Ask Auntie BubboPants

Look at all of us doing the thing that is being back! There is much that happened between then and now, I’m not sure I can cover it all. The best thing I can do is throw my arms in the air, spin around and yell, “thank you for your love!!” so that it covers all the sky.
So, let’s see what we can get going here.


Dear AuntieBubboPants,
Hi, firstly thanks for the last time you gave me advice, it was really helpful and well-thought out. Of course, I didn’t want to hear it at the time, because I was young and foolish (still are! Thank heavens for teenagers) but it did make a lot of sense, on reflection.
To this problem, in short, I have troubles with fidelity, mostly when the SO is “out of sight, out of mind”. Last year I had a backwards and forwards between 2 boys, one who became my boyfriend and the other who became my first love, who I lost my virginity to. There was another fling in the summer, during this, a different boy (a good friend) and then my bf broke up with me, quite understandably. Then I sort-of dated a best friend, cheated on him with my 1st love and then another friend and then went off on a gap 6 months, breaking everything off.
To be fair, the vast majority of this cheating was not sex (only the 2 main ones) but it still was not good, and I do regret it.
On my gap year, I met a boy. A lovely, wonderful, 5 years my senior, boy who adores the bahinky out of me. He is now my bf, as of beginning April. We spent a lot of time together, my first real grown up relationship, and I love him. However, I finished my gap year in July, and we’ve continued dating, he’s coming to see me this Christmas (I’m in England, he’s in the Middle East, just for geography’s sake) and he’s talking about moving to England.
So good, lovely bf, parents hate him, cheated on him in the summer twice while drunk, he instigated a “do whatever you like but don’t tell me policy” and then nothing til this week.
This week, I started medical school. For those who don’t know, English medical students party HARD, especially the first 2 weeks, so called Freshers. I got drunk and slept with an Italian down my hall, then drunk again and with a 2nd year. And then I slept with him last night again. And it sounds terrible, but it is amazing with him, (let’s call him Steve) and we’re probably going to continue this. It’s not even a friends with benefits situation, more like acquaintances with benefits, but it is just…highly enjoyable. And I can’t bring myself to regret it, at all.
So I have a wonderful bf (slightly feckless, little ambition, treats me well) a string of past misdemeanours and infidelity, and someone who I just sleep with.
How can I ask my bf to come see me when I am clearly not interested anymore? Or ask him to come to different country, try a committed relationship with me? Or am I still interested, just hormonally driven? (I don’t know)
And mix that with an exhausting high-stress environment which I already love, as in this is exactly what I want to do with my life, and you have my confusion
I would like your honest opinions please, even if boils down to “gosh, you are a slut”. And maybe a little advice, because I don’t think anyone else understands my very confused head.
Many thanks,
I’m In Med School, How Did That Happen? I Can’t Use A Toaster!

Dang! Also, Dang! Let’s see what I can do.

