If you had a chance to conquer your biggest fear, but on someone else's terms, would you take it? Here we have the story of a boyfriend buying a skydiving adventure for his girlfriend, who has a crippling fear of heights and doesn't want to go. The gift was supposed to be a surprise, and OP, the girlfriend, doesn't want to go. What should she do?
Below is nayahs's predicament, and Reddit's advice on how to handle it.
Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.
Okay, I really need help here.
My birthday is in two days and my boyfriend of six months, Alex*, has been talking about his surprise present for a while. He's really excited and can't wait to give it to me. He knows I love animals, so I thought he'd take me to the zoo or something like that. I'm not a big birthday person, so I just wanted something small and thoughtful.
Today my best friend Sara*, who is also friends with Alex, let it slip that she thinks his present is a really bad idea. I asked her why, since I didn't know what it was, and she asked tentatively if I was afraid of heights.
I have a phobia of heights. I have ever since I was a child. When I am in open spaces with fear of falling I have anxiety attacks and cry. When I tried cliff jumping (off an objectively small cliff) I cried and had to be carried back down. I can't even climb trees. I've been like this since I was a child. Alex knows this, but I haven't talked about it to him in very much depth, just in passing, and he thinks it's sort of cute and that he wants to help me get over it. I don't think he realizes how bad my fear is.
I don't know what to do. I know he's spent lots of money, especially as a student, on getting this present. I think it be an amazing present for someone else other than me. The thought of it is making me sweat. Please help.
TL;DR: My boyfriend has decided to surprise me with my worst fear.
*Not their real names.
EDIT: Holy sh*t, thank you guys for all your advice. My birthday is tomorrow. I will be posting an update.
There are better ways to conquer fear.Giphy
Yikes, OP. Ok first I would see if you could get Sara to convey to him just how crippling your fear is. If he isn't going to listen to her... Idk, it really sucks but you might have to tell him you know. Phrase like you know he doesn't get how truly afraid you are and that it's sweet that he wants to help you get past it, but this is not the way to go about it. See if he can get his money back, otherwise suggest he takes one of his friends who can cover half the cost so it's not as bad for him. I'm really sorry OP, I hope this gets figured out! And happy birthday!
This probably wasn't the best gift idea - tell him.Giphy
If my husband surprised me with skydiving my response would be "Hey, take someone else and have fun!" I sure as hell wouldn't go.
I'm not even afraid of heights, as in, I'll climb a mountain or look off a cliff or look off the edge of a tall building, but I sure as hell don't want to be plummeting to the ground from an airplane.
I don't know why he knew you were afraid of heights and his idea of helping you get over it AND his idea of an appropriate GIFT to you is skydiving. He could have helped you get over it in a different way by say taking you to the grand canyon to look over the cliffs or something but he also didn't have to make it out like it's a present to you if he KNOWS it's something you wouldn't like.
This post reminds me of the woman who planned a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend who had extreme social anxiety. Like oh hey surprise, I got you something I knew you would hate.
Stupid and inconsiderate.
Even though the relationship is new - you don't have to go.Giphy
Tell him the truth... and don't go. Don't be ashamed of or apologize for your phobia. If you had a crippling peanut allergy no one would expect you to go to the peanut-butter factory tour. As someone with a fear of heights, you certainly have a free pass to not go frickin' skydiving when climbing up a tree alone makes you break down. Your boyfriend should have known that there was a good chance someone wouldn't randomly be willing to go skydiving, phobia or not.
If he wants to give you help getting over your phobia, it should be with a trained therapist. Jumping out of the plane could give you PTSD or something don't do it.
Give him a chance to either invite someone else or get his money back.Giphy
The amount of money one spent on an unwelcome gift doesn't mean that the recipient has to accept it. Your BF may have bought a $50000 live rhinoceros on a leash, and tried to give that to you as a pet. Would you have to accept because he paid so much for this thoughtful present? Especially that you told him that you like animals, so it makes it your fault somehow, lol.
Talk to him, that you know what the present is and can't accept. Don't wait till the last moment, give him a chance to ask a friend to skydive instead.
Skydiving is probably not the best way to conquer your fear.Giphy
This is like helping you overcome a fear of dogs by covering you in gravy and locking you in a closet with a pack of half-starved wolves.
