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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Suffering, Struggling, and Battling vs. Experiencing

 

I invite you to read aloud the following sentences:

 

·  I suffer with mental illness.

 

·  I suffer from depression.

 

·  I struggle with wellness issues.

 

·  I struggle with symptoms of bipolar disorder.

 

·  I’m battling mental health issues.

 

·  I’m battling symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

 

As you heard yourself stating those phrases, what came to mind? Did you notice an emotional, bodily sensation, or behavioral shift as you read the sentences? Now, I invite you to read aloud the following phrases:

 

·  I experience mental illness.

 

·  I experience depression.

 

·  I experience wellness issues.

 

·  I experience symptoms of bipolar disorder.

 

·  I’m experiencing mental health issues.

 

·  I’m experiencing symptoms of PTSD.

 

What did you notice when hearing yourself read aloud those sentences? Was there any difference in the emotive, sensation, or behavioral response from the first to the second set of phrases?

 

From a linguistic standpoint, the words we use set the tone for how we view ourselves, interact with others, and interface with life. In this way, the words we use matter.

 

The first set of sentences are common phrases one may use or hear others using. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with saying something like, “I’m battling cancer,” or, “She lost her battle with cancer.”

 

Still, I maintain that the words we use matter. In common parlance, I understand that a “battle” relates to fighting or struggling tenaciously to achieve or resist something.

 

“Struggling” often relates to proceeding with difficulty or with great effort. “Suffering” suggests that one is subjected to something bad or unpleasant.

 

The framing of these meaningful words when used in sentences alludes to a daunting task—kind of like “going to war” with borderline personality disorder. These phrases also send a mental message to one’s own emotional state of being.

 

That message can serve as a preparatory command that something terrible, horrible, or awful is about to occur or is already happening. In turn, psychological processes (mental and emotional) can form the belief that whatever occurrence is suggested may be intolerable or unbearable.

 

In Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), the influence of irrational beliefs which cause unpleasant emotional, bodily sensation, and behavioral responses is known as self-disturbance. In essence, the words we use contribute to the beliefs which lead to consequences.

 

Now, consider the second set of sentences. Effectively, the same message is communicated. However, there is no victimhood narrative or grievance implied in these phrases.

 

To “experience” something is merely to encounter or undergo an event or occurrence. Rather than suffering, struggling, or battling symptoms of PTSD, I simply experience them.

 

Reframing my encounter with a diagnosis I actually maintain, I realize there’s no need to amply my experience with PTSD symptoms when communicating with others about my condition. As such, I experience symptoms of PTSD and do not battle the symptoms.

 

Granted, there may be times when one’s mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being may seem like a daunting occurrence. Nevertheless, things aren’t always what they may seem.

 

Stopping to ask oneself, “Am I suffering with depression, or is depression merely something I’m experiencing?” can have a slight impact on one’s perception of the occurrence. However slight that shift may be, sometimes all one needs is a minor disruption in the cycle of self-disturbance.

 

Ultimately, what do you have to lose by giving this reframing tool a try? Suppose you alter how you address your experience and nothing occurs. No harm, no foul.

 

Now, imagine you practice this tool and as a result you’re better able to tolerate and accept that while things aren’t ideal, at least you aren’t suffering, struggling, or battling with whatever ails you. Are you willing to give this tool a try to see whether or not it may benefit you?

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW

 

 

References:

 

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/fair-use

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/get-better

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2023, October 18). Hulk. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/hulk

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/irrational-beliefs

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

Hollings, D. (2022, December 2). Low frustration tolerance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/low-frustration-tolerance

Hollings, D. (2022, March 24). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/self-disturbance

Hollings, D. (2023, February 16). Tna. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/tna

Hollings, D. (2022, November 15). To don a hat. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/to-don-a-hat

Hollings, D. (2022, November 25). Victimhood. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/victimhood

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