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Ask Ellie: Anxious friend needs help to overcome fears

Be kind and try to help her. She’ll appreciate it in the long run.

Dear Lisi: My friend is full of worst-case scenarios. We just started first-year university and are living in a dorm. At first, I was grateful we’d be so close, as we’re just down the hall from each other. But I can’t take her frightened outlook on life.

For starters, she’s convinced the dorm and the library are full of bed bugs. She basically fumigated her room before moving in, has two mattress covers, a pillow top and a bottom sheet between her and the mattress. No one else is complaining and she doesn’t have bites!

She’s also afraid she’s going to get salmonella from the chicken, or E.coli from the beef. She basically won’t eat anything that’s not in a package.

She’s also convinced that anyone walking behind us is going to rob her — even in broad daylight and on campus!

I can’t spend any more time with her; she’s making me crazy! I just want to have fun, enjoy this adventure and go to school. How do I break away without hurting her feelings?

The sky isn’t falling

I would imagine that a dorm is well cleaned before the onset of a new school year because no university wants an outbreak, both for the health and welfare of the students, and the bad publicity.

Same goes for the cafeteria food. I’m sure it’s not gourmet, but I also imagine they take great care cooking it so a whole dorm of students doesn’t fall ill.

That just reminds me of Charlotte in Sex and the City when the four main characters all head to Mexico to help Carrie heal from her breakup. Convinced she’ll get diarrhea from the food, she lives on chocolate pudding for the duration of the trip. In the end, she still gets sick.

As for being scared of everyone near her, maybe a large campus isn’t the best place for her. Your friend sounds scared of her own shadow and that’s sad. cShe’s not your responsibility and you may have to start slowly pulling away.

Be kind and try to help her overcome her fears. She’ll appreciate it in the long run.

FEEDBACK Regarding the mother who was anxious about her daughter’s sleepover (Sept. 10):

“I did not agree with Lisi’s response to the mother who was anxious about her ‘anxious’ daughter’s sleep over. I think this is a very serious situation.

“Lisi should have reflected that children learn from their parents. The mother’s anxiety is definitely influencing the daughter. The mother needs coping methods so she can encourage her daughter to go out with friends.

“The daughter could have been given a cellphone and advised to ‘have fun, but know I am only a call away.’ The hostess probably has had previous experiences with the ‘anxious mother’ and feels badly for the daughter.

Lisi – I absolutely agree that children learn from their parents. But in this situation, taking into account all the factors, I don’t feel the mother is to blame in any way. As she explained, she’s a single mom who just lived through COVID, spending the past two years alone with her daughter 24/7.

And I don’t know anyone who escaped the pandemic without any anxieties.

Yes, a cellphone is a good idea, but some people may argue that nine is too young. I appreciate your feedback, but I’m not sure I would jump to conclusions regarding the hostess and her relationship with the letter writer.

In any case, I hope I gave the mother good advice.

Dear Lisi: We’re a group of young women who bowl; all in our late 30s, early 40s. We were looking for something fun to do one night about six years ago, decided to go bowling and we’ve been loving it ever since.

We’ve all brought other women in and there’s often someone away, so it works.

Recently, a woman joined who no one seemed to know. We assumed she was friends with one of the women who weren’t in attendance that night. But when asked, none of them knew her.

We’re friendly and always happy to have a newbie, friend or “stranger.” The problem is that she’s very loud, rude to other bowlers and doesn’t mesh well with our group.

How do we gently ask her to leave?

Bowling Buddy

The next time she shows up, very kindly explain that you have too many women in the group. Tell her you’ll be in touch if and when someone leaves and a space opens up.

Don’t make it personal.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: ellie@thestar.ca.

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