One person offered a script.Giphy
Here's a script: "Honey, thank you so much for the wonderful thought, but I can't accept the gift. I have an actual phobia of heights - not a mild fear, not a discomfort thing. Phobia. Going on this excursion would ruin my birthday and possibly our relationship - I'd be so embarrassed to have a panic attack right then after you'd gone to all this trouble! So let's you and me do something else instead and you can take [insert his best friend's name] skydiving instead."
Let him know his idea is not going to help you overcome your fear.
I'm like you, very afraid of heights. Sky diving is on my "never going to try that list." If that changes, great, but I wouldn't bend on that for someone else.
Your bf knows of your fear and still got you these tickets on some misguided notion that he's helping you. He obviously doesn't know how to help someone get over a phobia. Not to mention that you never asked him to help you with this. He's just forcing this on you.
If I were you I'd say "thanks for the tickets but I'm not going. Invite someone else or sell the ticket, but I will not be using it." I personally wouldn't feel bad about saying that and would be very disappointed in him for giving such a selfish, thoughtless gift. He could have bought you something you would enjoy and have a good time with and instead he literally bought you your greatest fear. Thanks bf :/
It seems like the gift is more for the boyfriend.Giphy
Boyfriend is about to learn a very expensive lesson about giving gifts that are more about HIM than about the person they're intended for. It seems he's got this whole plan of "curing" you of your fear and being a big fucking hero. Notice how you magically not being scared of heights afterward is actually the second-most significant thing in his fantasy?
His gift is selfish and stupid. The amount of money isn't the issue, and if he DARES try to guilt trip you with that, go fucking nuclear. It is neither his right or responsibility to "fix" you, and he doesn't have the power to do it even if you wanted to let him. The only person who can mitigate your fears and anxieties is you.
I would get ahead of this and tell him you found out, so you don't have to go through the embarrassing ritual of gift presentation. Personally, I'd be pissed and offended at his selfishness and presumption. I have phobias of my own and I've had to work really hard at times in my life to enforce boundaries around them - not to preserve them, but to keep the responsibility for managing them on myself... and to avoid gaining a father-figure who thinks I'm some broken dolly who needs sorting out.
Be careful telling people a surprise present is okay.Giphy
Lesson learnt OP, right? If you don't say what you want people might surprise you with your worst fear.
His reaction to declining the gift will be a sign.Giphy
I wouldn't condemn the BF just yet. I think his reaction to her refusing to do it will be more telling. He just may not understand phobias nor the extent of her phobia.
And if he truly cares, he'll make it up to you.Giphy
OP, this isn't a fair response.
You spoke to him about it in passing, he has no idea how bad your phobia is and I really truly believe he does want to help you get over it.
Is getting over it out of the question? Imagine you were able to go and just conquer that fear? You would be unstoppable. Is it something you would reconsider?
If not, wait until he gives you the gift. Be appreciative but also really tell him about your phobia (if it is out of the question) and tell him to go with one of his friends instead.
He'll make it up to you, I promise.
This is a reasonable assessment.Giphy
I would argue the real TL;DR here is "My boyfriend got himself a present for my birthday."
Part of the issue is that the relationship is new.Giphy
Most people give gifts that they'd love to receive themselves. It's an unconscious sort of blind spot: they think, "I'd really love this, so they will too!"
It takes a while of being together before these little things get sorted out. I wouldn't be able to skydive either, so that's hardly an unusual reaction. I think most people would be at least a little terrified of participating in most of the extreme sports.
I would talk to your man ASAP and tell him you know what his surprise gift is and you aren't on board, so that if he can get his money back or plan to go with his brother or best friend or something, he still has time to change plans.
Then I would very gently and kindly make a list for him of things that ARE on your bucket list that you'd really enjoy if he surprised you with it on a special day. It could be anything from "make me breakfast in bed" to "a day at the spa" to "coupons redeemable for specific chores I can use at any time" to "gift card to my favorite store". Just list any and everything that you'd really actually like. That way he can pick something and it'll still be a surprise but it won't be something terrifying.
Hopefully he can get a refund.Giphy
Tell him straight up. Just say that Sara told you about it because she knew how scared you are of heights and wanted to help avoid this problem. She really should have just told your BF, though. Why didn't she tell him how bad your phobia is? If she did and your BF ignored her then this is all on him.
