How to Have a Pity Party

Before I started the vertigo meds, I often got angry, depressed, scared, and upset. I still get depressed, feel overwhelmed, and cry. I do this less often now, because the meeds give me so much more control over my every day life. Even  with the meds, my limitations sometimes scare me, or make me angry or depressed.

When you have vertigo, you cannot use alcohol to self-medicate; it makes the symptoms much worse. So, getting drunk to feel better was out. It never occurred to me to consider illegal drugs; that’s not part of my character and I suspect they would make the symptoms worse. I do love chocolate. Since I low carb to manage my weight and to make sure I don’t  spike my blood sugar and make my vertigo worse, I eat sugar-free chocolate. The sugar alcohols used in sugar-free chocolate help me limit the quantity of chocolate. They can induce “gastric distress.” For those of you who don’t know what gastric distress means, the nice effects of gastric distress are bloating and belching. You can imagine if the effects move lower in your intestines…

So, what can you do? You can whine, but no one likes a whiner. I don’t even like me when I whine. I prefer to have a good cry. But, you need to limit it, or you spend all damn day crying. Here is my recipe for a pity party:

  1. Identify the issue that is scaring you, making you angry, depressed or upset. If you don’t know what the issue is, that’s ok. Blame your condition. Wait until after step 3 and try again.
  2. Make sure you have a good 5 minutes alone. Hang in there until you do. If you have to fake it until you make it, that’s okay. The shower is good. Well, if you are me, hang onto something. You need privacy.
  3. Cry. Hard. Big sobs. Let it all out. No wimpy little sniffly ladylike cries. Huge cries. The harder you cry, the sooner it will be over. Gentlemen, yes, I expect you to cry too. You have emotions too. No manly macho nonsense. Your emotions need some escape valve. My guideline is that at the end of my cry, I have used at least 5 tissues, have red eyes, and I’m emotionally exhausted.
  4. If you were not able to identify the issue in step 1, try now. Sometimes, after I cry, I am able to see what’s really going on.

The key is that whatever you do, you get the emotions out without harming yourself or other people. You can’t keep them in. They’ll explode on you at some point. So find a private place and let your emotions out. I have found ladies rooms, the shower, my office because I work alone, the car when I am parked are all good places. Find a private place. This is your pity party. You do not have to explain it or justify it to anyone.

I promise myself a good 5 minute cry. I haven’t had to use all of that time because I don’t let the overwhelm build. My whole life is so out of control and overwhelming that I have to manage each piece as it comes. If you’ve been pushing a bunch of chunks of things that scare you, you might have more chunks than a 5 minute cry will cleanse.

After you’ve let the emotions out, now, maybe you can address the issue. Maybe not yet. The most common place I start is, “what is the worst thing that can happen?”

If you are not ready to problem solve, don’t worry. If you can think about the problem and not get upset, you’re halfway home.

When you are overwhelmed, acknowledge it, don’t bury it. Let the emotion out in a way that does not hurt other people. Once you can have a pity party, you are partway towards emotional resilience.

I thought of this because I had a BPPV vertigo attack yesterday. I hadn’t had one in months. But I fell once on Friday night, once on Saturday, and rode in the car for 3 hours on Sunday. That’s all it took to push those crystals out of my right ear and trigger a vertigo attack. I was upset with each fall, devastated at the attack, and back to sort-of normal once I could eat this morning. I had a big pity party for myself last night. I felt much better.

6 thoughts on “How to Have a Pity Party

  1. Lisamarie Babik

    Johanna:

    I just read your “How to Have a Pity Party” post. Not knowing what “Intralabyrinthine Hemorrhage” was, I clicked your link at the top. One item in particular — Item #6: “Expect mood swings. You had your previous life. Now you have a different one.” — struck me deeply.

    Several years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and it changed my life, largely for the better. However, I do have days where I lament the loss of boundless energy, the belief that I can do anything, that I’m special and have a purpose, of being able to talk to absolutely everyone — forgetting, of course, the flip-side where I lay in bed for weeks completely debilitated from the symptoms of depression.

    It really is as simple as “You had your previous life. Now you have a different one.” Unfortunately, we both know that simple is not the same as easy.

    Anyway, I guess I have no real point other than to say thank you for the reminder. It’s been a rough couple of months for me and I really needed it.

  2. Diana Di Domenico

    Johanna,
    After knowing you for so long I am overwhelmingly surprised to learn of this other life of yours, absolutely fascinating, funny, and most enlightening! Great blog, kudos my dear!

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  5. MC

    The crying part is great advice. Even I have had to have a loud cry to get a proper release of my fear,tension,stress etc and like you I always do it privately.

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