3 candles

3 candles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whatever is to give light must endure burning
Victor Frankl

There is no doubt that as people with bipolar disorder we have suffered greatly, a suffering that most people cannot understand. We have stood on the pinnacle of life and also in the depths of hell. It is not self-pity to recognize where we have come from, but we cannot stay there. Being a helpless victim is a form of living death. We must take the lessons we have learned from our experiences and move forward. There is a reason for everything that happens to us, even if we can’t see it at the time. Before we were ever born we were given certain challenges to overcome. It may seem strange at first to believe that we agreed to live this particular life. But if you see this life as a “school” where we learn certain lessons, it makes our suffering bearable. Does that mean that we “deserve” what has happened to us? Of course not. But our suffering can bring about a sense of compassion that we might otherwise have lacked, a desire to help others who have suffered the way we have. It may bring forth certain gifts that we didn’t know we had, and a desire to live a more meaningful life. We can take heart from others who have suffered as well. Psychiatrist Victor Frankl spent time in a Nazi concentration camp. Not only did he survive, but he authored several books on the psychology of survival, and came up with a new type of therapy based on his experiences. This shows that however bad our suffering has been, we can use our experiences to help ourselves and others. We don’t have to do anything grand, small kindnesses toward others can go a long way.

Ask yourself, “What have I gained from my experiences? What hidden talents have been uncovered by my suffering? How can I use my experiences to help myself and others?