Anguish is a word I don’t hear very often.Today I saw a synopsis of a biography of Henri Nouwens,a Dutch Canadian priest and writer of many much loved spiritual writing.Yet the title included the word,anguish.
I wonder if nowdays we are allowed to be anguished.First of all,it’s very painful and we ,ourselves ,may try to obliterate it and if we don’t friends may advise us to see a doctor as if all anguish,grief and woe are a mental disorder.Yet surely being humans leading a puzzling fragmented life in a strange consumerist society where death is hidden and illness blamed on the sufferer for being obese,drunk,lazy,manic,frantic,stupid,oversensitive then it’s not an easy task to allow our anguish to have its time and to convey to us and maybe others that something is going on in us that is important.Of course,taking time off work is frowned up on and sitting idly all day is thought lazy.But work may be going on in our psyche/soul which matters. Many people now deny the existence of a soul but we do need a name for the unknown self within which may try to reach us in our night time dreams.
But to label all our inner pain as a mental illness is a mistake,I feel.Indeed the term mental illness can be misused or may be a metaphor.
Suffering is going on all the time as we walk down the street and through the city.We may be wrapped in grief like mantle or if we know the signs we can read the faces of others around us and see the eyes and the lines of anguish mapped on their pale faces.And do we accept this in our friends or do we push them away? We may not need to speak,just to be present.