DEAR ABBY: "Unsure Out West" (July 26) felt inadequate because she had no upbeat messages to send to her friends on Facebook. Please tell her she's not alone.
I attended a prestigious college, but 35 years later I also find myself with no job, in debt, battling depression and dealing with a host of phobias. I read the school's quarterly magazine and see my peers have great jobs, travel extensively and are happily married. I once sent in "news" that not everyone is so lucky and that I am neither successful nor wealthy. Needless to say, it wasn't published.
When my FB friends ask how I am, I reply that it's a difficult question to answer. I then ask about them and let them know I'm glad they're doing well. And when times get bad, I know I can deactivate my Facebook account until I feel better. -- UNDERSTANDING "FRIEND" IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR "FRIEND": Thank you for writing to support "Unsure." Many people identified with her feelings. My newspaper readers comment:
DEAR ABBY: As a recovering survivor of severe childhood trauma, I can relate to "Unsure's" situation. I have college degrees, am married to a wonderful man and have two grown children. All my energy went into recovering from what happened to me.
For years I felt ashamed that I hadn't lived up to my potential, but it takes courage to recover from abuse or addiction. People who understand this view individuals like "Unsure" and me as successes in the things that really matter.
She should be honest, and as discreet as she wishes. When I have opened up, others have learned the realities of recovery and seen me as proof that it's possible. Too many suffer in silence. They need to know others have sought help and are healing.
I reconnected with a popular, successful high school friend over the Internet and discovered that her adult path was similar to mine. We have been a source of support and encouragement to each other ever since. -- WENDY IN TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: While everyone brags about their kids, careers and wonderful lives, don't forget that they too have put a "spin" on things. Nobody's life is perfect. We've all had our share of hardships.
I have been in "Unsure's" shoes for several years (minus the great hubby), but Facebook has given me confidence and enabled me to meet people who share my interests. Accept yourself for who you are. You don't have to hide the truth. Problems with alcohol or depression do not define you. -- AMANDA IN ILLINOIS
DEAR ABBY: "Unsure" should get rid of her Facebook page. If she doesn't, she'll continue reading about the lives of her old acquaintances and feel bad about hers.
I'm 19 -- never had a FB page and never will. Friends have fought over rumors spread there, and I've seen their self-esteem suffer because of the entries and comments of others. Since she has a history of depression, it would be healthier to focus on the positives in her life and eliminate something that makes her feel negatively. -- K.V. IN NEW JERSEY
DEAR ABBY: I, too, was well-liked, active and graduated with honors. After college I became sick with a debilitating chronic illness that leaves me mostly homebound. When an old friend reaches out on Facebook, I ask how she's doing, we discuss common interests and I reveal my health struggles. If she wants to know more, she'll ask.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon with a friend I hadn't been in touch with for 17 years until Facebook reunited us. She accepted my limitations and showed incredible compassion and empathy. We caught up on mutual friends, hobbies and my health. While not everyone will respond that way, it's worth finding those who will. -- EMILY IN PENNSYLVANIA