Recently I engaged in a discussion with a fellow blogger somewhere (thanks meds, can’t remember who or where!) about knowing somebody who uses their illness as an excuse to get out of doing things. Since then I’ve been thinking quite extensively about it, as it’s something I’ve dealt with for a large part of my life. A close family member suffers from depression and they played a large part in my own failure to accept my issues.
For the longest time I thought that maybe I was just like them – wallowing in self-pity or inventing an “illness” that was a convenient excuse to hide my own shortcomings behind. I thought there was nothing wrong with me that a good kick in the ass wouldn’t cure. That I needed to stop making myself out to be suffering from anything other than weakness and get on with my life.
Once I successfully cleared the hurdle of seeking a diagnosis and accepting my label as a depressive, this person’s presence actually became a more positive one. Actually, that’s not true. It’s more accurate to say that their presence became less negative. I don’t mean that they changed into a supportive person or shared some insights into their actions that gave me a lightbulb moment of clarity. In fact, this person doesn’t even know about my diagnosis. They continued on much as they always have – living in their bubble of self-absorption and self-reference. What has changed is my perception of them and the influence they have on me and my emotions.
These days I hear the usual “oh I could never do that” and “I had such potential and then the awful life I have had happened” and instead of anger, resentment and guilt I feel pity and more importantly I feel motivated. I spoke recently about the concept of being a high-functioning depressive and what that means to me. I guess I left out a major driver in my life – my determination not to turn into this negative, self-absorbed person who has had such a negative influence on my mental health to date.