Crabs in a Bucket
A couple of weeks ago I attended a Woman’s Bible Study Breakfast; the topic was on how women can biblically support each other when in groups of other women. The speaker was my church’s Pastors wife, her vision for the speech was ways we could lift up women in our church communities to rise instead of bringing them down.
The analogy she used was that of how crabs behave when placed in a bucket together. When one crab tries to escape from the bucket, the others pull the fellow crab back down.
The principle of the story is, one if we are in groups of friends and our friends believe that we are doing or acting in a way that could negatively affect us, our crab friends will stop us from doing anything stupid. Then theirs the flip side, when we are climbing out because we want to reach better grounds, our crab friend also may pull us down keeping us from the possibility of achieving a better life.
Someone Like Me
Women that have PMDD can find it difficult to connect with other women. When the other women don’t comprehend PMDD, it makes it challenging to form a meaningful connection. It is especially important to find a support system when the PMDD woman suffers from suicidal ideations, the support could be the difference between life and death.
Additionally, we all want to make connections with others that are just like us. It makes the world we live in less lonely and more relatable, no one wants to be the only one that feels the particular way. We want to know that others have had the same thought and feeling as we do.
Thanks to technology and Facebook, women with PMDD have found a safe place to seek support and understanding. A place where you can express your fears, anger, issues, and thoughts without judgment. Providing them with much-needed encouragement when they are at the lowest points during PMDD.
Finding My Bucket
After I started my blog and opened a Facebook account, I decided that I would look for a group of women with PMDD. Once I found a couple of groups, I quickly joined in hope to finally be with women that understood my moments of rage and insanity.
The groups delivered, it gave me a place I could share those cringe-worthy moments during PMDD that to others just seem like a woman flying off the handle. It also provided a place I could finally connect with other women something that has proven at times to be a real struggle for me.
The connection I felt inspired me to do more for my fellow PMDD sisters. I wanted to start advocating and providing tools that would help each PMDD suffer. It inspired me so much that I even started my own Facebook support group Committed PMDD Sisters. Finally three months after starting my blog I felt like I was at home, I felt that here is where God had been leading me to, it was time to do His will.
A Crabby Realization
When I began to navigate the waters of support groups and what I wanted mines to look like, I realized that many are just a places you can vent. In an attempt to make my group different I decided that I would not only share my love for Jesus. But that I would make it a point to build a real community that got to know each other. All the while encouraging the development of bonds that would be built on encouragement and healing.
Committed PMDD Sister started off small, and it still is, I was happy just to have one person sign up. I was so excited to be able to help other women during their hard times, and in turn, they helped me. I was hopeful, enthusiastic, and ready to grow.
I kept visiting other groups in the hope that I could also bring positivity and inspiration, I noticed a very unhealthy trend. The trend is mostly in part because we are a group of women with a mood disorder that could make anyone in our path weep. But it was more than that; it was like they got sucked into negative Nancy town. The post got increasingly negative, the validations also had very negative undertones, and at times it seemed like the women would lash out at each other.
We had become crabs in a bucket, both talking each other off the ledge and pulling each other down to drown in negativity.
Knocking The Bucket Over
Should we be surprised? I don’t think we should be, I mean what did we expect in a group with different personalities, views, points, and ideas.
In a study done to see how emotions could be infectious, the author noted the following; “social contagion theory hypothesizes that emotions can behave like infectious diseases spreading through groups of intimates in social networks” (Hill et al., 2010.) A reasonable explanation for why a group of women suffering from mood disorders are experiencing pessimistic opinions regarding life with PMDD.
Wait, don’t start unfollowing those groups quite yet! Even though there may be a few crabs that want to pull us down, there is still many that want to keep us safe. In an additional study, it revealed that “highly susceptible individuals are less inclined to adopt negative emotions but equally likely to adopt positive emotions than the scarcely susceptible ones. Also, the adoption rate of positive emotions is in general greater than that of negative emotions.”(Ferrara and Yang). Meaning that providing more positive feedback could be much more contagious than negative feedback.
Please note that I still believe that being part of Facebook Support Groups can be a very empowering and beneficial experience. We just need to keep in mind of how our harmful speech can impact the groups as a whole.
I believe that owning our actions and PMDD will give us the freedom to fight against the symptoms. Same thing with being in support groups! When we hold ourselves accountable for contributions it will change the dynamics of our PMDD support groups.
Allowing for us to express every single feeling we have no matter if it’s positive one or a negative. Without the negative feelings spreading like wildfire harmfully impacting the groups as a whole.
But to achieve such balance, we as individuals must answer the following question honestly about our selfs.
- What are we joining the support group for, to get actual support?
- Or are we just wanting to vent and receive reassurance of bad behavior?
- Are we extending the same respect we are looking to receive?
- Are we using PMDD as an excuse to be a negative Nancy ALL the time?
- Do we contribute in our positive weeks as well as our negative weeks?
- How many positive, encouraging comments am I responding with, or am I just agreeing and supporting a negative atmosphere?
When we answer the questions truthfully we can transform the groups into more supportive and healing groups. Additionally if for every negative comment, we add a positive one it will slowly start creating that harmony we all long to obtain.
A Unique Sisterhood
If we all had a choice, we would not be pledged with PMDD, an illness that bonds us. Unfortunately, that path has been laid, and we have been chosen to walk along it’s a difficult road. Why not do it together? Why not do it together in harmony?
Do you suffer from PMDD? Have Facebook? Here is a list of Support Groups to help you along your Journey.
Committed PMDD Sister (My group)- https://www.facebook.com/groups/committedpmddsisters/
Gia Allemand Foundation – https://www.facebook.com/groups/GAFSupport/
PMDD- Strength Trough Faith- https://www.facebook.com/groups/129392330942986/
PMDD Private Discussion- https://www.facebook.com/groups/563576280410235/
PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder)- https://www.facebook.com/groups/563576280410235/
You Are Not Alone – Treating PMDD with Positivity- https://www.facebook.com/groups/293355761069826/
Bastiampillai, Tarun, et al. “Is depression contagious? The importance of social networks and the implications of contagion theory.” Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 47, no. 4, 2013, pp. 299-303.
Ferrara, Emilio, and Zeyao Yang. “Measuring Emotional Contagion in Social Media.” PLOS ONE, vol. 10, no. 11, 2015, p. e0142390.
Hill, A. L., et al. “Emotions as infectious diseases in a large social network: the SISa model.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 277, no. 1701, 2010, pp. 3827-3835.