Online support and setting boundaries

Navigating this online world can be tricky.  Online support was crucial for me in my recovery from postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety.  I blogged about finding my online tribe to help support me -  http://tranquilamama.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/finding-my-online-tribe/.  I feel like this online support facilitated a quicker recovery for me.  It was so wonderful to have someone validate your feelings and give you a feeling of hope.  When you are in the pit of depression, you despair of ever feeling better.  My fellow Warrior Moms encouraged me and cheered me on every step of the way.  When I decided to start my blog, I felt this support and love from this wonderful community. 
 
I am the proud member of two really wonderful communities on Facebook – #ppdchat support and Mama’s Comfort Camp.  I also participate in the #ppdchat formal chats on Twitter.  Maintaining healthy emotional boundaries can be challenging, but it is necessary and healthy for your psyche.  My lovely friend and I were chatting on Facebook about setting and maintaining boundaries.  It is so tricky to navigate online interactions because you do not have the luxury of seeing the other person’s nonverbal cues.  She said this, “Learning to honor and appreciate someone’s intentions without being torn down by the advice is REALLY hard.”
 
In these two forums, the mamas have wonderful hearts and the best of intentions.  Messages can get mixed up and interpreted in a completely different way than you initially meant.  I need to know when I am feeling overwhelmed and take a break from social media.  I love my friends, but I cannot deplete myself emotionally.  I cannot give support if I am not healthy and strong enough.  It is so challenging for me to consciously take a step back.  When I go offline and reconnect with myself and my family, I am refreshed.  I do not have to be everything to everyone of my online friends.  Sometimes all people need is just a quick message of encouragement. 
 
If you feel like someone continually drains you, then limit your interactions with that person.  You are protecting yourself.  You are not being a bad friend.  We all bring our own unique experiences and perspectives to the table.  That is the beauty of these large groups.  We all lean on each other when we need to, and there is more than enough people to share the load.  This sisterhood has more than enough love and wisdom to go around.  Each individual cannot be everything to everyone all the time which is a lesson I am still learning.
 
My fellow mamas and sisters, do you feel this pressure, too?  I would love to hear your thoughts.
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About tranquilamama

Juggling parenthood, housework and working outside the home in the corporate world with my wonderful husband. Mom to 2 beautiful girls. PPD and PPA survivor. The title of my blog is after a phrase that was repeated to me in Spain during my semester abroad in college. It roughly translates to relax and calm down. Trying to tame my inner perfectionist and just be a good enough mom.
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14 Responses to Online support and setting boundaries

  1. So very true, and hard to hear, but necessary for healing: we need boundaries: with family/friends/acquaintances.

    It’s a hard question to ask, especially when the times in our lives make us so dependent on friendships …. but at what cost?

    We should not be that desperate for friendship/relationships that we allow ourselves to drown in those people.

    Great post, Jen.

  2. Alexandra, you make a great point. If the cost is our emotional health and well being, then we risk a relapse or setback if we continue to maintain that relationship. I choose to limit my contact initially when I was first diagnosed. Then I became a more active member of both communities. Now I pull back as often as I need to for my own health. I think often of my friends, but I can only do so much.

  3. Rach DonutsMama says:

    I wrestle with social media in that it is too easy to see the ways that you don’t belong or don’t fit. Or, like you said, you don’t see the non-verbal cues or the behind the scenes thoughts so it gets very easy to misinterpret what’s really going on. That’s my struggle. I realize now that it’s healthy for me to take a step back and get recharged and to not take things so personally.

    • Rach, I think that this will be part two of this conversation. We see so much that it is so easy to compare ourselves. Again, we are not seeing the whole story. It is so healthy to step back and recharge. So proud of you for recognizing that. I am still a work in progress at doing just that.

  4. I think you’ve you just said what so many people think,but never say. Thank-you. xx

    • Thank you so much. I had spoken with a dear friend a bit about this, and it really made me think. We need to be able to give support, ask for support and not feel guilty when we cannot give support. It is a fine line to walk.

  5. As you know from #ppdchat yesterday, this has for sure been on my mind. I also want us all to remember that we only hear what our friends tell us. We do not know their whole story. It’s hard to offer advice in this case. We just don’t always know enough and can be misinterpreted as you said. You’re right though that just saying, “I’m loving you and thinking of you,” is sometimes the best.

    • Steph, yes to this. “I also want us all to remember that we only hear what our friends tell us. We do not know their whole story.” There are certain things that I do not reveal online. I am not comfortable putting everything out there. It is such a tightrope, wanting to be there and not knowing what to say. Sometimes all someone needs validation and support.

  6. You are such an awesome advocate for all of us! I agree, sometimes it’s overwhelming. When I log in and see that there are 20+ notifications in a group, there simply isn’t enough time to be there for everyone. Taking a step back for yourself is always ok. *hugs*

    • Kristin, your comment made me smile all night. Thank you so much. I tend to get overwhelmed when there’s an information overload. Hugs. As work is amping up, I will definitely be taking a step back.

  7. Andrea says:

    I have been taking a step back lately too. I was always trying to answer emails right away & so much time was focused on supporting others that I forgot to take care of myself. I am still so new to the blogging & the online groups but at times I am not even sure if/where I fit in & that seems to make the feeling of being overwhelmed worse for me. Reconnecting with myself & my family is one the best things I can do for myself & I definitely feel recharged after doing it :)

    • Andrea, this resonated with me. “So much time was focused on supporting others that I forgot to take care of myself.” Sometimes all someone needs in the online groups is just validation of their emotions and feelings. I am working really hard to reconnect with myself and my family.

  8. Pingback: Mama’s Comfort Camp Is Celebrating! | James & Jax

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