Q&A with Dr. Dorothy: Your tough questions answered
Dorothy Ratusny is a Certified Psychotherapist specializing in Cognitive Therapy. Send your ‘Getting Deep’ questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE OVERDOSED ON COLD MEDICINE, TO TRY AND COMMIT SUICIDE. IT DIDN’T WORK. I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT HE DID AT ALL, BUT I DON’T WANT IT TO HAPPEN AGAIN. HOW CAN I HELP, WHEN I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO SAY?
Consider for a moment what kind of support you might want if you were in his position. Sometimes just letting someone know that you are there for them, if they want to talk, is enough. Sometimes (and it would certainly be worth it to try this), it helps more to talk to your friend and get them to open up to you—about anything really. Ask them some honest questions, be a good listener and get them to talk about their thoughts and feelings. They will feel better just knowing that you care and that they have someone to confide in. Just don’t give up! It may take some attempts before your friend is able to get to the heart of what is bothering him.
I WANT TO BECOME A VEGAN. I’VE NEVER REALLY BEEN COMFORTABLE EATING MEAT, KNOWING ABOUT ALL THE STUFF THAT THEY DO TO ANIMALS— AND SEEING THE PETA VIDEOS DOESN’T HELP— BUT I ALSO HAVE DONE SOME RESEARCH AND THINK IT’S A MUCH HEALTHIER WAY TO LIVE. THE PROBLEM IS THAT MY FAMILY IS NOT SUPPORTIVE OF MY DECISION BECAUSE IT MEANS I DON’T WANT TO EAT THE SAME MEALS AS THEY DO. WHAT CAN I DO TO GET THEM ON BOARD?
Sometimes family members take a bit of time coming around to our new life decisions. It doesn’t mean that they won’t eventually support you, but expect that it may mean some patience and teaching on your part—at least for the first little while. You certainly will want to take initiative in making specific food purchases and preparing meals, as they will be strictly for you. Others can sometimes become defensive if they feel as though their decisions (for example, to eat meat) are somehow judged in a negative light. Part of the success you will have in receiving support from your family may also come from not judging their choices (for example, to not be vegan). Rather, you may want to show them how simple it is— with a few minor adjustments of course—for you to all eat some meals together.
I THINK MY FRIEND IS USING ME TO GET GOOD GRADES. SHE’S ALWAYS LOOKING AT MY PAPER IN CLASS, ASKING ME FOR HELP WITH ASSIGNMENTS AND WILL CALL MOST NIGHTS TO SEE WHAT THE HOMEWORK IS (SHE SKIPS A LOT). BUT SHE DOESN’T CALL ME TO TALK ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE, BESIDES SCHOOL. I’M TIRED OF IT. ANY WAY I CAN GET HER TO STOP, BUT STILL KEEP HER AS A FRIEND?
The question is: is she really your friend? Friendships are balanced in nature, with reciprocal contribution and sharing. Consider talking to her about what you have observed. Truthfully explain that you’d like to be a friend, but feel you are feeling used by her, and mention some recent examples. A real friend will acknowledge their actions and likely feel pretty badly. You should see a change in their behaviour immediately. If instead she gets defensive, denies her actions or drops you—then, you also have your answer.
MY CRUSH ASKED ME OUT ON A DATE AND I REALLY, REALLY WANT TO GO, BUT MY MOM SAYS I’M TOO YOUNG TO DATE. FOR JUST ANY GUY, I WOULDN’T BREAK THE RULES, BUT SHE’S BEING TOTALLY UNFAIR AND I FEEL SO STUPID FOR BEING IN THIS SPOT. ANY ADVICE?
Explaining your mom’s rules to him is actually a very clever way of knowing just what kind of guy your crush is. If he is truly a great guy—and if he genuinely likes you—then he will spend as much time with you as he can (including hanging out with you at your house), even if you aren’t allowed to date him just yet.
For more on Dorothy check out www.dorothyratusny.com