind of you all – I have come here debating whether to post the past couple of Saturdays and now I guess I will. The people I am about to mention will probably have a field day over the fact that I noticed I was mentioned.

      I stopped posting on AAM after discovering a section on a certain site beginning with R devoted entirely to hate-reading and snarking about blogs that annoy them instead of just, I don’t know, not reading them. It’s kind of pathetic. Apparently loads of them first found the site because they like to google their opinions and feel validated by the internet.

      Some of what they said about me was totally fair. I did post too much and too often on the comments. I did sometimes post some absolute sh*t. But I never actually lied. They seem to think I am some loser fantasist or something. And none of this would matter – who cares? – were it not for the fact that they referred to things I had posted on the weekend thread, eg in the mental health thread, and once I knew people were snarking about things I wrote here I just didn’t feel ok posting anything any more.

      Just to clear a few things up:

      I never said I was out of work. I said I used to be self employed as it was hard for me to work full time due to health issues but that I now work for a charity. I have never lied about my employment status or my work.

      These people questioned how I was able to post early every morning, apparently never entertaining the thought that that is actually when I get up. (I don’t know if they thought I was setting an alarm or something.) I get up at 5am. I have long commute and getting up earlier / starting and finishing earlier suits me.

      I wasn’t lying when I said my husband used to be in a band.

      I do have a job, and a life, and I used to post on here while waking up and eating breakfast or on my commute.

      I am not a fantasist with an imaginary job. I am however someone who has been homeless, who was abused, who managed to get a degree and have career success in spite of also having health problems. I have people who love me and I have enough self awareness to realise I sometimes come off as a total berk.

      So when I found this site I laughed, shrugged, said yup, fair cop to a lot of it – but also didn’t feel I wanted to post any more.

      I need to spend les time on the internet anyway.

      It is sad that these people have nothing better to do.

      There are some lovely people here in this community, and I wish you all much love and luck.

      1. Mimmy*

        Wow Ramona, I’m really sorry that you no longer feel comfortable posting. From what I’ve seen, you have been a great part of our commentariat.

        I don’t read many online community boards, and often forget that these communities don’t exist in a vacuum. I’d be mortified if things like that were said about me (I’ll admit I can come across rather whiny and indecisive).

        Best of luck to you Ramona ((hugs))

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Sincere question because I am not sure I understand. People on other sites were nasty so you need a break from the internet entirely? Were people here nasty? or Were people here nasty on other sites?
        Sorry, I seem to be missing something. I don’t always read here because of time constraints so it could be that I missed something here.

        FWIW, I hope if you do wade back in, you start here.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Well I guess they knew they could not say those things here, umm.

            Very sorry Ramona.

            1. Overeducated*

              Yes. They could not. Ramona, I hope you didn’t feel the need to clear the air for regular commenters here, I am sure none of us assume you are lying or suspect your motives for posting, and we value you and your comments. I am so sorry this space has been polluted by joyless jerks elsewhere.

      3. Laura H*

        Ramona, I’m ashamed to say I didn’t notice your presence had diminished. I really enjoyed your comments. I do hope you’ll pop back in occasionally- we all have different insights and I always enjoyed yours.

        And those peoples’ perception is their hang up- in this case, it’s not your job to make yourself fit a mold and be palatable to them.

        Best wishes and internet hugs from me. :)

      4. Parenthetically*

        WTF. Those people need to get a life, or a hobby, or some extensive counseling, or whatever. Who on earth has time to comb through someone’s posts on a site? Egads.

        I’ll miss you around here, Ramona, and I hope after you’ve had some time away you’ll come back. :)

      5. Big Person*

        I didn’t know there was more than one of those type of sites! I hang out on another forum which also has a critical counterpart on another blog. To me, they are the ones with the problems. I mean, fair enough if they think people who post and interact with internet strangers are weird, but the posters are living their life and getting advice and so on, whereas the critics are reading stuff that obviously annoys them, and what? making themselves feel better by mocking? and that’s somehow better? Since it’s all anonymous, and no one knows who you really are, I wouldn’t worry about it. Don’t let them take away what has been a good thing in your life just because they are jerks. Hope you will reconsider, and stick around.

      6. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That’s awful, I’m sorry. For what it’s worth, people who spend significant time hate-reading a site, and then spend even more time discussing their hate of their hate-read and being vicious toward strangers, are not happy, healthy people. Spend time in spaces that make you happy, and don’t worry about people who are steeping themselves in negativity toward others. I really do believe the latter is a kind of sickness, or at least a reflection of deep unhappiness.

      7. Reba*

        So sorry that happened. How cruel and bizarre. You really were missed here. We don’t think you post too much :)

        Very good wishes to you too, Ramona.

      8. dr_silverware*

        That’s a dreadful thing to experience and I’m so sorry! I know you’ll be missed, but I’d much rather you do what healthiest for you.

      9. Helpful*

        I’m glad I reached out. You matter. I’m flabbergasted that people think attacking strangers on the internet is a worthwhile thing to do.

      10. Anono-me*

        Thank you for letting everyone know what was going on. I’m sure that must have been a horrible unexpected shock.
        I want you to do what’s best for you; but I personally hope that soon you will be back sharing your thoughts and experiences.
        I would ask that you consider the fact that the unkind critical comments were from another site and not AAM when considering how valid the coments are.
        Be happy.

      11. Anonymous Ampersand*

        What the what?!
        I’m so sorry. I had no idea all this was going on but I’ve been missing you!
        Take care x

      12. DietCokeHead*

        That’s awful and I’m so sorry. I don’t know what would motivate people to spend time and energy devoted to caring about what someone else does. I wish the best for you. I haven’t been commenting here often but when I have, I always enjoyed your insights.

      13. Call me St. Vincent*

        Ramona, I am so sorry to hear about this. I honestly haven’t been on here since my last weekend thread post where I was very upset about how there was a lot of nastiness lately. I have been thinking of you since then, especially because the reason I left was that on the VERY thread that I posted about how mean people have been, someone was legit mean to you. I came on today after at least 3-4 weeks away without commenting at all on the site to see how you were doing. I had no idea that you also took what sounds like a much needed break from this. I can’t believe people have the time to waste on the internet talking about another anonymous commenter. People really need to get a grip and a hobby. You are literally the only reason I came back to comment because I wanted to see how you were doing. You were always in my top commenters and from your comments I have come to know you as a kind, compassionate, interesting person. I don’t know if I will be back to comment again given that it seems to have gotten worse since I was here last, but please know that there are kind people elsewhere in the world who may not know you, but who like you very much and care about you!

      14. Jess*

        Ramona I’m so sorry, that’s awful and so hurtful. I’ve always appreciated how kind and thoughtful your contributions here have been, and the amount of energy you’ve put into supporting people. And personally, as someone from an unstable background who has ‘done good’, I’ve been so glad of your perspective and your willingness to refer to your challenges.

      15. Cristina in England*

        Oh no! That’s terrible. I don’t know the site starting with R but I do know the site starting with G and they do something similar. They can’t really complain about Alison’s posts so they take their rage out on the commenters.

      16. Pol*

        Joining in to say your comments are interesting to read and are (to my general impression) of the thoughtful and interesting type.

        I’m really sorry you had to come across such aimless unkindness latching onto you, you really don’t deserve anything of that sort- sure, if you are active in a community you might post not ideal stuff once in a while, but comment sections are a pathetic place to go hate-critiquing…

        Best of luck, take care of yourself, and I hope we will see you posting occasionally.

      17. oranges & lemons*

        Wow, it’s extremely creepy that these people have been tracking your posting times and the details of your personal life! I know it’s hard to keep perspective when people target you, so I just wanted to say that I think the only “crime” that attracted this attention was having opinions on the internet. I completely understand why this would put you off, but I’m one of the commenters who has really appreciated your perspective here.

      18. Caledonia*

        People fu**ing suck. Don’t let the ba**ards get you down. (Easier said than done, I know)

      19. moosetracks*

        What? Why are they so obsessed with you?

        You wrote some really really kind comments when I wrote in a letter a while ago. It really encouraged me and meant a lot to me. I hope you know that lots and lots of us do not think there’s anything wrong with your comments.

        I’m sorry these people were so awful to you. You are absolutely entitled to not post – I know that would spoil the fun of it for me, too. I hope that you’re able to let this roll off of you and do some cool stuff with your time off the internet.

      20. anon24*

        Ramona I’m so sorry that people suck. I’ve been looking for you and worrying about you. I love reading your comments because even if I don’t agree they are always so well thought out. I will miss you here, I think you are a very valuable part of this community.

        Also, what makes their opinions more valid than yours? If they have the right to post their stupid rants online why shouldn’t you be able to post your kind thoughts?

      21. Chrysanthemum*

        Hi Ramona! I had actually just assumed that you were taking some time off of recreational internet. I do that from time to time and always feel amazing. I like your comments and hope that you post here as much as you want!

      22. PB*

        I’m sorry that happened. It’s truly awful that people decided to read all of your posts and go talk about you in such a cruel way “behind” your back but in a public forum. Absolutely, you should do what you need to do for yourself. I just hate hate that happened.

        And to the jerks trolling the comments and going elsewhere to say crap about posters: take a look in the mirror before claiming someone else needs to get a life.

      23. Odelie*

        Stuff like this just hurts my heart. I’m sorry, Ramona. I hope you still check in from time to time.

      24. fposte*

        Ramona, I know the place you mean, and I studiously avoid it. It’s actually a spinoff of a standalone site by people who pretty much wanted a space to criticize the owner of that site as well as blogs; digging into personal details is their MO. These are already people drawn together by negativity–it is essentially Captain Awkward’s “jerkbrain” concept in forum form, YouTube comments in slightly more literate form. I absolutely support your decision to spend your time however you please, but I hope you won’t allow that experience to interfere with your happiness.

