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Petunia

What Good is all this Suffering?

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Petunia

Apparently, if we can get passed how bad it makes us feel, there is a lot of good which can emerge from a period of feeling awful.

 

Pain and suffering, including that caused by withdrawal from antidepressants and other drugs can be a catalyst for transformation, a gift, which when unwrapped, can contain the seeds of a renewed life.

 

"Are pain and suffering destructive experiences to be avoided, or are they opportunities for people to develop an extraordinary life? The wisdom of spiritual philosophies throughout the ages has converged with modern psychological research to produce an answer: Suffering and sacrifice offer profound gains, advantages, and opportunities to those open to such boons....

 

1. Suffering is Redemptive

Buddhism teaches us that suffering is inevitable but can also be a catalyst for personal and spiritual growth...

 

...Christianity also embraces the redemptive value of suffering....For Christians, Christ's suffering served the purpose of redeeming no less than the entire human race, elevating Jesus into the role of the Western world’s consummate spiritual leader for the past two millennia...

 

...Positive psychology recognizes beneficial effects of suffering through the principles of post traumatic growth, stress-related growth, positive adjustment, positive adaptation, and adversarial growth...

 

2. Suffering Signifies a Necessary “Crossover” Point in Life

Psychologists who study lifespan development have long known that humans traverse through various stages of maturation from birth to death. Each necessary entanglement on the human journey represents painful progress toward becoming fully human, each struggle an opportunity for people to achieve the goal of wholeness...

 

...A recurring theme in world literature is the idea that people must plummet to physical and emotional depths before they can ascend to new heights...

 

In eastern religious traditions, such as Hinduism, [...] karma involves the acceptance of suffering as a just consequence and as an opportunity for spiritual progress.

 

The message is clear: we must die, or some part of us must die, before we can live, or at least move forward. If we resist that dying – and most every one of us does – we resist what is good for us and hence bring about our own suffering. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung observed that “the foundation of all mental illness is the avoidance of true suffering.”

Paradoxically, if we avoid suffering, we avoid growth...

 

3. Suffering Encourages Humility

Spiritual traditions from around the world emphasize that although life can be painful, a higher power is at work using our circumstances to humble us and to shape us into what he, she, or it wants us to be...

 

...Humility is a major step toward “recovery” in twelve-step programs such Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Gambler’s Anonymous, and Al-Anon... The spiritual principle at work here is the idea that victory is only possible through admitting defeat. Richard Rohr argues that only when people reach the limits of their private resources do they become willing to tap into the “ultimate resource” – God, Allah, the universe, or some power greater than themselves.

 

4. Suffering Stimulates Compassion

Suffering also invokes compassion for those who are hurting. Every major spiritual tradition emphasizes the importance of consolation, relief, and self-sacrificial outreach for the suffering...

 

...Psychologists have found that just getting people to think about the suffering of others activates the vagus nerve, which is associated with compassion...

 

5. Suffering Promotes Social Union and Collective Action

...Freud viewed social relations as the cause of suffering. In contrast, the spiritual view of suffering reflects the opposite position, namely, that suffering is actually the cause of our social relations. Suffering brings people together and is much better than joy at creating bonds among group members...

 

...Psychologist Stanley Schachter told his research participants that they were about to receive painful electric shocks. Before participating in the study, they were asked to choose one of two waiting rooms in which to sit. Participants about to receive shocks were much more likely to choose the waiting room with people in it compared to the empty room. Schachter concluded that misery loves company.

 

Schachter then went a step further and asked a different group of participants, also about to receive the shocks, if they would prefer to wait in a room with other participants who were about to receive shocks, or a room with participants who would not be receiving shocks. Schachter found that participants about to receive shocks much preferred the room with others who were going to share the same fate. His conclusion: misery doesn’t love any kind of company; misery loves miserable company...

 

...Suffering can also mobilize people... In North America, African-Americans were subjugated by European-Americans for centuries, and from this suffering emerged the heroic leadership of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jesse Jackson, among others. The suffering of women inspired Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and a host of other heroic activists to promote the women’s suffrage movement...

 

6. Suffering Instills Meaning and Purpose

The sixth and final benefit of suffering resides in the meaning and purpose that suffering imparts to the sufferer. Many spiritual traditions underscore the role of suffering in bestowing a sense of significance and worth to life...In Islam, the faithful are asked to accept suffering as Allah’s will and to submit to it as a test of faith...

