Dear Annie: I'm 13, and my parents divorced when I was 6. My mom has primary custody, but I see my dad every week. Mom was the one who wanted the divorce, and I don't think Dad has fully recovered from it yet.
When I was younger, I was Daddy's little girl. Now I'm beginning to see why my mom divorced him. He's a major packrat, and he suffers from depression. I found his antidepressant pills in the bathroom when I was 11. I know he has not taken his medicine in at least two years, and his mood swings can be scary.
Recently, Dad yelled at me for a minor thing, but he also raised his arms in the air, and I was really afraid he might hit me. Later the same day, he was in a much better mood and really sorry about his actions. He has good days and bad, but the bad days seem to be getting more frequent.
I hope I'm not overreacting, but I'm wondering if I should ask Mom to talk to her lawyer about changing the custody set-up. Dad is so stubborn he'll never agree to counseling. Please tell me what to do. I need to get away from him before I lose my mind. — Need Options in Oregon
Dear Need Options: Don't worry about the custody agreement. You should discuss your father's depression with your mother and ask her to help. This burden should not be falling on your young shoulders. If Dad needs to be on medication and isn't taking it, your mother and his doctor should be aware of the situation, so they can take whatever action is necessary.
Dear Annie: My boyfriend of two years has a cat, "Ozzy," that he absolutely adores. The problem is that I am highly allergic to animal dander. I get headaches, my eyes water and itch, and my nose runs. I can tolerate it if I take allergy pills and stay away from the parts of the house where the cat is allowed.
Although I have told my boyfriend about my allergy, he still allows the cat to sleep in his bed, even when I am there. He particularly likes to place the cat on my lap or give him to me to hold.
I have nothing personal against Ozzy, and I don't expect my boyfriend to get rid of him. But how can I make him understand that cuddling with the kitty is out of the question for me? I love this guy and don't want to give him ultimatums, but something has to be done. — Sneezing in Phoenix
Dear Phoenix: We're going to assume your boyfriend is under the mistaken impression that if you are exposed to the cat on a regular basis, you will get over your allergic reaction. It doesn't quite work that way. Although allergy shots might desensitize you to a certain degree, it is not possible to eliminate the reaction altogether. You should explain this to him, and if possible, have your doctor present him with some literature on the subject. Of course, if your boyfriend simply enjoys subjecting you to this particular torment, you might want to scratch him off your list.
Dear Annie: My mother and I were discussing my high school graduation next June. Each graduate is allowed to invite up to six guests to the ceremony, but I don't want any member of my father's side to be present, especially my grandmother.
Throughout my life, my dad's mom always has favored my cousins. My brothers and I never receive so much as a phone call from her, but she lavishes presents on my cousins. I want to invite only the people who truly care about me, but my mom says I should invite her anyway. Should I? — Senior Year
Dear Senior: Yes, because she is your grandmother and it is the right thing to do. Too bad Grandma doesn't realize what she is tossing away.
Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to anniesmailboxcomcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. © Creators Syndicate Inc.