“I feel as though all hope is gone. I’ve tried every drug available to relieve my depression – even ECT. What’s left for me? And why should I bother?”
Readers and clients frequently share such words – deep feelings and thoughts – with me. And the misery goes beyond depression to chronic anxiety and bipolarity.
For that matter, the sentiment is commonly shared by those enduring physical ailments.
I can recall being summoned to an E.R. to work with a man suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. His chronic intense pain was such that he’d run the course with opioid pain relievers.
In tears, he asked me, “What am I going to do, now that I’m out of pain-relief options?”
When the thought hit me to write this piece, a second realization quickly followed: “Bill, you’re out of your mind to even consider taking on the subject.”
Well, that may be true; however, ignoring it won’t bring forth answers. I’m game if you are…
Desperation Knocking? Are Your Bases Covered?
Be it depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or other emotional and mental maladies – before you buy-in to any degree of desperation, you have to make sure you have your treatment bases covered.
Here’s a list to consider…
- Have you learned all you can about your disorder?
- Have you tried, and entirely devoted yourself to, all available treatment options?
- Have you sought second (third and fourth) opinions – even changing physicians, therapists, and other care providers?
- Have you explored and called upon all available and potential “you” resources – emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, and anything else you can come up with?
- In spite of your distress – even hard to muster motivation – are you dedicated to maintaining forward motion (even if it’s inches at a time)?
- Are you doing all you can to maintain contact with the outside world?
- Have you established a strong support and resource network – and are you actively harvesting it?
- Are you devising and practicing strategies to divert your attention away from your circumstances (e.g.: being there for others who share your misery)?
Acceptance and Purpose
Okay, let’s assume you’re “good” as it applies to all of the above. Here’s where things get really tough…
What if it’s fact that you’re doing as well as you ever will? Believe me, this is so very difficult to write – not being in the throes of a serious illness. But I gotta’ ask, what then?
The only positive alternative I can come up with is acceptance, and moving-on to finding true meaning(s) in your life – within the context of your illness.
In the words of the great 19th Century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
So it’s a matter of finding that “why to live for.”
And that’s the quest for life’s meaning. It’s different for each of us, and it may come down to finding and realizing purpose on even an hour-to-hour basis.
Yes, the meaning of life at precise moments.
Psychotheorist and World War II Auschwitz concentration camp survivor Dr. Viktor Frankl believes life’s meaning can be found in several ways…
- Creating a work or doing a deed
- Experiencing something or encountering someone
- In the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering
Regarding the last one, Frankl writes…
“In accepting this challenge to suffer bravely, life has a meaning up to the last moment, and it retains this meaning literally to the end. In other words, life’s meaning is an unconditional one, for it even includes the potential meaning of unavoidable suffering.”
Back to our opening sentiment…
“I feel as though all hope is gone…What’s left for me? And why should I bother?”
I don’t know, there just has to be a reason – purpose and meaning – floating around out there. Somehow I know it. And well or desperately ill, it’s up to each of us to find it.
Promise you’ll never give-up, okay?
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