Tell him sooner rather than later in case there are time limits related to getting refunds.
In the grand scheme of things though, it's not that big of a deal.Giphy
Well if you are both otherwise reasonable, it shouldn't be a huge deal. Be honest. Tell him the truth. Then tell him you'd be 110% fine if he took his best friend instead if he can't get his money back or really wants to go himself.
That's a risky gift and if he gets upset, I'd run away from the relationship entirely. my gut tells me the gift is more for him than for you though...
Insults come in many forms, most of them involving swear words or similar affronts. However, there is something to be said for a truly cutting remark made without the use of such language.
Some favorites are always old Victorian slang and insults. They just hit different. Something about telling an a-hole “you sir are an unlicked cub and your wife a sausage wallet" is just more satisfying. Although we do not recommend going around insulting people, the list of swear-free insults below will certainly get a chuckle.
Redditor Beadiest_Cape wanted to hear the best cuss free insults out there and asked:
“What's the best insult you've heard without swearing?"
“After getting a compliment on his assignment, A buddy of mine leaned back in his chair and told our college professor, ‘I'm not as dumb as I look.’ To which he leaned forward on his podium and said, ‘You couldnt be.’” dusty_boots
“…and may God have mercy on your soul.”
“One of the best is from Billy Madison, ‘What you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.’” maswriter
You should apologize…
“You’re not the dumbest person in the world, but you'd better hope they don’t die.” WhatThatBoiDoin
“Whenever this question is posted, my favorite is usually along the lines of: ‘There's a tree somewhere in the Amazon jungle with sole purpose of producing oxygen you breathe. You should go find that tree and apologize." all_worth
How low can they go?
“The bar was on the ground and you grabbed a shovel” BlckAlchmst
“That reminds me of one comment i read saying: ‘the bar was so low it was practically a tripping hazard in hell, yet here you are dancing limbo with the devil’.” give_it_a_vodkashotSeries 2 Limbo GIF by BBC ThreeGiphy
"Having been born an infant, and realizing he quite liked it, he decided to stay one forever." overt-wan-kenobert
“From Casablanca: ‘You probably think pretty poorly of me don't you?’”
"’I would if I gave you any thought’" koiven
These teachers got clap backs for days…
“I had a teacher tell some kid ‘Nothing you have to say is of any consequence...to anyone.’ He was an odd teacher who kinda talked like that, but it was his version of savage. The room lost its sh*t in unison.” glib_battling
“I had a guy sit behind me in English class let out of fart that reverberated off the wooden seat. The whole class heard it. The teacher said ‘that's the most intelligent thing you've said all year’. Priceless” melbers22
“I was at a karaoke 50th the other night and this one caught my eye. Thankfully I wasn't drunk enough to sing it. But I love this song for its sick burn. Poor old Edie. Bob really gave it to her that time.” crankenfranken
Down the Monty Python rabbit hole…
“Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt... of elderberries!” UpTwoDownOne
“Elderberries were the cheap replacement for grapes in making wine. That is basically ‘your father is a drunk and can't afford the good stuff’.” ukezi
“And hamsters have sex all the time with no regard for monogamy.” draconum_ggg
“So, ‘Your mother is being cheated on but is also a w*ore and you father is a drunk who is also broke’.” EmpanadaDeMayonesa2
“‘My days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a...middle.’ --Mal Reynolds”
"’It's not that I hate you, exactly; it's just that any admiration I have for you is well under control.’” FlourChild1026
Shakespeare master of insults…
“Straight from Shakespeare ‘I wish we could become better strangers’.” Dundeklil
“Also from Shakespeare: (Fallstaff, after Bardolf calls him fat) ‘Do thou amend thy face, and I'll amend my life.’” driving_andflying
Excuse us while we go grab the burn cream.
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Aging is a sneaky process. Most of us don't realize how old we've gotten until we find we are no longer able to do things the way we used to with ease when we were younger.
Sure, it's depressing, but you know what? Aging happens to all of us, and no one is getting out of here alive.
"What gets worse with age?"
Physical consequences of aging is one of the cruelest things in life.
