Regarding family and friends, how have you been able to let go of dark/problematic pasts, and moved forward?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Specifically, parent relationships. The family has a long history of a wide array of mental disorders, from depression, manic-depression, anxiety, etc.
The majority of childhood and teenage years were spent constantly trying to answer -- and then escape -- the question, "what's wrong with me?". There was a parade of therapists and speciality doctors. If there was not depression before that period, there certainly was after that.
What worked -- after all that -- was moving away, first within the same state, and then to a different country. As adulthood unfolded, much of the negativity and depression were contextual. With distance, new experiences, and new friends came perspective, self-esteem, and finally joy of life. The first two years of the mood abroad were often lonely and difficult, yet that difficulty was real due to the recession. In time, the depression completely faded and several wonderful years unfolded. Life was fun, light, and both friendships and career developed authentically.
During that period, trips home were few, far between, and brief. Usually involving weddings or funerals. This last summer, on a three-week trip, everything was fine, but toward the end, the thinking of family and old friends started seeping in.
Negative. Depressing. Anxious.
I was pleased to return to present life, where joy, health, and success abound. Following the visit home, family and friends have been keeping in better touch. A parent came out to visit for a short five day trip.
Overall, the trip was great however we were in a cafe, and they criticised my personality. "I don't know what's happened to you. You are so distant now, we don't talk like we used to. And it's not that you live here. You're different, and it's not good."
Those charged words. "You are" "different" "not good". Like a time-machine back to teenage years. Years wasted hating myself. The self-destructive college years. And everything that could have been.
And then the life I loved... until that conversation. That was two weeks ago, and now, I feel inauthentic and depression creeping in. I am looking to transition careers, and my previously strong momentum has degraded into a monotone, lifeless job search.
I will dig myself out of this hole. It will take a few weeks, but it's nothing new.
The question is how have y'all managed to develop boundaries with your loved ones? How can I both interface with my family and old friends, without falling into their line of thinking? It's as if their depression and anxiety are keys to my own. I have learnt not to turn that key and have surrounded myself with people that do not possess those keys.
Yet, my loved ones, who I would love to have rich, strong relationships with, continue taking me to bad places. Is it always going to be a choice between mental health and family and old friends?
Would prefer less analysis of my situation (yes, I have a therapist at the moment) and more stories and anecdotes from your experiences of people you love that mess with your emotions.