my first real grown up relationship

No, no, this is most assuredly NOT a grown up relationship. To be blunt, I think it is going to take a bit before you have a real, grown up relationship.
So, we’re going to break it down a bit. You date people, sometimes you enter into some sort of commitment, you cheat which betrays any form of commitment. I know you will say that it probably was not a real committed relationship, but just the fact that you know these action were cheating makes it so. You entered into a relationship where there was some sort of expectation of commitment and you broke it.
What the hell! Seriously!
It’s obvious that you are simply not ready for solid commitment or exclusivity. This in itself is not a problem, but the way you act is going to cause problems. If you like and respect the person you are dating you have to ask yourself, “do I think my boyfriend deserves to have a girlfriend that lies, sneaks, and is unfaithful?” Does he? Does he deserve to be treated like this? I’m just going to go ahead and say that he does not deserve what you are doing.
First thing you do is end things in a polite and respectful way. He deserves a partner that is honest and he can not seek one out so long as he is committed to you.
Second thing to do is to consider what you are looking for in a partner, or! maybe you need to accept that you don’t want a full time, committed relationship right now. You know, that IS a very real option for you. It is absolutely okay to not want a solid relationship right now and just have little flings or friends with benefits situations. If you want to eventually be in a real grown up relationship then you had better grow up. You don’t want any commitments? Fine, there’s nothing wrong with that, but you NEED to be honest about it. Stop lying and pretending, it hurts people who don’t deserve to be hurt. Don’t make commitments you won’t keep. Go out and cultivate friends with benefits, it’s fun to have those. Be honest with them, make sure they understand your intentions.
Also, I would like to remind you that part of acting like an adult is being proactive and responsible. Use protection, birth control AND disease prevention. If you are not doing this then you are NOT acting like an adult. Being drunk or impulsive is not an excuse. The guy you’re with ‘totally isn’t the kind of guy with STDs’ is false, if he is having unprotected sex with you then he is having unprotected sex with other people. And if you are willing to have unprotected sex with him then he should treat you with the same suspicion. Use protection every time.
Go now, break things off with your current boyfriend. Then take some time, a few days or a week and don’t do anything with anybody no matter how fun it is or drunk you are. Really think about what you want and how it should happen. Stop lying and cheating, start acting like the grown up you want to be.


Dear AuntieBubboPants,
Bit of an odd question, but here it goes. I have the habit of knitting wherever I can, including before school, on the bus, and at lunch. Now I’m not the most popular person in my school. Yet when people I hardly know see me with a couple of sticks and a ball of yarn, they come up to me, and start talking like we’ve known each other for ages. I know for a fact if it weren’t for me breaking out a sock-in-progress or something of the sort, they wouldn’t take any notice of me at all. Please give me some advice on handling this kind of a situation?
Pain in the Skein

Dear PitS,
One of the questions people ask a lot is “I don’t have any friends. How do I make friends?”. It’s a tough question to answer because there are any number of reasons why they might not have friends. One common bit of advice is to them is to take a deep breath and try to engage another person in conversation. You see someone that you might want to talk to, you try to go make conversation with them.
Sure, these people might not talk to you if you were just sitting there doing nothing. The reality is that you are doing something and someone finds that interesting and wants to talk to you about it.
I’m an old lady and as such I would advise you to talk to these people and get to know them. Having friends is a good thing.
But you are not an old lady and old lady advice isn’t always very helpful. If you really do not want these people to talk to you you will have to cultivate a bit of an aloof personality, be quiet and curt when they try to ask you questions. Don’t be rude, that helps nothing. You can’t make people not be interested in what you are doing, so you’ll just have to deal with them as they approach you.
Also, maybe talk to them and make new friendships.


Dear Auntie BubboPants,
Recently an incident that occurred in my knitting acquaintance has blown up into people taking sides, some people not speaking to other people, and other unhappiness. I’m not going to go into details, but it wasn’t a serious matter like dishonesty or racism or bullying.
I don’t think anyone was deliberately malicious or rude or oversensitive, but somehow it all blew up into a storm. We’ve all experienced something like it: hurt feelings, misunderstanding, personality clash.
I guess I have a selfish motive for writing to you, because I just want this to stop so we can all get on with enjoying our knitting and each other’s company! Maybe some people like having a bit of a spat, or being stubborn, but I wish that they could realise that the unhappy atmosphere is affecting other people.
I have tried to subtly encourage them all towards a rapprochement but to no avail. So I am really, really hoping that if you reply to my letter, anyone reading this who can make the first move to smooth over a minor upset, whether they were “right” or “wrong” in the first place, will do so.
Non-signing Conflict-hating Chicken Butt

