Ask Amy

Monday, September 14, 2009 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: How should I handle a friend who is bipolar?

She is fine until she goes off her medication, then she becomes nasty and hateful, and I am not sure how to forgive her for what she has said about me.

She has done the same thing to several other female friends.

— Put-Upon Friend

DEAR PUT UPON: Bipolar disorder is a serious illness that can respond well to treatment. The mood and behavior swings that people with bipolar disorder experience can strain their relationships with friends and family.

Your friend is responsible for maintaining her health and taking her medication to control her illness, and your responsibility is to be understanding of her health issues and inform her when she is behaving in a way that is harmful to your friendship.

When your friend goes off her meds and abuses you, you should remind her of how her behavior affects you. Discuss this with her during a time when she is stable.

Ask her to pay closer attention to her treatment and offer to help.

Your friend's illness may explain her behavior, but her burden is to explain herself and apologize.

The National Institute of Mental Health offers a comprehensive description of this challenging illness; learning more about it will give you additional insight. Check www.nimh.nih.gov.


DEAR AMY: We are retired seniors who enjoy eating out.

We are "go with the flow" people, not complaining about the food or service unless it is extremely bad.

We are friends with people who are the opposite.

It takes them forever to order. For example: "I want a quesadilla, no onion, oh, unless it's green onions and then maybe a few. And no olives. Oh, yes, you can put black olives on it, lots of tomatoes, and maybe mushrooms, but only a few?"

Get the picture?

Then the food arrives, they'll say, "Oh, that's more mushrooms than I want. Can you have the chef take some off?" or "This isn't very hot. Can they warm this up?"

Of course, the food has gotten cold because the patron has spent 10 minutes picking apart the ordered selection.

While all this is going on, we are so uncomfortable.

Should we go ahead and eat, or do we have to wait until the food for everyone at our table is "just perfect"? This is so embarrassing.

— Frustrated Diners

DEAR FRUSTRATED: If you don't have a good time with these people when you go out to eat, then consider yourself forewarned and avoid dining out with them.

People should do their best to be good sports and good company. Your friends are neither.

If you're with them and they commence their dining dance of death, then you can say, "Our dinner looks fine, so do you mind if we go ahead and start to eat while you're waiting?"


DEAR AMY: Your advice for the grandmother who wanted her granddaughter to join a sorority showed how out of touch you are!

The Greek system ain't what it used to be, sweetheart. Hazing, binge drinking and sex are the mainstream.

Maybe back in the Class of '63 (your graduating class in college?), the most scandalous thing your sorority heard of was the occasional drunken deflowering.

Nowadays, it's smoking pot, dropping Ecstasy and drinking so much Jagermeister that you black out.

There is absolutely no shame. Back when I was attending college, my fellow frat brothers would quietly brag about how they "tag-teamed" some drunken frat groupie. Sorority girls party just as hard or harder than the guys.

Greek equals bad rap.

— T.B., Sigma Pi, class of '91

DEAR T.B.: I'm old, but not quite that old. I attended a college that didn't permit fraternities or sororities and have never wanted to be in a group that would have me as a member. Sororities and fraternities run the gamut between disgraceful and positive behavior, and it's up to the student to be discerning.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles