Author Topic: The Mental Health Thread  (Read 21371 times)

evil_physics_witchcraft

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #345 on: June 18, 2022, 09:13:42 AM »
I am very seriously considering cutting certain abusive family members out of my life. They are manipulative, toxic, controlling, condescending and I always feel like shit for a few days after talking with them. If anyone has experience with cutting ties, I'd love to hear how it went for you.

mamselle

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #346 on: June 18, 2022, 09:53:54 AM »
I've mostly just gone very silent, curbed any pseudo-enthusiastic responses that might have been otherwise expected,  and replied factually but without much elaboration, and only when asked pertinent questions.

I'm not on Facebook, use my semi-lapsing Twitter account only for work-related announcements,  and don't initiate more than a couple of Zoom calls that I host annually to do my bit without letting things run on for long.

Be seen as quietly genial, don't engage, do enough to seem interested, and don't wander deeply into the weeds with explanations about why you're not doing something.

Modeling polite restraint might not catch their direct attention, but if you determinedly fly under the radar, and give most outrageous statements a Bland.Smile, level 3,  without challenging them, they'll eventually leave you mostly alone.

You have to accept and live with the SPADFY thing, and the fact that some--or many--of those people are relatives who want to use you as a projection screen for their own angst.

For sanity's sake, just roll up the screen...

M.
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AmLitHist

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #347 on: June 18, 2022, 10:43:10 AM »
Do it, EPW.  I did it with spouse's family (my MIL and SILs) about 25 years ago, and it's one of the best things I've done for my peace of mind.

We all live in the same small town, but beyond a very occasional passing in the grocery store aisle, I haven't dealt with any of them in that whole time. ALHS still checks on his mom and helps her out, which is fine with me, but she never did give him the crap she routinely gave me. Our youngest (31) has never gotten along with them, and the oldest (33) tries to check in on Grandma and be nice.  However, Grandma can zero in on anyone's weakest point (for Kid #1, these are mental illness and a TBI/CTE); it got ugly a few weeks ago, and I think (hope) she finally crossed the line and that Kid #1 has finally had her fill.

It probably sounds cruel, esp. since MIL is in her 90s, and also since I made the break when our girls were young, but I know it saved both of them a lot of the grief I took over the years, so I'm OK with it.

Langue_doc

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #348 on: June 19, 2022, 09:09:28 AM »
I am very seriously considering cutting certain abusive family members out of my life. They are manipulative, toxic, controlling, condescending and I always feel like shit for a few days after talking with them. If anyone has experience with cutting ties, I'd love to hear how it went for you.

EPW, I had to do this with a relative. After years of putting up with sh$t, and being blindsided whenever I answered the phone, I learned to (i) never pick up the phone, but instead call back after a day or two, (ii) refuse to engage by changing the subject ("Sorry to interrupt, relative, but I wanted to tell you X, Y, or Z before I forget..."), (iii) stay upbeat or neutral and stick to enquiring about people who live in the parts of the country and the world, (iv) end the conversation on a pleasant note if sticky topics or tone of voice enters the conversation ("Relative, I have to go now/there's someone at the door, nice catching up with you"). Relative had the gall to not inform me when her husband passed, but wait until after a month and the memorial service to let me know about the passing, and then tell me that Relative couldn't invite me because Relative couldn't host me. This was  during the year of the pandemic, so I told Relative that had Relative informed me or invited me I would not have visited or attended the service because I was following the social distancing policies that were in effect at the time.

Stay strong. Plan ahead so that if the conversation veers into dangerous territory, someone in your family can interrupt you, pretend that there's someone at the door, or have a timer (the loud ones with a knob) ready so that you have a good excuse to end the conversation. Think of other strategies so that you can pretend to have a relationship with these folks, yet are not sucked into their dysfunction. People don't change; it is your responsibility to protect yourself from other people's toxicity. Was it Maya Angelou who said something along the lines of "People treat you the way you teach them to treat you."?

Relative once told me that she was voting for a certain politician because of his strong moral values. I was dying to remind Relative of the politician's three marriages (Relative doesn't approve of divorce).

evil_physics_witchcraft

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #349 on: June 19, 2022, 10:32:12 AM »
I am very seriously considering cutting certain abusive family members out of my life. They are manipulative, toxic, controlling, condescending and I always feel like shit for a few days after talking with them. If anyone has experience with cutting ties, I'd love to hear how it went for you.

EPW, I had to do this with a relative. After years of putting up with sh$t, and being blindsided whenever I answered the phone, I learned to (i) never pick up the phone, but instead call back after a day or two, (ii) refuse to engage by changing the subject ("Sorry to interrupt, relative, but I wanted to tell you X, Y, or Z before I forget..."), (iii) stay upbeat or neutral and stick to enquiring about people who live in the parts of the country and the world, (iv) end the conversation on a pleasant note if sticky topics or tone of voice enters the conversation ("Relative, I have to go now/there's someone at the door, nice catching up with you"). Relative had the gall to not inform me when her husband passed, but wait until after a month and the memorial service to let me know about the passing, and then tell me that Relative couldn't invite me because Relative couldn't host me. This was  during the year of the pandemic, so I told Relative that had Relative informed me or invited me I would not have visited or attended the service because I was following the social distancing policies that were in effect at the time.

Stay strong. Plan ahead so that if the conversation veers into dangerous territory, someone in your family can interrupt you, pretend that there's someone at the door, or have a timer (the loud ones with a knob) ready so that you have a good excuse to end the conversation. Think of other strategies so that you can pretend to have a relationship with these folks, yet are not sucked into their dysfunction. People don't change; it is your responsibility to protect yourself from other people's toxicity. Was it Maya Angelou who said something along the lines of "People treat you the way you teach them to treat you."?

Relative once told me that she was voting for a certain politician because of his strong moral values. I was dying to remind Relative of the politician's three marriages (Relative doesn't approve of divorce).

I'm sorry you dealt with that Langue_doc, it's really unsettling to interact with people like that.

Yes. Maya Angelou said something like that and I've been learning to implement it in my life. I started lying to them years ago (and I felt incredibly guilty for a long time). It makes it easier to escape when I can. They also tend to ignore me and just keep talking, which is tough because I was raised to 'obey' so it can be difficult to just hang up. Although, the last conversation ending with me hanging up on them because they were ranting/yelling/screaming at me because apparently I don't know how to do things for myself. It's just so emotionally overwhelming, paralyzing and it also really, really pisses me off.

There's a long backstory with these people and it's difficult because they've been in my life for all of my life. I told someone the other day that I could be in a Lifetime movie based on some of the crap that's happened. Unfortunately, I think they believe that they are doing the 'right' thing. It's like Jesus said 'Father forgive them, for they know not what they do' and I think it's impossible for them to be able to know.

Thanks for listening to me. I know you all may not know me, but I appreciate your advice and I'm sorry to hear that some of you have dealt with people exhibiting similar behaviors.

mamselle

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #350 on: June 19, 2022, 12:54:22 PM »
You can't change others, and you can't change situations.

You can only change how you respond to those others, and how you act in those situations.

M.
Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Reprove not a scorner, lest they hate thee: rebuke the wise, and they will love thee.

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Hegemony

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #351 on: June 20, 2022, 01:42:18 AM »
I am very seriously considering cutting certain abusive family members out of my life. They are manipulative, toxic, controlling, condescending and I always feel like shit for a few days after talking with them. If anyone has experience with cutting ties, I'd love to hear how it went for you.

The psychologist Harriet Lerner (author of the The Dance of Anger, etc.) has some useful observations about cutting people off. She observes that one of the problems of relationships with difficult people is the intensity of the relationship, and that cutting people off preserves that intensity; it just configures it a different way. She makes a good case for setting clear boundaries and keeping contact low (and suggests good strategies for doing so). It's a little more complex to set up than going entirely no-contact, but makes for less drama and less intensity in the long run. Of course that doesn't apply if there are threats of physical violence or any of that. But otherwise, I recommend looking at her books and seeing if they're helpful for your situation. They worked for me for a similar question.

evil_physics_witchcraft

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #352 on: June 20, 2022, 07:14:17 AM »
I am very seriously considering cutting certain abusive family members out of my life. They are manipulative, toxic, controlling, condescending and I always feel like shit for a few days after talking with them. If anyone has experience with cutting ties, I'd love to hear how it went for you.

The psychologist Harriet Lerner (author of the The Dance of Anger, etc.) has some useful observations about cutting people off. She observes that one of the problems of relationships with difficult people is the intensity of the relationship, and that cutting people off preserves that intensity; it just configures it a different way. She makes a good case for setting clear boundaries and keeping contact low (and suggests good strategies for doing so). It's a little more complex to set up than going entirely no-contact, but makes for less drama and less intensity in the long run. Of course that doesn't apply if there are threats of physical violence or any of that. But otherwise, I recommend looking at her books and seeing if they're helpful for your situation. They worked for me for a similar question.

Thanks Hegemony. There have been threats of violence in the past, but now, not so much.

mamselle

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #353 on: June 20, 2022, 09:27:03 AM »
Agree...flouncing off and making overt statements about discontinuing the connections just stirs up the waters more.

Quiet walking-away, slipping further apart when they're not looking, and being calm sets a less exclamation-point-ridden tone.

You know your people and what will work, but if nothing else has worked, and especially if violent threats have come into the conversation, even awhile ago, it's time to disengage.

The peace of mind you create will be your own.

M. 
Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Reprove not a scorner, lest they hate thee: rebuke the wise, and they will love thee.

Give instruction to the wise, and they will be yet wiser: teach the just, and they will increase in learning.

evil_physics_witchcraft

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #354 on: June 20, 2022, 10:19:47 AM »
Agree...flouncing off and making overt statements about discontinuing the connections just stirs up the waters more.

Quiet walking-away, slipping further apart when they're not looking, and being calm sets a less exclamation-point-ridden tone.

You know your people and what will work, but if nothing else has worked, and especially if violent threats have come into the conversation, even awhile ago, it's time to disengage.

The peace of mind you create will be your own.

M.

Yep. I have slowly decreased the frequency of interaction with these people. I know that the shit will hit the fan if I go no contact and I haven't made any statements to that effect. Right now, I'm going to concentrate on maintaining boundaries and doing what is healthy for me. If I need to call the cops, then I will. I just hope it doesn't come to that.

I've always wanted to have a relationship with them that is healthy, but they don't want that. I think this desire to have the relationship that I can never have has kept me in contact with them and made certain interactions hellish.

mamselle

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #355 on: June 20, 2022, 10:42:58 AM »
You could go the no-contact/contact route, by which I mean, send semi-mindless articles you see that they might like just every now and again ... those "cute kitty" level-feeds exist on several platforms, for example.

One of my family members still lives in 50s TV-land, so if I see a Mouseketeers article, or Gilligan's Island update, I'll send it with an innocuous, "remember when"? sort of note. I might get a whole long string of remembrances back, but they'll generally be about the show, nothing else, and usually end with, "why don't they have these anymore?" plahns, that I ignore, no answer really required.

They feel remembered, it only took me 2 min., I don't have to reply further, and we're good for a couple of months or more.

It's just one way, but it works for my situation.

Of course, YMMV.

M.
Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Reprove not a scorner, lest they hate thee: rebuke the wise, and they will love thee.

Give instruction to the wise, and they will be yet wiser: teach the just, and they will increase in learning.

Hegemony

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #356 on: June 20, 2022, 05:43:05 PM »
Yes, de-escalation can be a big stress-saver. It sounds as if this might be the kind of situation that warrants a card at birthdays, a couple of forwarded innocuous memes or links a couple of times a year, and a promise to self not to be drawn into any in-person contact or drama.

One problem with going no-contact is that it's very obvious to the other party. And sometimes it's meant to be obvious, as one party says, "Well, for that I'm never speaking to you again!" And that's like a red flag to a bull. (I know bulls don't really respond to red; I'm using it as a figure of speech.) So the other person gets all outraged, escalates attempts to make the person see the error of their ways, drama ensues, other relatives are roped into the battlefield, and so on.

