There is no “we” in he…

One of my greatest pet peeves is when people include themselves in another person’s singular event. For example, I can’t stand it when people say, “We got pregnant.” Um… biological males do not get pregnant. It’s impossible. A man deposits his sperm into a fertile woman and she gets pregnant. Once she’s pregnant, his part of babymaking is over until the baby is born.

I know people say “we got pregnant” so that the man feels like he is a part of the pregnancy. But until that fetus is dancing on his bladder from the inside, he has no idea. Until his nether regions are ripped up or his abdomen is cut open to get the baby out, pregnancy is not an experience he can relate to. Hey… until he has a positive pregnancy test, and it’s not because he has a disease (testicular cancer), he’s never been pregnant and, therefore, is not a part of “we” in “we got pregnant”. Fuck that. Incidentally, a man doesn’t “deposit his seed”, either. Sperm is fertilizer, not seed. If one is going to use the euphemism “seed”, it makes more sense for it to refer to the woman’s egg. Fertilizer isn’t the same thing as seed.

But I realize that’s just me… and I am a lot more uptight about language than most people are. I am also an irritable person, especially as I get older. This morning, I encountered yet another annoyance. This time, it was in the Duggar Family News group. Someone had posted a screenshot of Sierra Dominguez and her baby, who was just diagnosed with RSV bronchiolitis. Sierra, who despite having been helicoptered with her baby boy to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas, had the time and composure to write a lengthy Instagram post complete with several pictures regarding her son’s medical condition. Behold:

“We were diagnosed”? Is she sick, too?

I have to admit, I stopped reading when I read “we were diagnosed”. Yes, I’m that uptight about language. I get that momma Sierra is concerned about her baby, but unless she’s also coughing, wheezing, and feeling horrible, there is no “we” in this case of RSV bronchiolitis. The baby is sick. You’re not, Sierra… at least not yet. Hang around the hospital for awhile, and that could change. Unless she actually is sick… which maybe she is.

Anyway, that’s just me and my pet peeves. I do hope baby Merrick recovers quickly and no one else gets sick. I’m sure Sierra is scared, and posting on Instagram is one way she gets moral support. Still, while she’s understandably very worried about her son, he’s the one who’s sick. She doesn’t have a diagnosis of RSV; he does. Correct pronoun use is essential.

Moving on…

Looking at the photos from Sierra’s Instagram post just reminded me of another unpleasant memory. It’s unrelated to Sierra’s situation or the fact that I hate it when people include themselves in someone’s individual experiences (ie: “How are WE doing today?”). Sierra has included a photo of her baby boy, wrapped up in blankets and hooked up to machines. And that reminded me of the summer of 2014, when my father was dying after he’d had emergency gallbladder surgery.

I have three sisters. They’re all significantly older than I am. They were 13, 11, and 8 years old when I was born. Because of the age gap, sometimes my sisters treat me like I don’t have any sense. They become manipulative to the point of insulting my intelligence and my character. This has happened so much in my life that I have become exquisitely sensitive to it, to the point at which I get really angry when it happens. I think being manipulative, rather than being straightforward, is the height of disrespect.

In the summer of 2014, Bill had just left the Army and was job hunting. Just before my dad’s gallbladder attack, he was in talks to join Cubic, a government contractor, on an assignment in Stuttgart, Germany. We were living in San Antonio, Texas at the time, while my parents were in Hampton, Virginia. We didn’t have a lot of money to spare, nor was it the greatest time for us to drop everything and fly to Virginia. We had just a few weeks to plan our international move.

One of my sisters, who is worse about being manipulative than the other two, went to Virginia and took a picture of my father lying in his hospital bed, tethered to machines and covered with a huge CPAP mask (he’d had severe sleep apnea). She sent me the photo with a very shitty two line email about how I needed to come to Virginia to see him. Naturally, I was extremely pissed off at her for taking that photo and sending it to me as if I needed convincing that the situation was serious. I didn’t need her to send me a picture of my dad in that condition, nor was I taking orders from her. I was in touch with our mom, who had been keeping me apprised of the situation. I didn’t need her input or “help”. However, because we were already stressed out and I knew ripping my sister a new one would make things much worse, I simply replied with “Thanks for the update.”

