Coping with life,chronic illness and harassment.
February 12, 2017 4:16 AM   Subscribe

Need some tips on how to have some good days, or at least okay days, while dealing with some ongoing harassment, a physical illness and general unpleasant life changes.

Hey, so I've come to a point in my life where despite my best efforts, day to day life is a massive slog and I'm just at the point where I'm out of ideas.

I have a chronic illness with only mildly successful treatment available(because immune disorders are fun), and while I typically can have a handle on it when other stress in under control, with other factors at play it's not doing so great. This makes coping with these other issues to be twice as hard as it should be, for me at least. Both feed into each other.

Since the new year my life has been not super pleasant in general. My family is in a bit of a crisis, several close friends have moved away for work/school, and now over the last few weeks there's been drama stirring up that's led someone who previously harassed me over email/social media to come back. I was already trying to deal with the first couple things, but now it's all come crashing down as I feel I have too much to carry.

I recently abandoned all social media that had any connection to her at all(although I had her blocked on most). But now she is sending me vitriolic emails about how leaving and trying to get her to stop contacting me makes me evil or "grudge holding". I have blocked her email in the past but she just makes new accounts so my options are limited(I also can't change my email as this is going through my business address). She's very clearly unwell and I'm not the first person to deal with this(I met her through a long distance friend, and there are mutual friends who've been harassed), and she seems bent on getting me to repent or something against what she perceives as wrongdoing(the sin of not wanting to talk to her). She has come and gone over the last year as she had a social connection(mutual friend) to me, but I'm now giving them up simply to protect myself and my privacy. This is happening despite previously sending a C and D as well as asking firmly but fairly that she not contact me, I have also just become aware of the fact that said mutual friend was telling her stuff about my day to day personal life which she is now using against me. She's obsessed with this idea that I hate her and want to slander her, whereas all I want is to not have to have contact with her. I wish she would just move on with her life.

This whole thing has fried by brain to bits and my health issues are flaring up like mad, I've already given up these extended friend groups and my online passtimes to try to get her to leave me alone.

I will be seeking advice from a lawyer very soon, but in the meantime, I need some advice on how to cope with all this mess. Especially if you yourself have dealt with online harassment before. It's a special kind of hell to have to wake up many mornings in a row to messages telling you you're an awful person for wanting some safety. Trying to shake this dread that the other shoe will drop any moment for my health, family, or potentially having a harasser begin going after my friends or family, well, it's wearing my self esteem and even sense of self down. Which is sadly what I think my harasser might want.

Things I'm doing already: Social media blackout(and only checking email once a week for business needs from this point out), getting extra sleep, extra cuddles with my pets, restorative yoga classes, home cooking every night, and bi monthly counsellor visits.

Help me find a tiny bit of inner peace in all this.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Stop reading her emails. Don't even open them if you can tell they're from her. Delete them if you think that's best; but in a similar situation I've been saving such emails unread to a dedicated folder "just in case". For me, it hasn't stopped the emails, but it's stopped them having any emotional effect on me.
posted by heatherlogan at 6:01 AM on February 12, 2017 [13 favorites]

Agree with heatherlogan, just stop reading her e-mails. Depending on what system you use, you might be able to set up a filter that sends anything containing her name (and/or other keywords she tends to use) straight into junk or another folder, so it would catch them even if she changes her address.

I'd also think about how much you are giving up because of this one person--friends, online activities, etc. If your mutual friend is passing on details too someone they know is harassing you, then that's worth cutting ties, but do you really need to give up online activities that you enjoy? Couldn't you just change usernames etc.?

Only you know all the details of how and why you might need to withdraw from certain things, but try not to make that your default position. She does not deserve that power. And, if you do need to cede territory, find something else you enjoy to replace it. You need good things in your life.
posted by rpfields at 7:20 AM on February 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Send one final response indicating that any further emails will be filed unread, considered harassment and are now being collected as legal evidence as such. Then create a workflow in your email program, as others have suggested already, that will immediately archive them into a special folder but DO NOT DELETE them (because you may need them as evidence--you can have a trusted friend check the folder from time to time if necessary).

If she has means to contact friends or family, let them know simply, firmly, and without drama, "hey, this person may reach out to you but due to past behavior it is important for me not to be in contact with them right now. She has been made aware of this. Please do not forward on any messages to me, or release any personal information about me to them."
posted by blue suede stockings at 1:25 PM on February 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

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