Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2008 9:28 pm
Dear Annie: I am a 14-year-old girl in ninth grade, and I am really worried that I’m going to die. I don’t mean I think I’m going to die immediately. But someday. Honestly, it scares me to death and has even made me cry a few times. These feelings are really frequent at night.
I have talked to my mom about this, and when I was in sixth grade, I discussed it with my guidance counselor. They sympathized, but it didn’t make much difference. My best friend says she also feels overwhelmed by thoughts of death, and it scares her as well.
I’m hoping these feelings will go away and I can get on with my life and not worry about death. But I just have trouble grasping the concept that death is going to happen. I hate it. I’m just not sure if this is normal. Is it? — Facing Reality
Dear Facing Reality: You are normal. Maybe a little obsessed right now, but that will pass. Very young children do not have a good concept of death. As they get older, however, they understand the finality of it, and this can be frightening. At your age, it is not uncommon to be concerned with thoughts of mortality, and it will help if you can discuss it with family, friends, school counselors or clergy. Over time, you will be able to put these fears into perspective and realize you can live a very long life filled with love, friendship, family and much to look forward to. While thoughts of death may reenter your head now and then, you will be able to deal with them without the panic you are now experiencing.
Dear Annie: How can I get my in-laws to address me by my correct name? After 20 years of marriage, I would think they would be able to pronounce my name correctly. They’ve seen the spelling plenty of times in e-mails and cards. My husband, other family members and I have corrected them in person, but still they continue to address me in e-mail, cards and in person as “Jenny” instead of “Jenna.”
I don’t believe it’s too much to ask that they use my name properly. Any advice? — Get It Right, Please!
Dear Get It Right: Twenty years you’ve been putting up with this? It may have started out as obtuseness, but now you have an additional problem: Your in-laws have formed a habit that will be hard to break. In order to change, they will need to be corrected each and every time they do it, for however long it takes. Otherwise, we recommend you convince yourself this is an endearment and let it go.
Dear Annie: I recently read your reply to “Anxious” and felt compelled to write. I, too, have been anxious all of my life. My doctors told me I was fine, although maybe a little depressed and nervous.
I finally went to a competent gastroenterologist who gave me a simple blood test and found out that for my entire 52 years, I have been suffering from celiac disease. It is an autoimmune disorder that most doctors know nothing about. The gluten attacks your small intestine and makes your body unable to absorb nutrients from food. There is no cure, but sufferers can feel much better by maintaining a gluten-free diet. That means no wheat, rye, barley or oats. Anxiety and depression are only two of the 250 symptoms, and some people have no symptoms at all.
Please tell “Anxious” to see her doctor and ask to be checked for celiac disease. It might be a good idea to check her thyroid, too. — Feeling Better
Dear Feeling Better: It’s unfortunate no one discovered what was wrong with you earlier, but thank goodness you didn’t give up. Anyone who is interested in celiac disease can contact the Celiac Disease Foundation (celiac.org), 13251 Ventura Blvd., #1, Studio City, CA 91604.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. 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.
Published in The Messenger 7.24.08