DEAR HARRIETTE: I work as an organizer in a few residences. One of my bosses chooses to communicate strictly through text. I am all right with this unconventional method, but she also texts me about random topics -- very much like she is trying to start a friendship.
How can I respond when my boss texts me trying to be friends? I don't feel comfortable discussing my date nights and girls' nights with the woman who pays me. -- Sorting It Out, Westchester, New York
DEAR SORTING IT OUT: Sometimes when people work inside others’ homes, a certain level of intimacy grows over time. It doesn’t mean that you become besties. It may mean, in this woman’s case, that she wants to know you a little better, you being the person who spends so much time in her home gleaning how she lives her life.
Keep your written communication professional as you answer her personal questions as vaguely as possible. In this way, you will be communicating with her, but not revealing too much. Short answers work great. If she asks if you had a date on the weekend, you can respond, “Fun weekend,” or “Relaxing weekend,” or whatever else you want to say. You can then bring her back to the work by asking her something about what you have most recently completed that you think she will like.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I been experiencing feelings of dread and feeling overwhelmed. My workload hasn't changed much, but there are a few personal problems going on. My girlfriend says I might have anxiety, but I don't think that's it. I've never had anxiety before, and I doubt I could just develop it due to stress. -- Could It Be?, Atlanta
DEAR COULD IT BE?: Take some time to decompress. That could mean going to the gym, getting a massage, taking a nap, meditating or taking a day off from work. Spend time pampering yourself. Evaluate the personal problems that you mentioned. Go through them one by one, and determine what you can fix, change or otherwise improve. Be thorough as you look at the issues individually. Dealing in small bits will help you to not be overwhelmed.
If you continue to feel off and plagued by negativity, do yourself a favor and go to the doctor. Get a physical to check up on your health. It could be that something internal is upsetting the balance of your system. It could also be, as your girlfriend suggested, that you are experiencing anxiety or depression. Some of the most common symptoms of depression are being tired and lethargic, feeling restless and agitated or conversely sluggish, weight loss or gain, loss of interest in activities, feeling worthless or guilty, trouble concentrating or making decisions, or even thoughts of suicide. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention. There is no shame in getting help for whatever is going on with you.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)