 

...For Christians, countless scriptural passages emphasize discernment of God’s will to gain an understanding of suffering or despair. Suffering is endowed with meaning when it is attached to a perception of a divine calling in one’s life or a belief that all events can be used to fulfill God’s greater and mysterious purpose...

 

...Psychiatrist and concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl suggested that a search for meaning transforms suffering into a positive, life-altering experience: “In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning...."

 

...The ability to derive meaning from suffering is a hallmark characteristic of heroism in myths and legends. Comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell (1949) discovered that all great hero tales from around the globe share a common structure, which Campbell called the hero monomyth. A key component of the monomyth is the hero’s ability to endure suffering and to triumph over it. Heroes discover, or recover, an important inner quality that plays a pivotal role in producing a personal transformation that enables the hero to rise above the suffering and prevail...

 

Conclusion

For an individual or a group to move forward or progress, something unpleasant must be endured (suffering) or something pleasant must be given up (sacrifice)...

 

...Great heroic leaders understand that suffering redeems, augments, defines, humbles, elevates, mobilizes, and enriches us. These enlightened leaders not only refuse to allow suffering and sacrifice to defeat them; they use suffering and sacrifice as assets to be mined for psychological advantages and inspiration..."

 

Full article here:  Psychology Today - Want To Be A Hero? Embrace Suffering and Sacrifice

 

Also see:  The Descent Experience

 

 

 

 

 

 

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chicken

Going though all this has really helped me to be more aware of other's suffering. I'm more helpful to people than I used to be.

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ten0275
petunia, hey.

 

this is a really good article to share. thanks for taking the time to post it. i think suffering has a lot to teach - and bestows many gifts of its own accord. if you tried to tell me this in the acute phase of withdrawal, i would have probably been hurt and confused because there was no seeing any sort of meaning in the kind of pain that zeroed in on me around the clock. in the relatively clearer perspective of post-acute healing, i now realize that pain brought some bows to the good.

 

the most palpable change the pain (and its accompanying terror) brought for me was a much easier approach to the way i view problems, react to stress that emanates from the problems, and face daily situations which pre-withdrawal would have put me uptight or otherwise at disequilibrium. while on psychotropic drugs, i was convinced that i had a panic disorder, was prone to depression, was socially phobic, and had health concerns that were hypochondriatic in scope. as my component pieces of body, mind, and spirit began to reassemble in the aftermath of the harshest phases of my withdrawal, i found that the drugs had in fact caused many of the conditions i had, to that point, considered organic in origination. and many of the problems simply disappeared. but interestingly, some echoes of the problems remained - as a result of conditioning. 

 

for example, i used to have a distinct fear of meetings in the workplace. i couldn't even attend them and if i absolutely had to, i would do so by phone. after withdrawal, i found that i could easily attend meetings. but i would still have a gut reaction that would prompt me to avoid the situation at its outset. it was at this point that i had to manually override these thoughts by saying, "you know, i may not have been able to attend these meetings when i was medicated, but i can now." and as symptoms of anxiety would rise, i'd counter those with "if you survived withdrawal, you will survive anything."

 

i once had someone further along the path tell me precisely that. if you can survive withdrawal, you can damn near survive everything. in my personal experience, this has proved true. the exquisitely painful suffering that is characteristic of psychotropic drug withdrawal puts a lot of the other sufferings of life in a perspective that is, in many ways, invaluable. i had to live it through towards its conclusion to know this as truth though.

 

my suffering, and its residual scars, is actually one of the biggest assets i have carried out of withdrawal with me. it almost seems foolish to say such a thing, but it is true. its dissipation was earned with a whole lot of patience through a whole lot of agony. it's better than a certificate of graduation or a medal of valor really. because it actually pays dividends. i'm vitally more willing to risk for the good, because i've yet to see bad - as bad as it was.

 

thanks,

 

dave

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Adagiooo

I guess I'm going to be the Debbie Downer here but there is NOTHING good or redemptive or anything else positive about my suffering. I am speaking only for myself here but I truly do not believe I will ever make it off of these drugs because of severe, terrifying insomnia. My feet are in excruciating pain all day everyday and I can barely walk from my bedroom to the kitchen to get a glass of water because of SEVERE, SEVERE, SEVERE fatigue. My whole body hurts like h#ll and I am merely watching the world pass me by because I am too debilitated to do anything productive. And the trauma of still having to put this poison in my body everyday because if not I would get sicker is damaging me so much psychologically I can barely get out of bed in the morning. Maybe if I were tapering instead of migrating my benzo I would feel differently. But quite frankly, even after I complete the migration I don't feel I can taper. Maybe is has something to do with being on an AP instead of an antidepressant, I don't know.

