"He stood watching the approaching locomotive, his teeth chattering, his lips drawn away from them in a frightened smile; once or twice he glanced nervously sidewise, as though he were being watched. When the right moment came, he jumped. As he fell, the folly of his haste occurred to him with merciless clearness, the vastness of what he had left undone. There flashed through his brain, clearer than ever before, the blue of Adriatic water, the yellow of Algerian sands."
Think about the "vastness of things left undone": Have you chatted with a homeless person in winter? Have you read Anna Karenina? Have you watched The Kid? Have you traveled to a foreign city and got completely lost? Have you held the hand of a starving child in Somalia or at least looked at a picture of her and wept? Have you written a letter to Santa? Have you kissed every (and I mean every) square inch of a woman's body? Have you sneaked in and slept among the ruins at Machu Picchu? Have you fallen in love with a woman who's monolingual in a language you don't speak? Have you tried to understand general theory of relativity? Have you tried to explain GTR to a bright 9-year-old kid over coco?
I could go on. These are all the things that come to mind that I haven't done. One day I plan to do at least some of them. Think about this.
I made a pact with myself when I was miserable in high-school and my most suicidal, that I would give life a chance and see if things got better as I did more and more things I'd dreamed about and that people told me were worth living for as you've done now. If I did those things and was still unhappy, I felt I should be justified in ending my own life having given it fair chance.
Well, there was a moment, I rememember it in detail, where I was hang-gliding near Interlaken in Switzerland. A man near me said something to the order of "this is the time of our lives, huh!" And I realized then that not only was I still quite unhappy in this most excellent of situations, but that I still wanted to kill myself and indeed had never stopped wanting to kill myself. Not at the Louvre, not in Tokyo, not when succeeding financially, romantically, or in academics.
There was a quote in the Brother's Karmazov which has always troubled me, though I can't find it at the moment, when Alyosha tells a child that he "will always be an unhappy man" and the child says he knows. I believe myself to be fundamentally broken somehow genetically, and I feel that I no longer have any rational reason to expect to ever feel content as a person or free of the suicidal impulse. I will always be an unhappy man.
I can only assume there are others like me in this realization, and to them your words will seem hollow, cliche, and unrelatably foreign. To them what you've said is no different from "but you have so much to live for"- they know that and it doesn't matter. If such a person is out there and is now reading this, all I can say is, well, me too. I keep going somehow, who knows how or why, and I guess all things considered sometimes it really isn't so bad. If I can't ever silence the demons telling me to end it all, I can at least make noise somewhere else that they don't seem so loud. Not a happy result by most measures, but that's the way it is.
I've come to realise this quite strongly myself over the years as various things succeeded/failed, that what I thought would help it didn't, and that all that helps is to face the depression and actively find ways to fight it. I've found schema-based therapy very effective, for example.
I really hope you find a way to resolve these issues, or at least ways of making it better.
If you want to talk (hope this doesn't sound awfully patronising) you can find my email address in my profile.
Telling someone they can think themselves or "figure themselves out" to not being homosexual, schizophrenic or transgender seems crazy to many people, but not crazy when we say the same about depression. Pushing "think about it more! sort our your life!" as The Solution can be dangerous in the case where deferring more radical treatment is necessary or prudent, and the mentality that "I can think/will my way out of this" is a frequent excuse or cause for noncompliance with medication in some patients who actually do need it to not be a danger to themselves, or others.
I'm not implying the poster is such a case, or that such treatment shouldn't be tried, but it can and will fail in certain cases, and it's easy for others and the patient to justify "well I just need to try harder" or to push blame when that's deferring necessary treatment.
Although you're probably right, it's also dangerous to promote that viewpoint. A depressed person accepting themselves as inevitably and irreversibly depressed is not productive, even if that's the case. It's not analogous to being gay where you can accept it and live a happy life.
I suppose accepting that you're permanently depressed could help you cope with it, but I'd be scared of having people assume thats the case before exhausting all other options.
To clarify, I put those (schizophrenia, homosexuality, transgender) as examples of brain structure and wiring (just like clinical depression) and mentioned homosexuality explicitly because it seems less stigmatized than mental illness currently. A gay person can accept being gay and live a happy life, but they can't think themselves into being straight if they try hard enough. An individual diagnosed with major depressive disorder can accept they are clinically depressed and require treatment, then take the treatment and live a happy life, but they can't think themselves into not requiring outside aid to be in a non-depressed state. Society is a lot more accepting of the gay person than the depressed one though.
