“Oh, get over it! All you do is complain!”
How often do you hear that?
Don’t let anyone ever say you are weak because you complain about your poor mental health. Part of recovery and getting help is telling healthcare professionals and your support system how you feel. There is nothing wrong with talking about your mood because frequently, a solution may come from a place you wouldn’t expect.
But there is something wrong with having a victim mentality.
I played the victim card for much of my adult life. People avoided me because I was such a downer. I complained about anything and everything, using my illness as an excuse to guilt people into feeling sorry for me.
If you had a problem, mine was worse. If you had trauma in your childhood, I had worse. Something as small as running out of cigarettes was the end of the world, and I knew how to host a pity-party.
I was an insufferable boob, and no one ever called me out until I met my wife, Flora. My loving parents thought I needed to vent and whine about my suffering because some people need to purge the emotions. It clears their minds for better thoughts.
But, it had the opposite effect on me. It built up in me until I had 27,897 reasons to keep myself sick and keep poisoning my mind with negativity. I pushed myself down in a dark spiral with my victimhood even though another part of me wanted to break free and take over the care of my sick mind.
There was a warrior inside, begging to get out.
Through all my years of suffering at the hands of my poor mental health, I knew there was something substantial inside me.
There was something that kept me from pulling the trigger of the gun in my mouth when I couldn’t control the voices in my head. There was something that allowed me to put on a brave face and do what I had to to make a living for my family, even if I had spent the last hour locked in the bathroom, cutting my arms to ribbons.
There was something that pushed me out of bed every morning, and even if sometimes I didn’t bathe or went back to bed an hour later — at least I made an effort.
Finally, inside me, there was a force that pulled me out of the depths I had been swimming in for most of my life and put me on the journey towards living and thriving despite my mental illness.
I’m the type of person who needs a warrior — a hero to save the day. I’m fond of saying, “Warrior, not Worrier,” and it’s so true. I can’t speak for what is right for everyone, but for me, I needed a warrior to pull me from the muck.
That is the thing. We will continue to suffer and play the victim until we find the something we need to put us on the path to recovery. It’s different for everyone. For you, you may need more self-care, and you may need to start complaining more because your issues are falling under the radar.
I needed to realize that no one was coming to save me, and I had to be a hero for myself.
How to Help Yourself
I’m no doctor or therapist, and you should be getting most of your advice from a professional. I’m not even a self-help guru. But there is value in taking advice from someone who has been where you are and has helped themselves have a fulfilling life despite challenges.
If I could tell you three things to do to help yourself be a warrior and not have a victim mentality, it would be:
- Don’t wait for a hero. Find out what you need in your situation. I needed a strong and tough soldier, but you may need someone much more gentle and compassionate. Find your champion inside yourself and ask them to come out and help you.
- Don’t be negative but don’t be a Pollyanna. If you have a fake smile plastered on your face, and you are continually repeating positive affirmations, you aren’t doing anyone a favor, especially yourself. It is possible to be honest with yourself and still think positively. Be positively realistic.
- If you can be anything, be a warrior. A warrior has the grit and strength to fight you through the tough times, but is still a thinking, feeling human being who can see you through the battles ahead. The warrior will fight, even when the odds are against them, and no matter how wounded we are, they will always carry us to safety.
The warrior inside of me didn’t kill or cure my mental illness but taught me how to fight it and learn how to thrive despite it.
I can be a writer, even with the constant cacophony of hateful voices in my head, because I have learned how to focus on what is in front of me. Even if it is writing, I can work because I know how to deal with my depression when it comes calling. Despite my constant anxiety and panic, I can still publish work I am proud to show to others.
I can do it because I am the warrior.
Don’t allow yourself to have a victim mentality, wallowing in self-pity, and looking for something to complain about. Instead, be a warrior, and put yourself back on the path to recovery.
Because I’m Not A Doctor
I could have ended it there, and left you with some wisdom of over 50 years dealing with a severe mental illness, and surviving long enough to make it to a place where I’m fulfilled and healthy, but this is 2020 and we have learned that sources speak louder than experience.
Many healthcare professionals don’t want to talk about victim mentality because it is a touchy subject and there is still a stigma associated with it. Despite that, they are starting to acknowledge what they call a “tendency for interpersonal victimhood.”
They get the mistaken idea that their life is out of their own control, and nothing they will ever do will make it different or better. Scientific American says they find it hard to stop thinking about the injustice others have done to them.
Scientific American also says that “constantly seeking recognition of one’s victimhood” is another key behavior of someone who has a victim mentality.
But, if you deal with victim mentality yourself or someone close to you has an issue, you can resolve it. Judith Orloff, in Psychology Today, says being firm and setting limits is one of the ways to deal with your own, or others victimhood.
Of course, as we talked about already, instead of falling into victimhood you can decide to be a warrior, and not wait for someone else to save you. You can also use the warrior within yourself to help others who feel like their life is out of their control.
Having a victim mentality is not the end of the world. Take it from someone who spent their life trying to convince everyone I was the victim, you can take control of your life by changing from victim to warrior.
It’s hard work, but the payoff is priceless.