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Mental Health Disorders: Is There Meaning in Suffering?
by Patty E. Fleener M.S.W.
Having a mental health disorder spells
suffering. Not only for those of us that have these disorders,
but many times for those around us.
How could I live in a world where one could suffer so much and
so long for no reason? Who is my Higher Power? Does this mean
"He" is limited in "His" abilities? If
"He" is, then I feel much less safe. If my Higher
Power is not in control that what or who is?
I recommend this book to anyone who has endured suffering. Surprisingly the book is a very easy read and Frankl discusses his experiences in the concentration camp during the Holocaust. The book is not designed to make you sad or to shock you and he does not attempt that in his writing. What he reveals about his experience is that though one can be denied so much and be in such an intense situation - daily and hourly questioning whether you will remain alive - one can still find meaning.
Victor shows us how he finds meaning in his experiences and how each of us can find meaning in suffering and that it is different for all of us. It is at this point that I realize that at least for myself that perhaps there was no divine purpose or meaning given to my suffering due to my mental health disorders. However, I can give my experiences meaning myself by what I do with this experience. As he says in the book, this is different for everyone.
For me, I can take this experience and attempt to reach others. I know the pain of abandonment in a borderline. I know the depths of despair that depression can take us. I know feeling tremendously out of control mania and I know fear quite well.
This last recent manic episode I experienced was the worst episode that I have experienced in my life in regards to mania. I never knew my mind could go that fast and truly I lost touch with reality briefly and that was extremely scary. The feeling of "losing one's mind" is a very horrible experience and I am extremely grateful for the medication that brought me back to reality.
I hear a lot of flack about neuroleptics (anti-psychotic medications). I hear they cause brain damage, etc. I know myself that they have affected my cognitive abilities but as I have stated in previous newsletters, we must weigh each and every thing on a scale. If I live 10 years less by taking the medications that I do, I am grateful to live the life that I am able to experience due to these medications. By the way, there is no data that I know of, of these medications cutting off life years. I am only using this for an example.
I have felt quite "normal" for several weeks now that that experience seems like decades ago.
Do you ever feel that way? When you are experiencing depression, you feel that you experience this most of your life - that this is your general mood? Yet when you are in a stable mood, you seem to feel that this is your general experience in life? We seem to forget those "horrible times" and I think this can be a dangerous time for some of us as many of us decide we are "all well" and we go off our meds only to be met by "the monster" again.
Copyright © Patty Fleener, M.S.W. All rights reserved.