In his classic bestseller, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” psychiatrist and holocaust-survivor Viktor Frankl explains that among the first things that he had to do once he arrived at Auschwitz was to surrender his clothes. This is humbling in itself, of course. But this was extraordinarily painful for Frankl, because in the jacket of his coat he had hidden the manuscript of his first book, in which he had invested so much of himself. In turn, he inherited the rags of an inmate who had already died in the gas chambers. In the pocket, Frankl found a page torn out of a Hebrew prayer book, including the most important Jewish prayer, “Shema Yisrael.”
“How should I have interpreted such a ‘coincidence’ other than as a challenge to LIVE my thoughts instead of merely put them on paper?” he writes.
As I read that, I thought about the lowest point in my life. After my inpatient hospitalization for suicidal depression, I was placed in an outpatient program, which typically lasted two weeks. Six weeks later, I was still a mess. The nurses told me I clearly needed more help, but that they were forced to discharge me because my insurance wouldn’t pay for any more weeks.
So I asked for my bag of prescription drugs back.