I believe I’ve described the difference between pain and suffering here before, but to refresh the memory: pain occurs in real time, and is caused by an event or trigger which has a beginning and an end; suffering is caused by the mind’s re-hashing of the pain, dwelling on it, living in it, and may continue indefinitely. The way to avoid turning pain into suffering is to practice mindfulness in the moment and accept the pain. (That’s the “cheat sheet” summary; hope it was clear enough!)
This morning I realized I’ve been causing myself to suffer by continuing to mourn the things my mental illness has cost me. I haven’t accepted my situation. Unfortunately, this realization doesn’t come with a ready remedy. I’m still mourning my past life, the way things used to be. Maybe this is why I feel I’ve been “sleepwalking” these last couple of months: I’m stuck in a limbo of grief …
What have I lost? Financial security and independence; physical health (having put on a lot of weight during various hospitalizations and medication changes last year); cardiovascular fitness; career; friendships; social life; sleep patterns; respect; self-respect; confidence; hope; happiness, and even the capacity to feel happiness.
Whether I’m still in pain or stuck in suffering, I need to open myself to loss.
My city is famous for its street art, and this is one of my favourite faux road signs:
What I do know is that here on WordPress I’ve found an amazing community who have indeed been glad to see me. The WordPress mental health community is an international entity, spanning the whole spectrum of mental illness. It’s an accepting place, a place where a person can feel heard and validated. It’s got a precious place in my heart, so I have certainly gained something in the midst of all those losses.
Thank you, one and all, for being my silver lining. I’m grateful.