      25. sophieChotek*

        What? I am so sorry to hear you are experiencing something awful like that! It us disheArtening to hear people can be so unkind.

      26. Belle di Vedremo*

        I’m so sorry that happened. And I trust you to take care of yourself. Just know that whatever you decide, you your comments here have been appreciated.

      27. Carmen in Canada*

        Adding to the chorus. People suck. That must have felt awful to read. I’ve always thought that your comments are a great contribution to this site and community. I rarely comment here but I don’t think enough people can speak out about how wrong that site is.

      28. Tassie Tiger*

        -hugs if wanted-
        You are a good, kind, gentle soul. You belong here absolutely as much as anyone.
        This is your community too.

      29. Mike C.*

        These folks think I’m a Alison sock puppet so, yeah.

        Just remember this is the same site that had to be shamed into removing subforums dedicated to underage pictures so there you go.

    2. Thursday Next*

      I’m sorry, Ramona. I really don’t understand why anyone would do that. Please don’t disappear from AAM!

    3. deesse877*

      There is no need for you to justify yourself or explain anything. Those people are haters. I would bet real money that no one here who posts in good faith under a stable pseudonym has ever doubted you.

      This sort of ugly, pointless suspicion is a common thing–I have seen it on other sites. I don’t really get it, but I have noticed that people who do it are really poor at what they do, or claim to do. They are always finding “inconsistencies” or whatever in others’ personae, but it never holds up to the slightest scrutiny.

      It’s really just a way of lashing out, like grade-school children who pick on someone for having sneakers in a different color. They’re jealous, not of the specific thing they mock/doubt, but of the fact that you clearly don’t need the conformity that structures their own lives.

      No pressure, but I’d enjoy it if you returned, maybe under a different handle.

      (Also, thanks for mentioning the haters’ club–explains some stuff I’ve seen lately.)

      1. Lissa*

        They just want something to rant about. I’ve seen the threads and so often it’s stuff like “oh, the people there think it’s OK to do X thing” when X is something that was mentioned in a letter/OP and basically everyone else said that it was in no way OK. And of course people will just read the snark and not go check what actually happened.

        I’ve even seen that type of thing here, where someone will post something like “I’m shocked that in the thread on llamas I was the only one who thought arranged marriages with a mongoose was inappropriate” and you go back and read the thread and no, like 80% of people thought it was inappropriate. I assume they are just seeing what they want to see to be able to feel superior and not intentionally making up stuff but it’s…such a strange phenomenon.

        1. fposte*

          They’re mostly driven by interest in lifestyle bloggers and suspicion of the careful curation of their lives. Which is a fair enough feeling, but it’s all too easy for groups like this to go overboard (like, insisting somebody’s husband isn’t really dying, or looking up old school papers or real estate records) and thrive on suspicion and contempt.

    4. Rookie Manager*

      I came here today to ask if Ramona was ok. I’m really sorry that people elsewhere have been so awful. I’ve missed your comments and it was always clear to me that you’ve lived an interesting life with a varied career. I also now work in the UK third sector and have/had have health issues. It’s good to read about others experiences and I appreciate you putting yourself out there. Look after yourself however you need to but know you are missed.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Ramona Flowers,
        I don’t know anything about that other site. Don’t go there. Those people are bullies. And troubled.
        Come here. Stay here. We appreciate your insights, your comments, and your empathy. You are missed.

  15. Hey Nony Nony*

    I seem to remember there was an AAM group on LinkedIn. Am I dreaming that or can someone point me in the right direction to find it?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m pretty sure the group was deleted. I found a link to an old discussion there, and when I tried to follow it, LinkedIn gave me a warning “Sorry, this group doesn’t exist. You might have the wrong URL or this group’s manager may have deleted it.”

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There used to be one, started and managed by Jamie. But then Jamie’s life was keeping her too busy to manage it so I took it over … but it was never really used and mainly just required me to spend a bunch of time approving members, so I eventually removed it.

  16. kebs*

    I have a brand new baby and an unhealthy relationship with food. I am starting to think about introducing solid food soon and how to help my child develop the healthy eating habits that I lack. Both my husband and I are overweight (not obese) and comfort eat/binge on snack food.

    1. kebs*

      Should have mentioned that we also seem to spend a lot of time dieting (cutting calories for me, fasting for my husband). I worry what messages our child will pick up from this.

      1. Yetanotherjennifer*

        Check out Precision Nutrition. They have a habits-based methodology that can be very helpful. There’s no calorie counting and you can use your hand to measure portion sizes so you could invisibly fit their recommendations into life with an observant child. They also help you identify the underlying emotions behind weight and fitness troubles. You can go far on the free stuff you’ll receive once you’re on their mailing list. They hold coaching groups twice a year, which you might find very helpful. First you’re offered one-on-one online coaching for a year for a really high price ($150/month, I think), but if you decline than and then keep responding, they’ll offer group coaching for significantly less ($50). Their recommendations and materials are awesome, but their business side is sorta gimicky. They’re also a little patronizing in tone, but really, the program and materials are very well done and the science is sound.

    2. Helpful*

      How old is baby? Pediatricians recommend starting food at 6 months. Focusing on increasing the amounts of fruits and veggies you eat each day can have a positive, slow change for your overall diet.

      It’s good to think about this. Also talk to your pediatrician and your own doc about healthy habits that will benefit your whole family. A therapist or dieteician might also help.

      1. TL -*

        A counselor and a dietitian to help you with the mental labor of making small but continuous changes.
        Food can be rough but you’re right – your kid is learning from your eating patterns. It’s awesome that you’re making the changes!

    3. Jen*

      You should check out Ellyn scatter. Her work is about establishing competent eaters and healthy relationships with food.

    4. Maya Elena*

      Although you want to introduce solids appropriately, you’re good to stay on breast milk for a pretty long time, without making solids anything more than extra additions until way after six months.

      Also, I’m a form believer that kids do as you do, not as you say, but they also can’t really do much until they’re like two. From which the conclusion is, you need to model the healthy habits yourself, but you probably have a year or two to work on that.

    5. INTP*

      Honestly, I am sorry if this sounds harsh, but you can’t keep your issues from impacting your child without fixing your issues. The #1 predictor that a daughter will develop anorexia is having a mom that diets, even if the mom isn’t trying to make her diet. (I would guess something similar is true for boys but they just haven’t been studied as much.) Definitely make sure to keep any negative self talk away from your child, as well as any talk about dieting while they’re too young to notice what you’re eating. But also, consider going to a therapist that specializes in relationships with food and weight. (And quit the dieting if it’s not working long term anyways.)

    6. Yetanotherjennifer*

      I cannot recommend Ellyn Satter’s books enough. They’re wonderful. She’s the one who developed the division of responsibility where your job is to provide a balanced meal at regular times and Baby’s job is to eat it. She is a nationally recognized expert in feeding. Lots of well known nutritionists base their work on her theories and practices. For me, following her recommendations took away a lot of my worries around food and feeding, allowed me to disregard all the bad habits I had been raised with, and helped make mealtime be enjoyable family time.

      Start with “Child of Mine.” It goes through how her practices apply to kids age by age (so you don’t have to read the whole book at once). There are techniques you can use now, even before solid foods, to help your child be in control of their eating. If you wait until you see signs of hunger before feeding and watch for signs of fullness you can help your child manage their eating and hunger. There is an awesome graph in the appendix that shows when the energy from different macronutrients (fat, sugar, protein, carbohydrates) are used by the body. By including all those things in a meal/snack, you make it easier for you and your child to make it to the next meal without resorting to unhealthy eating or grumpiness. I also recommend “Secrets of Feeding A Healthy Family.” That one has shorter versions of her practices and also recipes and menu planning tips. Her chapter headings and her book talks about enjoying food. These are the books I give as baby shower gifts.

      Dina Rose’s blog, “It’s not about the nutrition” is also very good. She bases her recommendations on Ellyn Satter, and her basic point is that good nutrition is more about long-term habits than what shows up at any particular meal. I don’t agree with everything she recommends, she’s a bit less of a moderate than Ms. Satter, but in general it’s good advice.

      Also, this surprised me to find out: kids have to learn to find comfort in food. The first time you offer a cookie as comfort for a skinned knee, your child will be a little baffled. Or maybe only some kids. But definitely keep in mind that this may be a learned behavior and not innate.

      I would not expect much if you talk to your pediatrician. Unfortunately, doctors do not get much nutrition education during their training and I’ve found lots have outdated ideas. Plus, they tend to have their own neuroses about food. I had one freak out because I hadn’t started my 5 month old on solid foods at 4 months, even though the newer recommendations were to start at 6 months at the earliest and my child was not able to sit up on her own.

    7. Kuododi*

      A few thoughts from someone who grew up with both parents who have unhealthy relationships with food and continually imposed those issues on me growing up. 1.) Be careful in how to refer to food. ie-“sinful” vs “good” foods. Food is amoral. It has no moral values one way or another. Food just “is.”. I was left feeling horrible if I chose to eat “bad” food such as sugary, high fat foods and chronically feared that I would wake up one morning morbidly obese. 2.). Don’t let food become a power struggle…there will be no winners. I would have loved to have had my parents simply put food in front of me as something to taste and experience rather than “clean your plate”. 3.) If you have concerns about your child’s weight, please consult with your pediatrician. My parents started dragging me to diet programs as early as fifth grade. I was left feeling that I was never at an appropriate weight and “perfection”was at least fifteen pounds less than my current weight. I wound up on alot of crazy diets, unhealthy weight loss supplement, and occasional starvation diets during my youth and adolescence. My dear husband, when we were engaged told me, when I was starting the latest crazy diet to fit my wedding dress, that he didn’t fall in love with a size 0, he fell in love with me. Then I finally began to realize there was more to me than numbers on a scale. I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable or anxious about this beautiful child you have. What I was sharing was strictly my experiences growing up and I hope it will be a help to you along your path as a new parent. Most of all, just relax and enjoy this precious child! You and your partner will be able to do this!!!! Mazel Tov!

