CHANGE THE CONVERSATION TO PROMOTE SELF-HEALING
We all do it. We complain about our body, call it names, curse it, hate it, and take it for granted. We look into the mirror and inevitably see only what appears wrong to us, rather than acknowledging all that appears more than right. As we grab that ritual cup of steaming coffee, or hot mug of tea, we find ourselves grumbling incessantly about how tired we feel, how everything in our life sucks, waiting for that welcomed expected hit of caffeine to put us right again, yet, we neglect to thank the hand that holds the cup, that can still hold a cup . . . that is struggling to hold that cup.
While we all want to buy into the image of happiness, peace, and mental stability, we also want others to buy into our illusion of having those sought-after characteristics. When our body doesn’t cooperate, we become angry, frustrated and dissatisfied with not just the part of ourselves that isn’t working, but the sum total. Our self-talk becomes consumed with negativity, and we become our own worst enemy.
For those who suffer from mood or anxiety disorders, a new norm awaits them, and learning coping skills to adjust has the potential to impact a person’s internal and external life in a multitude of ways. Some have described depression as a dark room with no light switch close at hand. After a while one gives up the hope of trying to find that switch and falls helplessly into a false sense of security, enveloped by the surrounding shadows for long, painful intervals . . . alone. Isolation, dread, and even profound melancholy begin to feel comfortable and familiar. The struggle is very real, extremely debilitating, and often both physically and emotionally painful.
Therefore, for many, putting symptoms on the back burner becomes a difficult and impossible task, and ignoring them is an expression of denial; for others, it is a survival mechanism. Learning to accept all of the emotions surrounding a new set of limitations and challenges can feel overwhelming. Learning to embrace the disease process is often painful and problematic. Some may even lash out at themselves. The cycle is dangerous and unhealthy.
Those with concealed mood disorders much also face a wide range of challenges and tribulations as they contend with the onslaught of guilt and self-blame and negative self-talk. While many who suffer struggle each and every day to maintain a degree of normalcy in their lives, if the malady does not affect the person’s outside appearance, that person has the opportunity to keep “the beast” hidden from others. However, when alone, “the beast” can roam free, promoting debilitative negative talk, increasing stress, anxiety and guilt.
People are resilient, and those with mood or anxiety disorders can survive nearly anything. But depression and anxiety are insidious; they scramble one’s vision, not only of what lies in the future but also of what sits before them in the present moment. These disorders are like a thick fog that distorts a person’s view of his own self, of other people, and of the world around him. The disorders trick the brain into believing the worst, even when the best may be waiting right around the next corner.
For that reason, those with easily concealed mood disorders must learn a new set of rules for their everyday life, which can involve simplification, rationing out their energy for the most important daily tasks, and pacing themselves through the ups and downs of their moods. Coping techniques may include finding new ways to view the disease process through a different set of eyes, shelving the guilt, the shame, and the resentment, and finding forgiveness and gentleness for the self to help promote healing.
“Courage doesn’t always roar.
Sometimes courage is the quiet voice
at the end of the day saying,
“I will try again tomorrow.”
—Mary Anne Radmacher