Mental health and wellbeing matters: being ghosted

Coffee image for Film Stories' regular mental health column
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In our regular spot where we chat about mental health and wellbeing, a few words on ghosting and being ghosted.

Hello and welcome to the spot on the site where we chat about mental health, wellbeing, and things that may be affecting us. This is a weekly part of our site, that works on the idea that not everything we say or write is going to be of us, but hopefully over the course of the series, there’s something that may be helpful to you, or someone you know.

This week, we’re chatting ghosting.

It’s only in recent times I’ve learned the word ‘ghosting’, That is, the process of suddenly stopping all communication with someone, usually without any kind of warning. In the last year or two, I’ve been questioned as to whether I’ve ghosted people, and I’ve been ghosted myself. It’s helpful, I think, to have a word to describe it.

On the one hand, as we mention several times on this site, you never fully know someone else’s story. That what’s going on in their head and behind their closed doors is not fully known, and they may well be having the worst day of their life, or going through a very tough time. I do want to acknowledge that.

On the other hand, it’s horrible isn’t it? That you’ve written to someone and they deliberately blank you. That you think you’re getting on with someone, and then they cut you off and won’t reply. That you see they’ve read your messages, but they won’t engage, and you don’t understand why, or don’t think it’s fair.

Brains are difficult things to manage at the best of times. But ghosting can be a particular headcluck. That you’re left to fill in the gaps, and rarely come up with the most positive conclusions. There’s a big distance between ghosting, and being cut off for a reason, I believe. But also, the horrible feeling in your gut as you wake up in the middle of the night, your head spinning at the thought of it. It’s really difficult.

The problem is there’s no easy answer. If another person has cut you off, then oftentimes that’s that. There’s little point – once you’re fairly sure what’s going on – in trying to keep contacting them. The best you can really do a lot of the time is – hard as it is – just accept it. Life isn’t always fair, and this is one example of it.

But also, you’ve got to look after yourself. Find ways to occupy your brain to stop you dwelling. If it gets closure to send a neutral message saying you believe you’ve been ghosted, you’re always there for them or such like, do that. Yet that also requires moving on, and sometimes, that’s just what to happen.

In my case, I was jolted was I was – entirely fairly – asked if I’ d been ghosting one or two people. I hadn’t, but that didn’t stop that being the perception. Sometimes, I don’t get around to replying to everything, as others don’t to me. Sometimes, I’m just rubbish. But I try and be conscious of how things may be for the person on the other side of a communication. I had an old friend write me some things and then has ghosted me since, and it really shook me. Still does a little.

Once again, no perfect answers in this piece. But when is there? Life doesn’t work like that. Still, ghosting is a legitimate, painful thing. Please look after yourselves, and please take care.

The very best to you all.

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