Of course medication/therapy/even acceptance of a chemical imbalance are not off the table at all.
A big problem with depression is that it makes you feel very guilty, unnecessarily, so I really want to make clear that I didn't want to imply somebody should feel that it's somehow their fault at all.
In many ways a large part of it is getting outside help. I really do recommend that, and have found that extremely helpful myself.
Its easy to hide. Most the people in my life don't know. You can vaporize to minimize the health effects (also bad breath). If you do it regularly enough the cognitive deficit is less severe. Mostly just occasional memory loss. Again, nothing that you seem to care about anyway.
Your years are 120 or less, and then the universe will reclaim you as its own. For the universe, the span of your life should have been not even the fluttering of an eyelash before a blink. From a cosmic perspective, the existence of our whole galaxy was set to be one giant quantum fluctuation - the birth and death of a mere grain of matter, falling from one eon to another.
But then something incredible, something unexplainable, happened. Inanimate matter came forth from the deep waters. It grew legs, it started to paint on cave walls, not yet aware of the implications of what it was doing. (Have you ever wondered - of all the things the most significant cluster of particles in the whole universe could do, why would they choose to paint?) We started to reproduce. We started to communicate, to love, to build, to live! There is nothing else like us in the vast cosmos, and there may never be again.
The Milky Way should have be one passing glow of light, but somehow this humble galaxy became greater than the remainder of creation. The wondrous flash of light as our galaxy passes through existence will be most glorious moment that the universe ever experiences. You alone - a lonely sentient creature - would be that blinding flash of light even if the rest of us had never existed. The wonder of you, even as you contemplated an end to your solitary existence, would fill space long after every sun died and time itself drew to an end. In such a universe, you alone would have been notable. The fact of your existence is more incredible than the largest sun or the most massive black hole. Your glory - the glory of us all - will fill the universe forever, a single proud memory in the vast emptiness of space.
We tend to take our existence for granted, but it is an incredible fact - a miracle which all the religions on Earth were born, or given to us, in order to explain. Who would have thought? Who could have guessed that this tiny backwater planet on a spiral arm of the Milky Way would end up defining the vast cosmos forever?
Now, here is the important part: All the dead matter in the cosmos - every particle of the sun, the galaxy, and the vast everything - would give it up to be you. Sagittarius A* would disappear in an instant, if it could change places. It would give 13.2 billion years of existence for your measly 120 years of life.
Your life, unfortunately, will some day draw to an end. You know that, your atoms know that. Perhaps you are tempted to end it earlier, but no mistake could be more grave. I know not what you believe, but even if there is heaven or hell, there wont be anything like now. Let your atoms live. They have eternity itself to be inanimate.
A handful of misfiring neurons has no right to bring you to an end. The world is blinding. If your neurons can't see, you must do everything you can to fix them. Depression has easy medical fixes. Being treated for depression, fixing such a tiny flaw, may be the hardest challenge you ever face - but it is minor in the grand perspective.
Lastly, I leave the cosmos behind and appeal to you. Whoever you are, however you came into existence, and no matter what your purpose is, you are capable of understanding deep philosophical arguments and complex equations. I have none of that for you, merely a saying often heard on HN or in rejection therapy groups: Never say no. Ask yourself what is necessary to make life worth it. If you need a vacation to Hawaii to make life enjoyable again, take the next plane to Hawaii. If you cannot live in a meaningless world, leave for the mountains of India, where you may seek enlightenment in silence among fellow travelers in the sanctity of a Buddhist monastery. The parent posts' comment on marijuana is right on, but free will can do more than justify life - it can make it as brilliant and wonderful as you desire. The universe envies your ability to choose.
Before I end, I want to point out that all of you left comments here instead of suffering in silence. You are already ahead of the game. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime. If you email me or call me on Skype, you would be helping me take a break from schoolwork to discuss philosophy. If you're in Israel, I would love to meet a fellow HNer in person.
You are brilliant. You are incredible. No matter your flaws, your crimes, your inabilities, I would kiss you. I would hug you. I would bring you into my house and eat with you, only to hear you speak, to hear your stories and your laugh. It may not always feel so, but you are a wonderful, beautiful creature. Love yourself, so that we may too.
