Here’s an interesting letter that arrived unsigned:
I need help addressing a situation with a friend.
About 8 years ago, her dad passed away suddenly, and she continues to miss and mourn her dad. We’ve been friends for about 6 years and for as long as I’ve known her, she’s always been… down. There are parts that are more obvious or easier for me to understand — for example, she gets very sad around Father’s Day and her dad’s birthday.
Then there are parts that are just what I’ve experienced as her general outlook on life. She always finds something to be sad about. For example, she had complained about her job and coworkers and the long commute that was a strain on her social life. Then she applied to and got a new job that will shrink her commute from 2 hours to 20 minutes each way. I was so excited for her and called to congratulate her. But she had already switched gears. She spoke about how she’ll miss her coworkers and the familiarity of her old job, and how the new job has a more formal dress code.
That’s just an example. And I’m finding it increasingly difficult to interact with her without being affected (or angered or frustrated) by her pessimistic outlook, which she sometimes applies to good news that I share. I’ve suspected that her father’s death underlies her melancholy and have suggested several times that she seeks counseling, but she’s dismissed that suggestion.
Her down-ness has made me less inclined to talk with her. She expresses a lot of appreciation for my friendship and often tells me that I lift her spirits and am a ray of sunshine to her. But I don’t think she knows how much effort it takes, or how she’s often like a gray cloud to me. How do I express this to her in a way that won’t make her more sad or down? Should I?
And here’s my answer:
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