But easing down into very low contact can just let the wind out of the drama.

Again, not applicable to stalkers, etc.

apl68

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #357 on: June 21, 2022, 07:31:20 AM »
Yes, de-escalation can be a big stress-saver. It sounds as if this might be the kind of situation that warrants a card at birthdays, a couple of forwarded innocuous memes or links a couple of times a year, and a promise to self not to be drawn into any in-person contact or drama.

One problem with going no-contact is that it's very obvious to the other party. And sometimes it's meant to be obvious, as one party says, "Well, for that I'm never speaking to you again!" And that's like a red flag to a bull. (I know bulls don't really respond to red; I'm using it as a figure of speech.) So the other person gets all outraged, escalates attempts to make the person see the error of their ways, drama ensues, other relatives are roped into the battlefield, and so on.

But easing down into very low contact can just let the wind out of the drama.

Again, not applicable to stalkers, etc.

Though I don't know the situation, it seems that in most situations this sort of de-escalation is better than full-on estrangement.  Estrangement is such an extreme and destructive option.  Surely it should be an absolute final resort when there is simply no other way.
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mamselle

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #358 on: June 21, 2022, 10:08:09 AM »
Yes, I'm sure I've said before, the most helpful thing a friend/neighbor/trained social worker said to me (in the more extreme case of an abusive former spouse) was, "OK, you have to decide how long you'll give this person to change.

"Don't tell them, but set a time limit, keep clarifying the situation, and if at the end of that time, the changes you need to see haven't happened, you have a new set of choices to make."

In that case, for safety and sanity's sake, it was a divorce, with former spouse still under a permanent restraining order.

That more surgical option was after three efforts to start couselling, each of which he broke off.

So, that's also a decision point, where there's physical as well as actual mental danger.

In cases where it's a constant acid drip of nonsense, you still do need time, space, and emotional distance for sanity's sake, and some of the other options, as outlined abovethread, are essential.

And it's important not to play "footsie," if you do decide that a full cut-off is necessary.

Former spouse and I attended the same high school. I do not attend alumni events or send little humblebraggy update notes to the Alumni news. In the past 40 years, there have been two really odd random run-ins at unexpected locations; I got out of sight and away as fast as possible.

As a result, I live a (mostly) calm, pleasant life, and I don't worry about stealth attacks and the like. (Thankfully, no children, so no need to stay connected for their sake, either.)

Maybe one has to go through one serious situation like that to clarify one's own standards or values, or sense of one's own value. I may forgive someone, but I don't have to trust them if they've shown themselves unrepentant and untrustworthy.

That's how spoiled children act.

M.
Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Reprove not a scorner, lest they hate thee: rebuke the wise, and they will love thee.

Give instruction to the wise, and they will be yet wiser: teach the just, and they will increase in learning.

AmLitHist

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Re: The Mental Health Thread
« Reply #359 on: June 30, 2022, 01:10:20 PM »
Dealing with Kid #1 who's in a manic phase of her BPDII this week has me feeling like I've been repeatedly run over by a freight train. I try not to argue or offer advice or help, and just let her talk, and she gets extremely mean and nasty. I know it's not something she can control, so I can usually let it roll off me. Still, I'm not in a great place myself, between ongoing anxiety and other health problems. Today was over the top, and I'm expecting Round 2 of all hell breaking loose later today.  (For various reasons, including TBI/concussion history, she can't/won't medicate. Just not answering the phone isn't a great option, either, as I don't trust her not to kill herself in a fit of rage if she doesn't have someone to talk to. So cutting off contact isn't an option in this case, as I'd done with other warring family members.)

FML, as the kids say. I was hoping against hope that she'd stay leveled out at least long enough to let me heal, but nope.  Stress makes my A1C and my blood sugars stay up, and it also plays hell with inflammation and my recently-confirmed PV diagnosis.  So her mental health affects my physical health.

Not looking for advice or solutions (I'm pretty sure there aren't any). I just felt the need to write it down.

Here's hoping that others here are doing OK.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2022, 01:13:02 PM by AmLitHist »