Posts Tagged ‘Comfortably Numb’

Comfortably Numb.jpg“…recovery can exist within the context of illness.  In other words, recovery does not mean cure.  It means living with the illness, managing it, and getting better within certain limitations.”  “Recovery then involves both a coming to terms with symptoms—one hopes in the context of their gradual moderation, but this is not always the case—and finding a meaningful life in their midst.  For many patients, this is a decades-long process of acceptance and resolve.”  “Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation,” by Charles Barber 

Numb is a good word for today.  Of course it just might be a matter of semantics.  Numb?  Apathetic?  What’s the difference? Numb feels like an in-between state.  Not manic, not depressed, but also not “normal.”  It feels a bit like purgatory.  Not Heaven, not Hell, yet with this dim notion of eventual salvation. 

While I have come to the conclusion that there is no “meaning to life,” there has to be meaning for the things in life.   This strikes me as a very complicated, but important concept.  Books have meaning.  Friends have meaning.  Volunteer work has meaning.  Art has meaning.  But to try and apply meaning to life seems futile.  And while my life might not have meaning for me, it might, in context, have meaning for someone else. 

My point here I guess is that those things are inherently meaningful.  The meaning does not have to be applied.  It does not have to be justified.  It’s not trying, it just is. 

Long ago I stopped trying to live a “normal” life.  And I do believe there is a “normal,” a place on the scale of being that most people occupy.  I have felt it on occasion.  Not depressed.  Not manic.  Not numb (which oddly is yet another extreme.)  But normal, thinking to myself during those brief periods, “So, this is how the rest of the world feels most of the time, not happy, not sad, just being.”  

But my reality is something else.  My diseases, disorders, whatever you want to call them, make me who I am.  Sometimes it’s torture and torment.  But those are also the very things that make me the creative, reflective person that I am, that give my life, not meaning, but make it meaningful. 

Would I give up my disorders?  I’d have to know what the trade-offs are first.  I have some friends who seem to be happy, or at least content, but I would never want to live their lives.  They watch “American Idol,” read John Grisham books, and vacation at theme parks with their kids.  While they’re inclined to purchase tickets to “The Drowsy Chaperone,” I’d be standing in line for “Waiting for Godot.”  Now, just so there is no misunderstanding, I don’t consider my choices to be better, just different. I have always been that way.  Even as I child I didn’t see the humor in “The Three Stooges,” preferring instead to watch some Russian Dance troupe on the Ed Sullivan show

So I have to assume that I am hard-wired, both genetically and psychologically, to be discontent.  To always question the status quo.  To search for, but never find that Holy Grail, the meaning of life.  To always strive for something more intellectually challenging.  Part of my identity is the tortured soul, the reflective life.  It’s what I know, who I’ve always been.  Would I trade the angst seemingly inherent in me for a life that was less philosophical? 

Probably not.  I’ll just have to do the best I can with what I’ve got. 

“…some patients can actually say they are glad they have experienced an illness, within reason, as it has enriched their lives and appreciation of things beyond measure.” “Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation,” by Charles Barber 

Perhaps Mr. Barber might want to consider an alternative to the word “glad” in future editions.  Maybe grateful?

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