Relatives' badgering could make for stressful Tet reunion, mental illness

By Thuy Quynh   January 14, 2023 | 09:00 pm PT
Relatives' badgering could make for stressful Tet reunion, mental illness
A person waits to purchase tickets at the My Dinh Station in Hanoi to travel home for the 2022 New Year holiday. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Chieu
Dung, 34, has a decent job and a house in Hanoi, but, in the eyes of her relatives, lacks the all-important requirement for a woman: a husband.

Dung used to have a boyfriend and had planned to marry him, but things fizzled out and she has been single ever since.

Every time she goes back to her hometown for Tet, Dung and her family would be bombarded with questions about her marriage.

Dung's relatives would say not having a family of her own at 30 was a failure and constantly compare her with her peers. Some would even speculate she had some sickness and that was the reason for not wanting a husband at this age.

All those questions, combined with year-end work pressure, caused Dung to constantly lose sleep and be in a perpetual state of sadness and anxiety.

Things reached a stage where she had to be admitted to the Mai Huong mental hospital in Hanoi for a check.

Dr Tran Thi Hong Thu said last week Dung has anxiety disorder, and requires both medication and therapy.

As Tet gets closer, many people dread the endless questions from families and relatives. But for some, these inquiries are far more than mere annoyance, but a source of psychological stress.

Nguyen Thi Huong Lan, a psychologist and founder of the Vietnam Happiness Academy company, said she receives numerous calls before Tet seeking counseling. Many are from people who are unmarried and have pressure from their families or face work issues.

One of them is Hoang, 34, of the northern Yen Bai Province. Hoang is obsessed with the fact that he is still an employee and does not run a business, and rents a house instead of owning one. His relatives have told him he cannot get a wife because he is "incompetent."

Every time he goes home for Tet, they would ask about his salary, when he planned to buy a house and when he would get married and have children.

Even while eating his parents would constantly compare him with his peers. All of this has built up, and now, with Tet getting closer and closer, he feels more and more anxious and demotivated. He does not even want to visit home, fearful all the pressures will pile on him.

Thu said people's mental health was affected during the two years of the pandemic, many of them young, and casual comments from relatives could push them off the edge.

Lan said: "The questions from their family might stem from care or could simply be conversation starters, but can be a source of pain and discomfort for people with mental issues."

Parents' love could also be a source of pressure for children, she said. Vietnamese parents often put pressure on their children to get married or be more successful, simply because they believe those are good things and parents need to point their children in the right direction, she said.

"But they don't understand that repeated advice may become annoying and foster disharmony in the family and become a form of mental abuse."

Thu said constant stress could affect one's mind, making them insomniac, lethargic and irritable.

Constant stress could cause mental illnesses, most commonly anxiety disorders and depression.

Experts suggested practicing gratitude to reduce stress and constantly reminding ourselves that we are not the only ones with troubles.

If stress gets in the way of day-to-day functioning, one should seek help from therapists, they added.

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