I used to suffer from depression - including suicidal thoughts starting in middle school up through high school. I used to abuse drugs to escape for a couple hours at a time every day. After a near death experience while tripping on a high dose of dextromethorphan, I realized I needed to talk to someone. I spoke to my parents, who put me in rehab. There I met a man who spoke much like you did. He didn't tell me I needed to stop doing drugs, or tell me that I needed to live. He didn't He gave me his impression, a glimpse, into what he felt like living in this universe. He had a minor in physics and would explain to me in detail how everything worked - how lucky we are to be alive. It worked. I wake up each day realizing how lucky I am to be in existence, how all of us are lucky to be in existence. I appreciate everything in life, whether its good or bad, because I understand, to some degree, we are all a lucky arrangement of atoms and when we die our atoms move on to someone or something else.
Cheer's to you good sir!
On the other side, I've almost if not completely become an atheist at one point, and even then I realized that suicide was too final a choice for how little I knew about reality. In fact, atheism also consoled me, in that the thought that nothing lay beyond death meant I needn't fear death, nor anything in life, at least rationally (instinctual fear remains).
Finally, starting from an atheist perspective, that I didn't need to fear life, I realized I was searching for something that I haven't found yet, and that is a large part of why I've felt bad. Suicide again was too final and inadequate an answer to that desire inside of me. My desire and ignorance of reality give me hope I will find what I am seeking, and even the seeking is fulfilling to a degree.
However there are other big factors which you can partially control. You've probably already discovered some of them.
I think you would like the book because Seligman recognizes the fundamental difficulty of the problem. As you may have guessed, Seligman himself is predisposed to unhappiness.
> I've done a large subset of the "things I'd like to do before I die"
At least you have a concept of the things you like, somehow.
I was at the Grand Canyon a few summers ago and I just sat on the edge out past where the fences are where only a few sad kids dare to go. I'd be lying if I said I didn't think at least a few times about jumping, even if it was the most beautiful place I'd ever seen. I felt like the canyon itself was a metaphor for my life in a way; huge, full of possibility, complex, but still far from inhabitable.
The helicopter ride just before that was crazy fun, though. It was something like $240 and it was worth every penny (I was making about $140 a week at the time working in retail). I can't put into words how it felt to have my first view of the canyon be from inside a flimsy carbon fiber helicopter that was trying to tear itself apart going over the edge of the canyon at what felt like a 90* angle and jumping from ~200ft above the national forest to about a mile up above the canyon floor. I highly recommend it, if you ever have the chance.
For the curious:
Before you dip in: http://pics.seanp2k.com/phx/DCP_5441+%28Large%29_exposure.JP... & http://pics.seanp2k.com/phx/DCP_5430+%28Large%29_exposure.JP...
During: http://pics.seanp2k.com/phx/DCP_5495+%28Large%29_exposure.JP... & http://pics.seanp2k.com/phx/DCP_5496+%28Large%29_exposure.JP...
After: http://pics.seanp2k.com/phx/DCP_5578+%28Large%29_exposure.JP... & http://pics.seanp2k.com/phx/DCP_5545+%28Large%29_exposure.JP...
I figure that there will be more moments in the future like that too, and I guess that's what I live for, just to see everything there is to see. My 9 day for-no-real-reason-with-nothing-planned vacation to San Francisco was also great, and I met more awesome people DOING STUFF there in a week than I have here (Detroit/Metro area, Michigan) in years, which is why I'm moving out there in a few months.
I probably have many more stories about majestic woods that I've biked and hiked through, hidden passages on rivers in a kayak, etc. but what I'm getting at is that life is an adventure, so go explore, because the worst thing you can do is live a boring life and die old without having done anything (risky|exciting|challenging|scary). Talk to the girl. Go to that party even though you're already in bed. Apply for that perfect long-shot work-from-home job. The worst failure is not even trying.
And I know how hard trying is.
But the problem with serious depression is that you lose interest in even the things you used to love, let alone things you could love. You find it hard to find meaning in even the most meaningful things. The things you have done become meaningless. The things you could do in the future don't even cross your mind.
You become horribly short-sighted and pessimistic. The key is regaining a fair perspective on life, which is on par with "finding meaning" -- something many spend their whole life trying to do. It's no easy quest. There's no easy answer.
I'm never sure what to say to friends who are depressed, besides what's cliche.
It happened to me in the past, I felt lost, now I'm happy again with my new partner. Time is an important factor, don't be impatient, and focus again on yourself for a while.
I've also left suicide as an option open, but I've got one plan ahead of that which is just to stand up and walk away, loose ends untied.
My point is, the meaning that most people take for granted from an intimate relationship with someone, for me personally, has died. I'm no longer willing to sacrifice so much for someone else, because it took so much from everyday since. The trauma steals your life because your mind simply isn't capable of thinking of anything else anymore.
