Q: I recently went on a cruise with several other women. I was friendly with one of them but didn’t know the others.
I am overweight. One of the other women, “Dolores,” was also overweight, heavier than me, in fact. She’s very proud of being Christian, but she made the comment, in front of several other people, that she didn’t mind going places with me because with me around she didn’t feel so fat.
I was so stunned I remained silent. Actually, I was afraid that if I spoke I’d say too much, but I felt very hurt and ashamed. Even though I have tried to ignore it, this has bothered me for months and I don’t know what to do.
Should I say something to Dolores or continue to ignore it? I don’t really want to be friends with her now because I don’t know what kind of snide remark may come out of her mouth next. And I certainly don’t want to go anywhere with her again. —Taken Aback in Texas
A: When mankind was created, a delete button should have been installed at the end of our tongues. However, it’s possible our creator thought common sense would suffice. Obviously, Dolores was elsewhere when it was handed out.
While her comment was tactless, it says far more about how she feels about herself than it does about you. Because this is still bothering you, I don’t think it would be at all out of line for you to tell her how hurtful her comment was.
Q: I’m 17 and just started my junior year. I’m in an advanced program that my school offers because I want to get into an international college and need to take these classes to get noticed. I’m just over a month in, and I’m losing it. I have a job, I play soccer and I’m the lead in a school production. On top of that, I have an insane workload I wasn’t prepared for, and I’m trying to cope with discovering that I’m not straight.
With everything going on, I’ve been having meltdowns nearly every day. I leave class sometimes just to hide in the bathroom. I spend hours doing homework and still don’t get everything done I need to.
Last year, four or five of my classmates left school because of mental breakdowns in this program. I’m afraid I’m burning out, too. What should I do? Should I drop out of the program or seek help? — Scared and Stressed in New York
A: The first thing to do is talk about all of this with a counselor at your school. If you are at the point where you must leave class and “hide,” you need more help than I can offer in a letter. If counseling is available, or your course load can be modified, you should go in that direction. But dropping out should be your last resort and only after having discussed it with your parents and your counselor, because there may be other options.