Originally Published: May 2, 2018 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: I’m a man in my late 40s living with my 40-year-old girlfriend of five years. I just found out she’s been dealing with depression for years. She is on medication for it, but maybe it’s not helping. Today is the fourth straight day she hasn’t gotten out of bed, let alone gone to work. Of course, my main concern is her and her health, but now I’m starting to worry about our income. Our budget is pretty tight as it is, and I don’t make enough money at my job to support us both. So now I’m really worried about her and the reality that our bills may not get paid. I would never talk to her about my concerns; I don’t want to add any stress to her. I want to do what’s right. I want to do what’s best for her and what’s best for us. I want to continue being with her, but I’m getting dangerously close to full panic mode. Could you give me some advice on how to handle this situation? — Panic Mode
Dear Panic Mode: I know that this situation is hard, but it’s not hopeless. Depression is not something one can will her way out of, so be patient. Though it’s ultimately up to your girlfriend to want to seek help, you’re in a position to provide encouragement. The most important thing you can do right now is get her to a doctor. If she seems like a danger to herself, dial 911. If you’re not sure how to assess the situation, you can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255. Trained crisis workers are there to take your call 24/7.
In addition to helping her over the initial hurdle of seeking professional help, you can play an active role in her recovery long term. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “mental health professionals are increasingly recommending couple- and family-based treatment programs,” sometimes even enlisting partners as co-therapists who can assist with “homework” they assign to their patients. You can find more tips by visiting https://adaa.org and entering the phrase “spouse or partner” into the search bar.
Regarding the financial aspect, if your partner’s depression has been documented, she might qualify to receive money from the Supplemental Security Income program or Social Security Disability Insurance. Visit https://www.ssa.gov or make an appointment at your local Social Security office for more information.
Dear Annie: My husband always carries a handkerchief, as many men do. When he sneezes, blows his nose or just needs to wipe it, he pulls out his hankie, uses it and then folds it back up neatly and puts it back in his pocket. It is always when we are at Mass or at a restaurant. I cringe, get all sweaty and shake my head. What does etiquette dictate that one do after using a hankie? I never notice other men folding theirs after using them. Am I being too critical? — Yuck
Dear Yuck: The proper etiquette for blowing one’s nose, whether into a handkerchief or into a tissue, is to do so in the privacy of the bathroom (though that might be hard during Mass). As for your husband’s folding the handkerchief after using it — yes, it seems a bit odd, because he should launder it soon after using it. It’d be like folding dirty clothes for the hamper. But I’m afraid it’s his handkerchief, his pocket and his rules. Perhaps it’s time to get a handkerchief of your own for when this habit starts you sweating. In all seriousness, try to let this one go.
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