I don’t know why my sister felt it was necessary to take a picture of our father on the brink of death as a means of convincing me to come to Virginia. I found it very hurtful that she’d assume that I needed that kind of “proof” that he was that ill. She basically sold me short, assuming that I’m that much of a selfish asshole that I needed to see a photo of him on his deathbed. By sending that picture, she implied that I didn’t care about our dad. I did care about him. In fact, I loved him. I didn’t always like him very much, but I had good reasons for feeling that way. It was neither appropriate for her to send that picture of him to me to try to convince me to visit, nor was it even really her business.

My sister is a controlling person, and I think she has trouble trusting that people will do the right thing. I don’t understand why she feels so free to be such an asshole to me, since I’m sure she doesn’t do this shit to everyone she encounters. In retrospect, maybe I should have sent her the seething, scathing email I had composed in my mind and in a blog post that I later deleted, because I was so hot with fury when I wrote it. Maybe she would have gotten the point that I’m now a grown woman and she would get a lot further with me if she’d simply make respectful requests or suggestions rather than manipulative demands. I can’t stand manipulators. They really piss me off.

Incidentally, I don’t remember if I told our mother that my sister took the photo. I don’t think I did, because I knew it would upset her. I’m sure she would NOT have approved of it. It was unnecessary, disrespectful, and just plain RUDE— and more to him, than to me.

But then, as if the tasteless photo of our dad wasn’t enough, when it became clear that my dad was going to die very soon, this same sister sent me instructions on how to speak to our mother! She wrote, “If you call Mom, please be kind…” As if I wouldn’t have been kind to our mother under these circumstances. She seems to forget that speaking to people in crisis was to be my career. I actually have professional training in it. Aside from that, I’m not such an asshole that I would deliberately pick a fight with our mom, especially as her husband of 56 years is on his deathbed.

Once again, I resisted the strong urge to tell my sister, in no uncertain terms, to go fuck herself. However, I ultimately responded, once again, with “Thanks for the update.” That’s all that really needed to be said, although the temptation to escalate the situation was definitely there. I was really pissed. What sucks is that the situation doesn’t escalate when I respond calmly, but I’m still left furious that, once again, I’m being forced to interact with an asshole… because I assure all of my readers, I don’t start this shit. I do my very best to avoid people who piss me off. They contact me, and usually with ill-conceived emails, unexpected visits, private messages, or public comments on Facebook or my blog. 🙂

I had actually forgotten about that incident involving my sister sending our dad’s photo… but Sierra’s Instagram picture of her baby in the hospital brought it all roaring back to me. I think if my sister does something like that when it’s time for our mom to pass, I will give in to the urge to tell her that it’s not appropriate to send pictures of people who are on their deathbeds as a means of getting other people to do your bidding. I think I will also tell her that if she thinks so little of me that she feels the need to be manipulative, she can count herself minus a sister. Life is much too short to have to deal with that crap.

Ah well… it’s Sunday, foggy, and chilly. Guess I’ll quit writing this post and go work on a puzzle.


A little TMI from T.I. and yours truly…

A good morning to everyone. There’s nothing like waking up, reading the daily news, and coming across a dishy item about a 39 year old rapper who takes his teenaged daughter to the gynecologist and demands that the doctor check to see that her hymen is still intact. I rubbed my eyes and wondered if it was true. But I’m sitting here listening to the podcast, Ladies Like Us, with Nazanin and Nadia, and T.I. Tip Harris is the guest. He’s talking very frankly about his life… and that of his children. And then I saw an article in the Washington Post about these revelations, which are just so completely fucked up that I can’t even fathom it.

T.I., otherwise known as Clifford Joseph Harris Jr., has made it an annual habit to accompany his 18 year old daughter, Deyjah Harris, to the gynecologist. Apparently, this began when she was 16. After Deyjah’s birthday party that year, he put a sticky note on her bedroom door that read “Gyno. Tomorrow. 9:30.”

He continues: “So we’ll go and sit down and the doctor comes and talk, and the doctor’s maintaining a high level of professionalism. He’s like, ‘You know, sir, I have to, in order to share information’ — I’m like, ‘Deyjah, they want you to sign this so we can share information. Is there anything you would not want me to know? See, Doc? Ain’t no problem.'”

So as I’m reading about this, I picture this poor teenaged girl lying there on the table, no doubt in a flimsy hospital gown, and wearing no undergarments. It’s her first time being examined, which I remember from my own experience was very nervewracking and embarrassing. Her father and a male doctor are standing there talking about whether or not she still has her hymen intact. The male doctor, to his credit, lets T.I. know that the hymen can break for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with sex. Lots of women have lost theirs riding horses and bikes. I participated heavily in both of those activities when I was a teenager, but I remained a virgin until I was 30 years old and married for two weeks. I don’t think I still had a hymen when Bill and I finally consummated our marriage, but I sure as hell was a virgin. Just ask Bill!

