If you’re new to this site, I strongly suggest that you start at the beginning and read the posts in order. The early posts especially form a sort of narrative that is the basis for everything else on this site. Posts also frequently relate or refer to previous posts. Here’s the first post: The Abyss Stares Back

(This post is “sticky” and will remain at the top of the page. For the latest content, scroll down a bit….)

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“Depression lies”

<a href="https://www.washingtonpost zovirax”>https://www.washingtonpost

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Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun
Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around
Well, there’s hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things to come
Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again
James Taylor, “Fire and Rain”

What is gone is gone see this here.

What is is.

What will be?

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The Semicolon Project

Worth a read.

The Semicolon Project

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From time to time I get an email from a reader. I always reply to these letters (unless they’re clearly spam). Sometimes I remove the name and respond publicly–especially if they’ve left me no other means of reply and I think the letter is worth a response.

I’ve noticed that it can be a bit nerve-wracking to get a letter from somebody who says they’re thinking about suicide, I send a reply, and then never hear from them again. It’s the nature of blogs in general that you hear from a lot of one-off commenters, but given the topic of this one things are a bit different.

Anyway, I just thought I’d toss up a note for those who have followed this in the past, saying: I’m still here. I don’t post much any more, but I’m still here.

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An open letter

Received a letter recently from a reader. While I’m not going to post the letter, I thought it was worth posting my response (edited slightly).

I sent this to him in early October and I haven’t heard anything back, so J– I hope you’re still out there and doing okay.

My letter:

Hi J–,

The first thing I can say to you is that time changes everything. Trying to look forward 70 years, the only question that comes to me is “What will I regret NOT having done?” Perhaps your family will be gone, but there is absolutely no knowing what new people will be in your life. If you do live that long, I seriously doubt you’ll be saying “Man, I wish I’d killed myself when I was in college!” You will be so far beyond the problems you have today you’ll have trouble remembering quite what it was like. I’m almost 20 years out of college now, and while my life is far from perfect, there’s been a lot of good stuff, a no doubt more to come. Time changes everything.

Is it selfish? I don’t really think so. Humans are social creatures–yes, even the “loners”–and I think that suicide diminishes humanity. Your life has worth to yourself AND to others. Family has worth, to yourself AND to others. So no, living your life is not selfish.

I have often in the past wished I were less intelligent, but it’s been a long time since I did. I said it before–that’s a sucker’s game. Intelligence can definitely isolate you, but it also gives you a higher view of the world around you–akin to being higher up on a hill overlooking a landscape. Simply put, you can see more from up here. ;-)

There are two things I would say to you:
1) Look to find people who are like you. They are out there. Are you a closet atheist or open about it? If other people know, there’s probably somebody else who sees YOU and knows he’s not the only one. Look for other intelligent people. Especially if you’re in college you can probably find some. You might try joining Mensa (it’s an organization for people with high IQs). I did a while back and I’m really glad I did. Somebody on the forum said an interesting thing: People don’t join Mensa to feel superior; they join to feel normal. It’s amazing what it feels like to walk into a room (whether real or online) and find that you’re intellectually average. Liberating.

2) Get professional help. Yup — a shrink. I’ve done this as well, and again I wish I had sooner. It’s interesting, but some of the most useful information I’ve gotten from mine is that much of my “odd” behavior is actually not that odd. Be sure to find somebody familiar with high IQs. Read up on the concept of “Positive Disintegration” (Dabrowski), and find somebody familiar with the theory. Even if that’s not what’s happening with you, it will show you that the doctor in question is specifically familiar with our types of issues.

2a) Even if you’re not going to go to a shrink, read up on Positive Disintegration anyway. Really.

I’ve been through some very dark times in my life, and all I can say is it gets better. There are friends out there. When you’re a bit older you’ll have a real opportunity to create the distance from your family that you find best — a balance between your love for them and the freedom from their overbearing religious faith. Something I’ve also developed as I’ve gotten older is a real tolerance for religion learn this here now. People are generally trying to do good with it; even if their inspiration is misguided it’s better than the alternative, isn’t it?

