Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: A Worried Friend

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: I am a teenager in high school with two close friends, "Emma" and "Vienna." Emma was recently diagnosed with OCD and bipolar disorder. Ever since the diagnosis, there have been many conflicts. Emma is now really sensitive, and if Vienna or I say anything even mildly offensive, she gets super angry.

This past summer, we all worked at a local kids' camp. When one of the instructors joked around, Emma took it seriously and became upset. She then talked with the instructor and his boss. All I know is that it didn't end well, and Emma quit.

I will often get a call from Emma saying she is lonely and needs someone to talk to. She likes to reminisce, regretting things she said and did in the past. I try to comfort her by keeping her company.

I have just started a new high school and am no longer with Emma and Vienna. Emma insists that I will ditch them for new friends, making them both feel like they have done something wrong. Vienna and I know we can't begin to understand what it's like to have both OCD and bipolar disorder, but we can't live like this. We are always worrying about Emma and don't know what to do. -- A Worried Friend

Dear Friend: Those with bipolar disorder often have periods of depression. If Emma also has OCD, she may become fixated on certain negative thoughts during these times. While you can be reassuring and supportive, there is only so much you can do to combat Emma's innate doubts. We trust that her parents are making sure that she is getting appropriate medical care. Please try to be patient with her, but understand that not all friendships survive high school.

Dear Annie: I know you've covered this topic before, but please do it again. I work in a small office. One person douses herself in perfume. It makes my eyes water and my nose run, and sometimes I have sneezing fits. Everyone comments about it behind her back, but no one will bring it up to her face, although I have casually mentioned it to her in conversation a few times.

Why don't people understand that the workplace is not the place to overdo the strong scents? They should save it for their husbands or boyfriends at home.

Years ago, my doctor told me he had a patient who was so sensitive to scents that she had an allergic attack and died -- right in the hospital. My doctor now makes his employees sign a letter of agreement not to wear any type of cologne or perfume to work, or it could be grounds for dismissal.

Please tell these people that although they may believe they smell great, they actually reek. -- Suffocating in Louisville


Dear Suffocating: Some folks have a diminished sense of smell and do not realize how strong their perfume is. Those who insist on wearing a scent should remember that a drop is sufficient. And with so many folks suffering from allergies these days, one really must be careful.

If you have supervisors or a human resources department, please ask whether a notice can go out suggesting that employees not wear perfumes. Otherwise, approach your co-worker and say, "I'm sure you don't realize how overpowering your cologne is. I have terrible allergies and am very sensitive. Could you please not wear it at the office?"

Dear Annie: You printed responses to the letter from "Speechless in Omaha," whose friend never stopped talking.

When I read the original letter, I recognized myself. I am a 90-year-old woman who lives alone. My health is not the best, and sometimes there are weeks when I speak to no one. It's a lonely life.

One day, it suddenly dawned on me that I was doing all of the talking when out with friends. Now I make sure that doesn't happen. Perhaps the friend does not realize what she is doing. -- A Lonely Great-Aunt


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2017. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




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