But then T.I. says, “Look doc — she don’t ride no horses, she don’t ride no bikes, she don’t play no sports, man — just check the hymen, please, and give me back my results expeditiously.” He added: “I will say, as of her 18th birthday, her hymen is still intact.”

What the fuck! Where the hell is her mother? If I had a daughter and her father tried something like this, I would kick his ass. And what is up with the doctor, allowing this to happen? HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) allows for patients to give permission to medical professionals to share their private information with others. However, it seems to me that if T.I. is comfortable enough to force his daughter to go to the gyno with him in tow, she probably wouldn’t be comfortable in asking him to GTFO of the exam room. If she had, she would likely pay for it later at home. It saddens me that the gynecologist didn’t do a better job of advocating for his patient, whose private medical information is now international news.

“Women are even murdered for want of a hymen”… and yet, a lot of women don’t have them, even if they’re virgins. Hymens are like baby teeth. They serve a purpose before puberty. At age 47, I still have a baby tooth myself, but I don’t think I had a hymen when I had sex for the first time.

Speaking of gynecologists, Canadian OB-GYN Dr. Jen Gunter, author of The Vagina Bible, has also weighed in on this. She shared the above video on Facebook. I see it was uploaded on November 1, which makes it especially timely today. She also posted on Twitter about why hymen testing is not a “thing” and T.I.’s actions are so completely inappropriate and abusive. Included in Dr. Gunter’s tweets is this screenshot from the World Health Organization.

I hope T.I. is paying attention to this and won’t subject his younger daughter to hymen exams. And I hope the doctors who see his daughters insist that he leave the room.

The first gynecological exam can be very stressful. It certainly was for me. Here’s where I will share even more TMI, so if you’re squeamish, you may want to stop reading. I have no shame, so I’m going to write this very personal story for the interested. Regular readers may have already read this.

I am 47 years old and, to date, I have only had two “gyno” exams. Both were done at the behest of the U.S. government, because I was going to be moving overseas. The first exam happened when I was 22 years old and needed a Pap smear and pelvic exam prior to joining the Peace Corps and moving to Armenia for two years. At the time, I was still considered a “dependent”, since I was under age 23 and my dad was a retired Air Force officer, so I was able to get my physical done for free at a military treatment facility. Actually, I probably could have had it done for free anyway, since this was for a government assignment. But I spent my whole young life going to military doctors, so I wasn’t particularly afraid. In retrospect, I wish I had sprung for a civilian doctor.

Anyway… it was April 1995, and I had to drive all the way from Gloucester, Virginia to Hampton, Virginia– city of my birth. Fort Eustis, which is in Newport News and was closer to my parents’ home, has medical facilities, but did not do women’s exams at the time. In fact, the doctor at Fort Eustis told me that I didn’t “need” an exam, since I was sexually inactive. However, the Peace Corps required that I have one done, so off I went to Hampton– probably a good hour’s drive from home.

I arrived at the hospital on Langley Air Force Base, which is where I would have been born, had the hospital’s maternity ward not been full on the day I entered the world. I was totally unfamiliar with the place, since I had always gotten my routine medical care done at Fort Eustis or the Naval Weapons Station in Yorktown, Virginia. I finally found the women’s clinic, which had pictures of babies all over the dingy walls. I filled out a typewritten form about the particulars of why I was there. I was alone and very nervous. A kind nurse tried to reassure me that the female doctor, an Air Force major who was an OB-GYN, would be gentle. I wasn’t so sure, but I tried to relax until I was called into the exam room.

The doctor was a white woman wearing an Air Force uniform. I still remember her name, but I’m sure she’s long forgotten me. She seemed older and kind of masculine to me, although she was probably in her 30s. I was directed to pee, then get naked. There was a paper sheet on the table that I was to get under. A black nurse was also in the room, supposedly to “chaperone”. I remember thinking she seemed kind of over it and unsympathetic to how nervous and upset I was.

So there I was, lying on the table as this doctor also told me I didn’t “need” an exam, since I wasn’t sexually active. I told her I needed to get it done for my Peace Corps physical. She said “Very well,” then proceeded to use a metal speculum that was too big. It hurt, and I let out a surprised yelp of pain. Noticing that the speculum was too big, she removed it and used a smaller one, which also really hurt. I screamed and felt very lightheaded– I was probably hyperventilating a bit, but it also hurt so much that I seriously thought I was going to faint.