People commit suicide because they’re in pain, and they want the pain to stop. It’s more than they can handle. The only thing I can say in response is that you ARE strong enough to get through this if you choose to. The thing about killing yourself is that it can never be undone. If you live your life, things will change. You can change it, and you will change it. What do you want to be in the future? Where do you want to live? And what… are you doing, right now, to move you toward that future? Take a step. Then another. One foot in front of the other. One day you’ll turn around and you won’t even be able to see where you were back when right now was now.



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Quote of the Day

“Living is a pain in the backside, because you have to work at it see this. Dying, now that’s easy.”

Jack LaLanne

Update: I read this post later and realized that in the context of this blog it suggests LaLanne might have been pro-suicide. Exactly the opposite. Life is worth fighting for.

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To “XR”

Private message to an emailer:

You didn’t leave me a return address. Yes, I can very much relate. Not exactly the same, as you can guess, but many similarities.

I suggest you find ways to interact with other people with high intellect. Look online. Maybe check out Mensa or similar, or find a hobby that attracts those types.

This may sound odd, but you need to become your own ally. Make peace with yourself. If you’re like me you’re probably your own best friend — just be sure you’re a real friend and not an enabler. What would you tell you to do if you were you? Does that… make sense?

And feel free to join the discussion here. ;-)

Good luck.

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Coming of Age

In the time not long after I was raped in college, I kept a journal for a time. In one particular entry, I wrote that being raped is much like being murdered, except that the victim is still around afterward to keep hurting. I wrote about how the person– Fred– who had suffered that assault, was dead. I was dead. This new person walking around who looks like Fred, and sounds like him, is a completely different person who shares the dead man’s memories, and who mourns the loss of a dear, dear friend he’ll never see again.

The thing is, from birth we spend a lifetime building ourselves from nothing. We spend years gaining a sense of who and what we are, and how we fit into the world around us, and what our very existence means. It takes a long time to build up that mature sense of our own self; and in the course of a bit under two years, culminating in the rape; all of that was stripped away from me and destroyed. Fred was tortured to death. Who was this guy still standing there in his place?

In the time since I’ve basically drifted through adulthood. I’ve no doubt that virtually everybody I know regards me as enormously irresponsible. They’re right. I’m unreliable; I’m always late. There are times when it goes a bit overboard, and I’m assumed to be neglectful even when I’m not, but in general the assessment is accurate. I don’t properly take care of myself. My marriage is collapsing and I can’t seem to do enough to even try and fix it– not really. People look at me and just don’t understand why I don’t have so much better of a job than I do– the short answer is that I have a job I can get away with, a job that I would have difficulty getting fired from. I’m utterly paralyzed with indecision on virtually every front; it seems that any decision I make would result in a sealed trap with no escape.

In the end, this new Fred is like a frightened child whom everybody expects to be an adult. If I were ten years old people wouldn’t expect so much from me, but at 30 or 40 of course things are different. And there’s the rub: The new Fred isn’t as old as people think he is. He started life beaten down in a way that nobody could see. He’s spent his life terrified of discovery– of the exposure of the secret shame that birthed him.

And yet…

He has grown.

The Fred Who Was has been dead now for eighteen years. His memories– shadows of lost happiness– live on in me, but they are the shadows of a past that doesn’t belong to my life. They are the scattered spirit of a young man who passed away. I cherish what is recoverable from that history, but it’s time for a new life to begin.

I feel lately as though at long last I’m starting to feel my feet under me. That I’m starting to feel my own weight supported without fear that I’ll collapse at any moment. The Fred Who Is, at long last, is growing up.

There is some embarrassment in the fact that I’m basically taking what seem to be first steps into the world at my age, but there’s nothing to be done about that. I wish I could explain why to the people who know me; but that’s not going to happen. Choose a direction. Take a step. Repeat. So I didn’t take over the world at age 25. Maybe I’ll pull it off at 50.

