I am both concerned about and irritated with a friend of mine. It seems lately that she has a negative attitude on everything, including things she used to like and things that are not her business. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t tell her anything without her putting a negative spin on it, and it’s driving me crazy. I myself battle depression and anxiety disorders, and listening to her whine and gripe makes me feel worse. However, it is hard to avoid her because we work in the same field and are involved in church together. I don’t think suggesting she is depressed and needs to get help will work, because 1. She thinks her thinking is always right. 2. When she and i disagree on anything, she uses my issues against me and makes it look like I have the problem and suggests I need to go back into counseling. What can I do!?

A: It sounds like your friend has recently become a person who can find a cloud around every silver lining. How sad for her and for you. It’s hard not to be angry when we’re feeling loss. Your friend has turned into someone you don’t recognize – and don’t even like very much. It’s understandable that you sometimes wonder where your good friend went – and who this person is who seems to have taken her place.

Since you are in your 40s, I’m guessing that your friend is too. Although it is glib to suggest that she may be perimenopausal, it could be true. Rather than suggest she is depressed (which she may take as criticism), consider showing concern for her health. She may be having trouble with sleep and with the hormone shifts that often plague women in middle age. A little sympathy from you might go a long way. If you’ve found ways to be more comfortable and to get good sleep, try sharing that information.

If she uses your issues against you, it’s probably because she is feeling defensive. Rather than argue with her, you might try to agree that yes, you have issues and then tell her how much counseling has helped you. Don’t suggest outright that she could use a therapist too. Just share your successes and perhaps the message will get through.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie