Why Not Answering My Phone Is a Form of Medication I Depend On

Sometimes turning off my phone, or just not answering it, can be as important as taking medication.

There is a difference between isolating and having to turn off the outside world for a few weeks while you are experiencing a flare-up of symptoms. Sometimes the outside world doesn’t understand the struggle. Friends call to complain about their problems, ignoring yours, and family members don’t understand why you just can’t suck it up. It seems everyone wants something or has advice to give you. This is when I write myself a prescription for not answering my phone or returning calls until I am feeling better.

When you are sick, learning to take care of yourself is essential. You have to learn what triggers your illness and what diet is best for you. It can be challenging to keep stress to minimum. Unfortunately, this means taking a break from certain people in your life.

There are two types of people I’ve learned to avoid:

1. People who are so self-absorbed, they don’t realize there is life outside of their own.  These people are obsessed with themselves and their problems. They are mostly benign people, but are just very thoughtless. It never occurs to them to ask how you’re feeling and that calling you to complain about petty problems for the 100th time this week, might not be a good idea. You may not even hear from them unless they have a problem or favor to ask. In a nutshell, it’s always all about them. They may or may not be aware that they make everything all about them, but they do. They do this even when you verbalize that you are ill and not feeling well. They are the type of people who will visit you in the hospital just to vent to someone about their problems. Most likely you will find yourself shaking your head after dealing with them.

2. People who flat out do not care about you or what you are going through. These people are malignant and lack empathy and compassion. They refuse to consider what you are going through. They are angry that you are sick and will say cruel and heartless things to you without even flinching. They never miss a chance to invalidate your feelings and treat you badly when you are down. With these people, you cannot win. Not only do I not take calls from these people, I’ve learned to eliminate them from my life.

Not everyone will understand my need to disconnect in this way. I’ve noticed that some people will leave irritated voicemails or make snide remarks. That’s OK. This reminds me of who I am dealing with. Kind of like when you take a pill and it gives you a reaction and you think, “I really need to change meds.”

I know I wouldn’t be able to live without my prescription for no phone calls. It’s a medication that I depend on.

Follow this journey on Stephen Fratello.

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