Dear Abby: We live next door to an 89-year-old woman, “Estelle.” She’s a “snowbird,” meaning she is our neighbor for only part of the year. She has a devoted caretaker, “Iris,” who visits her almost daily. Iris shops for her, brings in her mail, and helps her with laundry, bathing and many other intimate tasks.
Estelle has given us a key to her house for emergencies. The issue is that once Estelle leaves for the summer, Iris arrives almost daily for what appear to be afternoon trysts with a man, not her husband. They stay in the house for two to three hours and then leave, always in separate cars.
After several weeks of seeing this, my husband went over to Estelle’s house to check on things. The bed in the master bedroom was obviously used. The air conditioning was on high, and the house was in general disorder; not anything like how Estelle would have left things.
Our dilemma is, we know Estelle depends upon Iris. She trusts and adores her. Do we turn a blind eye to what’s going on? It really isn’t our business except that we hate seeing someone taken advantage of. Last year we reported our observations to Estelle’s son as he was bringing his mother here for the winter. He wasn’t sure what to do because, as I said before, she’s quite dependent on her caretaker. Advice?
Seeing Too Much in Florida
Dear Seeing: This is Estelle’s home and Estelle’s employee. If this were happening on your property, wouldn’t YOU want to know about it? I see nothing to be gained by keeping Estelle in the dark. Tell her what has been going on, that your husband went to check the place and found it in disarray. Then leave the ball in her court.
Dear Abby: For a handful of years, I have been dealing with anxiety and mild depression. But over the last 18 months or so, I have been experiencing both the highest highs and the lowest lows. These periods can last for up to a week and affect my productivity levels. My ability to function as a normal human being isn’t noticeably diminished, though.
Because I’m a teenager, a lot of emotional turmoil is happening. But I can’t help feeling that maybe what I’m experiencing isn’t normal for people my age. How do I know the difference between routine mood swings and a mental disorder like bipolar? There is a history of bipolar in my family, but I don’t know if it has transferred to me. I want to know if I need to start talking about that aspect of things with my therapist or if what I’m going through doesn’t need to be bothered with.
Teem in Touch in Washington
Dear Teen: You are obviously very bright. Because of the history of bipolar disorder in your family, your mood swings are something you should be paying attention to. I am glad you are seeing a therapist, and you should ABSOLUTELY be discussing your concerns — all of them — with that person. In psychotherapy, honesty is always the best policy. If it turns out that your worries are needless — fine. However, if they are not, it would be to your advantage to know it so you can be treated for it.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.