Watch Your Hyde
"Your skin. Take care of it. Skin cancer sucks."
What The Body Does With Food
"Every meal is followed by a poop."
"Bending over to pick a quarter off the ground. Hurts your back, gut and your fingers don't work. That's why there is change all over my floor. ;)"
After A Wild Night
"Hangovers for sure."
"At 18 I could go heavily drink and feel damn near 100% the next day. Now I get horrid mental and physical effects. Probably should quit drinking all together."
When our senses gradually start to fail us, it's yet another reminder of our brief mortality.
"Make sure you get your eye dilated every year and check for cataracts."
"My hearing is on the decline. I don't think it'll go completely, but I did get hearing aids last year."
The degeneration of certain abilities as we get older is too much to bear.
Staying Above Water
"My ability to cope. I'm just burnt out all the time."
"I feel the same. Aside from my family and friends, I have no care for anyone or anything anymore. Nothing phases me but that's not a good thing IMO. I feel very apathetic towards everything, I'm tired all the time and just want to lay down."
"The ability to sleep through the night."
"Used to be a world champion sleeper and now 5-6 straight hours is huge. Pretty much wide awake every night at 3am."
Putting Up With People
"Humanity.... The older I get the less I want to deal with people."
"Friendship - making new friends after your 20s becomes a big struggle, and the newer friendships just aren't the same. You can literally run out of 'lifelong friends' due to death, disease, people growing apart, etc."
I found as I'm getting older my patience and tolerance for certain things have gotten worse.
Waiting in line at the grocery store while someone fumbles with their payment option, or getting antsy when the food I ordered at the restaurant is taking way too long are things that never bothered me ten years ago.
I"m not curmudgeonly by any means, at least not yet. Besides, I'm not that old.
But to all the cranky elders I grew up with who complained about poor service or lack of efficiency, I get it now, and I hear you.
It's never easy to leave home.
Redditors that were kicked out before or at 18, what happened to your relationship with your parents afterwards?
Things outside your control, like divorce, shouldn't be the child's concern. If the parents don't handle things properly then unfortunately it ends up falling on the kid, forcing them to make the tough choice.
Putting Your Problems On Others
"Parents kicked me out when they got divorced and "couldn't afford to take care of me anymore."
"Struggled for a while but doing ok now. Don't talk to either of my parents and that seems to have improved my life quite a bit."
Suffering The Consequences
"My parents divorced when I was 12, dad had primary custody. He got a new girlfriend who hated me and my brother when I was about 16. My only request was they wait til I left for college to get married. He dumped me and everything that was mine in his house on my estranged mother's front lawn, jumped back in the car, and drove off a full two months before school started. They were married by August (on my mother's birthday)."
"I moved out of my mom's place as soon as I made a friend in the new city 500 miles from where I grew up using $400 a month he gave me for expenses to keep him from feeling too guilty about it (my mom's alimony payments expired right around the same time I left, so he just gave it to me instead of her, he did the same thing when he forced my brother out after I graduated. I joke when he's old I'll find him a nursing home that costs $400 a month so see can see what that buys you.)"
"I begged to be allowed to come back for holidays every year for a decade. I had to listen to my dad call me every holiday with his new wife's kids clearly there in the background and when I asked about it he would just sigh. One time he had me call his wife to ask her and she just spent 5 minutes cursing at me and telling me I was awful. I was maybe 19 and had never had any real trouble, legally, academically, or socially. I spent summers on my friends couches so I could go back to see them at least. He would try to meet up with me, but I was just so angry and hurt I usually didn't tell him I was in town."
"He is still shocked I don't want anything to do with him now that I'm older. He still thinks I deserve everything I got, which I know because it was the last thing I ever let him say to me before calling it officially done. He won't be at my wedding. He won't ever know my husband or my family. I'm done."
"Did fix my relationship with my mom eventually though. She was actually sorry for the time we missed and glad to have me back in her life. I'm also still tight with my brother."
Growing To Understand The Decision
"I was kind of a b-tch as a teenager, moved out at 17 after she gave me an ultimatum, didn't talk to my mom for three-ish years, then only on holidays. Then I moved back in with her for 6 months, which was not fun as someone 21 years old who had been on their own for 5 years prior."