Dear NsChCb,
This letter was sent back in May and I do not know if the conflict has been resolved or not, but as you say, someone else might be experiencing the same situations.
I have a bit of a guilty pleasure, I must admit. I read the links posted in the Rubberneckers group. Part of it is just a morbid curiosity to watch things happen, but there is more to it. I go into these threads and I watch people interacting with each other. I watch how the conflict starts, I watch the scrabble and antagonism. I can see where there is honest misunderstanding and where there are heels dug in and huge stubbornastacy simply because they don’t want to concede a point even if they know they should.
I read them because it helps me understand how people go from being courteous to being 12 pound wieners in just a few hours.
You were a group and things were going well and someone did a thing and someone else reacted unexpectedly to that thing and other people felt that if some people are getting frothy then maybe they also should froth up. I swear, 90% of these things happen because one person got upset and people thought they should follow suit. One person did it so it must be the correct thing to do.
How can these things be prevented? How can they be calmed and brought back to earth? The hardest part is getting everyone on the same page about 1. appropriate responses and 2. choosing to end the conflict. I recommend to everyone all the time, practice something called Mindful Speech.
Before you say anything to anyone ask yourself, “Is it honest? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”
Honest? Yeah, let’s talk about ‘honest’. People hide behind the grand banner of honesty and use it to mask their own angry or pointed or hurtful remarks. They say that a person should not be upset with them because they are being honest and honesty is great and grand permission to act like a double butted donkey. If you want to say something ‘honest’ stop and ask yourself, “Is it also necessary? Is it kind?”
Sure, maybe the other person is not understanding and you want to tell them otherwise. Do you actually need to tell them this? Do they need to know?
Okay, so maybe you do need to tell this person what you honestly think they should know. Fine, good! Before you open your mouth or set your fingers on the keyboard, consider the phrase that you want to use to tell them. Does it sound condescending? Mean? Snotty? Jerkwaltery? Can it be rephrased to blunt the edges?
Be mindful of the things you say. Don’t put giant honesty underpants on your head unless you will wear the socks of kindness on your hands and the sequined halter top of necessity on your butt. It DOES NOT MATTER how the other person is reacting, you CHOOSE how you react. Conflicts, especially the little ‘meh meh meh’ ones can be prevented almost all of the time if people would just stop their own selves and be mindful of the possibilities of their actions.
Also, apologize! Dammit, apologize when you act like a turd. Even if you do not like the person you are arguing with, even if you think they are totally wrong you still apologize for acting like a turd. Be mindful of your actions. Don’t argue with someone just because you don’t like them. Don’t fight with or insult people even if they are being jackasses. Apologize freely and honestly and watch the conflicts slow down.



Twenty years ago I turned 18, graduated from high school and aged out of the foster care system. Various social services programs did what they could, time was up and it was up to me to sink or swim.
I sank like a lead weight.
Instead of spending my teen years learning how to get into college or maintain a full time job or learning to drive or understanding the long term effects of not doing my homework, I spent those years fighting monsters. The constant threat of being ‘reunified’ with my biological family was always, obnoxiously present. In the past I’d learned that the best way to get an adult to take you out of an abusive situation is to get yourself in trouble. It was easy to do, there’s never any difficulty in finding a way to get in trouble. I spent part of my teen years intentionally getting in trouble. I also spent my teen years getting in real, unintended trouble.
I also spent my teen years weighed down by what we now recognize to be a brain injury.
Even now we can’t quite pick apart which was real trouble, what was intentional and what was bad wiring.
I don’t really have an excuse, just this explanation. This is why I sank. I sank because I did not learn the skills necessary to be an adult.
My foster parents had given me 3 very reasonable options, live there rent free and go to school full time, go to school part time and pay partial rent, work full time pay full rent. Completely reasonable and generous options. Even the reasonable options were too much. I didn’t know how to get into college, how to get any financial aid, how to get a full time job. If I got into college what was going to happen when I left my homework incomplete day after day as I had in high school? What what what what what?
I had no idea how to do the things that other kids knew how to do.
I tried to hang on a bit, but my time was up. Time to go. In typical panicky reaction stye I packed up my stuff and left with no notice. I bounced a bit and then called a friend to tell her I could not go to her birthday party because I was kind of in a great big fat bumpy pickle of a problem.
She called me back and asked me to come live with her family. Just like that, come here and live with us. This was no time for pride and bootstraps or anything like that. I was entirely unprepared for life. I moved in.
That was 20 years ago.
They took me in as one of their own and never let me go. I was given a family. I was this obnoxious, surly teenager too smart for her own good with all kinds of ideas and strengths and weaknesses and misunderstandings about the world. They helped me get enrolled in college and figured out financial aid for me. I got to relax a bit and not perseverate on an unknown future. I got a mom and a dad and a sister that were all my own. There was a generosity of spirit that I cannot articulate but for which I am forever grateful.
This happened 20 years ago. Taken in and loved and protected from falling. I would not be where I am today, I would have crashed through the bottom if this hadn’t happened. I would not have survived.
I hold no ill will or anger or anything like that towards the ‘system’ as it were. Everyone did the best they could with what was in front of them. It’s not unreasonable to expect an eighteen year old to act like the adult she is supposed to be. No one had any way of knowing that I was so bent in the middle. I only have gratitude to every single person involved because without that set of circumstances I would not have gotten my new family and I would never want to give that up.
20 years ago.
2 decades.
That’s a long time to put up with someone like me and I am glad they did.

