Advice: Energy vampires
I am a huge fan of yours because of your logical yet sympathetic insight into your readers’ problems.
I am a teacher and I teach English to O Level students at a private, all-girls school. I am good at developing positive and healthy relationships with my students. However, I am facing a problem dealing with one particular student. It has been a year since I joined this class and I noticed this loner girl sitting in a corner, almost hiding under her desk. I noticed that she does not have any friends and she prefers to sit in a corner eating her lunch all alone. She hardly participates in class, even though she is a good student. When she is asked a question, she answers well, but when she is reprimanded for something wrong, she acts weird.
She tries to hide behind her bag, literally covers her face with hands, bites her nails and makes an issue of it when a teacher scolds her, even for not doing homework.
All typical symptoms of a socially ostracised, bullied, suffering from lack of self-confidence case. I tried to talk to her and I was shocked when, after a few sessions, this shy, timid girl opened up. She was so full of poison and anger against her class fellows and felt that all of them are conspiring against her. She said that they are jealous of her grades and her looks. She hates them all.
I tried my best to make her understand that these are non-issues and life is bigger than that. She should focus more on studies and try thinking positive. Her class fellows are not really mean girls. They are just the usual, naughty, common teenage girls.
However, this girl’s attitude is definitely odd with them. Plus, she has this mad, crazy obsession with one male singer that she openly flaunts.
I accepted her friend request on Facebook and regret it now because she started bombarding my wall with her expressions of depression and never ending complaints against her friends, family and the whole world. Nothing I ever say makes her feel better and happy, and she continues with her whimpering and miseries. My friends started making fun of me due to her ever dukhi-aatma posts and I had to forbid her from posting on my wall…not to mention the long hysterical, depressing session which followed it. Still she continues to post songs and videos of her singer on my wall daily.
It was when one of our mutual friends told me that she cuts herself when she is angry or depressed that I thought about talking to her parents. I had been working with her, giving her attention and boosting her confidence for months now, but now her emotions and anger have shifted to me. She started to use me as a vent. Instead of improving as I advised her to, she insisted I believe in whatever she was thinking. I began to think she needs a psychiatrist, rather than me. I talked to her mother and then I realised her real problem. Her mom was 10 times worse than her. She was even more furious, more paranoid, and more antisocial. The mom believes that her daughter is surviving through life in a jungle among cannibals who are jealous of her. The lady took my phone number and now calls me every week, speaking for two to three hours at a stretch, just telling stories of how cruelly the world is treating her daughter. Neither the daughter nor the mother is ready to accept that there might be something wrong in their attitudes. I regret the day I decided to clear this mess. My family life is disturbed and my professional life is uncomfortable. Besides, I still want this girl to become okay and enjoy life like other girls. Guide!
Near the end of your letter you said that you regret the day you decided to clear this mess…honey just go with that feeling and extricate yourself from this situation. The girl, poor child needs professional help and you are not qualified to help her. You just have to put your foot down with this girl because she is sucking your time and energy.
Harden your heart and block her on Facebook. She’ll probably spew venom against you, but what’s so new about that? Tell the mother that her daughter needs professional help and then refuse to take the mother’s calls. Tell her you are busy if she manages to get through to you. Let her think what she thinks. She does that with everyone she knows.
If at any point that little voice in your head puts you on a guilt trip regarding this, let a counter voice of sanity retort back and say that you really, really tried to help but there are some people in this world who just can’t be comforted no matter what you do. Cut the cords and move on.
Hope you are in good health. I really like your column. This is my first mail. I don’t really have any problem in my life these days. I just wanted to say “Hey! how are you?”
Auntie is great; thank you very much. And you don’t have a problem? Just hold onto that state sweets, just hold on tight to it.