 

No, this suffering is for nothing more than my foolish decision to take a pill. Nothing good has come of this.

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LoveandLight

For me also, cannot see any good in it right now..

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bluebalu86

Me too...

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ten0275

i don't think it is a trait of a "debbie downer" to not see a constructive outcome of the suffering when you are so squarely in the middle of it. i don't assume many people would be up for a suffering love-fest, a celebration of agony. most of us wouldn't wish the suffering we endure in withdrawal on our worst enemies. in the second sentence of my post above, i said "if you tried to tell me this in the acute phase of withdrawal, i would have probably been hurt and confused because there was no seeing any sort of meaning in the kind of pain that zeroed in on me around the clock." that is 100% certain. it's like someone who survives a plane wreck. do you think that as the plane is plummeting from the sky they are considering the positive reverberations of their possible survival? i'd say not. i'd surmise that their overwhelming drive would be towards the immediate survival itself - how to ensure it. we are hardcoded to survive after all. i think finding meaning in any of the terrors and agonies of withdrawal is predominately situated in the aftermath, when the intensity has died down. in the immediacy of intense symptoms, i found it almost impossible to be philosophical. in fact, for all the mushiness of my brain and thoughts, i don't think i'd ever been more concrete. concrete as in it was all about taking the next breath, the next bite of food, the next sip of water. maybe that isn't being concrete, rather instinctual.

when it was all still intense and fiery, there was nothing even remotely educational or constructive about the suffering. i would have been in complete agreement. and further, i always feared that my suffering would result in some form of ptsd when withdrawal was through. particularly because one of my worst psychological symptoms were repetieve, never-ceasing intrusive thoughts that centered on the premise of harming myself and others. i was happy to find that instead, when my nervous system had cooled and thoughts subsided, there was a lot of love and maybe even constructive vulnerability left in their place.

 

when you reach the conclusion of this process, or are at least in a more foundational spot of healing, the view changes. i didn't think it would, but it does. the perspective shifts. for some people this may be towards the positive, for others maybe towards the negative though i haven't heard that too often. whichever, the suffering of withdrawal invariably leaves its mark as it crests and recedes...

dave

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freespirit

I have times of seeing the good that has come of this, but I'm not always there....still, it's my intention to be changed by this experience and I try to remember that part. Sometimes it comes in small moments, where I feel immensely grateful for something that I used to take for granted. Past experiences of suffering have shown me that the deepest realizations often come later on...and it can only come from the inside. Someone suggesting I see the good in something has often as Dave said, left me feeling hurt or confused.

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Petunia

I'm sorry if the article above has upset anyone, that wasn't my intention. I think what Dave wrote about this perspective being something you can access at a later stage of the process is probably accurate. I'm not quite there yet either but I occasionally get small glimpses of a transformed future when I'm recovered.

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Adagiooo

You are blessed to have those small glimpses Petunia and you have every right to write about your experience. You've been through hell and have obviously become a better person either because of it, in spite of it or both. I wish you wellness and windows, big, bright windows.

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Pharmageddon

I'm still terrified and in tons of pain now, so for what it's worth--I'm glad to see people discussing this because one of the lesser-known risks of severe protracted withdrawal is having spontaneous, shocking experiences of joy like nothing you've ever felt in your prior life...that sounds crazy at first but I'm serious... I've been through a lot of suffering with this, plus the death of my family, loss of social life and career etc. It's definitely one of the "horror stories," I had severe suicidal akathisia for months and also have to worry about this syndrome damaging my arteries since I have a decent probability (according to geneticist) of suffering the same fate of my mom who had an agonizing death from a failed surgery on her aortic aneurysm. So my life has been nonstop torture for three years on one level or another.

 

But something has happened in the past year. I have moments, more and more--sometimes lasting for hours or days, where I feel a freedom and joy that is like nothing I ever came close to back when my life was normal and "happy." It's really hard to describe but I'll try...It's like I am set free from all fear except "neuro" fear--free from fear of death and fear of pain. In these moments I have finally become something more than my neurology. Or it's like if this world were a test, or a simulation, that whoever is running it whispers "Congratulations, you figured it out." And then I'll break down and cry like I always did from the withdrawal, it's the same old biochemical convulsion, but this time it's not torture, it's blissful.