“Hon, if you can’t be quiet, we can’t do this exam.” the doctor said in a stern tone of voice. I HATE being called “Hon”, probably moreso now because of this incident. But since I didn’t want to go through this again with another doctor, I bit my lip and she finished. She told me to get dressed and see her in her office, which I did.

I sat across from her at her desk as she told me that she hadn’t gotten “world’s best exam”, because I had been so tense and uncooperative. However, despite that, it looked like “everything was okay down there”. She advised me to lose weight, since she somehow knew I would be gaining weight in Armenia (I actually lost a lot of weight in training, but gained some back). Then she asked me if I wanted birth control. Since I wasn’t having sex at that point and my periods weren’t a problem, I said no. She sent me on my way, and I drove all the way back to Gloucester feeling totally humiliated and violated. My parents– particularly my mom– were quite unsympathetic. I was very happy when I got a postcard in the mail, indicating that my exam results had been normal.

It took another twelve years before I had another “gyno” exam done. I had tried to have one done by the Peace Corps Medical Officer at the end of my Peace Corps assignment in 1997, but I ended up freaking out and refused. That was a similarly embarrassing incident that I’ll save for another blog post, since this one is getting long. For now, I’ll fast forward to 2007, when Bill was in Iraq and I was preparing for our first move to Germany. The Army required that I have a physical and be screened for the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP). I did end up having to enroll in EFMP because I was once treated for depression, but again– another rant for another day.

So in 2007, I was fortunate enough to have a kind friend who was very familiar with the medical staff at DeWitt Army Hospital (now defunct) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. She helped me choose a very understanding physician’s assistant who, at that time, was doing well women’s exams. She has since moved on to cardiology.

Anyway, this P.A. was gruff at first, but then I explained what had happened at my first and only gyno exam in 1995. She then proceeded to give me a completely painless exam, which caused more tears– partly because I was so relieved to be done with it and partly because I now knew that the first exam shouldn’t have been so painful and traumatic! There was no chaperone when the second exam was done.

After the exam, the P.A. gave me a big hug and talked to me for a few minutes until I calmed down. The exam had been so stressful that my blood pressure was sky high. She was convinced that I had high blood pressure, and I had to prove to her I didn’t by submitting to a 24 hour blood pressure test which involved wearing a monitor that took my blood pressure every twenty minutes. I was left with a bruised arm and a diagnosis of white coat hypertension. To this day, simply walking into a military hospital makes my pressure shoot into the stratosphere. That’s why I haven’t seen a doctor since 2010, even though I know I could use some screenings.

I think about those times having those exams done, as bad as they were– and how much worse they would have been if I had been a teenager and my dad was in the room with me, demanding to know if my hymen was still intact. I don’t have a problem with the fact that Deyjah’s doctor was a man. I saw a female doctor and she turned out to be horrible. I think male doctors are capable of being kind and sensitive when they do pelvic exams and Pap smears, just as I know some women doctors are insensitive and cruel when they do them. Doctors who are treating teenagers should be mindful that teens aren’t always in a position to say no when their parents demand to be there for an exam. Deyjah Harris probably didn’t feel like she could refuse to allow her dad to supervise her gyno exam. BuzzFeed notes that Miss Harris liked several tweets criticizing her dad for not giving her appropriate privacy. My guess is that she would have preferred that T.I. not have inserted himself in the exam room and demanded a “hymen check”. And shame on the doctor for not telling T.I. that hymen checks are not a “thing”!

Now that Deyjah Harris is eighteen and in college, she is legally an adult. Why her father is still so interested in her virginity is beyond me. I truly hope someone understanding talks to her and lets her know that her body belongs to her, and that her self worth isn’t tied to virginity. It’s extremely inappropriate, possessive, controlling, and just all around fucked up that her dad cares so much about virginity, even pointing out that “virgins are no fun”. I just can’t stand it. It’s just totally creepy and misogynistic. Yuck.


“Do what I want, or I’ll kill myself!” Sounds rational… NOT!

Or… the sad tale of the reluctant Mormon missionary…

This morning, Bill and I were having breakfast and I read him a post that recently showed up on the Recovery from Mormonism message board. You can read it here.

For those who don’t want to click the link, here’s a brief synopsis. A poster writes that his or her brother is currently serving a Mormon mission in England. The missionary is very depressed and wants to come home, but his mother has insisted that he must stay on the job. The young man’s mission president also refuses to let him leave, and says that the missionary will be prescribed antidepressants.

