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Avoiding Family due to Mental Health

Community Member

I've been dealing with mental health issues for approx 4 years now and for a lot of that time i have avoided my extended family (aunties, uncles & cousins) for a lot of this time because I just can't deal with them and what I feel are their judgmental and noisy views.

I understand that family is important but I feel very uncomfortable when i am around them or when my life and issues are being openly discussed. I am a very private person so find it hard to open up to people at the best of times so have a really hard time with this. They are always wanting to know what I am doing in terms of work/study and at the moment I am doing neither due to having a bit of a breakdown but do not want to disclose this to everyone. I feel like they don't really have much understanding or compassion to mental health things either which just makes it worse.

Even though I realise that avoiding is an unhealthy coping mechanism, i dont see how I can't not do it. The thought of going to a function with my family and getting constantly questioned about things that are none of their business gives me so much anxiety I just can't bare it. I guess what I'm wanting to know is that other than your own experiences or thoughts about it, whether its actually that big of a deal? I have been made aware (from others around me) that it is but I figure I am just trying to do what is right for me so I can cope and don't feel that close to many of them anyway. Any advice?

3 Replies 3

Community Member

Hi Stargirl23,

It's a tough one because it sounds like the generally just care about you and are asking what you are up too. I can understand how you may see it as being nosy and what not. Have you told your parents what you are going through? Perhaps them telling their brothers or sisters (your aunties and what not) in private and advising them to not ask too many questions?

Mental health is slowly becoming more understandable and sometimes you tell people you don't expect to understand and they have more compassion than people you feel understand. It's quite interesting but in reality you should only tell people you feel comfortable with.

My best for you,


white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion


I agree with Jay, some ask questions as they care. If they dont hound you then their questioning is within reason.

However, this doesnt mean you can cope with duch questions. So what can you do?

A good strategy is the answer a question in general terms like "I'm like a lot of people looking for work...how is your job going"? Note how l finished with a question. Unlike yourself most people love talking about themselves.

next idea is to surf the people. Swing into the kitchen and help serve food, swing back to the crowd for a drink, swing back to the kitchen. Dont be s focus of s target for those that set their goodwill targets at.

Wit. Someone questions why you are unemployed. "I'm normal because there are 700,000 more of me in the country. Have set answers for the common questions. MH issues- "most people dont understand depression so l wont bore you with the details".

Throwback- "how about wr make a deal Billy, I won th adk you about your latest prostrate check if you dont pursue my MH issues"?.

These can be done tactfully of course.

Here are some threads you can google that might help

Topic: they just dont understand why?- beyondblue

Topic: wit, the only answer for torment- beyondblue

Topic: nip it in the bud ideas- beyondblue

Topic: fortress of survival- beyondblue

Topic: want to be a hermit?- beyondblue

Cheers Tony WK

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi Stargirl,

Dealing with questions about mental health, employment, activities, when are you getting married, why aren't you pregnant yet and so on can be very uncomfortable for the person receiving the questions. I like Tony's idea of answering a question with a question.

Jay also mentioned that maybe you are being asked these questions because your family do care or maybe they just aren't very sensitive to how you are feeling right now.

Some people just don't understand mental health issues and they may never understand them.

If you do feel like you have to attend family events, sit next to the Uncle with a hearing problem, or with the children, or just explain to people you are not feeling yourself right now and like mentioned earlier, change the subject.

I feel it is okay to take a step back now and then and not attend all family occasions, but don't shut people out of your life.