There has to be a reason, right? Subterranean and stratospheric mood, muscle-freezing anxiety, bound helplessness, dark isolation, cold hopelessness. I mean, there must be a reason it’s happening to us. “Why me?” we ask, begging for answers. Are there any? For me, yes. But let’s see what you think…

I’m convinced that my emotional and mental realities call me to serve others in the same boat. If not me, then who? And what better response to ‘Why me?’

I’ve had a knock-down, drag-out coexistence with mood and anxiety symptoms and disorders for going on fifty years. With the exception of hallucinations, delusions, and mania, there isn’t much I – and those closest to me – haven’t experienced.

Time was, banging my head against the wall “Why me?” sessions occurred frequently.

Not anymore.

You might assume I’ve just given-up and tossed the question to the curb. Fact is, I’ve come up with very satisfying answers. Perhaps sharing several will help you. That is, if you’re asking – and searching.

Now, before we get rolling let’s make sure we’re clear on the question. When I say “Why me?” I’m not referring to biopsychosocial causes. For our immediate purposes matters of genetics, brain wiring, patterns of thought and behavior, and environment don’t matter.

No, we’re going much deeper as we ask “Why me?” Maybe a better way to put it is “Why does it have to be me?” How’s that?

Humility, Acceptance, and Strength

am i strong enough to beat mental illnessThere’s no better way to begin sharing my “Why me?” answers than digging into the very foundation of my existence – perhaps yours.

I’ve always believed that if we square things up at the deepest levels of self, so many of our chronic troubles “automatically” fall by the wayside. Humility, acceptance, and strength, then, are worthy foundational issues.

These paraphrased sentiments, written in a letter two-thousand years ago by a very wise man named Paul, wonderfully changed how I look upon my emotional and mental circumstances…

To keep me humble I was given a chronic and tormenting illness. Countless times I pleaded with the giver to take it back. He replied that he would see me through. Furthermore, he assured me the only way I’d ever experience his true power was to be forced to turn to him for comfort. If that’s the only way I can be in relationship with his power, I’ll accept my illness. And I’ll feel good about my pain knowing it’s the only thing that truly makes me strong.

Let there be no doubt, my emotional and mental challenges provide me with much needed and appreciated humility.

You know, prior to the mental health chickens coming home to roost when I was nineteen, the potential was there to become someone others – I – wouldn’t want to hang with.

Coming out of high school I had quite a bit of, shall we say, swag. In fact, many had me pegged to immediately begin accomplishing great things (oh, those damning expectations).

But along came my sophomore year in college – and the emotional and mental deluge. Trust me, the swag was replaced with confusion, frustration, and withdrawal. It would be nice to say humility was a part of the picture, but that would have required self-insight and maturity. Nah, those were a decade or so down the road.

Beyond humility, my “Why me?” involved lessons of acceptance and turning to something outside of myself for the power to gracefully endure a permanent set of painful circumstances. And that’s the truest and most reliable strength of all.

Without my emotional and mental challenges, there is no humility, acceptance, and strength.

The Ability & Right to Help

I’m convinced that my emotional and mental realities call me to serve others in the same boat. If not me, then who? And what better response to “Why me?”

When I first began to get my sea legs back so many years ago, I knew I was going to be totally open about my struggles. How else would I be able to offer help and hope if I wasn’t willing to share what was going-on in my life?

That willingness to share and assist began with reaching-out to people I bumped into in my everyday life. Before long, it led to a change in employment direction. Ultimately, it brought me to a master’s program in counseling at fifty-years-old.

None of it happens without my emotional and mental circumstances.

One final observation. When it comes to lending a hand to someone enduring an emotional or mental situation, anyone’s help is appreciated. 

But there’s something special when the person reaching-out is dealing with their own struggles. It just seems as though the assistance is more accepted – and effective. It’s about being a part of the family. Yeah, it’s like the helper has earned the right to intervene and offer relief. To this day it feels like a badge of honor.

That’ll Do It

Living with a mood or anxiety disorder, do you ever get caught-up in “Why me?”

Hey, maybe you know. But if you don’t, I believe there’s an answer, well beyond the biology and psychology of it all. I also believe this whole mood and anxiety disorder mess can become extremely intolerable and pointless without some meaningful replies.

For me, it’s about acquiring and sustaining humility, acceptance, and strength; as well as providing aid and relief to others. That’s why I’m ill.

What about you?

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