The missionary’s sibling explains that their family is very dysfunctional. Their parents are divorced, and while dad is “healthy” and lives in Utah, their Montana based mother is extremely toxic and manipulative. When she doesn’t get her way, Mom threatens suicide. This causes everyone to get concerned and do her bidding so that she doesn’t follow through on her threats. Because of Mom’s dramatic bullshit, everyone is kept in line, even though it’s not in their best interests. No one wants to be responsible for Mom’s early death by suicide, so they give in to her manipulative demands.

As I read this post to Bill, I asked him if it sounded familiar. Sure enough, it did. My husband’s ex wife is not the woman in this story, although she certainly could be. Ex has never been above resorting to extremely dramatic threats to get her way. She never threatened or attempted suicide when she was married to Bill, but now that her eldest children are grown, she has since gone there more than once. When younger daughter decided to leave home, Ex reportedly attempted suicide and actually wound up in the hospital. Supposedly, she did this because she “loves” her children and can’t bear to have them leave her. Because she “loves” them so much, she tried to off herself when they decided to claim healthy self-determination. Very logical, isn’t it?

I don’t know much more about the details of this suicide incident, and don’t really care to know. The point is, Ex is a very manipulative person who will stop at nothing to get what she wants… even to the point of threatening self-destruction. As we can see from the RfM post and certain other situations we’ve been in, this kind of dramatic reaction is not uncommon when you’re dealing with a toxic person and co-dependents ensnared in their emotionally manipulative traps.

The one story Bill does remember about his ex wife’s manipulative habits is about how she broached the subject of their divorce. I’ve written about this a few times on my old blog, but I know I have some new readers and the old blog is currently closed. So here’s the brief backstory…

Back in 2000, Ex unilaterally decided that her relationship with Bill needed to change, and her manner of forcing Bill to “rock bottom” was the only way to change it. She was convinced she was entirely correct, and there was absolutely no room for compromise or discussion. It was her way or the highway, and she was completely inflexible about her position. So, Ex presented Bill with divorce papers and said, “I’m serious. You do what I demand, or our marriage is over”.

Bill was totally blindsided. He knew they were going to have a discussion about the future of their marriage, but he didn’t realize his ex wife had made all of the preparations to try to force him to sudden action. That weekend, they happened to be celebrating Easter at Bill’s father’s house. Ex’s three eldest children were there, although Bill’s dad and stepmom had taken them out for ice cream.

Ex, who had planned everything in advance, cooly presented Bill with an ultimatum– “Either admit you’re a “sick” person who hates women, go into counseling with the LDS bishop, and change into the man I think you should be, or we’ll get a divorce and your life will be over“. She was reportedly very confident that this threat would set things in motion. It never occurred to her that he might actually call her bluff. And because she was so “dead serious” about what she claimed she wanted, she’d even gone to the trouble of lining up a notary public who was available on a major holiday, and she’d drawn up the divorce agreement herself. She let Bill know in no uncertain terms that he must give in to her high pressure tactics, or there would be hell to pay.

Well, Ex was right about one thing. Their marriage needed to end. But she was wrong about everything else. Most importantly, Bill’s life definitely didn’t end when he accepted her proposal to divorce. And my husband certainly does not hate women. He’s also not “sick”. In fact, he’s a very level-headed, kind-hearted, reliable, decent person who goes to work, pays his bills, and does his very best to do the right things. He’s generous to a fault, and very quick to acquiesce in a confrontation and admit when he’s wrong. The fact that he’s like this sometimes makes him attractive to narcissistic, manipulative, abusive people. However, he does have a red line, and if you cross it, he will deal with you. In Ex’s case, he broke down in tears. Then, when she suggested divorce, he asked, “Where do I sign?”

Ex’s next reaction made it clear that this was not the result she had anticipated. She grabbed the divorce papers and retreated to the guest room at my in-laws’ house. There, she spent hours locked away, crying, raging, and generally making a huge scene. When she finally emerged from the guest room, Bill forced her to follow through on her threat. They went to the notary public Ex had arranged. It was Easter Sunday, when most people would be celebrating Christ’s resurrection. Bill was about to start celebrating resurrection of his life.