      1. Oxford Coma*

        Even the phrase “clean your plate” still ignites a fire in me. It took me YEARS to understand and listen to my body’s signals that I was full. My parents had no concept of appropriate portions for a child.

    8. Kendra*

      I don’t have any helpful advice, but I think it’s awesome that you’re thinking about this and want to help your child have healthy eating habits!

    9. paul*

      If you figure it out let me know….I’m either 300+ lbs or obsessed with what I’m eating, no middle ground :/

    10. Jessi*

      I am a nanny and when I wean all my babies I go with: I decide what and when, and the baby decides how much. So I choose the mealtimes and the food, and the baby decides when she is full. I offer the food and let the baby eat as much as she wants (within a portion size for a baby) and the minute the baby turns her head/ loses interest the meal is over. That way you are never saying ‘one more just for me’. I trust that the baby knows when she is full and/ or finished with the meal.

      You have time to sort out your food relationship as your baby needs nothing from food except iron till about one (baby milk is pretty nutritionally complete). Offer fruit, veggies, protein and a small amount of carbs. However, when your baby gets to 1.5/2 she will be big enough to see what you are eating and almost no one wants to eat a healthy dinner if they know there will be chocolate buscuits later on!

    11. Blue_eyes*

      Look up the blog “Fat Nutritionist”. She has excellent advice about Intuitive Eating and improving disordered eating. Your right that your attitudes and habits with food will affect your child so it would be good to work on them now with your husband. Good luck!

    12. LilySparrow*

      I also have lifelong weight problems and an unhealthy relationship with food, and am so so grateful that my kids seem to have a very healthy
      sense of hunger/fullness. Here’s a few things I’ve picked up from reading/research that helped me a lot.

      1) Your job as parent is to provide a variety of nutritious foods at appropriate times. Their job is to decide how much of which thing to eat.

      Particularly for babies – babies don’t actually need solids before a year old, it’s just for learning & practice. For every baby who anecdotally “sleeps better” after starting solids, there are far more who sleep less, because their digestion isn’t comfortable, or because most baby foods have fewer calories than breast milk or formula.

      A really great way to start solids is “baby-led weaning,” where you let them grab chunks of foods they can gum – banana, avocado, cooked carrots, etc. That way their first experiences of food have real flavors & textures, and they are in control. No cajoling or forcing!

      2) Never associate food with reward or punishment. No power plays at the table.

      3) Have as few food rules a possible. We have: You don’t have to clear your plate, but you must eat some of everything before you have seconds. And you must eat your protein and veggies before having sweets.

      4) Don’t talk about your weight, your diet, “good” or “bad” foods, or anything negative about your body in front of the children. Only body-positive language about how good exercise feels, or how some foods are for growing and others are for treats, that kind of thing.

      5) No restrictions on quantity of food, but steer them to real food instead of treats or empty filler. For example, sometimes my kids will “save room” for dessert and then still be hungry afterward. They get sent back for more dinner, not more dessert.

      Anyway, they are 9 & 11 now, very active, in a totally normal weight range, and have a better relationship with food than I ever had (I was on a medically supervised diet at age 6).

      Hope this helps!

    13. Traveling Teacher*

      Late to the party here, but I remember how nervous I was about introducing foods when my baby was small (milk was so easy–just one thing!). I’m not a doctor, but I just thought it might be interesting to get a perspective from the other side of the Atlantic on one recommendation on how to introduce healthy eating routines. :) I am an inveterate snacker, but I live in France where all snacking is looked down on…baby feeding has helped reform me (somewhat…hard to control those midnight munchies!)

      1) I was lucky enough to find a pediatrician who is also a certified nutritionist and allergist–I’d recommend consulting a pro about any and all things food-related–it’s so easy to get caught up in what seems new or trendy. His number one recommendation was: no snacking. Kids do not eat meals when they’re not hungry. Keep your mealtimes consistent, give drinks of water only between meals, and the kid will learn to eat at mealtimes. (I was initially very skeptical because I really really like to snack!)

      2) My pediatrician recommended that we start introducing solids at 4.5 months (I know! It seemed really young to me too! I was so nervous). Just a teaspoon, though, twice per day, no storebought pots of food, all homemade of the best produce you can find (such small quantities at first that you can steam up one small batch, freeze in ice cube trays and have enough for two weeks!). He said that introducing–and it really was introducing–was all about acclimating taste and texture, as well as reducing future allergy risks. So, to start with, a small teaspoonful of a carrot purée at noon, then an apple purée at 4. After three or four days, another cooked fruit or vegetable, and so on. Just very small spoonfuls.

      After the 5 month mark, baby was allowed to eat just as much as desired of either puree (it was still not a lot). The biggest thing at this stage and every stage going forward was to keep presenting new foods and be very calm and encouraging but never, ever force additional bites, not even one. At six months, we started natural yogurt after each puree (no sugar, no flavors, just plain yogurt–and definitely not the “baby” shelf-stable yogurt–that stuff is loaded with added sugar!) Also, small amounts of grains (pasta, rice, etc. that increased every month) Then, at seven months, the tiniest bit of egg yolk or meat or fish. And so on.

      The meat amount was very strictly controlled, only once per day and only a tiny, teaspoonful size to start with, then up to 10 grams of meat per day, then 20 grams after about 1 year old (20 and 30g of fish, respectively, though). Everything else was as much as baby wanted, beginning with vegetables at lunch, then protein, then yogurt, then fruit. At 4pm snack, it was fruit, then yogurt, and around 8mo we were allowed to crumble up a simple butter biscuit (cookie) in the fruit or yogurt, but I didn’t start that til 10 months. At supper, just vegetables, grains, and yogurt. I think we added breakfast of toast/butter/jam and fruit or porridge and fruit (and yogurt!) around eleven months, but that depends on the child.

      Throughout, from 5 months, seasonings were introduced (spices, herbs, pepper, only the tiniest bit of salt around 10 months onward) and bits of olive oil or butter too (just a drop or two in the veg). I would taste, using a separate spoon, and if it tasted good to me, she generally liked it too! Only water given at meals, from 6 months. After about 9-10 months old the “best” food recommendation was dropped to “whatever quality level of food you eat” quality. Around 14-18 months, she switched to mostly eating what we eat, provided it was healthy, so that we’re all eating the same food–that was the biggest change for me. I have to be really conscious about what we cook now! And, now that baby notices what/when we eat, I can’t just snack when I want to, otherwise my mini-me will want some too and be upset that I’m eating when she’s not (I mean, she has a point!)

      Baby was and is a fantastic eater who will try just about any food (including raw onion slices, the kid is crazy about them!) and feeds herself enthusiastically since the age of about 10 months (with help when needed). The doc says that this will soon change (around 2yo and that that will be normal. Not looking forward to that…)

      3) The other big recommendation we got was to allow baby to play with food, get hands in, have her own spoon, present it over and over. 15 times is apparently the average amount of times a “rejected” food will take to get on the “will eat” list! I also gave her the few foods that I absolutely detest because I don’t want her to have hangups about food just because I do.

      Anyway, that was very detailed, but it was completely different from any received knowledge I had from the US, though it’s the gold standard in France that most parents use to introduce food (also, those are the times that everyone eats at, it’s ridiculous! Most people have their sugary dessert at around 4pm, too, instead of after every meal!) Just another perspective to add to the discussion, especially as it’s a feeding method that really discourages snacking of any kind, but, depending on your baby’s needs, your pediatrician might tell you something totally different, I’m sure!

  17. The Curator*

    More on the Japan Trip!!!!
    I have three days with nothing scheduled a Friday Saturday and Sunday (out of 17 days). The rest of the stay is in Tokyo and three days in Aomori. Could this be the work/life balance that I have been waiting for?
    Choices so far…Nagoya, Kyoto, or someplace east of Tokyo. I don’t like heights but I love animals and hot springs. (which means I won’t go to the mountains and sit in hot water with snow monkeys, sigh) Mr. Curator likes modern design, crafts and pottery, and bird watching.
    We will have train passes.
    Recommendations please?????

        1. Chrysanthemum*

          OMG. OMG, OMG OMG. Those shoes!

          I walked all over Japan in Birkenstocks – sandals though :) (And Russia too, but a new pair of the same sandals.) Birkenstocks are awesome.

    1. Canuckian*

      If you like historical things as well as nature, you might like Nikko in Tochigi prefecture. It’s a national park with a gorgeous temple/shrine complex in it. It’s in the mountains, but it’s supposed to be easy to get there from Tokyo. It’s all set in this really pretty old cedar forest, and the paths are fairly easy to get around on.

      I know you mentioned hating heights, but if you can catch a train/bus, you can also go up to the top of the mountain over Nikko called Chuzenji. It’s an old volcano, and there’s a lake in the basin now. There’s also a lot of monkeys around there! It’s very large, and it doesn’t feel like it’s that high.

      Tochigi also has some famous potters, and I believe they have some stores in Nikko. One town that’s really famous for it is Mashiko, and there’s another called Bato that is also pretty well-known in the area.

      If you want to visit some places on your way towards Aomori, I would recommend Hiraizumi. It was one of the first capitals of Japan, and has a building that the Golden Temple in Kyoto was supposed to be based on. Other things you can do up that way include Morioka City, Sendai, and visiting beaches along the way. Also, keep an eye out for any festivals that could be around. I ended up visiting one in Tono by coincidence and it was definitely a highlight of my time there.

          1. Lissajous*

            Nikko has the shrine for Tokugawa Ieyasu (first shogun). The same shrine has the oldest known existing depiction of the Three Wise Monkeys, as part of a frieze on the stable – it’s one panel of about 15 going through the stages of life, and “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” is only intended to apply to children.

