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Friday, April 11, 2014

Dear Jeannie: Dating Choices and Altered Reality

Dear Jeannie,
Annie has been home-schooled by her quirky parents, who have given her a lot of freedom and support over the years. She has an intense, embarrassing crush on a boy she barely knows--a poet who helps her sometimes with her English homework. But he says he has a serious girlfriend. Meanwhile, there is a wild-eyed jock who keeps showing up at her church and hitting on her. Even after his initial shock that Annie is missing a leg, this hottie keeps asking for her number and a date. She can't get him to leave her alone. Annie's much more interested in the poet, but she can't figure out a way to break him and his girlfriend up. Or if she should even try. How can she murder and bury this unrequited attraction before it pushes her into destructive behavior? Or is that likely for a sheltered, reasonably-balanced girl? Does the jock have a chance of wearing down her resistance?

Sandwiched in Sanditon 

Dear Sandwiched,

Home schooling has its advantages academically, as studies show, but socially, there can definitely be disadvantages. You didn't mention why she was home-schooled (perhaps her parents didn't want to subject her to potentially cruel peers?), but it makes total sense that she'd fall for this poet, especially if their interactions have been limited to online. But I'd also think that she'd be two-parts fascinated, one-part scared by the jock. He's attractive, an up-close-and-personal type who has seen her maimed status and still wants to date her. That would be a huge draw for her, I'd think. Her "defective" status wasn't a deterrent, but the fearful part might come in about why he's not deterred. (Very much a catch 22, but that's how I'd see it.) The poet guy is more cerebral--in her mind. Crushes like that can be hard to rid yourself of, unless faced with physical evidence to counter the powerful mental connection (i.e., the picture your online buddy sent you looks nothing like them). I just don't think someone who has been fairly sheltered would really have "destructive behavior" when she has the other, way-viable option of the jock. But that's my two cents. Thanks for writing in!

Dear Jeannie,

Gen is a young woman in modern times, who is very close to her brother. However, she has trouble telling reality from her imagination, and has terrible waking 'nightmares'. Her brain will latch on to small details and turn it into a life threatening situation. Is this kind of thing plausible, or something I'm completely making up? Also, how would it affect her in day to day life, is it likely to hit often, or only occasionally. How will her close friendship with her older brother affect her? 


Dear Trying,

Altered reality is a real thing. I've had folks in my office who see and hear the same thing that I do, but state that they saw/heard something completely different. Their perspective is skewed, because their brain chemistry is altered by mental illness. The question to ask is not whether this is plausible, but what kind of background are you giving Gen to have this affliction? I'd venture that something traumatic would have to happen for her to have these waking "daymares." That's a symptom of PTSD for sure. People with PTSD try to avoid anything that might trigger a reaction like this. So it probably wouldn't be be a very common thing, as she's probably grown accustomed to what sets her brain off. I'm not sure I'm understanding your last question correctly (you want to know how it would affect her symptoms?), but her friendship with her brother would likely be one of her calming factors, as he probably could deescalate her quicker than others. If you're interested in additional posts that discuss the nature of PTSD, check out this link. The first two posts are the most informative, I believe.

Got Questions?

I might have some answers! Leave your question anonymously in the comment section below, using monikers like Sleepless in Seattle. I'll post my responses in future Dear Jeannie columns. Since the queue is getting longer, I'll post a mid-week Dear Jeannie column next week!