What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." What does this quote from Frierich Nietzsche mean to survivors who are going through difficult treatments or recoveries?
The sentiment of this aphorism surely inspires some Healthy Survivors. But not all.
For some, it nurtures hope that they'll end up even better in the end. This makes sense, since in many spheres of life adversity leads to changes that offer long-term benefits: Taking an intellectually rigorous class can lead us to be better prepared for an upper level class; training for a marathon can lead us to improved physical strength and endurance; studying under a demanding art instructor can lead us to perform better than ever.
Yet problems can arise because the first half of the quote carries ominous weight. Even with the best of intentions, some students fail tough courses, some athletes seriously injure themselves (even ending their careers), and some artists crack under the pressure, never to dance or sing or write or paint again.
When Healthy Survivors are feeling particularly weak or vulnerable, well-wishers who offer the aphorism unwittingly bring to the surface the possiblilty of a poor outcome and set up unrealistic expectations.
Healthy Survivors, keep in mind that adversity often makes you weaker and more vulnerable before it makes you stronger. If the aphorism is unsettling, replace it in your mind with another quote from Nietzsche: "He who has a why to live can bear almost any how."