            Also, when I say “shrine,” read “amazing temple complex with incredibly lavish decorations, set in gorgeous forest on a mountain, one of many in Nikko.” It’s a gorgeous place – I’ve only ever been as a day trip from Tokyo, and I definitely want to go back and spend a few days there.

            Also your Suica train pass will still work in Nikko, it’s in the same network

      1. AcademiaNut*

        That’s what I was going to suggest too. I’m also bad with heights, but Nikko was fine. We stayed in a traditional inn that had food and hotsprings. No monkeys in them, but I did see monkeys.

    2. fort hiss*

      Oooh, I was hoping to see more from you about your trip!

      Another recommendation for Kyoto, especially since you say your husband likes crafts. You can schedule a lesson at the Shibori Museum, where you can learn how to dye fabric in a traditional way using blocks of wood. You can also sign up for a few other classes. The host for our visit was fantastic, a really lovely young man who had studied abroad in Australia. My wife, mother and I had a great time. You can find them by googling Kyoto Shibori Museum. You can buy lots of great souvenirs there too! I have a handmade wallet from them that’s been my standby for the last year and a half. They’re close to Nijo Castle, so you can visit the castle before or after if you want to do some sightseeing.

      (Not sure if you’re interested in anywhere else in Kansai, but I have to give a shoutout for Arima Onsen in Kobe.)

  18. Cruciatus*

    I just got a new laptop and realized that I cannot see which posts are new anymore. I’ve tried changing a bunch of settings but nothing has changed it. I miss that blue line! I’m hoping there is something obvious I’m missing. Is there something I need to do with cookies or something else?

    1. Triplestep*

      Blue line? I didn’t know there was a way to search for new posts. I usually just skim and figure it’s a given I’ll miss stuff. Can someone explain?

      1. Grad Student*

        If I open the comments on a post, and then later refresh the page (or close and come back to it), any comments that are new since the last time I opened the page have a thick blue vertical line next to them on the left (where all the other comments have a thin grey line). It’s helpfully eye-catching if you want to scroll past a bunch of comments you already read and find the new ones.

        1. Big Person*

          Thank you for explaining this! I didn’t know, and I too was missing a lot of new stuff because I just jumped past all the main comments I had read without looking at the replies because it was too much.

      2. Cruciatus*

        Here’s a link to what it looks like–it’s working for me now by the way! Apparently refreshing the page 5000 times was the ticket. Whenever you refresh the page, any posts that are new since you refreshed have a blue line next to them so you can see immediately what’s new. https://imgur.com/a/0nJ9a

    2. Reba*

      See if your browser is automatically blocking all cookies. It’s a decent anti-tracking measure, but cookies are how this page “knows” when you’ve been here before. You should be able to allow some cookies overall, or selectively allow this site.

  19. Handy nickname*

    Guys, I am almost moving!!!!

    The apartment folks got the gross carpet replaced (because it smelled like smoke in a non-smoking apartment), so my family is helping me move furniture and a bunch of boxes down today. My best friend and her guy are meeting us there too to help unload.

    And then next week I’m actually moving out and into the apartment!!!! A little nervous the past week since I’m going from a house with lots of siblings and a shared bedroom to an apartment by myself, but I’m really excited. This will be so good.

  20. TL -*

    I kind of impulse bought a kitty and she’s awesome! I live off a major road in New Zealand, though, so she’s never going to be an outdoor kitty (safety for her and concern for the native birds in NZ.) I’m planning to get a leash for her when she’s big enough/had all her shots. Anyone have any experience with walking their cats?

    1. Nye*

      Enjoy your new kitty, and kudos on keeping her indoors! (I used to work on native bird conservation in NZ – indoor cats are the only way to go!)

      I tried to walk a cat I had as a kid on a leash. He was not amused. But, I didn’t persist for long and I didn’t try the leash until he was older. I imagine, like voting in Chicago, training a cat to leash is best done early and often.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Cats are not good on leashes. They don’t have the same instincts as dogs to hang close to you or follow you, and they’re very hard to train. (Hollywood animals handlers say you can train a dog to do a trick for praise, but cats want their damn treat every single time.) They don’t like the restraint of the leash and they freak out if something startles
      them and they can’t run because of the leash.

      TL;DR, for walking your cat, use an enclosed “pet stroller”.

      1. Reba*

        Depends on the cat! (This is probably true of most cat things.)

        My relative’s cat went on a leash from kittenhood and loves it.

        My parents’ neighbors’ cat goes along when they walk their dogs. No leash but he heels beautifully, it’s hilarious.

        Some cats seem to enjoy the commanding view from the pet stroller. Others wail continuously while inside. Again, hilarious but maybe not great for the cat.

        1. Grad Student*

          I’ve taken my friend’s leash-trained cat (while housesitting) out on a leash a couple times, and in both cases the cat was totally fine with the leash but not so into the walking–it was more of a meander/sniff/lay around a small area next to the house for a while until I got bored and took him back in.

      2. Mephyle*

        Very much depends on the cat. My two grandcats are opposites in this regard. One gets excited when he sees the leash, rather like a dog, because he knows it means he’s going out. The other is slowly getting used to it, but at first every time her harness was put on her, she flopped down on the floor and demonstrated “can’t move with that thing on me.”

    3. Big Person*

      We had a cat years ago that we could take out for a little bit on a leash. Make sure you get a harness that fits her properly. Put it on her for short periods every day in the house until she becomes accustomed to it and stops trying to get it off! Extend the periods until she will wear it for as long as you want to walk. Also put the leash on indoors and go walkies in the house first. Our cat would turn himself so he was facing you, and pull backwards using the leash as an anchor point to pull the harness off himself, which is something you do not want to happen outside!

    4. Hellanon*

      My last cat loved being on her leash & sitting outside with me while I worked in the garden. Not so much with the walking, though – that was more like “taking the kitty out for a drag” than a proper walk. I think if you start early & make it a bit of a game you’ll be fine. You can teach kittens to do almost anything.

    5. Extra Vitamins*

      Years ago I had a big fluffy Ragdoll mix that was mellow enough to walk on a leash. Things were great for about 3 years. Then one day something that only he could see spooked him, and he wound himself around a pole like a hairy tetherball with claws. After that he was afraid of his harness because that’s how cat logic works.
      Just recently, I’ve seen a guy in the park here who brings his cat in a backpack carrier, and lets the cat out on a tether in a quiet spot. That seems to be working for him.

    6. Anono-me*

      Congratulations on the kitty.

      A friend of mine has a floorless screen tent for her kitty. (2×4 s around the edges so kitty can not crawl under.)

    7. Merci Dee*

      Oh, the memories you brought back …

      I had a cat once that I tried to train for a leash. At first, she’d try to gnaw off the harness (because I got her a chest harness arrangement instead of something around her neck). Once I got her used to the harness, I tried walking around the house with her. Invariably, she would flop over on her side and refuse to walk. After a few instances of towing her 5 or 6 feet across the kitchen linoleum like a living dust mop, I decided that was enough of that.

      I know it’s doable, because there are lots of video clips and pics of people walking with their cats on leashes. I agree it’s probably one of those things you have to start when they’re young.

    8. tangerineRose*

      I don’t think all kitties like leashes, but it should help to put the harness on the kitty every so often, give your cat a treat and praise, and then let the cat wear it for a bit so the cat’s used to it.

      And a lot of cats don’t so much go for a walk on a leash as sniff around, roll on stuff, check things out. They still enjoy it, but it’s not like walking a dog.

      Be careful about harness size – too small, and it’s uncomfortable, too large, and the cat might be able to get out.

    9. Short & Dumpy*

      The earlier you can start them wearing the harness, the better they are with it. I usually prepare a plate of canned food (something my cats don’t usually get), put on harness while they are begging for the food, let them eat with the harness, take harness off when they finish eating but leaving it on progressively longer.

      My experience with cats is that they are easier than most people think to teach to come on command but HATE being physically forced into things. So you can’t pull a cat along like people do with dogs (though I hate it when people do it to dogs too!) They are pretty easy to teach to follow along at your heels though with the harness & leash on for safety.

      Some definitely take to it more than others…but the same can be said of even going outside at all!

    10. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      At our old place we kept our kitties inside and had a harness. Only one of them was really interested in walking outside, so don’t feel the need to force it on them if you have a decent-sized house for them to run around in!

      1. TL -*

        If she’s not interested, it won’t be that big of a deal – I don’t have a car so it would make taking her places easier but I also bought a nice duffel-type carrier that’s easy to walk with.

        I’m hoping she’s into it. She’s rather clingy and half dog – we played fetch yesterday and while she doesn’t quite come when called, she does come out so I can see her.

    11. TL -*

      Thanks everybody! I’ll get a harness and see how she likes it – my expectations aren’t high but it would be nice to be able to take her places if she’s into it.

      1. fposte*

        And you know the training drill–slow steps from harness in proximity on ground to harness touching them to bit of harness on them to bit of harness encircling them, all with treats, slow on each stage.

  21. Kat*

    Everything makes me a bit sad today. My friend is coming over soon though and we will go out for a bit, which will be good. I can’t motivate myself to write yet, but I hope to do so later. I tried more chatting to potential dates online and they ended up all just being wrong and depressing.

    I think it might be time for a change. I am seriously considering moving abroad for a year or two, just to shake things up. I know essentially that won’t change *me*, but it might just give me something new. I am anxious about how to look for the thing we don’t talk about in another country, though. But hey, a new city to explore would be great! Not sure where in Europe to go where I could live well without a fluent language (I know quite a bit of German, but knowing it and living it are very different). Has anyone done this or similar?

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I moved to Spain! And I’m also moving countries at the end of the year, although I’m undecided between Italy and Portugal.

      To be honest, the language is less of an issue than you might think. I recommend getting a good basic understanding of the language (easy in 3 months) to an A2-B1 level (according to the CERF – google it). You need enough of the language to communicate in banks, town halls, renting flats, restaurants, and taxis. You cover that language wise, you’re fine.