 

Last night I had a terrible nightmare, woke up sweating and heart racing. I dreamed I was in a huge operating room, having brain surgery for my "disease." All of a sudden, I overheard the surgeons whispering, laughing at what a dupe I was! "Haha," one said, "she has no idea we're implanting this torture device in her brain!" As soon as I heard them I raced out in terror. I hid in a hospital bathroom, and looked at myself in the mirror. Suddenly the dream changed: they hadn't just implanted a torture device, they had changed my whole body, into this horrible, disfigured wreck of a person, wearing punk clothes and a mohawk! "I" slipped out of my body and watched as this disfigured person took out a gun, shocked at her revolting new body, and shot herself. But right as I woke up, I thought "I really admire that disfigured punk!"

 

The dream terrified me until later today, when I started to think it was a metaphor. If the physical me had only seen what the "spiritual" me had seen, I wouldn't have shot myself, I would have been proud to try out the new life. I started thinking about my father, who died at 40. He got Hep C in his early 30s, then liver failure (which also causes brain problems from toxin accumulation), then heart failure but he refused to see a doctor, instead he kept living the way he always did and going for a daily jog. He dropped dead of a heart attack right there in the middle of his jog, and to the very end he held on to his sense of meaning and his mission in life--to teach others that kindness is all that matters. Before I thought his life was a waste but now I see him as a role model. When I had akathisia today I went outside and started dancing and thought "I want to be just like my dad, whenever I die, I want to die dancing."

 

Sorry if I'm rambling and I KNOW this sounds like minimizing the agony of this antidepressant suffering and no one should ever have to go through this, but for those who have lost hope, I hope it might help to know that there are some wonderful experiences that can ONLY happen after intense and long-term suffering--in my case AD/polydrug damage. 

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LoveandLight

That's amazing. Thanks very much for sharing :)

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freespirit

Yes, thanks for sharing...beautiful.

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Pharmageddon

You're welcome...thanks for listening :)

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Mort81

very good article.  I totally am a believer that once we get to a point of happiness or we break free from the constraints of Withdrawal that Life can be much more enjoyable than it ever had been before. We will experience life at a higher level than almost anybody. Its so tough while you in the middle of WD to see that . I think its tough right now for alot of us cause we cant picture feeling healthy again because  our current reality has been so grimm.  One thing I can try and hold onto is how good its gonna feel to be healthy again. Im holding a lottery ticket just waiting to cash it in.

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KarenB

I like this Petunia.  None of us would choose this situation, but since I find myself here I like being able to see the good things that come out of it. 

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manymoretodays

Me too as I humbly await this extraordinary life.  I guess it already is.  In some moments.

 

I like the reference to dancing too.  Ear buds and any kind of movement today feels good.

 

Winning lottery ticket of a different kind is good too.  I have one too!

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Mort81

Ya waiting to cash it in ! its going to be glorious  :D

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Rachelina

I believe my suffering is not mine alone, but a piece of the world's suffering that I have been given to carry and to heal. I believe in interbeing (Thich Nhat Hanh's term for the Buddhist belief that we are all part of each other), so healing myself is healing the world as well. The world is in crisis and pain right now, and our individual sufferings are pieces of that. And our individual healings are actually the world healing itself.

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manymoretodays

That's cool Rachelina.

 

I am thinking humility at the moment.  And I hope I remember this someday.  Mainly to comfort another..........let some else know what I survived and that they can too.

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PatriciaVP

My two closest friends and I have been getting together via Skype every week to encourage one another and study a book we have all been reading about the purpose and value of trials in our lives.

 

10 years ago one of those dear friends fell and exacerbated an existing back problem she had since middle school. Ever since then she has been all but bedridden -forced to take strong pain relievers that strip her daily of energy and joy. It was around that time that I started down this road of every increasing mind numbing meds for an issue that now seems so minor.

 

When we were talking the other day and sharing our frustrations with the place where life had dumped us - bereft of energy, drive and many of the goals we had hoped to achieve by this time in our lives, I realized something. Neither of the people we were 10 years ago would have any clue how to sympathize with the people we are today. So perhaps at least one of the reasons we are enduring the this suffering is so we could each be the person the other needed.

