In my last post, I discussed the profound impact of creativity and self-expression on my journey to better mental health. Through my digital art and writing, I have discovered a therapeutic outlet that has been pivotal in navigating my lifelong struggle with depression and severe separation anxiety.
This week, I want to explore another critical element in managing my mental health, one that has been transformative in my healing process: setting boundaries.
The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.
- Psalm 34:18 (HCSB)
The act of setting boundaries, with both myself and others, has emerged as a crucial strategy in managing my depression and anxiety. It’s a journey filled with challenges, self-discovery, and continuous learning. Moreover, it’s a journey I believe is worth sharing, given its potential to resonate with others confronting similar struggles.
My Journey to Understanding the Importance of Boundaries
Throughout my life, there have been instances where a lack of clear boundaries has added fuel to the fire of my anxiety and depression. I often found myself agreeing to participate in more social activities than I was comfortable with. The interaction and the expectation to be ‘on’ at all times drained me emotionally. I remember feeling an intense wave of anxiety wash over me, leaving me exhausted and on the cusp of a depressive episode.
It was a wake-up call. I realized that without proper boundaries, even positive experiences could push me past my emotional breaking point. This realization was a turning point in my mental health journey. I began to understand that setting boundaries wasn’t about shutting people out; it was about creating a safe space for myself. A buffer zone, if you will, where my mental health could be protected.
Learning to Set Boundaries with Others
Setting boundaries with others, especially those close to me, has been a journey filled with trial and error. It began with my wife, the person I confide in most and who has been my rock throughout my mental health journey.
I remember a time when I was particularly anxious about a social event we were planning to attend. Instead of suppressing my anxiety, I decided to express my feelings. I told her about my apprehensions, my fear of being overwhelmed, and how it could potentially trigger my depression and anxiety. To my relief, she understood. We decided to have a plan in place that allowed me to step away if things got too much. This simple act of expressing my boundary improved the situation immensely.
Setting boundaries with friends has been a little more challenging. I have always had a fear of opening up about my feelings. I worried about how my friends would react or if they would understand. But to my surprise, they were more understanding than I had anticipated. The process of setting boundaries with my friends has improved my mental health. In addition, my relationships have deepened now that my friends have an understanding of my plight. It’s a continuous process of learning and adapting.
Setting Boundaries with Myself
Just as setting boundaries with others has been crucial, so too has setting boundaries with me. My struggles with depression sometimes lead me to want to retreat from the world, while my separation anxiety can make me overly dependent on the company of others. Finding the right balance between these two opposing forces has been a constant challenge.
Learning to recognize my limits was the first step in this process. Sometimes I wanted to push myself to be more friendly or productive, despite feeling drained or anxious. I had to learn to say no to myself, to understand that it’s okay to take a break when I need one and that my needs and wants need to be balanced for the sake of my mental health.
Once I started setting these boundaries with myself, I felt less guilt about taking time for self-care. Understanding my limits has had a monumental effect on my mental health. Additionally, I found that giving myself permission to rest actually resulted in me being more productive and sociable when I was up to it. However, this doesn’t mean the process has been without challenges. There are still days when I struggle to maintain these boundaries, days when my depression or anxiety make it difficult to make the right choices for my mental health. But I’m learning, and I plan to keep working on it, aided by the support of my therapist and my loved ones.
Setting boundaries is not an easy task, especially when you’re dealing with mental health challenges. The road to establishing them can be filled with difficulties and setbacks. But I want to assure you that it’s a journey worth undertaking. It’s a step towards reclaiming your mental space and understanding your needs. If you too are struggling with depression, I invite you to embark on this journey of setting boundaries. Be patient with yourself, it might be difficult, but remember that each step you take, no matter how small, is a step in the right direction.
Finally, I would love to hear from you. If you have experiences or thoughts about setting boundaries, or if you have questions, please feel free to share them in the comments section. Our shared experiences can be a source of strength and inspiration for each other.
Until next time, remember: it is okay to be not okay. It is okay to prioritize your mental health over your friends. And most importantly, you’re not alone in your journey.
If you made it this far, please consider commenting below, subscribing, and also sharing on your social media sites. Most importantly, I ask for your prayers. I write this weekly blog as an outlet in my fight against depression. However, my hope is that something I write here may help others who may be struggling. If you would like to help with my battle against depression, check out my online Etsy store. Most proceeds are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You may also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.
Scripture quotations marked HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Used by Permission HCSB ©1999,2000,2002,2003,2009 Holman Bible Publishers. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.