      As for work, teaching English is the obvious route. It’s the one I went down and I recommend it. If you are interested in it later, reach out to me and I can tell you about my experience and what I’m doing. As for more traditional types of work, it depends on what you do and where you go.

      Living in another country is exciting, and challenging, and definitely something I recommend. Each country has its own unique style and culture. For example, the Spanish are notoriously late to just about everything and they take two hour lunches at about 4pm and then return to work after that, so looking at the culture is important when deciding to move.

      I hope that helps.

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      Me! I moved to Poland for a year, barely knowing the language. It was a great experience, even the bits that were not so great (bonkers boss, not getting paid on time etc etc). In retrospect the experience was all so positive and really helped me grow up (I was only 22 at the time and I needed a bit of a kick in the butt haha).

      I’m thinking of doing the same, mostly waiting for my old dog to run out his years (he wouldn’t survive a trip and he wouldn’t fare well with another owner). The difference is now I own a house and everything that comes with it, so that complicates things. But as soon as I can I’m taking a year leave and going abroad again.

    3. Betsy*

      I don’t know if I’m being too much of a downer, but I want to offer an alternative perspective.

      I’ve moved overseas and it’s been really, really hard. I don’t know if you’re just feeling a little sad right now, but if you have mental health issues or are in a bit of a life rut, moving overseas away from your support networks can make you feel a lot worse.

      Of course, a lot of it is down to luck. I just haven’t had excellent luck in terms of my job, and I haven’t really made any friends here. It might be easier for you if you’re very extroverted. I’d also say to choose somewhere that you’re a bit obsessed with, rather than somewhere that offers you a job or is just easy to move to. This should help you to learn the language and learn about the culture more easily. I’m somewhere I feel neutral to mildly positive about and I think I’d be exploring a lot more if I’d had a lifelong obsession with this country and its culture.

      On the other hand, so many people say moving overseas is the highlight of their life.

      Moving overseas for work, I have found, is nothing at all like a holiday and I’ve resented walking past tourists and backpackers on my way to my demanding job. Depending on your workload and pay, you may not be able to see much of the country.

      You might also get culture shock, which is much more difficult than it sounds.

      I think the best way to approach it is to go with an open mind– that you may love it or you may not and none of this really reflects too much on you as a person. I intended to stay three years, originally, but as soon as I told myself that hey, I can leave any time I want, my culture shock, which had been very bad, went away almost overnight. A lot of expats here pride themselves on being perfect expats and boast a lot about how well they adapted and how everyone who doesn’t have a wonderful time is a loser, and then the other half seem to be a bit racist and complain all the time about this country. I think it’s more realistic to adopt an attitude somewhere in the middle– yes, you might have some trouble acclimatising to a completely different culture and you’ll be really frustrated sometimes. This doesn’t make you any less of a person than the supposedly enlightened expat who loves every moment of it and apparently has never faced any bureaucratic struggles and has decided every single local is far kinder and better than anyone in any other country in the world. On the other hand, it’s also good to realise that there are cultural differences that will affect everyday interactions and perceptions, and no all the locals are not awful people out to scam everyone, lazy and unintelligent (like some expats claim).

  22. nep*

    What’s been a true game-changer in your life? A book you read, a piece of art you experienced, something you heard someone say, something you witnessed…?

    1. dr_silverware*

      I read What The Living Do by Marie Howe very many times, a book of sad, sad poems about the narrator’s brother who died of AIDS, her family life, and her continuing to live with such a burden of history. It really brought me to poetry, and the eponymous poem What The Living Do just means a lot to me in ways I couldn’t describe without writing another poem to do that.

      Also speaking of poetry: I visited the penjing (/bonsai) garden in the Montreal Botanical Gardens. Those trees were so unbelievably beautiful–nothing like the little pine trees you see in 70s-style foyers–that I cried in front of them. They weren’t sculptural, or just miniaturization, they were a distillation of the natural beauty of a tree into a concentrated form. It was almost like a fractal–sometimes when I look at sculptures I start to look really closely at the details, and there’s a point where it stops looking realistic and starts looking like material, and that dramatically didn’t happen with these very real trees; so you can just keep looking and keep looking forever.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      When I was 18, I was working in my local shop. I remember complaining once about the long hours and then I realised that the person I was complaining to worked significantly longer hours than I did, getting up earlier to come in, then leaving for another job, whereas I worked like a 5-hour shift every few days.

      That burst of realisation really changed how I talk about things, and how I view things.

      I’m very careful now about who I talk to about certain things. For example, I don’t complain about lack of money to someone who has less than me, I don’t complain about my job to someone who doesn’t have one, etc. I think it’s made me more thoughtful and empathetic and I’m glad it hit me when I was younger.

    3. JayeRaye*

      Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No really! It premiered when I was in 8th grade. It’s worth noting that my parents were feminists and my mom was a scientist. I grew up without cable tv, Google wasn’t around yet, and Mom tried to get me books about girls doing things, but there weren’t many.

      So Buffy premieres, and for the first time I could see, on screen, a girl just a few years older than me kicking arse. She stood up to (male) authority figures, fought against the bad guys, and won. Buffy showed me that all things really were possible. For a teenage girl, she was life changing.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I’ll always remember a former boss telling me that he lives his life with this in mind: don’t worry about the things you can’t change. Whenever I find myself worrying over something that I absolutely can’t do anything about, I think about this and then I let it go. It’s helped me to become much more chilled out–maybe a little too much sometimes, as things tend to just roll off my back for the most part.

    5. fposte*

      My family really didn’t deal with anger. There are some generational reasons for that, but it meant I didn’t have many tools for it and I thought it was basically a tsunami that would destroy the world whenever I felt it. And when I was seething under deadline stress one day a boss I really liked said something, pretty nonjudgmentally, about how I would get grumpy at deadlines.

      I was blown away that my emotions were visible, that they could be talked about, that they weren’t a pending natural disaster, and that it wasn’t that big a deal to other people. I wasn’t a raging psycho, I was grumpy under stress. Oh.

    6. Hellanon*

      The idea of “yes” – I am excellent at “no” but saying yes to things that are new has been a huge boost to my career & to my personal life. It’s like that story about how John Lennon met Yoko Ono at a Fluxus show in NY – he climbed to the top of the ladder she had installed, where the message read “yes.” He said later that if it had been “No” he would have left.

    7. SpiderLadyCEO*

      Oh my God, this is so much deep shame, but fanfiction. I promise, I’m making this up. Fandom and fanfiction exposed me to everything adults didn’t want to talk to kids about, and really opened my eyes as to how much was possible and OK. I discovered it when I was 12/13, and being able to explore mature topics on my own terms was so important for me.

    8. Lily Evans*

      Reading The Likeness by Tana French when I was in high school. It’s my all time favorite book and I’ve reread it a bunch of times since, and it’s hard to explain exactly what about it made such a giant impact on teenage me. It was just the characters and the ideas that they had about life in general. I think it was one of the first things that made me realize that there were options in life beyond settling in the suburbs with a husband and kids and a 9-5 job. I happened to read it for the first time at a time in my life where it seemed like the only choice I had was college followed by chasing that dream of a white picket fence, which sounded terrible to me. So reading about a group of people who chose to opt-out and just live the life that made them happy (despite it not ending well, which is a big part of the story) made me start thinking about what I actually wanted from the future, rather than what I thought I was supposed to want.

      1. nep*

        Such weird timing.
        I was dropping a relative’s books off at a used book sale just yesterday, and noticed that book was among them. I’ve never read it or even flipped through it. Now I’m going to see if it’s still there and have a look.

    9. Middle School Teacher*

      A former boss (in my uni days) once took me aside and told me to smarten up (I needed to hear it) and said, “if one person has a problem with you, it’s their problem. But if lots of people have a problem with you, it’s YOUR problem.” It really made me think more about my interactions with people.

    10. Typhon Worker Bee*

      Reading Hitchhiker for the first time and realizing there was at least one other person out there with the same sense of humour as me.

      A few years later, going to university and realizing there are tons of other people out there who are just as excited about science and other geeky things as I am!

    11. LazyGirl*

      I read somewhere that there is always another emotion underlying anger. After I read this I started always asking myself what that emotion was if I was feeling angry. It can be lots of things. Fear, loneliness, frustration, fatigue; the list goes on and on.

      Here’s the life changing part: after doing this for a while, I started to see anger as sort of a *bad habit*. Skipping over the real emotion to anger is now framed in my head as the lazy way to deal with what’s really going on. I still feel anger, but because I’m automatically looking for the internal source I almost never lash out at a perceived external “cause”. This has been good for my relationships with my family and for my own mental health and sense of well being.

    12. Thlayli*

      Taking up a martial art. I used to have an awful temper but this really helped me control it. There’s something about punching people in the face and getting punched in the face twice a week that makes the rest of your life seem a lot easier.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I think I have had a few game changers, but I think one of best ones was my conversations with my wise friend (WF) that I mention from time to time. WF had a fresh look at old problems, you know, those recurring things in life where we stand there and say, “Now, what do I do?” WF was never at a loss for ideas.

      After a bit I started thinking about WF’s accumulated knowledge and I realized they had been through their own version of stuff and they had to learn all these pearls of wisdom, too. Interestingly, WF never came off smug or like a know-it-all. They just had empathy for whatever was going on. WF’s inputs changed the way I look at things and the way I process things. I did not grow up in a family that knew this stuff and that made them unable to teach it. Through conversations with my WF life started making a little more sense.

    14. Kendra*

      This blog, actually! I’m a senior in college, and for most of college I was terrified of Life After Graduation because I had no idea what I was going to be doing afterwards. Reading people’s questions and comments on here gave me a much better idea of what the adult working world was like and has helped me plan for what I want to do when I graduate :)

    15. char*

      This might sound weird, but a Harry Potter fanfic really changed my life a few years ago. It basically involved Harry Potter going through a midlife crisis and magically ending up in an alternate universe where his life had gone radically differently. When he returns to his “real” universe he starts changing his life based on what he learned about himself and what he needed to really be happy. (For instance, he realized he was much happier as a craftsman than he had been in law enforcement.)

