Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: I have a beautiful wife and two children who are my everything. My wife has been dealing with mental illness (depression and anxiety) for almost 10 years. She is a stunning person inside and out, but for the past two years her illness has affected the way the rest of us live. Her medication has made her completely numb to the children and to me. I do the best I can for my kids, as she works, sleeps and goes to her gym. I am all for her wanting and needing to feel better mentally and physically, but she has totally disconnected with the rest of us and I am here as a roommate to cook and clean when I get home from work. I am in this relationship only because of my children, but I struggle with leaving her and worry about what will happen to her. What will my kids think? Is it wrong to want more for myself and for my children — because I feel guilty about that every day. I’d appreciate your take on this.
DEAR LONELY: If your wife is able to work, sleep and go to the gym, then she skews toward the functioning part of the spectrum, and that’s a good thing.
All the same, some medications do seem to severely dull a person’s affect, creating a blurry distance in relationships and a lack of intimacy.
It is hard to tell from your question what, exactly, your intentions are.
You should not leave your children in the custody of someone who cannot take care of them. If you leave the marriage, retain custody of your children, and make it very easy for them to safely spend time their mother, then your children would likely think that you are a dad who is trying very hard to take care of them.
Before choosing to leave your marriage, you should explore every possibility to see what you two could do to change the dynamic, while safeguarding your wife’s health. She should invite you to meet with her prescribing doctor (along with her) to discuss her overall treatment, or any options she might have to change medication.
DEAR AMY: This is awkward, but I have a friend who I mainly know on social media. He is a very cool person and his posts are provocative and interesting. Starting about a year ago I noticed that he seemed to hit some hard times. He was very transparent about his struggles and started “crowdsourcing” solutions. Mainly, I like it when people do this and, of course, I pitch in with my opinion, ideas or solutions when I can. He transitioned from asking for ideas to asking for help. Sometimes it was requests such as asking people to come help him cut and stack wood; he also asked for help with some car repairs. His social media friends even helped to find a new and more affordable home for him and his family. I am genuinely happy for him because he seems to have marshaled the power and collective talent of the crowd to solve problems. Recently, however, I feel he took things too far when he asked his social media friends for money to purchase a special breed pet. He asked for travel money, money to buy the pet and money for the animal’s shots and fees. What do you think of this? I feel this person has finally gone too far, but I don’t know how to respond. Should I reach out privately, publicly, or not at all?
DEAR AWKWARD: If the request is made publicly — to friends, friends of friends, and anyone who cares to share this person’s post — then the response can also be public.
Given the circumstances you describe, where this person’s requests seem to be escalating while at the same time also becoming somewhat more trivial, it would be appropriate for you to respond to the request, “Our local shelter can introduce you to a nice animal for adoption, for much less cost.”
DEAR AMY: I found your advice to “Estranged Daughter” to be so insightful — it actually brought tears to my eyes. Wanting — but not having — a healthy relationship with a parent is so incredibly painful.
DEAR ESTRANGED: My response to this letter might have contained extra depth because, like you, I have been there. Personal growth comes from stating your own needs and expressing your heart’s desire, and then accepting the outcome — even when it is disappointing.