The conflict of loving someone and at the same time hating that part of them that destroyed you, is a paradox that makes it impossible to be blind to the reality that you can no longer trust anyone with your life.
I'll be glad to get out of this heartless country and back into the sunshine, where people have the balls to speak their mind and call a bastard a bastard, and a bitch a bitch.
It is sad to have lost so much. And I know people have been through much worse, and right now there are other people that are going through ten kinds of hell, and I can even understand them a little.
When the pain was really bad, one thing that I thought I could really understand well and empathise with was a parent that loses his or her child. You can't understand what it's like unless you go through it yourself. And the reality is, that that sort of trauma changes everything. Who you are diverges so much that it's impossible to merge back into the main line. You're completely forked.
Looks like you are already feeling better. From the other comment, I came to know that you have managed to get over the dependency. So now hopefully, it should only get better. But even the journey to recovery has its down days.
Turns out I'm a fighter, and I intend to make it, but when things go down far enough, you just never know, because things feel bad enough that it becomes a serious consideration. Right now, it's not an option. I know that I'll quit my job and flat next month, and head back home 4 months later (everything has 3 months notice in this country).
Yes you are a fighter, as you have chosen to. Give a good fight. And please remember (as you already know) that a big component of these kinds of fights is test of your patience. God willing, you will win.
And please remember that you are not alone. There are others perhaps facing pains similar to what you are facing. And there are a whole lot of _good_ people who care, for goodness sake.
This is a good insight. At some point you manage to carry on despite all the bad feelings, and you're simply dragging yourself through the last bit of crap that's holding you back. I recognise that my patience is limited, so I've set myself a goal that I can attain before it runs out (getting out of here and back to a sunny country).
It's frustrating to know that many people said, while I was going through the worst of it, that going back to Australia, back home, would be running away from my problems. One thing I learnt during it all was that everyone gives different advice. You're so vulerable, and no matter what people say, you often follow it. It took me at least one year, if not two, to not take advice too seriously, except that which I gave myself. It's nice to get some control back, even though the things I can't control (my thoughts and feelings) still make life difficult.
It's been good to just vent a little even if it's to strangers and in public, though mostly anonymous.
What I find difficult is that I don't really know many people that are willing to simply listen.
Mostly people brush off how you are feeling with "everything heals with time", but all you need is "yes, you're feeling absolutely rotten right now. I understand." It's the people that really can relate that stop ignoring you're current situation, as if it didn't matter because something better will be there eventually.
So much more to vent, but I'll save it for someone else :)
Home stretch. Just 2.5 more weeks, and I can quit my job and then the rest is just logistics.
As for killing myself, to cause her pain. It just doesn't work, because I don't get to see what effect it has. And she'll get over it far too quickly, anyway.
Consider it a Christmas gift (because I have so far mostly tried to keep this off HN -- I really don't need 500 men hitting on me). However, I have added a donate button and I have a t-shirt in mind I want to create. Given my current situation (which I know you know about since you replied here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3350035), any suggestions on how to monetize it are welcome. I think it's a good read. I'm not asking for charity (if you get value out of reading it and donate, hey, that's not charity. Comics do that all the time). I just historically have never managed to get much monetary value back for what I put out there and I would like to change that.
Peace and happy holidays. I'm going to go to work now.
I hope you enjoy the blog and I hope it helps you get through this.
Logging off now as my shift is starting. I don't typically post from work.
EDIT: I appreciate your background, and also that you offered the blog in good faith.
Remember that you have all the options in the world. If life is only be worth living with a fresh start, sell your apartment, take one suitcase, and travel to Paris or London or Australia. Your life is yours to do what you wish, not what others expect. Live in whatever way makes life worthwhile.
If you ever want someone to talk to, you can email me at email@example.com. I can probably host you for a night if you need to crash in Israel.
One of the important lessons I learnt growing up in Australia was that you have to be there for your mates, even if you have to put your body on the line. I've seen what can happen when you don't and I'll never allow that again, if I can help it.
> Living in a country where there is no apparent social
> consequence for adultery has pushed me to the point
> where I don't want anything to do with what marriage
> or relationships represent.
Also, do I want to find out twenty years later that I raised the child of another man? No, I don't.
Thirdly, getting blood tests that may turn out positive through no fault of my own is down right fucked up.
And fourthly, it fucking hurts to be betrayed like that, regardless of how you judge the morals.
Why is rape bad? Not because sex is bad, or forcing someone else to do something might be considered bad (parents force their children to do things all the time), but because it fucks the victim up. Cause and effect.
