Finding Meaning in the Mess

Through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and fight restored.

—Helen Keller

I hope to be learning something through my trials and suffering to make this life at least a meaningful experience. Viktor Frankl survived much worse in Nazi death camps by finding meaning in his suffering. Just trying to make sense of the nonsensical is what makes the disease of Depression so challenging to manage. So I try to find some purpose in each day. Some days are just a wash…wake up irritable and downhill from there. Those days I call my “wallow” days. I give myself a day or two to just wallow in feeling bad, hunkering down under the covers and shutting out the world. I just hate having a whole lot of those days in a row, because that means the depression has sucked me into it’s dark, achy realm.

Right now I’m working on ascending from that place. Winding up there can be so insidious…it just slowly infiltrates your life until it overwhelms you. Then it takes such a colossal effort to extract yourself from the quagmire. And even those closest to you don’t often recognize the problem.

Because we become so fearful of being judged, we do everything we can to hide. My least favorite expression is “everything’s fine.” My running joke is, “How’s your hair?” Punch line: “Fine.” Most often the response is superficial and untruthful. I would rather not be asked at all, than feel compelled to offer a glib response. Perhaps that is just my negative attitude talking again, but I’m convinced that I’m just a realist. I prefer the truth, and I like it straight up, but tact is also appreciated, no need to ditch social graces.

We need to be sure that we are sharing our experience with someone so we can find meaning and purpose in what is happening to us because of depression. Obviously, at its worst, professional counseling is required. But friends and family can be good support and help validate feelings, or at least help you sort out distorted thinking. I know I tend to isolate myself when feeling poorly, so I need to make an extra effort to connect with others. It’s never easy, but it helps.

In the worst of situations, there is always hope. I end with this quote:

I believe in the sun, even if it does not shine. I believe in love, even if I do not feel it. I believe in God, even if I do not see him.

—-an inscription on a wall of the Warsaw Ghetto by an unknown Jew, circa 1942


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