Are you kidding me? Depression, chronic stress, bipolar illness, substance dependence, OCD, anxiety, PTSD, and more. We endure their symptoms and fallout day after struggling day. How many of our acquaintances could do it?

’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.’

When we live with relentless emotional and mental distress, “life” is lost to sadness, frustration, and anger. And we turn to self for blame and punishment.

I mean, it’s like having an AI emotional support companion telling us on the hour what a loser we are, as well as the self-harm techniques that suit us best.

And the scars – they’re difficult to accept and too numerous to count.

How long has it been since you caught a word of encouragement? That’s what I thought.

You know what? Each and every one of us deserves a badge of honor.

The scars of distress

I’ve been in the ring with emotional and mental distress for 50 years. And not that you’d want to look, I could point out each of my internal and external scars of distress and tell you how I got it.

What about yours? Are you well acquainted with them? If you can’t put your finger on any, consider these…

  • The marks on your skin from self-injury or a suicide attempt
  • The emptiness you feel because of that loving relationship blown to smithereens
  • Those frequent migraines
  • The redness of your face when you walk into a roomful of people
  • The extra 40 pounds you carry because of meds and pounding carbs
  • The feeling of total worthlessness because you lost that job
  • Those broken or cracked teeth from constant grinding
  • That embarrassing lip-smacking from years of antipsychotic use
  • Those flooding thoughts and adrenaline-induced sleepless nights
  • The extra wrinkles on your face, as well as the darkness and bags under your eyes
  • That nasty cough and wheezing from years of smoking
  • The trembling generated by your chronic anger
  • The cirrhotic liver from excessive drinking

If you’re drawing blanks, keep trying.

Badges of honor

depression and anxiety relief

Accept it – well deserved.

The scars left by emotional and mental distress are really no different than those from, say, a nasty cut to the face. Often, the first reaction is to deny the perceived emblems of shame and disgrace.

That’s understandable, don’t you think? However, why can’t they be badges of honor?

Truth: we earned those scars in the heat of battle. “Yeah, Bill, but many of them are self-inflicted.” Oh, I suppose in the most literal sense. But when it’s all said and done, I’m not thinking we really wanted to harm ourselves – or anyone else.

Insight, encouragement, and hope

As long as we’re on the subject of emotional and mental distress and its scars, let’s tap in to some insight, encouragement, and hope.

Twentieth century psychotheorist Dr. Viktor Frankl was a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. Frankl intimately knows suffering, so who better to teach us a thing or two?

Some of his wisdom from his book Man’s Search for Meaning

If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete. The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity – even under the most difficult circumstances – to add a deeper meaning to his life.

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.

Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or to forgo the opportunities of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation may afford him. And this decided whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not.

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

And this from a Frankl favorite, 19th century Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky

There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.

Powerful minds bring forth life-changing observations.

Each and every one of us

So the symptoms and fallout from our emotional and mental distress – and our scars.

Failings and “loser” material? Nah, they’re the spoils of battles bravely fought – won and lost. And here you are reading this, inspired and motivated to learn more.

A badge of honor to each and every one of us.

Looking for more insight, encouragement, and hope?Lots of Chipur titles to review.

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