Dear Annie: Our son is married to a beautiful woman from India, who also happens to be bipolar. They have an adorable 16-month-old boy, and we love them all so much. While our daughter-in-law’s mother had a problem with her marrying outside their culture, they now love our son as their own.
I understand quite a bit about mental illness, as I suffer from depression, and my mother was bipolar. Before she was diagnosed, I was the target of her rants over the years. Now, it seems that I am the brunt of my daughter-in-law’s rants. She doesn’t discuss things that bother her. She simply goes off on tirades, with nonstop talking, and recently she called me a terrible name. I am so deeply sickened over this, I can’t even begin to tell you.
My son and I have always been close, and I have no desire to interfere in their marriage. I help only when asked. My son is also close to his sister, who also has been the target of his wife’s rages. My son knew about his wife’s bipolar disease before they married, and when she takes proper medications and sees her psychiatrist, she is better.
I understand that sometimes the extremes of personality still come through, in spite of medication. My question is: Can people with this illness filter what comes out of their mouths? Can they learn not to insult and lash out at the people closest to them? Or is that impossible to control?
They have been married only three years, and I can’t tell you how many times this has happened. The hurt just keeps piling up, and it’s harder and harder to forgive. Are we going to have to keep our distance from our son’s family to stay sane ourselves? — So Sad
Dear Sad: This must be a terribly difficult situation for you. It is possible that your daughter-in-law simply needs to have her medications adjusted, and you might suggest that to your son. In the meantime, please contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org) and ask about their Family-to-Family program and other resources.
Dear Annie: I have a very rude and inconsiderate neighbor who thinks nothing of mowing her lawn at 5:30 in the morning and waking up the whole neighborhood. What can we do? — Lancaster County, Penn.
Dear Lancaster: Can you speak to your neighbor directly and explain that her early-morning activities are disrupting your sleep? She may not realize how loud she is at that hour. If you asked her politely to mow her lawn later in the day, would she comply? Would someone in the neighborhood offer to mow it for her at another time? Of course, if she refuses to find a better time, you should look into the noise ordinances in your area and, if necessary, report her to the appropriate authorities.
Dear Annie: As an IT professional, I feel compelled to point out that “Hoosier Historian” was incorrect in arguing against digital copies of old photos when he said, “Computer programs change, and the photos are not always accessible.” The most commonly used file formats for saving digital images can be opened by many different software packages. In addition, if a less common program is used, it is not difficult to convert the images to the more commonly used formats. I will agree with “Hoosier,” however, that original copies of photos should not be discarded, for the same reason that I would advocate making several digital copies of photos and home movies and storing them in different locations in case of fire or other disaster. After all, images of loved ones, particularly those who have passed on, are some of the most valuable things families own. Also, there’s a certain nostalgia appeal to having the originals to view. — A+ Certified in NY’s Southern Tier
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.