Communicating Boundaries While in Treatment: Drama-Free Methods to Protect Your Peace
Posted: March 21, 2022
In another post, “Healthy Boundaries Are Necessary To Protect Your Energy While You Heal,” we discussed why boundaries are crucial to protect your wellness, time, and privacy. Healthy boundaries can look like limiting communication, using your time well, or asking for specific help. It sounds easy, but can be overwhelming when you already have so much going on.
It’s human nature to feel like a burden asking for help, even if loved ones offer it. We feel ya, bud. Despite those hesitations, try to take advantage of this time when you have people ready and willing to do whatever you need.
Accepting assistance doesn’t mean you have to let everyone who asks in on your stuff. We’ll say it louder for the people in the back: “YOU DON’T NEED TO DISCLOSE INFO OR FEELINGS TO EVERYONE WHO ASKS.”
That’s where your boundaries come in to protect you from burnout, drama, or unwanted vulnerability. This is your journey, and you are the gatekeeper. That said, communication is important for a) setting your limits, b) managing expectations, and c) feeling respected.
The more your loved ones understand about what you’re going through, the better able they are to help and support you when you need it.
Healthy boundaries aren't weird or mean.
Never be afraid to communicate your needs, even if you think it seems weird. For instance, you want someone to sit in silence with you. Or maybe you need space from a really close friend. Communicating these wishes is crucial to setting and maintaining a healthy relationship with others that won’t take a toll on you.
But don’t keep everything in.
Treatment is hard. Keeping everything to yourself during this time can result in feelings of loneliness, depression, or unmet needs. (Maybe you’ve been there, too?) You never know what disclosing something will lead to.
For example, communication about a worrisome appointment might lead to someone coming to keep you company last-minute. Or maybe telling a friend you’re struggling mentally will lead to a much-needed supportive conversation. Keep those doors open.
Know your style.
Determine what communication style — and how much of it — is best for you. It may take time and practice to know what you want from others and yourself.
Harness technology for your benefit. Use “Do Not Disturb” settings on your phone to limit notifications when you’re not in the mood, leave those texts/DMs on read until you’re ready, or set reminders to follow-up with questions you’re not ready to answer.
Phrases to keep in your boundary arsenal (and practice!):
“I would rather not say more about this.”
“This story is not helpful.”
“Let’s talk another time.”
“Please don’t share this with anyone.”
What else would you add?
Share your concerns with your medical staff. Your doctors and nurses want the best for your body and mind, trust. Chances are they’ve seen it all and have great advice for setting boundaries. Heck, use them to talk to loved ones who are accompanying you to treatment: “Hi sister, she is resting right now so we’re limiting visitors.” They really won’t mind.
Appoint a communications manager (or three).