With all of the A to Z bloggers out there who are up to D or E, I figured I’d mix it up a bit and pick a letter from the other end of the alphabet.
I think I’ve taken on too much of a victim role lately. I’ve been having a rough time, sure – but maybe I’ve been allowing myself too much self-pity. (Can there ever be too much? Sigh…I suppose so…)
I picked up my daughter from a playdate last week and chatted with the mom. She is what I would call The PTA Mom – always involved at school, on friendly terms with the teacher and the principal, always the first to reply to the email requesting cut up strawberries for the class party or help making a reindeer craft. She also happens to be pretty, and thin, and talented at scrapbooking. And she actually likes doing all of these things! Argh. Half of my insecurities wrapped up into one unsuspecting woman.
Anyway, this mom seemed a bit under the weather and in the context of a casual conversation about what’s for dinner, she volunteered that she has Crohn’s disease. Apparently this is an immune-related inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract. None of those words sound appealing. The exact causes of the disease are unclear and there is no “cure”. Treatment consists of eliminating triggers, managing symptoms, and preventing relapse.
Treatment of depression, at least in my case, has exactly the same elements. Except that when my depression isn’t treated well, I’m not stuck with diarrhea, and anemia, and an inability to enjoy a warm chocolate chip cookie. On top of her physical GI symptoms, this mom also shared that for her a “mental component” develops – times when she is feeling so awful that she can’t get anything done, and then she feels pathetic and guilty and lonely and… you guessed it… depressed.
It was an “aha” moment for me. A bit of a kick in the pants, actually. Yes, I have depression, and yes, it’s a pain in the ass to manage it all the time. And yes, during the worst periods, it’s debilitating and terrifying. But I think I have had too much of a “woe is me” attitude about my depression. Other people have difficult health struggles too. Others are at the doctor’s every few weeks to tweak meds and hope for the best. Others get exhausted thinking of managing their symptoms for the rest of their lives.
So beginning today, I’m going to hang up my victim cloak for a while. Time to start shouldering my burden with a little more grace – to achieve a better balance between self-pity and self-compassion. And maybe time to take back some of the power I give to Depression when I choose to be a victim.