The Upside of Hell

I want to talk about the upside of hell: how a situation that is not ideal can turn out to help us move toward our true calling.

I spent 7 years chained to desks in cubicles in offices in buildings. I had two-hour commutes each way for a total of twenty hours spent traveling to and from work. That’s no way to live.

I had hitched myself to the first job that came along to spring myself from the hell of a dysfunctional mental health system. True: I went out of the frying pan into the fire.

It’s 2014: too late in the history of the recovery movement for individuals to be told what they should accept, what is possible for them, or what they should want. Providers aren’t the ones who are supposed to tell us that we have to accept a one-size-fits-all lifestyle.

Only us: we’re the ones who can take control over the direction of our lives. The tools to get there are ours to create and to use. Do you want to only “defy mental illness” and live your life in reaction against the diagnosis? Or do you want to “win at the game of life” and take your rightful place on the playing field by “moving toward” a great life instead of away from hell?

All is not lost though. There can be an upside of the hell, if that is possible. A silver lining exists; you just have to turn the cloud inside-out or upside-down to reveal your own opportunities to move toward wellness instead of escape from illness.

The detours we take can have an upside, even if it’s often in retrospect that we realize the road taken moved us farther away from what excites and energizes us.

We need to find the hidden positive elements; the silver lining in our experiences from our dark days. Often: had we not been in hell, we’d become complacent, and not strive to better ourselves.

The upside of my time spent in offices was that I learned social protocol and interacted with people from different walks of life. My first boss told me to tell callers on the phone “one moment please” instead of “hold on.” That is one of the things I always remembered from that time.

I’ll talk on Thursday about words of encouragement along these lines that I read in the Oprah magazine.

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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