While I’m away, readers give the advice.
On helping someone get help:
Carolyn often writes about helping someone with depression find a therapist. I am now on four days, four hours of online research, nine fruitless phone calls, and 10 minutes on hold (and counting) of trying to find my brother a therapist after he finally — finally — agreed to see someone and possibly get on medication for the depression, anxiety and panic attacks he has suffered from on and off for over 16 years. I spoke with a low-cost center near him; they are booked out four months. I spoke with a private practice therapist — one month out. These are the only people who picked up out of nine phone calls! (Now 14 minutes on hold ... )
It seems he is not sick enough for anyone to help immediately, he’s not threatening himself or others. He’s not healthy though, he’s worse than he has been in a few years, and by the time his appointment rolls around he may be too depressed to get up and go, or he may feel well enough to think he doesn’t need it.
My point is that these barriers to entry are real, and they are frustrating to people not currently suffering from a mental health issue. He would never do this work. He does not have the capacity to try this hard for his own health. That is the very issue we need to address. So if someone you love needs help, if you can, if they will let you, just take over. And get your Bad-Ass Pants on, because you are going to have to push to get what you need.
On the ultimate answer to pushy relatives:
It’s the season again where rude, obnoxious and insensitive relatives come out of the woodwork and find every conceivable way to ride your bumper. I’ve had plenty of experience trying to fend off these clods for years. When I protest, they just ignore my requests to stop, and find new ways to torment. There is no way you can hurt their feelings, they hear about as much as a robocall. Strong language hasn’t deterred, and they use every opportunity to pry into personal areas that are none of their concern.
I have four such relatives with absolutely no tact, finesse or basic manners. When you’ve told someone bluntly over and over, again and again, and they still refuse to be enlightened, it’s time to no longer let them have access.
Life sure can be blissful when you refuse to let others manage your health, weight, where you live and what you do.
On drawing conversation out of taciturn kids:
I advise parents to have their children cook with them. Both of my sons helped me prepare dinner, and while chopping veggies or making salad or whatever it was we were having, they would spill their guts just in normal conversation. I rarely asked about their day, because they normally told me, sometimes things I didn’t want to know — but I never commented negatively and bit my tongue a lot.
The ultimate reward is both my sons are awesome, adventurous cooks.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at email@example.com, or chat with her at 11 a.m. Friday at washingtonpost.com.