Most people thought he would say: “Consult a psychiatrist.”
But he didn’t. He surprised everyone when he replied: “Leave your house, find someone in need and do something to help that person.”
I know this is going to upset folks. When I posted it on my Facebook page, the reviews weren’t so nice. One woman said that hearing things like this makes her feel worse because it is as though Menninger is saying that she’s depressed because she’s self-absorbed. Another person was angry at me because he thought that spreading this kind of horse poop online deepens and thickens the stigma that we have to work so hard against.
I get that.
For six years I experienced suicidal thoughts. In that time, I helped many people stuck in the Black Hole of Bile (depression) and volunteered my time to various programs. But I still wanted to die. I would try my best to lift someone up, and then return home to Google “Easiest ways to get cancer.”
However, this perspective—transcending your pain in loving acts of service–is also full of hope if you can look at it that way.
According to a study in “Pain Management Nursing,” nurses suffering from chronic pain experienced declines in their pain intensity and decreased levels of disability and depression when they began to serve as peer volunteers for others also suffering from chronic pain. “Despite encountering challenges, the rewards of this altruistic endeavor outweighed any frustrations experienced by volunteers with chronic pain,” says the abstract.