Dear Annie: I know that anorexia is not uncommon in teenage girls, but I never thought I would see the signs in my best friend. "Emmy" always complains about the way she looks and is constantly focused on her weight. She makes sure everyone else eats, but I rarely see her put a bite in her mouth. She denies that she has a problem, but all her clothes are baggy, and you can see her bones sticking out.
Everyone, even people who just met her, ask me if she is anorexic. Emmy is six inches taller than I am and weighs less — and my doctor says I am underweight. Last month alone, she dropped 20 pounds.
How can I help her? I want to talk to her mom, but I don't know how to bring it up. — Not that Skinny
Dear Not: Emmy is lucky to have you as a friend. Too many teenagers with eating disorders are left alone until the problem becomes life threatening. It's also possible that something else is going on with Emmy, but the sooner this is addressed, the sooner she can be helped.
First talk to Emmy and urge her to discuss this with her parents. If nothing changes, you can speak to her mom, saying, "I'm worried about Emmy. She doesn't seem to be eating normally, and she's lost a lot of weight." You also can alert your own parents, and when school resumes, talk to the school nurse or counselor and urge Emmy to do so, as well. And please contact the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders (anad.org) for more information.
Dear Annie: My boyfriend of five years recently had a heart attack and died immediately. I am so distraught. He was my life and my best friend. He lived in a different town, and I didn't want to uproot my children, so we never moved in together. This was a source of a great many arguments.
The problem is, I cheated on him with a friend of ours. He never knew. I cheated because I was lonely and felt that he really didn't want me. But I loved him with all of my heart. The affair always made me feel guilty, but since he died, the guilt has become overwhelming.
I know I messed up. I never wanted to hurt him. I keep thinking that he now knows everything, and I can't take it. Do you think that in the afterlife you find out things like this? — Lost My Love
Dear Lost: If you believe in an afterlife where loved ones watch over us, then you surely believe it is a place of forgiveness. Please consider grief counseling. It will help you come to terms with your loss and get past your guilt so you can move forward. Your doctor or local hospice organization can refer you.
Dear Annie: This is for "Illinois Neighbor," who complained that a nosy neighbor keeps reporting her husband to the police because he parks his trailer so that one tire often rests on the dirt. This violates a city ordinance. She said they can't afford to enlarge the driveway.
I'm not sure how much a truckload of gravel costs in Illinois, but in my area, I bought a small load (half a yard) for $15. They should put a two-foot-wide strip of gravel beside the driveway, so the vehicle wheels rest on it. That gravel would then be considered part of the driveway. It's not a job that requires an impossibly strong man, either. I'm a female in my 70s, and I did it. — Old NW Rocker
Dear Rocker: Our thanks to all the readers who recommended adding gravel or rocks to the area adjacent to the driveway so that the wheel doesn't rest on the dirt. If this solves the legal problem, it should also solve the neighbor problem.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.