Searching for Happiness, Searching for Meaning

“The grand essentials of Happiness: something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.” – A. Chalmers

This wonderful truth caught my attention today as we mourn the loss of two high profile individuals this week. The world lost celebrities Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain to apparent suicide in separate incidents. And, as nearly always happens, everyone is shocked. Those who know them well and love them are devastated.

We struggle to comprehend how these tragic things can happen. What moves a person to this extreme, final act when they’ve seemed happy or at least content to the rest of the world? We wonder why they felt so hopeless and what inner turmoil was too terrible to continue to exist.

The quote above includes three necessary ingredients to happiness. If you have these three items life should be a breeze. And yet some people still fall into the depths of despair. Both Kate and Anthony had more than enough to do and they both had people to love and people who love them. So, that leaves “something to hope for” and for a lot of people, not only these two tragic souls, may be where the problem lies.

Something to hope for is in part ‘something to believe in’, perhaps? One of my favorite books I’ve ever read is Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search For Meaning.” One of the many amazing thoughts in that book is

“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”

And Dr. Frankl would know as he was a Nazi concentration camp survivor and a psychiatrist who specialized in suicide prevention. If you know why you’re here, you can most probably deal with the realities of your life, its tragedies and triumphs.

If you believe and know within your heart and mind that you were loved into being by a God who created you in His image and likeness, you tend to feel life is worth living. Or at least you tend to fight to overcome whatever is causing you such despair that you feel that it’s not at any particular moment.

I am not being glib about suicidal people. Or depressed people who can move toward suicide as the answer. I was diagnosed with depression about 13 years ago now and I know what it’s like to feel you are a burden to your loved ones and that you have nothing to offer them or the rest of the world. It’s a horrible, empty, murky existence. And, as I’ve said before and written about, I was a very short step away from thinking my family would be better off without me.

Thankfully, I had a loving husband who urged me rather emphatically to seek help. The first doc I went to was little to no help and, in fact, may have made me worse for a time. Thank God, dear friends directed me to an actual compassionate and competent psychiatrist who was able to help me with therapy and medication. I am depression and medication free and have been for quite some time. But that dark valley God allowed me to enter has given me a glimpse into the place people can go where thoughts of ending their lives seems like a viable, even preferable, option to living.

We need to care enough about our loved ones to ask them what’s wrong. That’s all my husband had to do for me to admit how bone achingly sad my interior life was. I never doubted God loved me or His existence in all of that time. That was a definite gift and the thing I am most grateful for along with my family. But I had absolutely no joy or energy. There was no desire to be with or help other people. Even those I loved the most. I actually wrote a bit more about this in my book that has the same name as my blog and is available using the link on my home page.

I am not trying to sell my book, trust me. But only trying to encourage others who are struggling to seek help. I make no money off the sales of the book. All profits go to a non-profit called Frontline Faith Project that helps bring spiritual support to deployed Troops. But if you want to know more or know someone who could benefit from knowing more, I’d like to humbly recommend my book. I felt God wanted me to write it down and share with others who might be in a similar place.

I am praying for all who mourn the loss of Kate and Anthony. May God comfort them, may the terrible tragedy they’ve experienced turn them toward the Lord. And may God have mercy on the souls of those gone too soon by their own hand. I believe He does on all tortured souls who really just want to stop the pain. I do believe if more people genuinely knew and loved God there would be fewer people wanting to end their lives. I know from personal experience that depression does make one despondent. But if we are willing to keep turning to God and to be honest with those who love us, help is available and most often therapy and medication together are extremely effective.

I just think we need God. Everyone needs God. He helps us to know the ‘why’ of our existence. He helps us to bear the ‘how.’

 

 

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