How Your Family Can Mess Up Your Mental Health Even Without Overt Violence!

One looks for emotional strength in a family. When you see your own people, you expect something which lifts you up and not pull you down!

Trigger Warning: This deals with depression and mentions suicidal thoughts, and may be triggering to survivors.

Ever wondered what a family is? We all have families, but families are of different kinds, family may mean different things to different people. By family here we mean having siblings, parents, chacha mama, cousins, and other aunts and uncles.

They can be supportive and always there for you in tough times. They may be caring, respect your privacy and genuinely celebrate your success. Or they can be jealous, waiting for your failure, enjoy your tough times, come up with stupid excuses if you need any help from them, always complaining, frown upon your smile.

Why does this ‘meanness’ happen?

One of the reasons is their ‘upbringing’.

Siblings can become rivals easily if parents always compare them, don’t treat them equally, and are biased towards one over the other.

The more successful son or daughter is given more importance and respect from parents as she/he brings them social glory as per their limited vision of life. Family decisions will be taken as per the convenience and desire of the so-called successful kin. Typically, in middle class families – he is an engineer, doctor, or someone settled abroad in the US.

Or there could be families where it doesn’t matter whether you are a doctor or a clerk, you are a brother, you are a son first! It doesn’t matter if the daughter’s husband is an IAS or a small-time business owner, you are the daughter of the family! The care and respect is similar! Nobody is trying to dominate and bully anyone because everybody is grown up and capable of making their own decisions. But they offer help when required, and stand by each other in tough times.

But, a brother will be called “engineer bhaisaab/bhaiya” after getting an engineering degree! What was he called before he became an engineer, or was he born an engineer? How does it make the other brothers feel, who are not engineers? Can’t he be just a brother?

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Such practices build such a deep bias in the mind that the family culture becomes more commercial, obsessed with social stature and no more family oriented.

Why is being equitable important?

In the outside world, someone or the other is better than you or is trying to push you down. How do you reconcile emotionally? How do you gain strength every day and fight again? It is by going back to our spouses or kids who love us and make us feel worthwhile.

One looks for emotional strength in a family. When you see your own people, you expect something which lifts you up and not pull you down! Your natural inclination is to feel relaxed and not competitive in such an environment!

What happens when you have a family which is supportive?

They give you emotional strength and act as a support system in your life. They may not always be there physically, they may not make you happy always, but they can help you come out of distressed situations better.

They never stop caring for you and are able to put your convenience as equal to theirs. For example, they don’t complain “why you haven’t called?” they call themselves when they want to talk to you. They get the basics right! Try to be good, and ignore your small mistakes if you make any.

If you have a family which believes in glory only, they are there superficially but not there emotionally. If you are the successful and famed one in such a family, know that they will enjoy your agony and pretend to be happy in your success (when they are actually not) but will try to extract favours from you whenever possible.

Know your worth and stay away from toxic family members!

If you are “just a manager” in such a family, you are doomed! You will be insulted and ignored whenever possible, and dominated because you are considered not worthy of being part of the family since you don’t bring them any glory. Best to keep away from such demons in the disguise of a “family” and keep yourself aligned.

Being with such emotionally toxic people can be very unhealthy for you and your immediate family members. In some cases, it can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts and other emotional ailments. Be assertive, smile at them but maintain the distance for your own well-being.

Published here first.

If you or anyone you know is feeling depressed or suicidal, here are some of the helplines available in India. Please call.
Aasra, Mumbai: 022-27546669
Sneha, Chennai: 044-2464 0050
Lifeline, Kolkata: 033-2474 4704
Sahai, Bangalore: 080-25497777
Roshni, Hyderabad: 040-66202000, 040-66202001
SPEAK2us – Tamilnadu 9375493754

Image source: a still from the film Kapoor & Sons

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