I am not an expert on this subject. In fact, I probably know less about it than many healthy, well-adjusted human beings, but when I’m feeling dysfunctional, I don’t look for advice from my most stable, balanced friends. I go straight to the source to see how people like me are handling these things. So from one dysfunctional monster to another, here’s what I got:
When to Quit Your Job
Do you have a new job yet? If the answer is no, then you should not quit your job unless it is an actively toxic work environment, i.e. harassment, 60+ hour weeks, or a direct negative impact on a serious health condition.
Sorry, I am all for people chasing their dreams, but until you have a steady source of income, it is almost always better to stay somewhere you hate. Spend every spare moment away from that hell-hole applying to different jobs, but make sure you don’t get the Stink of Desperation. You can bomb an interview by going in with an air of “Please give me this job, please, I’ll do anything to get out of my current situation.”
When to Go to the Doctor for a Physical Ailment
Unlike quitting your job, going to the doctor is less reliant on money. Not going to the doctor can lead to far more serious problems that will cost a lot more in the long run, so if you know something’s up and the only reason you don’t want to go is because of the money, go.
If you have a mild to moderate ache, pain, or symptom like a sore throat or nasty cough, and it lasts more than two weeks, it’s time to see a doctor. If you’ve had a fever every day for more than a week, definitely time for the doctor. If you’re having serious, constant pain, see if your doctor can get you in immediately, and if not, I would consider going to Urgent Care or the ER.
When to Go to the Doctor for a Mental Ailment
Here’s the thing: if you’re considering therapy, you should go. Usually, by the time someone actively thinks about getting help, they’ve needed it for a while. If you’re concerned that you’re overreacting or being dramatic, that’s okay, therapists have seen it all and they want to help. Everyone can benefit from therapy, no matter what’s going on.
Money is more of an issue here, but there are a lot of ways to work around the system. Keep an eye out for my upcoming series: How to Find a Therapist. There are three parts, and Part 2 will address how to pay for therapy.
When to Apologize vs. When to Fight
This is the worst one for me. Honestly, I have no idea. If you value other people’s emotions over your own, you’ll always apologize and never fight for what you want or how you feel. But if you value your own emotions over everyone else’s, you’ll always be fighting with people you love.
I’ve been told there’s a middle ground in there somewhere…but mostly I swing from one end to the other. I’ve gotten better at it over the years, but I really just included this section so you’d know you aren’t alone if this is a struggle for you. I feel it.
My only nugget of advice: fighting is a healthy part of any relationship, be it romantic, platonic, or familial. If one person never fights, they don’t trust the other person to love them through the fight, and that’s a problem. See above. (Seriously, everyone should go to therapy.)
When to Freak Out vs. When to Keep it Together
This is so hard. People say you’re entitled to your feelings and that it’s bad to bottle things up, but they don’t seem to mean it. Feelings can be ugly and time-consuming and draining. They have real repercussions in your daily life. “Feeling your feelings” doesn’t mean crying for 10 minutes and moving on. Feeling your feelings can hurt. A lot.
So how do you balance your feelings and your daily obligations? How do you let yourself acknowledge your pain without encouraging it? Coping mechanisms. You have to find ways to feel your feelings instead of letting your feelings throttle you. For instance, when I need to freak out but I know I have things to do, sometimes I’ll schedule a time after my obligations have been met when I can lose it. Sometimes I don’t make it to that scheduled time, and I try to be patient with myself then, but sometimes the feelings fade by the time I get around to them.
What about you? Got any advice for how to officially classify something as a ProblemTM?