Many years later, when Ex’s eldest kids were finally ready to fly the coop, she went there with similar drama. But this time, she couldn’t threaten divorce. Instead, she went there with a suicide threat and subsequent attempt. Fortunately, two of her three adult children were smart enough to save themselves and get out of that trap of manipulation. They’re on their own. The third child is still kind of stuck, but reportedly has a clue that her mother has “issues”. With any luck, one day she’ll accept the life ring that has been tossed to her by family members who understand her predicament and want to help. She doesn’t have to stay mired in the quicksand.

A few days ago, I wrote about Dr. Les Carter, a psychologist who makes very useful YouTube videos about narcissistic, manipulative people. Another psychologist I’ve written a lot about is Dr. Tara Palmatier, who helps men who are victims of abusive women. Both of these mental health professionals are well worth exploring, since they offer assertive solutions on how to deal with manipulative women. I would also encourage that missionary’s sibling to explore these two psychologists for ideas on the mindset behind narcissists. “Dr. T”, as she’s nicknamed, tends to take a harsher, more cynical view of narcissists than Dr. Carter does. Dr. Carter is very rational and compassionate, while Dr. T is much more “no nonsense”. Dr. T has often advised that when a manipulator threatens suicide, the thing to do is call the authorities and let them handle it. I am inclined to agree with her.

A person who threatens suicide when they lose control of a situation is engaging in the height of manipulative behavior. It’s pathetic, but more importantly, it’s potentially dangerous. I liken it to a child who holds his or her breath when he or she doesn’t get their way. Often, the threat turns out to be empty, but sometimes the manipulative person will take action out of spite or simply because he or she really has reached that level of frustration. Regardless of why a person makes a suicide threat, the point is you’ve now entered a situation that could result in injury or loss of life. That requires professional assistance.

Someone who is driven to make a suicide threat is obviously on the verge of losing control. So, if the mom in the RfM story says, “If you come home from your mission early, I’ll kill myself”, take that threat seriously. Call for help. Get it documented. At least you’ll know you took steps to help her, even if she’s just trying to force your hand. She won’t like being hauled off to the hospital, sure. It will be expensive, embarrassing, and probably humiliating. But maybe it will also give her pause the next time she decides to make a suicidal threat when someone makes a decision she doesn’t like… or, if she really does need help, she’ll actually get it.

As for the young man on his mission, perhaps he needs a reminder that, first and foremost, he’s a volunteer. He doesn’t have to stay on a mission if he doesn’t want to. He has a say in his own life. He’s very fortunate, too, since he has loving family members who are willing to help him escape. A lot of people in his situation don’t have that. When I was in the Peace Corps, my mom told me not to come home early, but at least I knew I could leave if I wanted to. Ultimately, it wasn’t her decision. I think, when it comes to religious missions, particularly in cultures where it’s considered a rite of passage as it is in the LDS church, members are conned into believing they don’t have a choice. They DO have a choice. Anyone over 18 is a legal adult and can make decisions regarding their own lives.

It’s possible that his mission president has the missionary’s passport. Maybe he doesn’t have any money for a plane ticket. Fortunately, he has friends and family who can help him. I certainly hope they will, especially since the original poster writes that he’s depressed. I know firsthand how paralyzing depression is. It makes you feel helpless, hopeless, worthless, and like there are no alternatives other than the way things are right now.

Antidepressants certainly can be helpful. They helped me immensely. However, taking them is a personal choice, and should not be forced… particularly not by a mission president who likely does not have the expertise to determine if that is what is required. Many people can get over depression just by getting out of a toxic situation. It’s possible that the missionary simply needs to be with people who love him. Or, maybe he does need medication. But that is not for a mission president with an obvious agenda to decide. It’s not his life and it’s not his choice.

Someone who is so on the edge that they’d actually kill themselves over your decisions is not someone whose orders you need to be following. Obviously, this person is not thinking clearly about their own issues, let alone yours. If you saw a mental health counselor who said, “Take my advice, or I’ll kill myself,” would you think that person was competent? I would hope you wouldn’t. If your lawyer said, “I’ll kill myself if you don’t plead guilty (or not guilty),” you’d probably think he or she was batshit nuts, and certainly isn’t offering advice based on your interests. The same goes for a family member or friend who threatens self-harm if you don’t do what they want. That person doesn’t even have his or her own best interests in mind. They sure as HELL aren’t thinking of yours!

Threatening self-destruction in the name of “love” is not at all a loving thing to do. So you should do what is best for you… and if someone threatens self-destruction, call for professional help. Let the pros deal with that person. You get on with your own life, and don’t let their craziness muddy reality any more than it already is. Figuring out life is tough enough without that shit.