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Yes, share but closely guard family secrets

Be careful about what you share on social media. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Be careful about what you share on social media. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

I have been getting warnings from my parents and husband that I should stop sharing the details of our family life with people. They say I share too much especially after I told some fellow church members that we were planning to change our children’s schools and move to a new estate; and that we were also having someone facing a terminal illness; but that is just me. Is there such a thing as sharing too much?

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In simple and specific language, yes. There is such a thing as sharing too much. At the other extreme of the pendulum, there is also something called paranoia in which one feels afraid of talking, in case the wall has ears. Happily, the majority of people fall between these two extremes.

A number of things stand out in the body of your question and are worth pointing out even as we try to expound on your concerns. First of all, both your husband and your parents have the same view in this matter. If one makes the assumption (not always true) that these are the people closest to you, then you must take them seriously and get to understand what else could be going on in your life. A story will make the point.

A few years ago, a 32-year-old mother of two got up one morning and announcedthat she would be leaving for Cape Town that afternoon. As a corporate lawyer in the city, her husband was used to her making out-of-town visits but these were usually well planned, and all arrangements for child care were her highest priority.

This particular morning, however, she seemed not bothered by the fact that her househelp had left the night before after what seemed like a situation in which she was making too many demands on the househelp.

The night before (the husband would recall later) a number of red flags were raised. He had missed them all.

Firstly, his wife had come home later than usual, and had obviously been drinking. She also seemed very happy, was talking rapidly and loudly, and seemed to have many ideas and plans.

These ranged from the simple to the complex and some long term. In the space of an hour, they (or better she) had discussed her wardrobe, the house makeover, children’s education up to university as well as future holidays, among other things the husband thought could wait for another time.

To his surprise, she made sexual demands that night in ways he had not experienced in their eight years of being together. As he was to put it later, he enjoyed the night but it left him exhausted and fearful of a repeat in the future. After a few minutes in bed, she got up, put on the lights and declared that a work related idea had struck her and she needed to jot it down.

Laptop in hand she moved to the study and for three hours, worked on her idea. The loud music she was playing kept her husband awake for a while, but he was able to sleep after wearing ear plugs and taking a sleeping pill. Earlier bedroom activities also helped.

By the time she was making the announcement that morning, she had sacked the househelp for being too slow to get up in the middle of the night, had rearranged the house from the sitting room, kitchen and including the store, and had given instructions to the gardener on what she wanted done on which part of the garden.

As the husband found out later, part of the night was spent posting family matters to her Facebook friends. work, church and family gossip were shared with reckless abandon (like in your case perhaps).

With the help of her parents the man took his wife to a psychiatrist and a diagnosis of a manic episode was made. With treatment she is back to her old self, discreet with work and family secrets and learning more and more about Bipolar Mood disorder, which is the condition that had led her to saying more that she would have liked to. Happily for all, she now knows how to manage the condition.

Readers are advised to send their questions to [email protected]

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