      I guess it was just a story that came at the exact right moment for me, because it got me thinking about whether what I thought I always wanted was what I actually DID want. I realized that I was making myself miserable trying to force my life to take the path I thought it was “supposed” to take. So I took a long, hard look at myself and worked on figuring out what I actually like doing and what I actually want my life to look like. I didn’t end up changing my life as radically as Harry did in the fic, but I’m a much happier and more successful person now that I’ve stopped trying to force myself to fit a mold that doesn’t suit me.

  23. Greed is something we don't need*

    This is somewhat embarrassing but does anyone have recommendations for preventing underarm sweating? I already use certain dri and its only somewhat helped, I also use a strong deodorant but it’s just not enough. Are there any stronger products I could try?

    1. Thursday Next*

      Try using antiperspirant at bedtime. There are also prescription antiperspirants.

      I have some luck puttimg cornstarch baby powder under my arms in the morning.

    2. Anon for this*

      I assume you did the regular certain dri (not the solid), used it at bedtime? If you did that and it didn’t help a lot, you might talk to your doctor about Botox or prescription products. I had terrible issues in the last but certain dri did work for me. Sorry it didn’t help you :(

      1. Greed is something we don't need*

        I do use the standard certain dri at night and it helped a little, I sweat maybe half as much now but it didn’t prevent it completely. Maybe I need a prescriptive strengh kind, thanks though

    3. Parenthetically*

      This is a radical suggestion but… as a person who formerly used Certain Dri and the strongest deo I could find, and who still got to about 3 pm and started pouring sweat, about 8 years ago I stopped using antiperspirant at all and switched to homemade deodorant. It took a couple of weeks to get used to, but now I sweat far, far less than I used to, and never smell bad. It’s actually pretty incredible when I think of how hard I used to work to stop underarm sweat and the products I used to feel like I had to use. I’m sure if you’d told my 25-year-old self I’d one day not use antiperspirant at all, I would have laughed in your face, but here we are!

        1. Parenthetically*

          Approximately equal parts baking soda and cornstarch or arrowroot, mixed with coconut oil to a thick toothpaste-esque consistency, essential oils as you like, poured into an empty deo container. In the summer I add a little melted beeswax to keep it firmer.

    4. Ali G*

      When I was in my 20s I went through a period where I sweat constantly (ironically it didn’t smell, but I could pit a shirt in about 10 min). And it was just my underarms.
      I went to my dermatologist and he prescribed an antiperspirant I put on before I went to bed. I used it for a few months and then moved down to “clinical strength” antiperspirants. I’ve been good ever since. I think it was a random hormone wackiness.

      1. Natalie*

        Yes, this is what I was going to suggest. I just started using them because I’m tired of having to go through a whole process to remove deodorant + sweat residue from my shirts and they work so well!

    5. Thlayli*

      Make sure you are using anti-perpirant instead of deodorant and don’t get the “gentle on you, gentle on the environment” kind – that doesn’t work!

    6. Kuododi*

      I would suggest a consultation with a dermatologist. They would be able to make recommendations of products both perscription and non perscription which honestly are not coming to mind right now. Additionally, if the sweating is sufficiently hard core to qualify as hyperhidrosis, the Dr would be able to recommend appropriate treatment. I have read about MDs using Botox injections as a treatment for hyperhidrosis. (Keep in mind, I’m not an MD, just making suggestion based on previous readings. Good luck!!!)

    7. Cat*

      Not deodorant, but I’ve heard some people recommend putting panty liners in the armpits of your shirts to soak up the sweat. Probably depends on the type of shirt that you wear though.

      1. Natalie*

        You can buy something called a dress shield which is actually designed for this purpose and is probably more comfortable than a panty liner. They’re super cheap online.

    8. oranges & lemons*

      This probably won’t apply to everyone, but I stopped consuming caffeine for other reasons and found that it made a big difference to how much I sweat. Might be worth giving a try–it only took a week or so for me to notice the change. I’m not even a coffee drinker, so it was just the amount in a cup of tea each day. Caffeine is just not my friend.

      1. Traveling Teacher*


        I was on my eighth cup of coffee and a coworker told me she couldn’t drink so much because caffeine made her sweat… It was like an actual light bulb lit up above my head!

    9. Sylvan*

      I read an article in which a dermatologist recommended using a blowdryer on its cool setting for 10 seconds on each armpit after applying deodorant, to help it dry and stick to your skin. It does help a bit IME.

    10. Carmen in Canada*

      Are you trying to control moisture or smell? I was having trouble with smell even with clinical strength antiperspirants so on a whim I picked up a natural deodorant (tom’s) that I liked the smell of. It was weird to feel damp under my arms at first but it did help with the odor.

    11. fort hiss*

      Check out UNIQLO’s airism undershirts that come with sweat collecting pouches. Love those things.

    12. no name for this*

      I’m late to the party, but if you’re still reading:

      I have the same problem and the only thing that has ever worked for me is Drysol (it might be called Driclor in some places). You put it on in the evening. There is a regular and a “mild” formula: both work for me, so I use the mild. But, um, the mild formula is still very strong strong and it will BURN if you have broken or irritated skin. It also smells pretty gross when you first apply it, but it’s 100% worth it for me. Some people use it every night, but now I only need to apply it once or twice a week.

      Honestly, I had tried everything else, even the extra-strength daytime antiperspirants, and nothing else worked. If they every discontinue it I will CRY.

  24. Thursday Next*

    Bibliovore, thank you for your tips re. public speaking last week in the Best and Worst thread. I took your advice and wrote out answers to a bunch of likely questions. I probably could have taken more time to breathe when it was my turn to speak, but I did a lot of deep breathing while I was waiting for my case to be called and was a lot calmer than I expected to be. Thanks again!

    1. Bibliovore*

      Yea!!!! Good job!!! Whoo, woo!!! I hate public speaking but it is a big part of my job. I can’t eat before, my stomach goes crazy, I obsessively tweak my presentation. That said once I’m talking I do okay.

  25. Foreign Octopus*

    A couple of weeks ago, I posted in the open thread about how my older brother was bringing a lot of negativity into my life with his attitude.

    Summary – older brother is deeply unhappy with his life. He doesn’t like the city he lives in (we live about 10 minutes away), he’s miserable because he’s single (5 year toxic relationship ended last year), he doesn’t make enough money (he used to earn just under 6-figures tax free and now he doesn’t), he hates his job (we do the same job), and he’s been in a vicious cycle for nearly a year now but it’s really worsened in the last few months.

    I went out for a drink with him on Monday because it had been a while since I’d seen him as I’ve been so busy with looking after my cat (who is full of beans at the moment, she’s currently stroking my scalp with her paws and I’m getting a little concerned). As soon as we sat down, he launched into complaining. I cut him off after five minutes and told him that if he was just going to be negative, I’d leave. Over the next thirty minutes, I warned him twice more that I wouldn’t be listening to his repetitive negative complaints (because I’ve heard them a thousand times before. I can predict, word for word, how every conversation with him will go).

    It finally got to the point where he was rude and sarcastic in response to something I said to cheer him up and something inside of me just snapped. I couldn’t take it anymore. I told him I had enough, got up, paid for my drink, and just left. He told me it was sad that I was leaving because of that but I just honestly couldn’t bear another second in his company.

    When I got home, I started crying because I hate having to do this and I felt so guilty because I know he’s lonely, and I know he’s unhappy, but he’s been treating me like shit for months and I don’t deserve to be an emotional dumping ground for him. I felt sick and guilty for about four days after everything with horrible headaches and my mind replaying it over and over again but I’m 100% done with him until he gets his head out of his arse and realises that he can’t be cruel to the people around him just because he feels bad.

    I don’t know what’s going to happen next in our relationship. I have decided that I won’t be the one to reach out first. I’ve done that all my life. I’ve bridged the gap after arguments and I’ve had enough of always having to compromise to get the relationship back on track.

    I’m disappointed that it’s come to this but I feel so much better now that I’ve drawn my line in the sand with him, even if the guilt is still there, tugging at me when I think back on it.

    1. Maya Elena*

      Maybe that will be the push he needs to start getting himself out of his hole? Who knows.
      Buy him Jordan Peterson’s new book, “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos”. He is a psychologist with a self-improvement type message – “sort yourself out”, as he says – that has recently resonated with a LOT of young men, including my husband. I also have read a couple of chapters and highly recommend. (Although I have more right of center views than most people here, so the classical liberal views don’t bother me.)

      1. Polly*

        Wait, Jordan Peterson? I’m a new AAM reader; is this a sincere suggestion or some sort of inside joke?

        1. Maya Elena*

          Sincere. OP’s brother sounds like a resentful winer, whose life really sucks. I think the “12 rules” sends the appropriate message – take responsibility and improve yourself.
          I didn’t read the whole book but I found what I did read compelling. I’m not sure why it’s supposed to be a joke.

          1. Delphine*

            His views are dangerous and I certainly wouldn’t want to know what men are learning from him.

            1. Maya Elena*

              “Dangerous?” Which of his views are dangerous?

              The essence of his book is focusing on personal responsibility and psychological health, rather than political ideology – and the importance of responsibility in living a meaningful life. He’s a reputable clinical psychologist who studies personality and has centrist political views.

        2. NaoNao*

          I’m not a big “JP” fan but my BF is and I second that his message is really tailored for young men and really speaks to them. It’s not super palatable for true liberals/”left” leaning people because it’s very focused on “controlling chaos” which I find a little…not dog-whistle-y but in that ballpark, let’s say.
          But yes, if you’re dealing with someone who is “stuck”, that book might be a game changer.

