Q: A friend has popped up out of the blue after six years. Says she needs help but when I spoke with her on the phone she sound loopy—like she's on drugs. Turns out, she is on medications for some undefined illness. She has a project she wants me to work on, and she wants me to drop everything to do it. I have a full-time job and two part-time jobs just to keep my head above water. I'm willing to help, but on my time schedule, which she's unhappy about. Now she's bugging me with emails and phone calls. I almost feel stalked. What can I do?
Anne: Is her illness serious? If she's on meds you can't necessarily trust anything she's telling you. Advise her to get back to her doctor and call you again when her health problems—and the medications—are straightened out.
Dee: If she's a friend, I can see why it's hard to turn her away. But it also sounds as though you have enough on your plate. Tell her in no uncertain terms that she needs to keep with her doctor. Also tell her that you have other things to do and that her project has to take its place in your schedule. It might be hard to do since she's obviously not quite the person you remember, but tell her that if she doesn't give you time to work as you need to, that you won't be able to do anything for her at all. I'm not saying to tell her to fuck off, but after this many years, her problem is not your problem—unless you let it be. Good luck!
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