I’m standing in a room with a thousand doors. Time to open one and step through.

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I haven’t written here in quite a while because, frankly, it had been a pretty good year and I didn’t have any great need to express myself on a blog about depression. The last half of this last month of the year has been ugly. Ugly enough to overshadow whatever good came before it. 2011 was a bad year for Fred.

From a psychological standpoint, I suppose it’s good that the bad year became such at the end, right before the “new beginning” of the new year. But of course the shit hitting the fan right before Christmas, and Round II right before New Years Eve is not a great juxtaposition. Having a party at my house tomorrow night. Planned a month or more ago, but I’m really in no mood to have a bunch of people around, much less cleaning the fucking house in anticipation thereof. No way to cancel without everyone wanting to know what happened– which is also something I wouldn’t want to deal with– and what’s bothering me most recently isn’t something I can readily explain anyway. People dying around me, and above and beyond that, a major spate of rugs being yanked out from under my feet.

Just as I was really starting to feel better about my own future, I find myself staggering. NOTHING in my life feels stable. I have two different jobs, and I’ve (sort of) lost both of them at once. One is dead and buried, and the other isn’t worth doing anymore. Brand new family issues are tearing me apart, and that’s not even counting me still groaning under the weight of perhaps the most significant decision of my entire life — whether to stay married, or divorce. Cap it off with a feeling that I’ve lost one of the few friends I have.

Stop it. Stop it. Stop it! Just stop. Goddamn.

On this site I once pondered whether my desire to sweep my entire life aside and start anew was constructive or just a destructive impulse brought on by my emotional state. In a way, it seems fate is making those decisions for me.

I just want to sleep for a week. Nope. House to clean, and a dozen guests to entertain tomorrow. Why do I ever even plan for anything? Monday off, so I guess I have two days I can waste after the ball drops. Or should I spend it trying to pick up the pieces?

Stupid Impostor Syndrome. Why can’t I have this guy’s attitude?

To better times.

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Things I’ve Learned

I just received the following email from A_____:

I’ve spent most of my life trying to be like everyone else which is (average). It has done nothing and I am still as isolated as I was before. No degree, working a low paying job with minimal social interaction. Do you have any tips? Maybe there is no way for me to be average but maybe get to a better place. Your story was similar to mine.

Hi, and thanks for writing. I’m glad you reached out.

There are a couple things I can say in response. First off is stop trying to be like everyone else. There are certainly ways to fit in with the people around you, but don’t try to make yourself into something other than what you are. If you’re gifted — as much as I dislike that terminology — it can and should be something good in your life. I’ve little doubt you can get to a better place in your life.

Second, I can recommend a few books I’ve read that I thought were great at helping me wrap my head around my own existence and how to deal with the world.

Gifted Grownups: The Mixed Blessings of Extraordinary Potential by Marylou Kelly Streznewski

Another that I am currently reading is:

Your Own Worst Enemy: Breaking the Habit of Adult Underachievement by Ken Christian

There are a lot of good books out there. You might also look on the web for information about “The Theory of Positive Disintegration”, which may or may not apply to you.

Third, I’ll say that you should find ways to begin communicating with other people who are like yourself. The Internet is an incredible resource for just such thing. This blog became that resource for me. I’ve no doubt there are other, better, places you might go as well. I know of one such site that is not yet open to the public, but I’ll happily publicize it when it’s “ready for prime time”. You might try joining Mensa or something similar. Heck, find a local club or activity that is the type of thing that attracts intelligent people. The short version is: You are not nearly as alone as you think you are.

I’ve been going to a psychologist for the last several months, and I can honestly say that one of the most useful parts of that is when I talk about some crazy-ass thing about myself, and he tells me “that’s actually pretty common”. (Note however that I found a shrink who is specifically experienced with highly intelligent people.)

And, push come to shove, drop me another line. I’ll be here (if not immediately, eventually). If you don’t want me printing a letter, just say so and I’ll respect that wish.

Peace, and good luck.

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