    2. Clever Name*

      Your brother sounds a lot like my ex husband. You’re absolutely right in that you don’t deserve to be treated that way. It took me nearly 17 years to make the same realization. Your brother won’t change unless he realizes there’s a problem and gets some help. I’m sorry you’re going through this. Now that I’m no longer around that kind of negativity, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

    3. Hellanon*

      You can set and maintain boundaries with your family. They will try everything they can to make you take them back down, but you have every right to hold firm. My parents may wonder why we talk about the cats so much, but they are an excellent deflection from conversations I refuse to have…

    4. tangerineRose*

      “he can’t be cruel to the people around him just because he feels bad.” This might be a good thing to say to him if you haven’t already. Good for you for taking care of yourself.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      There is a line and it can be hard to find. We can listen to people vent and that helps them. But at some point it crosses over the line and our listening to their vents only enables them to do the same bad plan over and over.

      You are a good person who is not used to taking a firm stand with people close to you. You had to do that, I think you know this. And you have to stick with it, which you also know. So not only are you a good person but you are smart/insightful. The insights you have will help you along here. Trust yourself to read a situation accurately.

      The people I have admired most in life are people who use their minds and their hearts to make decisions. We have to factor in the differences in individuals. Your brother gets X for a reply, but someone else would get Y, a different reply. It’s not heartless to respond in a manner to protect yourself OR to respond in a manner that is tailored to what a particular individual needs to hear. I would argue the opposite way, it takes a lot of heart to want the best for people and to want to see them move toward something better.

  26. AnonSharing*

    Just some drama sharing. My friend/cousin is dating this much older man (30 years older, my cousin is late 20s, divorced a year ago from first husband). We all sort of questioned her judgment but knowing her “dig in” personality, we have said nothing. but this week she shared a picture of herself with his family. Reader, I cannot stress to you how much my cousin looks like his daughter (they are within a couple years in age). It is freaky. Same hair, same coloring, same height, very similar features. You could easily think they were sisters. My sister is debating pointing this out, but I don’t know if it will do any good. But this is super weird, right? Who dates someone who looks exactly like their daughter?

    1. AnonSharing*

      Some context: I told her that her first husband was bad news before they got engaged (he was the kind of guy who was always talking a big game about what he was going to do but never actually doing it. He basically was unemployed and played video games all day throughout their marriage). She didn’t speak to me for months. The current boyfriend comes with a parade of red flags (ex wives, bankruptcies) and also does the big “talk a big game” thing.

      1. Thlayli*

        This was my first thought too. Don’t judge him too harshly till you see a pic of what his wife looked like when he fell in love with her. I bet cousin looks a lot like wife did then.

      2. Triple Anon*

        That was my first thought as well, but you’d think he would still avoid dating someone who looks just like his daughter.

        1. Observer*


          Also it’s worth noting that parents often see their children very differently than everyone else seems them. So he might not even realize the resemblance.

        2. Tiara Tiara*

          Why? If she looks like his daughter because the daughter looks like her mother and that’s his type, you think he should avoid dating women he is attracted to because they happen to look similar to his daughter? That seems like a weird thing to expect.

    2. Turtlewings*

      It may not be quite as weird as it looks. It’s very possible this dude just has a type, i.e. your sister and the daughter’s mother look similar because that’s the kind of woman he dates, and the daughter just strongly resembles her mother.

    3. Brunch with Sylvia*

      Agree that he is probably not dating her because she looks like his daughter. But I think the running subtext is your concern for her and I believe that you are right on the money here.
      I was your friend/cousin 20 years ago. My older sister maintained a relationship with me despite my disasterously bad choices. And it was a gentle intervention from her that helped me see that I had a way out of an emotionally/physically/sexually/financially abusive marriage to someone older than our parents.
      You may not be able to do more than that. But if you do that, it may be the thing that helps her.

    4. NaoNao*

      I agree as others have said, could have a type and it’s his daughter’s MOM rather than daughter. But also, science has shown that many are attracted to those that physically resemble them (and partly why so many couples look weirdly alike) so perhaps he’s drawn to her for that reason too!
      I’ll never forget the shock when my long ago BF showed me a painting of his mom and she bore a *strong* resemblance to me! That to me is more concerning!

  27. dr_silverware*

    Thank you all for your recommendations about how to start exercising habitually a few weeks back. It’s nothing quite bragworthy but I’ve done some kind of work-out every week for the past 8, and I’m actually looking forward (!!!) to going on a run in about ten minutes.

    What minor or not so minor victories have you all had recently?

    1. Laura H*

      I’m doing my own taxes this year! (With the help of software- but) My father filed all my previous returns. This year it hit me- I’m 27 and this is my 4th year filing-I should do it.

      1. Sparrow*

        I did mine this year too! Software and having my documents together made it easy, and now I won’t be scared of doing them next year!

    2. TheTallestOneEver*

      I’m in my mid 40s and never learned to swim. My mother has a major fear of the water and it transferred to me. I’ve taken group classes both as a child and as an adult, but by the end, I could only float a little bit and was still uncomfortable in water past my knee caps. I still couldn’t swim.

      I signed up for private lessons and today was the first one. At the end of 30 minutes, I was able propel myself forward a little with one of those floating barbell tools! I have a way to go before I’ll be able to swim a lap, but it still felt like a minor victory to me this morning.

    3. Artemesia*

      I tested with high blood sugar last fall. I have always been a little high but in the normal range; this puts me in the pre-diabetic range and I also then had the A1c test that measure for 3 mos and that put me there too. I have always eaten a lot of sugar but was skinny and energetic and could get away with it. But I had put on maybe 15 pounds I don’t need over the past few years and about 35 over my skinny college weight. So panicked, I just stopped eating 90% of the refined sugar I usually ate and cut about 75% of pasta, potatoes, rice, white breads etc. I also cut out fruit juice and moved to almond milk for smoothies for breakfast and to filtered milk with half the lactose for my lattes (I was shocked at how much sugar there is in milke) I have such a sweet tooth, so I just did this pretty much cold turkey. In 3 mos I dropped 10 pounds without paying attention to calories and in the last month another 2. I am aiming for maybe 5 more. I am not overweight, but I still have more fat on my belly than I would like. I haven’t weighed this little since I was about 45. The blood sugar snuck back into normal for single fasting measure after 3 mos but the 3 mos scan still puts me at pre-diabetic. Apparently this is a side effect of taking statins, but my doctor doesn’t want me to quite the statins since at my advanced age, heart disease it the biggest risk. But I have amazed myself at the ability to just stop with the sugar and just stick with it. I who could easily pound down a bag of oreos in two days just cannot believe I could both do this and also not really miss it as much as I thought I would. I had never had that much will power.

  28. esra*

    New to fitness question: How do you prevent crappy sessions?

    I’ve been doing boxing lessons for about six weeks, and figured out pretty quickly that you need to actually… have upper body strength and core strength and cardio to punch things. So I started a routine of 2x week elliptical and treadmill, 2x week strength and stretching, 1x week 1-1 training, and 2x rest days. It’s been going absurdly well, considering my last fitness experience was wallowing through grade 9 gym class. Until this week. My session sucked. I sucked. My timing was off, I tired out too fast, I was sweaty and lightheaded. I figure part of it is not eating enough this past week, I’m terrible about maintaining good food habits when work gets busy, but was wondering what else people do to help ensure workouts go well and you don’t like, pass out into a puddle?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      For me it’s all about frame of mind. If I have a crappy day emotionally, meaning I harp on things (in my mind) I can’t change. or I keep thinking about how I don’t want to workout, I tend to have a crappy session. I just slog through it without making as much effort as I should. But when try to stay in a good frame of mind, I find I have more energy, don’t dread the workout and push harder.

      Eating well, too, is a big part of it. I’ve had gastric bypass, which means I’m sensitive to sugar and carbs like bread, crackers, etc. As long as I don’t spend all day eating crap, I feel much better going into a workout. And I don’t eat close to a workout, either. I try to not eat anything at least an hour and a half before I head into the gym.

    2. bluelyon*

      Sleep! Getting a solid night’s sleep is key – then your body is ready to work as opposed to playing catch up. And drink lots of water if you’re not already.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This. If I didn’t get enough sleep, I would have terrible skating sessions the next day. Ugh. And eating well–though I couldn’t have a big breakfast before skating (who wants to jump on a full stomach, LOL), getting the right balance of protein and carbs was key. One time I had a turkey sandwich on wheat bread before a freestyle session and it was amazing–I had oodles of energy and busted some moves. :D

    3. tri training*

      You just started this heavier regime 6 weeks ago, maybe you’re just tired. Also I think if it’s one session once in a while it means you are human; if it starts happening more often, some more digging might be necessary. But I think a good trainer will work with you – for example, a friend of mine was just diagnosed with a pretty aggressive brain cancer and my session 2 days after that news started horribly – but after telling my trainer what was going on (and he knew I was off even before I told him, just watching me do the exercises), he changed what he had planned and we did great work but not like heavier weights or this new snatch we’d been practicing because that required more concentration than I could offer that day. Life happens. The main thing is to not let a bad session derail your whole training.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I agree 100%. Going through all I went through last year, my trainer really worked to make my workout sessions good. He knew all that was going on and could tell when I needed to do something a little less strenuous, or when a change of pace would help lift my spirits a bit.

    4. fposte*

      So you’ve been doing 5x weekly workouts of one kind or another for close to six weeks (presuming the non-boxing stuff started later). I think it would be more surprising if you *hadn’t* had a crappy session.

      I don’t know what the actual sports psychology would be, but to me the goal isn’t to prevent crappy sessions, it’s to develop over time. Sometimes the line for that isn’t straight.