Through observation it's easy to see that a person experiences extreme pain through the infidelity of his partner. Maybe some don't feel a thing, but I did.
What frustrates me is that people see another causing this damage to another, and they don't give a shit. That's the crux of my problem. Complete and utter apathy for the suffering of another human being. Simply another form of complicity.
I don't have any good advice, I can tell you a couple of things that I'm currently doing that sort of help me go through this pit of despair.
First of all, I'm trying to leave my past life behind me, that is I try to connect with my future ex wife and her parents and friends as little as possible, and when I do I do it only for "administrative" reasons (like collecting my books from our apartment and stuff like that).
Second, and I don't know if this applies to you, I'm lucky enough to have smart co-workers who kind of understand what I'm going through and they always try to cheer me up. That makes me feel guilty about displaying my depression at work, so that for the duration of the 8-9 hours of daily work I try my best to be a normal human being, reacting to jokes, small chatter during the cigarettes break etc. I don't know if medically speaking this is the best take on the situation, but at least I get to "cheat" on that feeling of emptiness for around a third of the day.
Third (even though I think the counting doesn't matter anymore), I've tried to set up some tasks for me to accomplish in the near and medium term. For example for the upcoming holidays I plan to finish one of my personal projects which would be of really valuable help for at least a dozen of people, and during the winter months I plan to put enough money on the side to buy me a VW second-hand van, so that I'll go around the country when summer comes.
And last, before this becomes too awkward of an answer, I've given myself "proud-of-myself" points for not opening that wine bottle that has been sitting on the kitchen table for 2 months, since I moved out of my former apartment. Maybe you can find something similar to cheer you up and make you feeling proud of yourself, it doesn't have to be big.
Hang in there!
If you like literature, it might help to try to view your situation as the hero's journey.
Find some things that give you comfort, and just hang in there. For me, it was music that got me through the dark days.
Immerse yourself, escape for small amounts of time, and find things to sustain you -- mentally, emotionally, physically. Reach out to your family and/or friends. Just endure any way you can, and you will come out on the other side of this.
if you live in SF, i'd love to take you out for a drink; sometimes the simple pleasures (a drink, a toke) and a complete stranger to talk with can help..
I've thought about suicide in my past, but since then have lost friends to suicide and other senseless reasons. I know somehow now that it is definitely not The Way, regardless of remaining responsibilities.
There is just too much awesome shit in the world to leave early, and suicide is a decision that will prevent you from realizing that forever.
It sounds like you could use someone to talk to. Catch me on Skype any time, my account is "alandipert". Or e-mail/Jabber me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Instead of saying "good luck," I will say: I don't know you, but I care about you, and would hate to know you went this way. Talk to someone you trust, or me, if you feel it coming on. It's not worth it.
Also, Reddit Suicide Watch was helpful to me: http://www.reddit.com/r/suicidewatch
I've struggled at work for two years, just trying to survive. Days go by where I'm totally useless and am unable to produce anything (days add up to months, etc). It's an added stress knowing that the personal problems you are having might lose you your job if you don't somehow fight and pull through.
I'm fortunate that I have the option, which I intend to use, of in a reasonably short amount of time (3-4 months), can cancel everything and leave the country to return back home.
I've also recognised the things I enjoy doing, even if I'm incapable of doing them at the moment, I'm fighting for the day when I'll be free of the mindfuck going on right now, and will be able to focus on those things again.
If it ever gets moments before killing myself again, I'm going to buy a plane ticket back home with my credit card, and leave everything behind. I'll face the consequences later when I'm mentally healthy again. Right now, I'm fighting through those things that I need to do, so that I can leave without too many loose ends. I can't tie them all up, but most.
On the personal side, I can just say this. I have been through horrific times in my life. I will say that I have always found that I have come out of these things changed, more confident, stronger, but with some submerged baggage that has had to be dealt with. Not only will you get through it, but if you keep your eyes open for opportunities, ways will open for you when you most need them, and you will come out a stronger, perhaps even happier, person as a result.
Get a change of scenery. Do something you've never done before or have always wanted to. Remind yourself why you're alive. I promise there's more than a few excellent reasons to stay here (as in alive). You just lost sight of them, that's all.
Edit: I'd like to add that divorce is very close to the top of the most stressful events a person can ever experience and I think it even trumps a death in the family if I remember right. It's normal for you to feel so defeated because of this but always remember that this bad state is not permanent.
3) take a break and go to hawaii or some place you like and have some fun with family and friends.
4) start dating. have fun.
5) if it becomes worse pls. seek professional help.