DEAR ABBY: I am a diagnosed narcoleptic. Medication helps with the symptoms, but not entirely. I looked into alternative options and found a fantastic diet. I recently went on it with amazing results.
My dad's side of the family is Italian, and a huge part of the culture is food. During celebrations, it's considered offensive to refuse food, and my family has always looked down on diets. If a family member is on one, they'll argue that it's a special occasion and it's only for one day.
Abby, I'm exhausted at family gatherings. If I try to turn something down, I get attacked because "Grandma made it," or "It's your favorite and we made it for you." I have tried explaining to them that I don't want them to alter their dinner arrangements to accommodate me, but I should be allowed to forgo eating foods that will make me feel like a zombie. They just don't get it, and it has caused arguments. How do I re-open this discussion without offending anyone? -- PANICKED OVER PASTA
DEAR P. OVER P.: Do it before the celebration by calling your hosting family member and explaining that there are now foods you cannot eat because of your diagnosed medical condition. Explain that you know they would not feed certain foods to a diabetic, and you need the same dispensation. Ask them to kindly not put you in the embarrassing position of having to refuse their delicious food, and if they feel it will cause a problem, they should excuse you from the event.
DEAR ABBY: Six months ago, my friend "Lindy's" husband committed suicide. I have been there for her and understand it takes time, but I'm reaching my limit.
I make plans with her for dinners at our home and at restaurants and have planned various outings, because I know it's difficult to be in the house alone. However, she constantly manipulates, yells at me when she doesn't get her way, and uses the loss of her husband as a rationale for why I and others must do what she wants regardless of what's happening in our own lives, and expects us to tolerate this behavior.
Because of the circumstances, I have given her several passes on the disgusting behavior she has displayed, and have gently spoken up on some occasions when she went too far. She's pushing people away and quite vicious about it, but doesn't see that she's doing it to herself. How long must I tolerate her grieving process before enough is enough? -- CONFUSED IN NEW YORK
DEAR CONFUSED: Lindy is not only grieving the loss of her husband, but raging because of what caused it. She's a "survivor of suicide," and the conflicting emotions -- including anger and guilt -- she's carrying can make a person sick. If she isn't receiving grief counseling, urge her to find some before she destroys her support system entirely. When Lindy becomes manipulative or abusive, you are within your rights to call her on it and take a step back. For your own sake, you shouldn't continue to allow her to mistreat you.
Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $14 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)