Low tide from a towering rock

I would like to share a couple links with you. Studies and articles that help to clarify and educate people about a disease you absolutely cannot imagine unless you stand in its midst. You can guess, maybe feel the outline, but it doesn’t make sense to you.
Early Adversity, Adult Misery: How Small Events Trigger Depression. Why can’t we see that the abuse is over and that we are safe now? Why is it so much harder to deal with stress? Why can’t you just let it go?
Why Don’t You Try Harder? An Investigation of Effort Production in Major Depression. This one is considerably meatier and I had to read it in little chunks. I hear stuff like this a lot, not just about me, but about depressed people in general. “Why don’t you just try harder? I had a bad week once and I just came up with a lot of ideas and made a plan and put it right into action and I felt so much better!” Indeed you did.
Both of these are helpful at explaining the things that I cannot describe. How do you say, “it is harder for me to clean the kitchen or organize my yarn” to someone who always keeps their kitchen clean and their yarn organized? It doesn’t make sense! They are perfectly capable of moving their arms and legs in ways that accomplish all of the things!
And so, I offer these up. They are not in any way excuses, they are merely explanations, things meant to shed some light.

Rendered Mute

Back in March I had a bit of an anxiety spike. It was becoming even harder for me to leave the house because once I left the house my brain would come up with the most horrid scenarios involving the dogs and danger. Mostly, I worried about a fire starting and the dogs burning up in terrible agony and fear. It wasn’t just an imagination, it was RIGHT FUCKING THERE in my head. These things were clear and detailed, I could hear their whining and barking, I could see them scrabbling and scratching to get out. Every time I left my house I got that or another similarly horrible situation, like the robbers coming back and beating my dogs, or cops who got the wrong address busting in and shooting them.
It sounds silly, I have no reason to think these things could happen. And yet, even as I type this up my chest tightens up, my stomach hurts again, tears are welling up in my eyes.
This happens sometimes when I am away from the house.
But, there were things we could do. My doctor went over the options and Depakote was prescribed. It was added to my pill heavy regimen. We were just trying to bring my anxiety down to manageable levels so that I could do things like go to therapy. It is vital that I get to my therapy sessions every week. This is my religion, I go to therapy, I try to fix my brain.
As you might suspect already, the Depakote was a problem, I don’t seem to be writing cheerful things lately. Yeah, the Depakote was a problem. I took it for a week and during that week I got sicker and sicker. I threw up all the time, my muscles were twitching, I had hallucinations (I’m supposed to call them ‘illusions’ which are different from hallucinations, either way, I was seeing shit I knew wasn’t supposed to be there. I mean, really, a possum does not live in the cabinet and David does not have a bunch of baby arms on his biceps.), I had no balance at all, I was pitching into things and falling over. I kept waiting for things to even out a bit. I’m an old pro at popping pills and I know that the first few days can be rough. It had been a week on the pills, I was still having problems and they were getting worse.
I went to my therapist and freaked out. I knew that this was not normal, but I also know that I’m crazy (not ‘crazy’ but ‘dealing with mental illness’) and I get the opinion of a trusted, non-crazy adult. We documented my symptoms and she called the clinic to talk to my doctor. These were not just side effects, but a pretty harsh reaction. I was told to go straight to the ER, go there! We called David and he picked me up from therapy since I was not even supposed to drive. This was some serious business and I had to get medical attention ASAP. My doctor’s office called ahead to the ER so they would be ready.
