24 June 2011

What have you cut out of your life for the sake of your mental health?

by Nia, Pastor Jayne, and Soledad

Nia: (Read her earlier, longer answer.) For years, back when my mood was totally unreliable, I turned down most social invitations, since I had no idea how I'd feel the day of the party. I have several times distanced myself from friends, sometimes entire groups of friends, in order to create a vacuum to be filled by someone more suitable for that new "life season." I stopped watching sports a long time ago because it was a bummer to be reminded that I wasn't an athlete anymore. And I never watch the news.

As for plain old stress reduction, I hate shopping, so I've stopped giving gifts to friends and relatives, except for very young ones. About three years ago, following Carolina Herrera's example, I bought ten white Gap tailored shirts and got rid of all my other work clothes (well, not the trou or the shoes). The dry cleaner launders them. Mornings are so much easier that way.

Pastor Jayne: My list:

  • Facebook. More face-to-face instead. Social networking is ironically isolating — you think you're connecting, but you're actually sitting alone in a room, which for me personally was not helpful with my depression.

  • Relationships that drain. You know the ones I'm talking about.

  • "Fluff" on the calendar. Everyone has things they've committed to which they shouldn't have. As I've learned to leave wider "margins" in our family schedule, depressive tendencies (and pity parties) have happened less and less frequently.

Soledad: This is a good topic. Because I think everyone does this to some degree to keep themselves going. I saw some of my cousins start avoiding family events as young adults. At the time, I'm not sure I understood why. But after having a rough time of things myself, now I get it. No sane person wants to spend time with people who are doing well and, whether they realize it or not, flaunting that fact through what they have. Even if they are aware that you don't have what they do... they have little understanding of what it's like to want something very much, not be able to have it, and then have to face everyone else who is enjoying what you cannot.

I see this in my life constantly. I have begun avoiding family — and many friend events — because many people do not know how to empathize. I do not have children, and cannot have children, as I married late in life. I didn't have a wedding so that I could afford fertility treatments that failed. This is a very sore subject with me. In addition, I became unemployed at the same time. So triple whammy. Instead of sending us wedding wishes, cards, gifts — we were completely ignored by my family. At the same time, my brother got engaged. So there was an engagement party, showers, wedding, bachelor/bachelorette parties that we were expected to attend — even though no one from my immediate family sent us so much as a card when we got married. So I expect we'll be invited to baby showers and other things...expected to bring a gift...once again...no one thinking of how tough it must be for us to attend those functions after spending $30K on treatments that failed. And then they will think I am the rude one for not coming.

Well, to preserve my own sanity...it is what I will probably do. I am tired of people who do not think of others' situation first before they do or say things. My mother loves to talk about when she was pregnant. How in the heck does she think this makes me feel? That's the problem. She doesn't think at all. So, for the most part, I am divorcing my family. And they deserve it.

Avoiding people who bring you down is not only human, it's necessary for self-preservation.