"I did a lot of work in therapy and we repaired our relationship. She's now one of my best friends, we live about ten minutes apart, and I go over just to chat a few times a week."
"I hated her at the time, but I have grown to understand that she was trying to do the best with what she had. Also, I was a very difficult child."
You know what's a perfectly reasonable solution to not having a home to live in?The military, apparently.
(Only join if you feel that it's right for you. Don't let anyone make you join.)
Military Or Bust
"Six months before I was 18 my grandmother was adamant that she was going to take me to enlist in the military and I said no, so she wanted me out at 18. I arranged to move in with my gf."
"By the time of moving day, my grandmother was acting like our spat never happened- "keep in touch" "don't be a stranger" "dont burn any bridges". I only really interacted with her at family gatherings after that, and I have her on Facebook so she can keep up-to-date without me actively taking to her."
No, Really. Military Or Bust.
"My mom always said that "had to be out" at 18 once I graduated. I honestly took this to heart. I didn't have a bad relationship with my parents, but I was also left to raise myself most of the time."
"I graduated at the beginning of my senior year, was 18, and moved the f-ck right out, joined the military shortly thereafter. My mom had a fit. I thought this was what she wanted."
"I'm "OK" with my folks, but I basically left for 5 years and stopped calling. Still very much independent, very successful, and have very little of what is a relationship with them. I didn't have role models or people to guide me. I'm a parent in my 30s and I'm trying to unf-ck everything and treat my child like she should be treated, lots of attention and love. I'm salty about the way I was raised; I often upset at them. The more I grow, the more distance I out between myself and my parents."
"I'll be sure go guide my kid and not make her leave home asap."
A Fizzled Relationship
"I was 17 when my mom and I had a huge fight. She said, "If you walk out the door, don't bother coming back" - one of those empty threats. Of course she was surprised when I packed some bags and took off. I stayed with a guy that I had been seeing for a couple of months."
"That relationship fizzled out fast and I wound up coming back home. Learned fast that he was a drug user. He was also staying at his brother's house and said it was cool that I was there. But then the brother announced he was coming home - and that was it for me."
"Took a long time to patch things up with my mom. We started getting along better later in my life. It took a long time to get there though. My dad and I always got along well."
Then there's these situations, far outside the reasonable control of any child. Abuse and divorce are situations which shouldn't be placed at the feet of someone under 18, but this is how it goes sometimes.
Burning That Trust
"It's a long, ugly story. But yes, it did change everything. I still harbor resentment toward my mom for caring more about getting my stepdad out of jail than making sure I was OK or taking me to the hospital. I'll never stop loving my mom and I know she loved me back, but it was clear that her men sat higher on her priority list than I did. I was 16, he didn't even have a legal right to kick me out in the first place."
"And I obviously never trusted my stepdad again. I haven't talked to him since my mom died in 2010 and I hope I never see him again. I couldn't care less about how his life is going, I have more important things to focus on."
Lose A Key? Get Out.
"When I was 16 my mom invited her alcoholic boyfriend to move in with us. He hid his drinking quite well, and he hid the violent outbursts he had towards me even better. I tried talking to my mother and grandmother about it and they accused me of lying because I "just didn't like him". The whole thing snowballed and, because my dad wasn't talking to me or my sibling at the time (a key fell out of my pocket before I left for school, got locked out of the house for a couple hours. Apparently that was the worst thing ever and justified a massive argument and falling out), I ended up on a bus to a different city at 2am to live with a friend whose dad owned a roofing business.
Spent a few months hating every second of it and trying to make it on my own. Eventually, my mom's boyfriend started to go after my sibling, and it all ended when he threw a glass of water at them (glass included) in front of my mom. I was able to go back home, but things were never the same and I fell into a deep depression and it left me with some trust issues, especially with people around the age I am now. It also left me with an odd aversion to physical labour"
"A lot more has happened since then, despite repeated attempts to reconcile our relationships. I ultimately decided that I can't be around them, and that it's best to keep my distance from family. I talk to my parents once a year, on Boxing Day, and that's all the time and attention I'm willing to give to them"
Getting Out Of The House No Matter What
"I grew up in an extremely abusive household. Every category of abuse you can imagine."
"When I was 16 I was given a choice to either leave or go to foster care, so I packed what little I had and moved to another state. That was nearly 12 years ago."
