Learning to ‘Play the Hand You’re Dealt’
Depression can be a lot like a lousy hand of poker. It doesn’t matter what we do the depression lingers.
“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” —Randy Pausch
This applies to Texas hold ‘em poker, as well as, to life. I pretty much have lived my entire 55 years this way. I have never spent much time wishing I was someone else, wishing I had more money or material possessions. I grew up on a small family farm and learned early on that when something needed doing you just do it—without a lot of moaning or groaning. When depression and then bipolar struck me down, after having a pity party for a while, I learned to play the cards I was dealt.
I play Texas hold ‘em poker on a regular basis at restaurants. For the record, we DO NOT play for money! We play for points in our poker league. In poker, I have to learn to play the hands I am dealt. Sometimes I can bluff and pretend I have a better hand than I do. Sometimes I get dealt a really great hand but get beat by a better hand or by someone who makes a bad call but hits on the flop. Either way, I still have to play the hand I was dealt.
Playing poker is a lot like being on that roller coaster of bipolar disorder. Sometimes I get good hands and everything is wonderful, like those grandiose feelings when hypomanic. Then there are times I get lousy hands, when no matter what I do I lose.
Depression is a lot like those lousy hands. It doesn’t matter what we do to try and get out of it, the depression lingers. We can go through all the motions but don’t feel a bit better.
For me, playing Texas Hold ‘Em Poker gives me that adrenaline rush I get when hypo-manic. The thrill of being in a big hand is comparable to a hypo-manic high. It is exciting and gets my heart racing.
If you were born without eyesight you would learn to live that way; if you lost your hearing you would learn to live without hearing sounds; if you were born with only one foot you would still learn how to walk. Yes, you would need to make adjustments to compensate for these physical deficits but you would eventually learn to live without sight, sound or a foot.
My advice to you if you are still having a pity party because you have a mental illness is to learn to live with it.
Focus on what you can do; not on what you have lost.
You will be far happier if you focus on the blessings in your life rather than your heartaches. Be grateful you have eyes to see with; Be grateful you have ears to hear with; Be grateful you can walk and run. Many people don’t have these things yet still find meaning in their life.
We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.