I once flipped out on a one-armed woman at Macy’s during the holiday rush. I felt like her one arm didn’t give her a right to be so annoying. I was a victim of CDR.
CDR stands for Codependent Depressive Rage. This is a condition that occurs when a woman (or man) gives to the breaking point. Its symptoms include:
- Agitation and annoyance at everyone and everything
- Road rage
- Sleep difficulties and insomnia
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Physical problems like back pain, headaches and fatigue
- Other bizarre symptoms that can be individualistic
CDR is a swell of feelings from the self-sacrifice, giving and tolerating endlessly, without making a change. It’s a serious problem amongst women in particular. That is because we are socialized to self-sacrifice, to people please and to put others needs first. However, when we do this too much, in excess, a backlash occurs.
Agnes isn’t doing anything wrong. And neither are you. We women get told we aren’t measuring up in so many ways. What happens is a normal reaction to abnormal expectations and very difficult social constructs.
Agnes called me yesterday saying she was in the worst depressive mood and she couldn’t figure out why. Sure, she’s maintaining a demanding job while single-handedly managing her family household, arranging for Christmas gifts, plans for her children and the family during the holidays, and dealing with complicated extended family dynamics. (She has an angry mother who doesn’t understand why Agnes hasn’t stopped by and fixed her computer).
Our bodies and minds send us plenty of warning signals, but we usually don’t listen to them until we get incapacitated in some way. The symptoms are great big red warning signals that tell us to Stop. Stop. Stop.
What’s a girl to do?
There are no magic wands to take it all away. However, you need to be aware that some of this stress might literally be too much for you in your life.
Setting boundaries is a good start.
- Get support for yourself, even if it is your best friend who you can cry to or have a glass of wine with.
- Buy fewer gifts because it’s what you have to do.
- Offer suggestions, alternatives, or just say ‘no’ to a situation you can’t fit in today.
- Have your kids stay home from practice because you need a breather.
You can get creative with your limits.
And when you feel guilty, just know that that is societal BS. The guilt will pass. Remember, to do all the things you have to do in this world, you have to take care of yourself first.
Cherilynn Veland, MSW, LCSW, is a counselor and coach based in Chicago. She has been helping individuals, couples and families for more than 20 years. She is author of Stop Giving It Away, a new book about developing healthier relationships with yourself and others. The Stop Giving It Away movement aims to stop the detrimental level of self-sacrifice in which many women live and work. For more insight, get a copy of Stop Giving It Away.