Agony Aunt: I had a troublesome childhood, but my friend feels it’s not a big deal


I have had a troublesome childhood and I tell close people about it to seek solace and comfort. I recently opened up about it to one of my best friends and expected her to react sympathetically, but she reacted very coldly and said “it was not such a big deal”. I felt extremely hurt by this and I have been avoiding her since then. I feel like an idiot and now I’m starting to think that I am making it sound more troubling than it actually is. Is there anything I should do?

I believe it must have been difficult for you to open up to people about the troublesome childhood you experienced. Your friend reacting to you differently might be quite tough to handle as it is a sensitive topic for you. It might happen that people who you share your life details with might not always be on the same page as you in terms of understanding. This doesn’t indicate you being an ‘idiot’ or exaggerating your life situation. Since you mentioned you communicate to people about your childhood to seek solace and comfort, considering counseling might help as the sessions would help you cope better with the after effects of the trauma as well as build healthy relationships with others which aren’t simply based on seeking sympathy.

Friend’s revenge

I caught one of my classmates cheating on a recent test and reported it to the teacher, which resulted in him instantly getting 0 marks on the test. He was really angry and kept trying to convince the teacher that he didn’t but nobody would listen. Since then, he has started spreading nasty rumours about me and jeering at me whenever we cross paths. I have tried to ignore him, but even others are starting to call me a ‘complain box’ and a ‘snitch’. I feel quite hurt and do not know what to do. Please help.

Often standing up for some wrongdoing results into people being upset/unhappy with your actions especially those who have a lot to lose due to your action. This classmate is reacting to the consequences he has to face. Since your teacher is already aware about you being the one to catch him red handed, cuing him/her about the recent treatment in class can help resolve the situation. Moreover, your classmates who know you well and are your friends would dismiss the rumours. The more you question your actions the more you will feel bad because of others reactions to it.

Concerned neighbour

I was recently catching up with my neighbour and they were acting quite strangely and making passive jokes about attempting suicide and depression. Since I have known her, she has come across as quite normal and kind to me, however these jokes caught me off-guard and now I’m confused as to what has happened. Although she seemed to be joking, she looked quite depressed too. I don’t know if it is my place to say anything, and am confused on what to do. Please help.

Mental health issues may not always be visible easily. You have paid attention to a conversation that might have otherwise sounded trivial. You could seek out this neighbor and try to have an elaborate conversation revolving around mental health well-being and sharing your observations with her. Also, doing some ground work here, i.e. finding therapists/psychiatrists close to you, using the language which is not using any labels and being a sound board even if you may not have a ready solution.

A true friend’s turmoil

My close friend had moved away a few years ago and now she is back and living relatively close to me. I had been trying to meet her since the minute she moved back and settled down, but only 1 month later did she actually meet me. Since then, I feel like it is always me trying to make efforts and trying to meet her as much as I can and talk to her, while she is cold to me over texts and calls. I really want our friendship to continue, but I feel trapped when she keeps shutting me out. Please help.

Your relationship with your friend has undergone a lot of change over the years she wasn’t around. Friendship works two ways and with collaborative efforts. Since you have made efforts and they haven’t been responded to well, speaking to her about this may help you understand whether this friendship is worth investing your time and energy. Many a times we think that we have to continue a relationship despite how the other person treats us in return, but it is better to part ways on a note that isn’t bitter rather than feeling miserable the entire time you are in the said relationship. MINDTEMPLE

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