I work in a social-services-related field and have bipolar disorder. I am open and honest about my diagnosis. I am on medication, have been through years of counseling, and have made a good, stable life for myself. I feel that I am an example for bipolar people. I have been having issues with one of our interns, who is in her mid-20s and pursuing a master's degree in clinical psychology. On the surface, she is very pleasant. The problem is, anytime she and I disagree about something (which is often, because apparently she knows everything and I know nothing), she rolls her eyes, waves her hand, and declares that I am "just bipolar." This is alarming to me because she intends to work with such populations, and though I can take it without becoming suicidal, many bipolar people can't. Part of me wants to simply ignore her, but when I do, she continually asks me, "What's wrong?" She is probably going to be with us for another year, and I want some peace and a little less condescension when I go to work.
—Tired of Her
Since she's an intern and plans to go into your field, take seriously your duties to guide this obnoxious young person. It's understandable that when she brings up your illness, you want to withdraw, but you need to have a very direct conversation instead. You can say something like, "Brittany, I know how dedicated you are to helping people, but since I am someone who deals with an illness some of your clients may have, I have to tell you that bringing it up as a way to dismiss me is both unprofessional and potentially destructive. My having bipolar disorder is irrelevant to any disagreements between us. I'm sure I do things that I'm not aware of that are annoying, but I can tell you that when you roll your eyes at me, or wave your hand in my face, it doesn't further your argument; it just shuts down communication. So I expect we'll discuss the issues on their merits and I won't hear any more from you about my health. Thanks." If she doesn't stop, or escalates her rude and dismissive behavior, keep your cool and explain to the higher-ups that while "Brittany" may have some promising qualities, she needs some serious attention paid to how she treats others.
My stepbrother died last week. My sister asked me to take care of ordering a floral arrangement from our side of the family. I used to work as a florist, I'm a master gardener, and my garden is in full bloom. I made a beautiful arrangement from my garden and brought the flowers and a sympathy card to the funeral home. While at the visitation, my brother asked me what he owed, and I explained I'd made the arrangement. My sister came unglued. She said it was tacky and cheap to not send something from a "real florist." She said I had embarrassed our side of the family. She got very loud, and people were staring. I was mortified. I later received a note from my stepmother, telling me how much it touched her to know that I made something with my own hands. My sister, however, has aligned herself with two of my stepsisters, and I've been receiving daily calls from one or the other of them, telling me how cheap I am. What should I do?
—An Alleged Cheapskate
There's got to be more to this story than what you've included here. Possibly issues involving the sweeping of cinders, glass slippers, and pumpkins. This can't be the first time there's been bad blood or behavior among the siblings. But even without understanding the background, on the basis of the tale you're telling here, I will say your sister and stepsisters are bonkers. To be more generous, let's say they're temporarily deranged by grief and are deflecting it by striking out at you. What you did with the flowers sounds thoughtful and lovely. Whatever hostilities may exist, your sisters are behaving inexcusably. The next time any of them calls, say discussion of this subject is closed, and if they don't stop their harassment, they will be doing irreparable harm to your relationship.