V is for Victim

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.

Sound familiar?

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.

 

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2 thoughts on “V is for Victim

  1. I seem to be stuck on A at the moment!

    I was mulling on this post after I read it. Be careful that not being a victim doesn’t turn into beating yourself up for not pulling yourself together and convincing yourself that you’re not really ill just lazy. It’s a fine line and a difficult one to balance. Wallowing in self pity is bad, but then so is denying you have a problem and getting cross with yourself for not coping.

    I think also it’s dangerous to compare. If I broke my leg, I would not want to say that I was sufferering as much as someone with cancer obviously. But it would also be ridiculous of me not to go to A&E / ER to get a cast because my situation wasn’t as bad as my friend with cancer.

    Crohns is a rubbish condition to have. So is depression. They don’t need to compete. Depression due to Crohns is not more acceptable than “just depression” because it has an obvious medical condition as its cause. Although it is probably easier to talk about because of the stigma endemic in society regarding mental health issues.

    Hmm, i seem to be giving you a lecture (and one laden with dodgy metaphors at that). I don’t mean to be rude, I’m just worried you might be a little harsh on yourself and wanted to stick up for you.

    Also, I know that I have a tendancy to sew things to distract myself from all the things I’m avoiding. If I’ve made something, it’s not necersarily a sign of how well I’m coping with my life that I’ve been sewing as well as all the rest. It could be a sign that I’m sticking my fingers in my ears and singing loudly to avoid all the problems I have, that I’m doing it instead of all the rest, because it’s one place where I have control and can do soemthing nice. Except the other mums on the school run wouldn’t know that.

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  2. Wow – thank you so much for your comments and detailed thoughts. I admit that I don’t know what to make of all of it, but it’s also late and my brain is fried. So I’m going to let your thoughts percolate for a bit and I’ll reply when I’ve been able to process them some. But in the meantime, thank you for taking the time to write such a thought-filled reply, and stay tuned. 🙂

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