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Vonnegutjunky

If you are currently suffering you can't see the way it changes you - you have to decide once you are "out of the woods" what to do with this experience that has shaken you to the core - it can have meaning or it can leave you bitter - you have to decide - when you are suffering you are not rational - it's only until the acute pain has passed that you will be able to make something from this -

 

I always thought addressing my sexual abuse would leave me deep in a cavern that I would never be able to get out of - now I realize, I can face anything - I don't have to be broken by my past, and akathisia taught me I can be stronger than any depression or anxiety that my past has tried to dump on me - it taught me that I have patience and I can grit my teeth and wait things out- it taught me that quick fixes can make things worse - it taught me that bad feelings pass on their own- it made me appreciate life and living - it taught me that others who want to commit suicide experience internal horror that you won't ever be able to understand until you experience it - something I used to balk at -

 

You cannot see or feel any of these things in wd - but don't let your wd be in vain- let it teach you something good

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MaryDavid

If you are currently suffering you can't see the way it changes you - you have to decide once you are "out of the woods" what to do with this experience that has shaken you to the core - it can have meaning or it can leave you bitter - you have to decide - when you are suffering you are not rational - it's only until the acute pain has passed that you will be able to make something from this -

 

I always thought addressing my sexual abuse would leave me deep in a cavern that I would never be able to get out of - now I realize, I can face anything - I don't have to be broken by my past, and akathisia taught me I can be stronger than any depression or anxiety that my past has tried to dump on me - it taught me that I have patience and I can grit my teeth and wait things out- it taught me that quick fixes can make things worse - it taught me that bad feelings pass on their own- it made me appreciate life and living - it taught me that others who want to commit suicide experience internal horror that you won't ever be able to understand until you experience it - something I used to balk at -

 

You cannot see or feel any of these things in wd - but don't let your wd be in vain- let it teach you something good

That it is really true and well expressed. Thank you.  Would like to know what helped you therapy wise?

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Vonnegutjunky

Thank you Mary - my therapist uses commitment and acceptance therapy - he forces me to focus on being alive and I am to address sincere gratitude for something each day- he says that since I have gratitude for anything and can enjoy any aspect of life this is proof that I am strong enough to endure - he taught me that we don't have to be affected our whole lives by our past and we can choose to be a suvivor a warrior instead of a victim - but it takes practice

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MaryDavid

Thanks Vonne, im interested to know what is working for other people as i know that some therapies suit other people better than others.  I will start making a habit of being grateful too!

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NaturalBorn

i cannot see anything good at all about this situation 2012, 2013, 2014 were the best years of my life, 2015 was also a pretty good year, but that was the year that i started and quitted effexor, in october of 2015, it has been a year from now. everything started going downhill from there , my life is pretty much the most pathetic and miserable thing i could possible imagine. .

I AM the most miserable person i ever met, i lost my health, mental health, libido, cognition, lifestyle, joy in life, skills, trust from other people, etc. At the age 20!

 

doctors don't believe you, your family doesn't believe you, your friends think you are going insane, this is literally a living nightmare...

it's funny to think that in some terms heroin and crack woulddn't have messed me up this bad, not even close. this was caused by a "doctor". this is just beyond wrong...

 

how the hell am i supposed to start college like that? or start a family? or even leave my parents house?  i don't see anything positive coming out from this

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Jayjohnny

i cannot see anything good at all about this situation 2012, 2013, 2014 were the best years of my life, 2015 was also a pretty good year, but that was the year that i started and quitted effexor, in october of 2015, it has been a year from now. everything started going downhill from there , my life is pretty much the most pathetic and miserable thing i could possible imagine. .

I AM the most miserable person i ever met, i lost my health, mental health, libido, cognition, lifestyle, joy in life, skills, trust from other people, etc. At the age 20!

 

doctors don't believe you, your family doesn't believe you, your friends think you are going insane, this is literally a living nightmare...

it's funny to think that in some terms heroin and crack woulddn't have messed me up this bad, not even close. this was caused by a "doctor". this is just beyond wrong...

 

how the hell am i supposed to start college like that? or start a family? or even leave my parents house? i don't see anything positive coming out from this

 

Well just be thankful that you're still only 20 for starters. A young brain can heal much faster than an older one. Your healing will, more than likely, be faster than someone in their 40s for example. You may still have a long road ahead but consider all that you have already learned from your traumatic experiences! With these drugs being handed out to people of all ages like candy , you can bet yourself you won't be the last to experience what you're going through!!

 

And more importantly, once you fully heal, you will begin to feel like a new person. I almost assure you of that. And more than likely you'll still be in your early to mid 20s. Still have plenty of time to try and get your life back on track after all the trauma to your brain and nervous system !!

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