Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This evening I'm about to enter the "lion's den." I live in a seniors building. Tonight is our social night when about 10 of us meet for "good times." These past few months, there have been three women who have taken to bullying me and making snide remarks. I believe it all stems from one woman who's spread some horrible lies about me. I say this because she has done it to someone else and I called her on it, so I think she did the same to me
I don't say anything, just try to remain the lady my mother taught me to be. I could throw a big hissy fit and then look like the jerk and ruin everything, or I could quit, but I gave in and quit once before. I feel I shouldn't give in this time. Your input would be appreciated. -- Bullied Senior, Winnipeg
Dear Bullied: Forget that nonsense your mother taught you about sitting there saying nothing "like a lady" while people give you a hard time. Dish it back! If possible, be bitingly funny while you do it. The other six have been sitting uncomfortably waiting for you to open your mouth and let this trio have it. If you don't want to take on the three of them together, talk privately to the six who sit there and listen and disabuse them of any gossip they may have heard. Then ask for their help in getting these three bullies back in line.
You could take on each bully one at a time by knocking on her door and letting her know you're not taking this bullying any more. Would she like to talk now or face the consequences in front of other people in the group? You could also go to the head of the building and complain about what's going on as long as that's not the only thing you do. You're looking to show strength, straighten this all out and put these bullies in their places. If you only complain to the manager, you're still a wimp to these bullies. Warn the manager you will be taking care of it by quashing the gossip, getting the other six on your side and taking on the bullies. I can guarantee the manager will be interested and willing to help.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This is about the woman called Smitten who was falling for the man in glasses. Your letter shook me. My husband is currently a student with dark hair and glasses who is struggling with depression and missing classes. Regardless, if this is my husband or not, I have to ask Smitten: Why pursue a man who is so depressed he cannot get out of bed to go to school?
Living with a depressed partner is the most emotionally difficult thing I have ever done. Some days I feel like I just cannot go on and it takes everything I have to make sure our son is happy and not suffering from the stress in our home. Save yourself the heartache and the stress and pursue a man who has the emotional capacity to actually care for you and to enjoy being with you. If he can't love himself, he can't love you. -- Shaken, Winnipeg
Dear Shaken: Living with someone else's serious depression is almost as bad as having it yourself. You worry you don't know where it's headed or what you might come home to one day. It sounds like your husband is not taking the right medication -- or, not enough of it -- to keep him from staying home from university. As his wife, you do have the right to badger him to get this problem looked at. You also have the right to ask him if he is the guy in the letter you read in the Miss Lonelyhearts column. It's better to ask and get a reply of any kind than never to ask. You will be able to tell a lot from his face.
You ask why a woman would pursue a depressed man. Many women find tragic figures attractive, especially if they are good-looking. Research shows women find guys with serious faces -- even sulky ones -- more sensual-looking than those with a big friendly smile. Do they feel a challenge to make him happy? Does he have dangerous guy appeal?
The big point for you is to get this worked out so you don't live your whole life suffering. If your husband doesn't want to be married to you and that's part of his depression problem, you may be able to part, which might be better for both of you: another good reason to open a discussion. Call the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba (204-786-0987) about their support group for families of people with mood disorders held Wednesday evenings at their offices at 4 Fort St.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My wife was newly slim when I met her. I thought she was heroic for losing 70 pounds and was very impressed with her. She is beautiful. Since we've gotten married she has put back on about 50 or so of those pounds, and while she is still beautiful to me, she's now hiding in the closet to undress. She's stashing sugar treats, chugging beer and eating way too much pasta -- her nemesis. She's becoming very insecure and always asking me how I think she looks. It was way better when she was slim and proud and happy and confident. I don't know what I can do when she says, "Do I look fatter?" because yes, she does, but I don't mind if she doesn't mind and still feels loving and sexual. -- Watching the Titanic Sink, Winnipeg
Dear Watching: Part of what's happening is her body went through a long starvation and is filling up emptied fat cells that sit there like empty coal cars and refill as quickly as they grab the minimum calories to do so. Her body is preparing for another famine. The other part to address is her binge-eating of carbs, the comfort foods. What is going on with her? Is she anxious or panicked now she's married? Does she live in fear of losing you or her job so she stuffs her face? Are there other problems? You two need to have a big heart to heart about all of this. Overeating is generally about stuffing to fill emotional holes, feelings of emptiness or loss or insecurity. Find out gently what they are,
Please send your questions or comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6