Have Macular Degeneration? Will a Pity Party Help?
I love the people with whom I come in contact with through my work; those who have macular degeneration. They are caring, funny, and definitely honest. They have a diagnosis that can mean that their lives will change or have already changed. There’s just one thing that some of them are NOT good at, being part of a pity party! 😀 If you're curious, read on and you'll find out why I say that.
Have you heard the children’s song, “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me. I think I'll go eat worms!”? That's the feeling that many of us have at one time or another when everything just seems wrong. In our heads, there can be a loop of negative thoughts:
- I’m going blind. [I phrased it this way because this is what most people think when given a diagnosis of macular degeneration. No, you are not going blind!]
- Maybe tomorrow my dry AMD will turn to wet. [It does not happen to everyone.]
- If I can’t drive, I’ll lose my independence. [There are so many more ways of getting around than ever before.]
- I can’t see well enough to do anything right! [Sometimes it's a matter of adapting how you do things.]
- What if ...with any number of variations.
Suppressing negative thoughts
For some people, having negative feelings inside their heads is one thing, but they feel that they must NOT show or speak of them to anyone. Do you recognize any of these:
- They fear that others will judge and criticize them.
- They feel like an awful person because so much else in their life is good.
- Some have every reason to have negative feelings because their lives are filled with adversity in addition to macular degeneration. To show or speak them, they think, could hurt the people around them so they remain quiet.
- Some people fear that letting these feelings out will cause a downward spiral that won’t be able to come out of.
These are all valid concerns. If these thoughts are interfering with your life, there is help available. If we can help, let us know.
The danger of suppressing emotions
There’s plenty of evidence that suppressing our negative feelings causes us harm in several ways1:
- People who ‘eat’ their strong emotions may end up turning to food or other substances to self-medicate.
- Frustration can come out ‘sideways,’ and we take it out on others.
- It causes stress, which we know is not good for our vision or overall health.
- It blocks us from looking for and finding solutions to some of the problems.
If you are interested in learning more about this, you might search for 'suppressing negative emotions.'
Now to the pity party
I don’t know if it’s really true, but one source said that country singer Barbara Mandell’s song ‘Pity Party’ was the first use of it. You can also go back to the 1963 song ‘It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To’ by Lesley Gore.
Wherever the phrase came from, it’s a time when a person or group of people have the right to feel sorry for themselves out loud! Some people let themselves wallow in misery, eat too much ice cream, stay in their pajamas all day. Whoops, sorry, I’m revealing how I have one for myself occasionally. 😀
It can be whatever you want it to be, but there are rules I made.
Pity party rules
My rules for a pity party are:
- It has a beginning and an end. I recently tried it with my Facebook group and posted that it had started and would be over that day at 6 pm. That's where the Facebook group I referred to at the beginning come into the story.
- Try not to offer others help, empathy, and sympathy now. There will be time for compassion later.
- You say whatever you want as long as it’s not critical of someone else.
- ‘Ugly cries’ are perfectly acceptable, just make sure you have plenty of tissues.
- No alcohol or mind-altering substances allowed. They just make things worse.
- If you’re doing this in person with a group of people, make sure there’s plenty of decadent food: pizza, ice cream, and chocolate are mandatory. 😀
- Be honest: if you don’t want to attend, that’s perfectly fine, but allow others the right to this time of self-pity.
When it’s over
It’s time to move on. This is not going to fix anything. You will still have macular degeneration when it’s over. Your children will still be living somewhere else. You will still be in pain from other diseases that you have.
It’s now time to:
- Define what it is that you can change and what you can't
- Plan instead of worry
- Count your blessings
- Make sure you are taking care of your physical needs
- Get some exercise, rest when you’re tired, eat as healthy as you can
I love my group
Did I say I love the folks in my group? Some declined to participate because they said they were “in a good place.”
It didn’t take long for several of them to step up and offer participants virtual hugs, heart emoticons, and kind words. As I told them, they can’t even follow the rules for a pity party! 😍
Gotta go! It’s almost 6 pm. I’m going to end the party. I’ll tell them how proud I am of their honesty and their concern for others. Tomorrow we’ll take some of the things that came up and see what we can do to work on them. I'll let you know more about those in future articles.
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