"My relationship with my parents is strained at best, I rarely speak with either of them any more and I plan to change my legal full name and leave the country, so that I am not associated with them in any way, shape or form."
Keep your head on your shoulders. Have a plan. If it feels like you're set to be kicked out or, even worse, forced to leave for your own safety, start preparing.
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Like it or not, we've all met a liar or two. Some lies aren't so obvious either, and if the individual has a habit of lying regularly, then that's a sign that they could have a larger problem. Some lies are more innocent––we know those as "little white lies"––and typically don't harm anyone.
And some lies are just obvious and absurd––even entertaining. Why do people say these things? In truth (ha), the reasons might be complicated and the individual might not even be aware. We heard all about them after Redditor Mobile_Sturgeon asked the online community,
"What was the most obvious lie you've ever heard?"
"My friend told us..."
"My friend told us he was born mid-flight, and that it was on the exact border between Scotland and the USA, so he was half American, half Scottish."
This person has never looked at a map, have they?
"He then showed me..."
"My regular job is as a club promoter, I just work here [crappy retail franchise] for fun money." He then showed me a generic picture of a Ferrari and said that was his car.
Bonus lie, he told everyone he was 28 when he was clearly in his mid to late 40s."
"I stopped believing it..."
"My grandma got me to eat bread crusts when I was a toddler by telling me they're made of broccoli and cauliflower. I stopped believing it in a few months but it worked."
Ha! The creative little white lies that grandparents make up!
"My husband forgot..."
"My husband forgot to wake me up after promising me that he would. When I woke and realised that I may get late, I was pissed and asked him why he didn't wake me up as he'd promised, he told me that I was looking so cute, sleeping, that he didn't want to disturb me.
Well, after six years of togetherness, that is so obvious a cover-up for having forgotten something that I broke out laughing."
Oh, they totally forgot. But it sounds like you two are very much in love, so that's great!
"Aside from this bizarre quirk..."
"A guy at my local pub claimed to have written just about every popular song you could name, and when called out would get mad and come up with elaborate stories to explain how, for example, he had written "Stairway to Heaven" when he was 10 years old and been ripped off by Led Zeppelin.
Aside from this bizarre quirk, he seemed totally normal. Had a proper job and everything."
You meet some odd characters in pubs, but they're typically not hurting anyone, so leave it be.
"A friend of mine..."
"A friend of mine once told me a great story about something funny they did. It was hilarious.
Problem was, it was MY story. I had told it to him six months before. He told me the whole thing almost verbatim, only he had inserted himself where I had been in the story. I think that's my favorite."
"I had an employee..."
"I had an employee who was 45 minutes late to work and he told me with a straight face that he had to wait for a family of ducks to cross the road, and that's why he was late."
You have to admire his chutzpah, don't you? I cracked up at this.
"A friend I had in high school..."
"A friend I had in high school wanted me to come with her to Texas to visit her brother. Presumably, he was in a gang and had a million guns and robbed banks all the time. As if I've never seen a Western before.
Also she's adopted. She has a foster sister, a foster mom, and a pet dog named Snowball. I've been to her house. She has no brother."
"A girl I went to high school with..."
"A girl I went to high school with was neurotic about grades and rankings, etc. During the college application process, she was rejected from a school that accepted one of my close friends. We were discussing the school after class one day and this girl said 'Yeah, they rejected me but sent a letter saying they did it because I should go somewhere better given how strong my scores and grades are.'
That was very nice of them!"
Very nice of them, indeed! You'd think they'd be tripping all over themselves to have her!
"The more he spoke..."
"A security guard that works at a grocery store I once worked at said that he had been in Iceland. I asked him about the penguins he saw. He blabbed on about species of penguins that he created on the spot and that he was stationed there for military purposes. The more he spoke, the more the lie snowballed."
Pathological liars can benefit from psychotherapy, which can pose its own challenges because the liar isn't in control of their lying and could begin lying to their therapist.
"Treatment will depend on what the person needs and what they respond to during therapy sessions," as noted by WebMD. "Finding a qualified, experienced therapist who can work with someone over the long term is the key to managing the condition.
If you or a loved one needs help, seek help today.
Have stories of your own? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below.
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