Post # 1
Hi all, my future in-laws and I are at an impasse. I suffer from anxiety and depression, which greatly limits what I am able to do and where I am able to go. I have been battling for years and until recently, have had it under control. My fiance’s parents are beginning to get upset with me for bowing out of family events and I just don’t know what to do. I have tried to explain my issues in the past, but they don’t understand how chronic and complex mental illness is. I’ve also tried saying that I have too much work, etc when I feel that I can’t control my anxiety that day. I feel like a lot of our misunderstandings are cultural, but I desparately want us all to get along without my mental health suffering. Any tips?
Post # 2
this is where you need your fiancee to get involved, he needs to defend you to his family and better explain to them your situation
Post # 4
Have they recently moved to the country? How long have they been here? It might not seem like it matters, but it does.
Post # 5
23 years they’ve been here. My fiancé does back me up and has tried to explain it to them, but they still think I don’t like them or something. I’ve even tried explaining it myself, but they are not the type of people who talk about feelings, just sweep it all under the rug.
Post # 6
I’ll try to break it down without sounding like a bigot. After all, I’m first generation immigrant, so I think I get some leeway. Russians and most other transplants from the former USSR view mental illness as taboo. It’s not talked about. If they like you, they’ll just pretend nothing is wrong. So I guess the good news is that it seems they are fond of you 🙂 There is a good chance that they just don’t understand how your condition impacts your everyday life. If you feel comfortable, just do something with your FI and his parents. Maybe dinner at home or have them over for some tea. Basically, just show them that you’re not avoiding them without putting yourself in a situation that might cause you anxiety. Your FI loves you and and you will all be family. If it’s just a cultural misunderstanding, they will be happy you reached out. I hope this helps.
Post # 7
I’m from a Slavic family, so I understand their point of view. For Slavs, family and family events are a big deal. If you keep repeatedly skipping out on these get-togethers, they’re going to be asking a lot of questions. The thing is, mental illness isn’t really accepted in eastern European culture, and if your FI told them the reason you didn’t come was due to anxiety, they’d likely feel kind of offended. This is just because they’re your family now, and you should be comfortable around your family. They would see it as a snuff, because they’ve (probably) welcomed you with open arms, fed you food, etc. and if you/your FI tells them that you don’t feel comfortable around them (due to anxiety) they might be upset because they don’t understand what they’ve done wrong. If your FI were to tell them that you were physically ill however, they would understand. They’d probably be worried about you, though.
Anyway, if you keep skipping events they are most likely going to think that you & your FI are having problems, or that you don’t like them. I have anxiety & depression myself and therefore, as a kid I didn’t used to like attending family events because Slavic families can be very loud and overbearing, but I just went every time and the more you go, the closer you will become to your family members and the more comfortable you will feel. If I just didn’t attend an event and said it was because I felt too anxious to come (which my parents never would have allowed), they would be like WTF? They would definitely be offended and see it as an insult. So I understand how you feel and it must be even harder because you didn’t grow up with them, but unfortunately there’s not really a way to avoid family get-togethers without offending them, unless you have an actual physical illness. They just won’t understand otherwise.
It’s good to expand your horizons. As a very anxious person, I can say that it’ll do you no good to keep running away from the things that make you anxious. It’s hard, but the show must go on. You have to live your life, instead of running away in fear. I understand that sometimes when you are anxious & depressed, you’re not always nervous/fearful, instead feeling angry and irritable. However, you have to push through it and try to develop as close a bond with your new family as possible, because once you feel comfortable around them you will always enjoy your time with them, and you will find that it allieves your anxiety and depression.
Post # 8
I’m Russian American and my family has been here for about 30 years. Unfortunately, the russian culture has it’s quirks and I’ve had to learn them over the years. My family is wonderful and I wouldn’t change them for anything but they think something is wrong if my DH doesn’t eat enough at dinner, or get offended if my IL’s don’t open a bottle of wine at dinner at their house Lol. Invitations are not normally denied and if they are, surely someone will end up offended. It’s just a more formal culture and I suppose a little…cold. One time, I had a study buddy over for Spanish class in high school that didn’t say hello and formally introduce himself to my dad. He was never allowed back in my house lol. I grew up learning that we do things a certain way and that’s how it is. I never spoke to my parents about my feelings, those things were for a diary lol. Im sorry you’re experiencing this and maybe one day you’ll break through to them.
Post # 9
I agree with PP that it might be good to set up some low-anxiety get togethers with your in-laws. Hopefully it will help them feel like you like them and help you get more comfortable around them.