There’s a fine line between prioritizing personal space and becoming a hermit. I seem to toe the line all the time. I can say with great certainty that I think life would be easier if I could just hole up in my apartment and ignore the rest of the world.
Ah, but that’s just depression talking. ‘Tis the season. I don’t know where you live, but here in Pennsylvania, we haven’t seen green grass…shoot, no grass at all…since just after Christmas. So even if I felt emotionally up to going out, icy roads, bitter winds, and snow up to my chin would have kept me from wandering far.
Sometimes the weather makes life more stressful than it needs to be, so we curl up under a blanket and shut out the world for a while. Sometimes other people make life more stressful than it needs to be, too. I don’t know how you deal with it, but I I’m learning to react much the same way as I do to blizzards, and downpours, and the razor sharp wind chills: avoidance.
I know we usually think of avoidance as a bad thing, but not in this case. When the local government says to stay off the roads, you avoid the roads. (Unless you’re one of those people who will risk life and limb for a Snickers bar.)
Depression messes with my judgment – much more so than mania. If I had a million dollars, I could probably do a lot more damage in my manic states, but the opportunity just isn’t there. With depression, though, I take minor things far too seriously, hurtful words cut deeper, it’s easier to hold onto anger, and it seems impossible to hand over bitterness to God. I guess that’s what depression is – a hyper-inflation of all the bad stuff.
Well, I decided to take a little time off from what was eating at me. I decided to back away from the things that were making me sicker. Man, I felt some serious guilt about that, too, but here’s how I look at it: if I had the flu, I’d take a couple of days off work to get better. That’s what I did, for the sake of my own heart and sanity.
I don’t mean you should shut out everybody and everything in your life. Please don’t take my comments about being a hermit too literally. But if something is making you sicker, kiss it good-bye, and if that’s not possible, at least shelf it for a while.
I can’t escape the fact that as a freelance writer, I’m always having to look for work. I can’t pretend that my parents aren’t elderly and need more help, but some things aren’t my problem and they’re not worth getting sicker over. Bitter, spiteful in-laws arguing over money, for example. I shelved it. Possibly forever, but definitely for now. My life is 100 times less stressful because of it, and less stress means less depression.
Of course, this is just one example, but let me tell you… if you can’t do anything about a situation, and all it’s doing is making you miserable, then you don’t need it. Protect yourself. I felt guilty about dismissing the issues with my in-laws because, geez, it’s family! Until I realized… no one is acting like family. It’s a broken bunch. And you can’t even think about putting a puzzle together if everyone is hoarding the pieces and arguing over where they go.
Just because you get space from a person or a situation, that doesn’t mean you have to stop caring, and don’t let anyone guilt you into thinking otherwise. You can love the relative you need a break from. You can still be friends with the pal who drags you into her drama too much. If depression is keeping you from setting a clear boundary, then take a break until you can set one.
Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
If it’s bad for you and it’s avoidable, friends, avoid it. You wouldn’t run a marathon with a bad case of pneumonia, right? Don’t tackle the non-necessities of life until you’re brain is in a state where it can do so.
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