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“WHO AM I?” Not the Cure, but the Answer(s) Can Sure Make Life Easier

How do you treat depression

“Who am I?” Wouldn’t take Plato to convince us it’s a powerful question. I’d say the most powerful of all. But what’s that to someone wearing themselves out trying to manage a mood or anxiety disorder? Well, finding the answer(s) isn’t the cure, but it can sure go a long way toward making life easier…

Within that context, any of us are going to ask ‘Who am I?’, whether we like it or not. So we may as well take the inquiry seriously and attempt to find some answers.

A week ago I posted a piece on “Who am I?” It was inspired by learning the same question was posed to a 50ish Eric Clapton by his therapist at the beginning of their first session. Initially, he didn’t handle the inquiry well; however, in time, its answers brought him to a really good place in life.

So silly me, I had to tackle the question of the ages, “Who am I?.” Sure, why not? And we’re together again because there’s more to talk about…

“WHO AM I?” Lots of It Going Around

A reader named Vertigo commented on last week’s article several days ago. He was nice enough to say the poem I included captured what s/he goes through “constantly.” Even said s/he’d provide attribution when referencing or reciting it to others.

And this comment came in from Melissa this morning…

I am 66 years old, retired from a job that I never wanted but enjoyed at times, have a husband and two adult sons…and I still don’t know what/who I want to be when I ‘grow up.’ Am creative in the artsy craftsy sense but very stuck and blocked on many levels. Life is going by and I actually do very little. Where and who am I? Wish I could find me.

Needless to say, lots of identity questioning going around. So if you’re conducting inquiries, don’t feel alone.

“WHO AM I?” Why Even Bother?

So why would any of us feel compelled to take-on a mighty issue like “Who Am I?” I mean, seems like a herculean task, one fraught with down-to-the-bone misery.

In my mind, questioning who we are is human nature. We human beings survive on explanations – answers. After all, why do mood or anxiety disorder sufferers constantly ask themselves and others why they have what they have? Why do we time and again ask if there’s a fix for that which ails us?

Fact is, it’s our nature to inquire, especially when it comes to our welfare.

Within that context, any of us are going to ask “Who am I?”, whether we like it or not. So we may as well take the inquiry seriously and attempt to find some answers.

But there’s something else in the mood and anxiety disorder neck of the woods. Ignoring the question “Who am I?”, or recognizing it, but refusing to explore, exacerbates our pain. Sure, it’s hard enough living with, say, depression or OCD, but doing so without a firm handle on self-identity fosters the perception that life is all but hopeless.

Who wants to live like that?

“WHO AM I?” The Mission

You can’t know how much I’d like to give you a blueprint or road map to not only get you on your way, but to guarantee you reach your destination fulfilled.

I can’t. And even if I could I don’t know that I would, because the planning and rolling with the punches are part of the insight experience.

But I will say this. Much of answering the question “Who am I?” is grounded in finding one’s life-meaning. And in that regard, I’ve always found Viktor Frankl’s suggestions profound. Interpret and implement as you like…

  • Create a work or do a deed
  • Experience something or encounter someone
  • Examine the attitude taken toward unavoidable suffering

And for Frankl, the mission was top-drawer stuff, not a “secondary rationalization of instinctual drives.” According to Frankl, it’s this, as opposed to the emptiness and boredom of the “existential vacuum.”

One more Franklism, as he discusses life’s meaning for him, as well as his fellow Auschwitz concentration camp prisoners…

…it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.

Finally, Frankl’s work was highly influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche’s observation…

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.

Again, I believe the “why to live fors” are intimately attached to the answers for “Who am I?”

That’ll Do It

See the woman in the image? One might think she’s got it all together and cruising through life without a care in the world. I mean, look at her with her coffee and that cool facial expression.

I choose to believe she may well struggle with a mood or anxiety disorder; however, does her best to manage and has come to peace with “Who am I?”

From one of my poems…

But to choose a better form of honest self expression
To know the one we truly are
Of honest comprehension

Chance we now to all reveal the secrets of our souls
The very blood of who we are
The tale so boldly told

Be sure to read last week’s piece, “WHO AM I?” And Why EVERYTHING Is Riding On It

For more perspective on the mood and anxiety disorders, peruse hundreds of Chipur titles, find an article that looks good, and dig-right-in.