We did this, we headed to the ER. They asked me to sit down and wait, so we waited.
And waited
And waited
Then they called me up and I went to the little desk and we talked about what was happening. We went over the symptoms and my history and all that. The lady told me that someone from ‘Behavioral’ will be coming to get me and to bring me to the ‘Behavioral’ ER. What? I don’t…?
I tried to explain that this wasn’t a mental crisis, it was a physical reaction. No, they told me that I needed to be seen by a mental health professional. Nothing I could say would convince them otherwise. They saw my file, they saw that I was dealing with depression and anxiety and that killed any hope at all of being taken seriously.
I was rendered mute. They no longer heard me. I was calm, I was not uncontrollable, I was not yelling or threatening. I had a diagnosis of mental illness, so sometimes I think the wrong things and so that means that all the things I think are suspect or not to be trusted. That’s all it took to be turned from a sick person into someone elses problem. All my words slipped off them and on to the floor, they heard nothing and they cared even less than that.
And again, we waited.
And waited.
And the guy from ‘Behavioral’ came for us. He whisked efficiently down the various corridors, each one more elaborately locked than the one before. We were brought to another waiting room and we waited and waited and no one cared. I was sick, I was so tired and twitchy and nauseous. Occasionally someone would come in with my chart and ask me a couple perplexed question and then wander off again. It was obvious they knew I shouldn’t be there, this was clearly a medical issue not a mental health issue.
Nobody wanted me in their department. I am sitting there, sick and miserable and no one, not one single fucking doctor is worried about me. They’re worried about interdepartmental fuckitude,’She’s not our problem!’
Someone comes in and does a mental health assessment, so I word barf all the diagnoses and issues and problems and she agrees that this is actually a medical problem, not a behavioral problem. Awesome! We’re getting somewhere. Then they have David leave, supposedly only for a few minutes. But he is never allowed back inside. I am sick and miserable, I am in the wrong part of the hospital, no one gives a shit AND they take away the only stable, trustworthy thing I have. But I can’t protest because I’ve got crazy stamped upon my forehead, it’s useless to even try. I did actually ask a few times if they could go get him, they said they would, they never did.
Finally, a psychiatric something or other doctor shows up and confirms that I am in the wrong place, that I have no need of their service. He sets up an appointment for me with a psychiatrist some where else, some day else.
But what about my symptoms? What about the reaction? What should I do? I feel terrible?
“Yeah, that’s a side effect of the Depakote, that will go away now that you are not taking it.”
This happens all of the time, everywhere. People who struggle with mental health issue do not get taken seriously, it’s a built in excuse for the professionals to use. We think wrong thoughts some of the time so we should be taken seriously none of the time. I waited days to tell anyone about my symptoms because I wanted to be sure that someone I trusted would listen to me first. I waited until I went to my therapy session to say anything about my problems because I knew if I just went to the ER they would blow me off. I hoped that having my therapist talk to them first I would be taken more seriously.
But I wasn’t. They didn’t take me seriously because they didn’t have to.
All of the time, every day! People with mental illness are ignored and shuffled off and there is nothing we can do about it.