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In Defense of Setting Boundaries

CW: This post may contain information that some readers may find triggering. If you need support right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.



A few years ago on the Steve Harvey Show, there was a memo that had been sent out by the television host that made the rounds on various news circuits throughout the country. It is perhaps one of the most infamous memos ever sent.

You're probably wondering why I'm talking about a memo from Steve Harvey. All this month we have been focused on mental health and mental health awareness. A lot of our guest bloggers have featured their own struggles with depression, anxiety and feelings of suicide. A lot of these things can be linked to either physical health or in some cases our work environments.

While a lot of people acquainted the memo to Harvey's own sense of self-importance, it was not that at all. It was simply him saying these are my boundaries, these are my hours, anything outside of that is not appreciated and honestly....disrespectful.

That memo was a mental health initiative taken on his part to say he would prefer not to be contacted unless there was an emergency.

We all know our jobs change over the years especially as we grow older, gain an education, or relocate. While losing a job, being laid off, or unemployed can bring with it its own set of hurdles, losing our friendships or family connections can be even more detrimental to our mental health.

Once something becomes all-consuming to the point we cannot put the phone down for a family dinner, do something simple like ignore a telephone ringing, or become fearful of checking our social media to catch up with friends because someone from the office might also be on, we slowly chip away at relationships with people until we have none.

After hearing Mr. Harvey explain why he sent this memo in the back of my mind part of me thought how great it would be to have the guts to send a memo like that out to everyone I worked with. Especially my employer.

There was little space as employers called on weekends, holidays, birthdays (yes, every year on my birthday I received a call except one), and if employees did not answer, or call back the phone would keep ringing.

What Steve Harvey did was set clear boundaries to help him to be able to better do his job, and ensure that people around him could have a life. Personally, I do not want to be called on my day off to deal with office issues, do you? Having never been faced with an employment situation like this before it was strenuous, to say the least, and took its own toll on my mental health.

Since 2008 I have been managing Type 2 Diabetes. Depression took hold in 2012 and then anxiety crept in shortly after in 2013. Individuals with health conditions such as diabetes are more likely to deal with depression, mood swings, anxiety, and other issues in their lifetime. Probably the only good news about these conditions is they can be managed and treated. After realizing my situation was not getting better, nor something I could fix myself, it was time to reach out to my doctor.

Essentially what this meant was more trips to the doctor, more tests, more pain, more medicine, and the final

In previous jobs where I had worked 9 to 5 and went home, still able to relax, this job turned into a 24-7, 360 (only because of the miracle that was Christmas) ball and chain. It felt like my employer never left the office and they did not want us to either.

Today, because my path has once again changed so too has my perception of what it is to be an employee. Despite mobility issues, having to reduce travel, and overall community involvement, there are most certainly aspects I am grateful to no longer have to contend with.

My hope is that the topic of boundaries brings additional information to the mental health argument.

Do I wish I had sat boundaries from the beginning? Yes, of course. Will, I set boundaries in the future if I am ever in the workforce again? You bet.

Even now individuals I collaborate with know what my boundaries are. It is just as much for me as it is for them.

This is also a simple reminder that boundaries are healthy, normal, and always necessary.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this month's Mental Health Awareness month for The Writing Wall Blog. We hope that you have found the stories, information, and links valuable. Please know that there is help, there is hope, and if you or a loved one is struggling with mental health reach out. It can be scary, but it may also ensure you a tomorrow that is full of the wonderful things you deserve.

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