The Meaning of Suffering

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering – Friedrich Nietzsche

My own life has been riddled with it. As yours has been I’m sure. Not the kind glamourised on TV or the kind we become impervious to despite the prevalence of posters with ghastly victims malnourished and abused.

In my life, there’s been suffering.

Of clinical depression.

Photo by Gloria Williams
Photo by Gloria Williams


When it wrested control of this existence, I took turns hiding it, fighting it, pretending, growing numb to it, and when I grew weary, I embraced it. I let it fold over me until I was wrapped in its grip.

But eventually, most important of all, in my suffering I have found meaning.

It is to help others who suffer in this way.

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars – Khalil Gibran

I want to tell you about my friend Lynda. She embodies that magnificent truth spoken by Gibran.

And it is true. The most compassionate human beings have been moulded by the fires of suffering.

When I met Lynda, I was already in the throes of a bad, bad bout of the black fog. It was enveloping me. She has stood by me through the turmoil and when my will has two minds about carrying on, she props me up.

My loving friend Lynda, who has suffered herself, a great deal.  Who still suffers. I marvel at her quiet strength and fierce compassion. That this magnitude of goodness and love can be smouldering and contained in a quiet heart like hers intrigues me.

Lynda uses her suffering to help others. Like me.

She has written a book – Dreams of Death – a fictional novel based on her experiences of mental illness and people she’s crossed paths with.

Photo by shattered.art66

She is so brave and I am incredibly proud of her and her efforts to raise awareness of this debilitating disease. It is stories like these that will help tell the world. Help it to understand better. Stories like these will hopefully open hearts so sufferers can get the help they need.

Without health life is not life; it is only a state of langour and suffering – an image of death – Buddha.

There is still great stigma attached to having mental illness. Many myths and many closed ears.

I don’t have to say that where there is stigma, people hide. And when sufferers hide they cannot get the help they need.

The stigma in my own home country disturbs me. My home country where there is talk of development but society’s most vulnerable are treated with disdain. On the surface all is well, yes, but just a little deeper, you’ll find the hushed whispers, the name calling, the denied relations. If only they’d look a little closer they’d see the person behind the mask of mental illness. A grandmother, a sister, brother, husband, wife, friend… you or me…

Lynda’s book brings that reality home.

1 in 4 people will suffer from some kind of mental health problem. Let us keep working to help eachother. Sharing eachother’s suffering will lesson the burden.

Thank you to an unfailingly supportive friend who shares my burdens even when bearing her own.

Find out more about Lynda’s book here.

Gentle hugs 🙂

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