The Four Pillars: A Holiday Greeting

by | Dec 19, 2018


t all began innocently enough. On a September morning in 1954, in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I popped-in to this world. By all accounts, the proceedings went well. Of course, the crying baby boy couldn’t have known what awaited him. But, then, there were those pillars…

Sure, I wish I would have received some sort of assessment and treatment much earlier, but I didn’t. And that’s how the cookie crumbled…

I’ve done my time on the planet. Certainly not finished yet, but I’ve hit that place in life where an already reflection-active mind has become more so. And I care enough about my children, grandchildren, and anyone enduring emotional or mental circumstances to push the cards away from my vest.

I believe I’ve earned a badge of honor by virtue of a lifetime of anxiety, associated mood funk, and alcoholism – 34 years sober. I also believe my experience-based perspective can be of value. I mean, if I didn’t think that sharing would do at least one person some good, I wouldn’t bother. I’m not that important.

A Little History

Some may know otherwise, but I remember my first “psych” episode occurring when I was nine. Triggered by a seemingly harmless observation, I flipped into what I now know to be a dissociative state called derealization. And all I wanted to do was escape and run for miles (and miles).

From that moment through my high school years, all seemed to be on the up-and-up. Retrospectively, however, I can spot a whole lot of table-setting for the big-bang. And, bam, all hell broke loose during my sophomore year in college. And I’ve spent the rest of my life at first surviving, then managing, some pretty nasty emotional and mental health circumstances.

Sure, being a counselor, I know the diagnoses for which I’ve met criteria over the years – even now. But other than for purposes of direction and billing for services, they don’t much matter.

Thing is, I have stuff. And I choose to accept and manage it.


The Four Pillars

Will I always be depressed

So keep in mind, I’ve lived, say, 85% of my sixty-four year life discovering and managing my emotional and mental “eccentricities.” And if you ask me, that gives me the podium for those who want to listen, learn, and get the max out of their lives.

Heading into the pillars, you have to understand I have no regrets, nor would I want to have been anyone else. Just never went there.

Sure, I wish I would have received some sort of assessment and treatment much earlier, but I didn’t. And that’s how the cookie crumbled. And no one was to blame. No harm, no foul.

Okay, so readers and clients often ask me how I managed to emerge from some brutal times, and to this day, continue to step-up to the plate…

Four pillars, actually. And here they are…

  1. I deeply believe that whatever it is that ails me, it isn’t, at its anatomical and physiological foundation, catastrophically wrong and bad – and I will recover to the indicated limit.
  2. I accept my circumstances and the limitations of my recovery. I’m okay with never being symptom-free – always having my leanings, my defaults. I’ll manage them after the fact.
  3. In the spirit of the great Viktor Frankl, I accept unavoidable suffering. And as long as I’m going to suffer, I’ll do it bravely and with honor.
  4. No matter what hits me, I will always maintain forward motion, even if it’s an inch at a time. 

Let’s Wrap It Up

Curious – whenever I’m with a client in deep-weeds, the first thing that comes to my mind is, “S/he was a baby at one time, just like anyone who seemingly has no psych pathology. Wonder what happened.” And I actually do a visual of the infant.

I mean, that’s just where I go. And the perspective is always striking to me.

Hmmm, that crying baby boy back in Philly sixty-four years ago. He sure didn’t know what was coming, but he got on well enough. Yeah, he’s grateful.

And maybe, just maybe, he has a little something to pass-on to you.

Happy Holidays…

If you found some meaning in this piece, go ahead and peruse hundreds of Chipur mood and anxiety disorder-related titles.

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