    5. nep*

      There are going to be days like that. Our bodies can be affected by so many things.
      I’m going to second the sleep suggestion — lack of sleep affects everything, of course, so even if that was not the cause this last time, just always a good habit. Adequate water too. And of course, it could have been related to not eating enough as you say. (Are you getting enough nutrients like Vitamin D?)
      In general, though, it’s OK to just have ‘off’ days in the gym — it happens.
      Keep us posted.

    6. Dead Quote Olympics*

      As you and others said, food. I make sure I have a protein breakfast on the mornings I work out, otherwise I can feel weak and tired. Knowing when to back off the intensity a little if you are already tired in a particular single workout, or take an extra rest day, or push less in the workouts leading up to your most intense workout. Also, feeling like you went back to the beginning of your fitness experience might be a sign your trainer detected a plateau and is pushing you harder. If it’s easy all the time, you aren’t improving.

    7. Thlayli*

      Based on the fact that you got really tired really quickly it sounds like you are correct – this was caused by not eating properly. Body needs fuel to work out properly. Remember carbs before working out, protein after. Water during. Energy drinks are usually just a waste of money for most training needs.

      Good luck.

    8. Kendra*

      In high school track, I learned that I had to drink a lot of water during the day before exercising or I would be getting a lot of side stitches later that day.

      For rock climbing, I make sure that if I haven’t been able to eat properly beforehand (too busy to eat dinner before, going first thing in the morning before breakfast) I drink full-sugar Gatorade before and during the climbing session and that helps so my muscles work the way I want them too.

      And sometimes you will have off days and that’s totally fine! If you’re not feeling great, do something easier that day. Don’t let the easier version become a habit, but don’t worry about it either :)

    9. Epeeist*

      Eating is huge, and remember to stay hydrated as well, as I’m sure you know. And like others have said, sometimes sessions just don’t go well. I’m a competitive fencer. Usually in practice I do well, but there are sessions where my distance and timing are completely off, beginners wipe the floor with me, and the only points I get are when people accidentally run themselves onto my blade. And I’ve been doing this for almost 14 years! Some days the thing you train may be to cut yourself some slack, take time to enjoy what you’re doing (the feeling of movement, being out with other people, etc.), and to notice the little things you’re doing well.

    10. paul*

      Crappy sessions happen. I usually lift 3x a week; I figure in a month 1-3 of them will rock 1-3 of them will suck, most are just what they are. You just gotta go with it.

    11. Llama Grooming Coordinator*

      Honestly, fposte is probably the most on the money. Even if you do everything right you’re going to have an off day – and that’s fine! Know yourself and know when to back off.

      Fueling is important, and you want to make sure you’re on top of that. Rest is important as well. But most importantly, remember that one bad workout once in a while doesn’t mean much of anything. Everyone gets a freebie.

    12. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I have good sessions and bad ones, but the bad ones I can usually always link to: stress, too much bread-eating, poor sleep, or (pre) time of the month. All the usual culprits.

      If I am training alone or in group training then I may back off a little and lighten the workout but still go to complete something. If I am training with the trainer (and BOY can he tell if I am off) I will push through but he will usually lighten the sets by a few reps. He did ask the last time this happened (two weeks ago) what I had eaten that day and it occurred to me I really hadn’t eaten that much. So last week I made sure to have a quick bite or two of a Kind bar a half hour before and that helped immensely and i had a great workout.

    13. Elan Morin Tedronai*

      For me it’s about establishing a routine and knowing the limits and quirks about your body. And staying hydrated. Also: please please please have at least one rest day a week. No point in pounding your body for 3 weeks straight, then pulling/breaking something and have to spend much longer in recovery.

      Source: Doing the Insanity workout.

  29. CityMouse*

    I have been struggling with a cough after working out lately. I am not sure if it is allergies or asthma but I cough and wheeled all day after an intense cardio session this week and last week. It doesn’t happen every time. Anyone have experience with this?

    1. fposte*

      Crudely–coughing could be allergies or just plain track hack, but wheezing is likelier to be asthma. Get that sucker checked out for real–if it is asthma, maintenance is really important.

      1. CityMouse*

        Yeah, it’s frustrating because I grew out of my childhood asthma, but it seems to be making a comeback in my 30s. I’ll be due for my physical next month, so I’ll bring it up then.

        1. Ktelzbeth*

          When I started coughing and wheezing in my 30s after growing out of my childhood asthma, my allergist father said, “It tends to come back in women around the 30s.” Get checked. I’m still fine unless I’m sick, air quality is bad or below 35°F, or working exceedingly hard, but my inhaler helps.

    2. Betsy*

      Yeah, seconded that it sounds very like asthma, as this happens to me. I had childhood asthma too, and it came back around my late 20s/early 30s.

      Coughing is a very common asthma sign, but not many people associate it with asthma.

      1. Enough*

        I knew there was a possibly that at least one of my daughter’s might developed asthma as their allergies first presented as night coughs at age 4. The older one was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma in her early 20’s.

    3. Mephyle*

      Although the most likely causes have already been mentioned, another thing to check for is silent reflux or laryngopharyngeal reflux. It’s when stomach acids and/or enzymes spill up your esophagus but there is no heartburn, so you don’t necessarily realize what’s causing it.

  30. Laura H*

    I’m donating blood today- or at least will attempt to, as the last time I tried in college I had trouble staying still I think due in part to my spastic Cerebral Palsy.

    So please send good vibes on that. I’d love to give blood to someone other than a phlebotomist!! I may not be able to save the world, but 3 lives is a great thing right?

    Now I gotta go get dressed and chug some more water- and maybe heat up some of yesterday’s lentils for a bit of iron in my breakfast. Did lentils and rice yesterday for dinner- was yummy!

    1. Anona*

      Good luck! And I hope you get to eat all the donating blood snacks! It’s really sweet that you’re attempting this.

    2. fposte*

      Good luck! I would definitely hydrate up big time in preparation–the juicier the are, the faster you flow, and the quicker you get out (and thus the shorter time you have to stay still).

    3. CityMouse*

      Good luck! I get super nervous when donating blood and get bounced for high pulse rate sometimes. I sometimes use headphones with music to stay calm during the tests (I’ve never passed out during the actual donation).

      1. Laura H*


        Odd thing, at the phlebotomist- I can’t watch the needle go in, but watching the stuff flow through the line and fill the test tubes is a little mesmerizing.

        1. fposte*

          That’s pretty much me too. (And it’s kind of a pretty color.) Maybe it’s more common than we realized.

        2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          I do this too! It’s strangely fascinating to see what blood looks like in the tubes.

    4. LemonLyman*

      I have a rare bone marrow disorder and can’t give blood but have been a recipient of blood and platelet donations in the past…so thank you!!!!

      To others who read this, I need blood that’s CMV free (or CMV negative), also called “infant blood.” CMV (cytomegalovirus) is a flu-like virus that most adults are exposed to at some point. However, not all are. So, if someone like myself needs blood but has a compromised immune system and hasn’t been exposed, our doctors have to be careful that the donated blood is CMV free, or it could be harmful to us. CMV free blood is also given to babies and children since they have not yet been exposed to the virus. If you’re a donor, find out if you’re CMV free! Your special blood could save a life!

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        My father and brother both are CMV negative and routinely give blood, dad especially. They have something else going on too, either an antigen is missing or the blood type is more rare as the Red Cross will actually call dad between his scheduled donations to come give another donation if it is needed. Glad to hear it helps someone!

    5. Laura H*

      Sadly was unable to donate- was marked ineligible in the system upon providing ID- not sure why I’m in there that way, will pursue on Monday.

      1. Laura H*

        Thanks. Bit bummed and annoyed… and concerned slightly. Pretty sure I’m in good enough health to donate but I didn’t even have my iron count checked- can’t be that…

        1. Someone else*

          I don’t know if this is true everywhere, but in my area if you’re insta-rejected, they tell you why in the moment: you donated too recently, you’ve been ill too recently, you ticked some box on a form that makes you ineligible for x amount of time. It’s odd to me they’d reject you and not say why in the moment. Or did you not even get as far as filling out the paperwork with the ticky boxes? Did they just look you up in the computer and say no immediately?

          1. Laura H*

            Computer look up. It was also done at a church location, rather than the main facility- I was told that the main facility systems have specific details specifying why the indefinite deferral is there that these mobile systems do not.

            As for all the typical rejection factors- I’m pretty sure I’m all good there.

            I did try donating in the fall of 2009, and was unsuccessful because I couldn’t stay still due to my spasticity caused by my cerebral palsy. And IIRC, I’m ineligible to donate bone marrow due to my condition. And I am accepting of that, but yeah I’m calling on Tues to get to the bottom of why I’m not eligible to merely donate blood.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Mmm lentils are AMAZING.
      This reminds me that I need to find a way to give blood regularly once I’m working again. It was easy when I was still at Exjob–the bloodmobile came right to us and we didn’t have to clock out to do it.

  31. needed to tell someone secret*

    I have an inappropriate crush on someone. I don’t get crushes easily. I thought I was asexual until I was twenty and met the first one. I’m thirty one and have has two since, including spouse. My spouse and I are long distance for another month until his transfer takes effect and I have been trying hard to go out and meet new friends in our new city, with minimal success that is very proportionate to how little time I have been here, and I’m okay with it coming slowly.

    But! I click really well with a new friend and realized the other day that I am very into them as more than just friends. I want to preserve this very new friendship! They are very nice! I think spouse will get along with them too! I don’t have any other new friends who I’ve felt I like enough to make them more than “have dinner with every once in a while friend.” But. Inappropriate crush is inappropriate and I am so confused because they happen so infrequently and I am very happy with spouse. Our lives are perfect. There is no reason for these inappropriate feelings. I would like them to go away so I can be good friends with this lovely person.

    And I can’t tell anyone about this because I don’t want their takeaway to be that things are going badly with spouse. They’re not! I’m just very surprised by one of my infrequent crushes and would like to share it with someone.

    1. Turtlewings*