Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Younger Brother in the Midst of Midlife Crisis

DEAR HARRIETTE: My younger brother and I are 18 months apart. We have always been close. Lately, he has been acting a little out of character. I think he is having a midlife crisis. He recently bought a new car that was way out of his budget, and he is now thinking about quitting his job. He has been working at the same company for 15 years. I'm not sure why he would quit or what could be sparking these changes. Do you have any idea of how I can help him? Do I intervene to prevent him from messing up his life? -- Midlife Crisis, Sarasota, Florida

DEAR MIDLIFE CRISIS: Invite your brother to get together. Then express your concerns. Ask him what’s going on. Do your best to get him to open up. You want to learn what’s in his head, so you have to resist talking too much. Hear him out. Challenge him on ideas that you do not think are sound. This includes quitting a job without a plan in place. Find out what happened that precipitated the idea. Suggest that he savor the moment, take a vacation and be present for what’s next. Recommend that he give himself a 90-day waiting period to be sure that he feels the same and has gotten his life in order before resigning.

DEAR HARRIETTE: For some reason, I just can’t get out of a funk I’ve been in for the past couple of weeks. Some days I’ll feel fine, and then other days I’ll be down. I know I'm not depressed and I don’t need to be medicated, but when I feel down, I don’t want to do anything or see anyone.

My mom suggested that I go see someone just to talk about everything that has been going on in my life, but I feel stupid going. There hasn’t been anything upsetting or tragic in my life, so I don’t understand what I would even talk about or say when nothing has happened. Maybe it’s because I just graduated from college and don’t have a job yet, or that my boyfriend will be moving away. But why is my sadness coming in waves? What do you suggest I do? -- Always in a Funk, Jackson, Mississippi

DEAR ALWAYS IN A FUNK: What we have learned in the wake of too many suicide attempts is that many people are suffering from depression and are often disguising their pain or not even recognizing how significant it is. I am not suggesting that you are suicidal, but I do want you to take this state of mind that you are in seriously. It is smart that you are speaking up. Seek professional help right now. You can talk about anything and everything that is on your mind with a mental health professional. It should help you to process what’s happening in your life and deal with the wave of emotions that you are feeling. You are experiencing a lot of change now. It is natural for you to be emotional about these things. Get help in learning how to deal with it all.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)