Kym Marsden’s monthly mental health column aims to help anyone suffering from any mental health concerns. If this article raises any issues for you please contact the resources at the bottom of this article.
Toxic relationships will leave you feeling like you are misunderstood, unsupported, degraded and consistently criticised. You might be nodding your head and recalling past or current relationships.
Here are two question which might cause you to reflect on the people currently in your life. Ask yourself:
- Which of these relationships nurture me?
- Which of these relationships drain me?
It’s the second question which necessitates action.
Toxic relationships take a toll on our self-worth, leaving us feeling unsafe, vulnerable and persistently depleted of energy due to directed and emotionally harmful behaviours.
Toxic individuals tend to demonstrate and project a range of destructive behaviours such as, but not limited to jealousy, selfishness, dominance, lying, manipulation and control.
These individuals thrive on chaos which results in instability, confusion and increased emotional distress and fatigue.
Toxic people leave us feeling uncertain which provokes anxiety and results in difficulty leaving them as we are fearful. When we try to leave, things can get worse because they’re losing their control over you.
You are dealing with a person whose modus operandi are manipulation, deceit, criticism and other toxic behaviours.
When they sense the shift of power in the relationship, it prompts them to increase their toxic behaviours in an attempt to weaken you, allowing them to reassert their control over you.
Eliminating these people can be unnerving but breaking this cycle is a must and today is as good a day as any to start. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Acknowledge it is time to move on — Ask yourself: “What impact is this person having on my self-worth and mental health?” Then, stop making excuses for their poor behaviours, it’s time to be assertive and consider how you need to move forward. Is this by reducing contact, taking a break or letting them know you need to move on? You may need to engage relevant professional support services if you are experiencing abuse and feel you are at risk of harm.
- Support squad — This is key when you decide to leave a toxic relationship. It’s now your time to shine but please ensure you have a ‘squad’ in your corner whether it be one person or several people. Emotional support is important and I suggest your squad is made up of friends, family and professional support.
- Take time to grieve — Ending any form of relationship is painful, so allow yourself to work through the sadness, shame, anger and other emotions. This will allow you to re-build your resilience and help you to break the bond with this individual.
- No contact — This is a form of self-protection. It allows you to take your power back and loosens their grip on you. Block them on social media, phones, email accounts so they don’t have any form of contact with you. Avoid others who have contact with them, if this isn’t possible set boundaries that they are an off-limits topic of conversation.
- Refocus on the now — Nothing is permanent, everything in our lives will inevitably change. So focus on the now and moving forward, start to replace negative emotions with positive ones through new experiences, set some new goals for yourself and give yourself permission to live and move on!
Eradicating toxic people from our lives can be a difficult but necessary step, so let me leave you with this quote by writer John Mark Green:
“Toxic people attach themselves like cinder blocks tied to your ankles and then invite you for a swim in their poisoned waters.”
If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental ill-health, call or visit the online resources below:
- Spartan First Suicide Prevention Crisis Line – 1800 370 747
- Lifeline – 13 11 14, lifeline.org.au
- Beyond Blue – 1300 224 636, beyondblue.org.au/forums
- MensLine – 1300 789 978
- Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
- Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
- Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet – healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au
By Kym Marsden
Kym Marsden is a Kamilaroi woman and Accredited Mental Health Social Worker with over 19 years’ experience in Mental Health and Community Services. Her qualifications include BA Health Ageing and Community Services, Masters Social Work, Dip Counselling, Dip Community Services (AOD and Mental Health), and Cert IV Training and Assessment.