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Monday, June 16, 2008

Coming from several blocks away to gawk: Privacy and neighbors

Dear Amy,
I have a sensitive issue and nosy neighbors. Three weeks ago, I was taken to the hospital because I suffered from major depression and was suicidal. I was in the hospital for eight days.

One week to the day of my release, I had four police cars, eight officers and two paramedics at my home to take me back to the hospital. Literally, every one of my neighbors was outside wondering what was happening, and they saw me being carried away on a stretcher. I was gone for three days and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

That weekend I had the police at my house four times because of my son running away, becoming violent and threatening suicide. The last incident ended with five police cars, 10 officers and the obligatory ambulance and paramedics. They blocked the roadway in both directions. Everyone was outside and watching, some coming from several blocks away to gawk.

What do I say to these people? Do I tell them I was suicidal, depressed and now diagnosed as bipolar? Do I tell them my son has a drug and alcohol problem along with also being bipolar?

Or do I just ask them why they're so interested in something so personal?

I need a subtle way to tell them that it's none of their business without revealing the true reasons. Any suggestions?

Amy's Advice to Wondering:
First of all, I hope your situation has stabilized. I can imagine that you feel very exposed because of the public drama brought on by these crises.

You don't have to reveal anything to your neighbors, but if you choose to, you can say, "I realize that things have been very dramatic at our house lately I've had some health issues that brought on a crisis for me and my son, but we're hoping things are better now."

Browse for related stories in the index at the very bottom of this page, or read another privacy story.

Thanks to Amy Dickinson for the source letter in her column, published in the June 16 issue of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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