DEAR HARRIETTE: I have always considered myself to be happy and cheerful. I am motivated to be successful, and I am a sociable person. Recently, I have been having a constant feeling of anxiety and sadness. I am not sure why I have been feeling like this because I have never been one to suffer from anxiety or depression before. Nothing in my life seems to have had triggered this, but it has gotten to the point where I experience these feelings every day. I disclosed this information to a friend, and she has advised me to see a counselor or therapist. The thought of me seeking professional help for the feelings I am having seems odd to me, and I am not a fan of the idea. With my friend’s advice taken into consideration, I need some help on how I can deal with this myself, or any other alternatives to seeing a medical professional. -- NOT SO HAPPY, Norman, Oklahoma
DEAR NOT SO HAPPY: First, I’m sorry you are feeling sad. That is a hard place to be, and it often feeds on itself, leading one to feel worse over time.
Second, I need you to know that there’s nothing wrong with seeking professional help. In fact, it’s way better than talking to friends who are not experts. Getting private, professional support to work through an emotional problem is smart. Yes, it may seem odd, but it really can help.
If you feel depressed and want to call someone (and this goes for anyone reading this column), go to mentalhelp.net/articles/depression-hotline/ to find the hotline number nearest you. Don’t suffer alone.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Ever since I was little, I loved to travel. My parents thought it was important to expose my siblings and me to different cultures constantly, which is why we traveled so often. I would consider that a huge part of my identity and traveling to be one of my passions.
My current partner is the opposite of this. He enjoys staying at home and not venturing out to new and different places. I was wondering if you think this is a determining factor in our relationship's success. Do you have any recommendations for how we can compromise between our two lifestyles? -- Travel Bug, Des Moines, Iowa
DEAR TRAVEL BUG: Yes, it can be true that opposites attract, but it can also be worrisome. What you choose to do in your spare time is important, especially in a relationship. You want to be interested in similar things so that you will naturally acclimate to the same types of activities.
A compromise could be that you, the one with wanderlust, could be willing to discover how to enjoy the comforts of home more as your boyfriend becomes willing to go on at least one adventure per year. Try that out to see how it fits. In the end, you both need to feel comfortable with how you spend your time. Ideally, you will need activities that you enjoy together more than those you enjoy apart from each other.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)