DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend "Kim" has been having a rough time recently. She is going through a lot, but she's lashing out at me due to stress. I understand she has a lot on her plate (a critically ill parent, children in trouble at school and a stressful job), but this has been months of me feeling emotionally drained every time she calls me to vent or chastise me for not doing a favor properly for her, like unloading the dishwasher. When can I reach my boiling point? I feel bad for her, but I need to preserve my sanity. -- Emotional Crutch, South Bend, Indiana
DEAR EMOTIONAL CRUTCH: You have every right to speak up for yourself right now. You are Kim’s friend. You are not her therapist. You should schedule a time to see Kim so that you can speak face-to-face. Tell her how sorry you are that she is going through so much difficulty right now. Make it clear to her how much you love her and wish that her load would not be so hard to bear. Then tell her that you also forgive her for being unkind, harsh or unreasonable in her interactions with you, but you need her to know you cannot handle her intense ways of communicating with you anymore. It is wearing you down. Suggest that she see a mental health professional who can give her strategies for handling her life’s challenges. Let her know that her difficulties right now are too much for you to manage. Be clear that you are not abandoning her; you will continue to support her as you are able, but you believe she needs professional help.