Dances With Demons

I was going to write about something completely different. Or perhaps not. I was going to write about understanding people from completely different backgrounds; about putting yourself in other people’s shoes.

Particularly in the age of the internet — and yes, particularly on the left, but we do it too — it’s very easy to judge someone for something stupid and build a whole picture of what people are like that has nothing to do with reality.  (Take for instance all the assumptions made about my beliefs and preferences because I prefer less authoritarian government.  Or less preachy fiction, for that matter.)

Before you defend on “we do it too”, I’ll remind you I’ve been called a communist and/or an atheist for … not being a conservative, but a libertarian.  When I disagree with socon stuff I quickly get called names.  As for libertarians, they’ve been known to call me statist (!) because I say “Yeah, but we’re never going to get it.  Not on planet Earth.”

So, I was going to do a post on that.  I might still.  But not today.

Today friends I love so much they’re like family to me decided it was a great day to get in an argument about suicide, and whether it is just a cowardly act, and whether telling people all the mess they’re leaving behind would change their decision.

I’m not going to get into the morality of suicide and whether it’s cowardly.

Look, some are, I’m sure.  The guy who ran through all his money with gambling.  The criminal who seeks to evade punishment.  That’s “the coward’s way out.”

But that’s not always the case with suicide.

There’s the “inexplicable” the “why did he do that?” the “What the actual hell happened?”

This one, circling back to understanding other people, often seems inexplicable to the people who are outside.  It often takes our best and brightest.  It often happens with no outward sign.  And yep, it leaves families very angry and guilty and a thorough mess for the survivors.

The problem is that this one is best understood as “possession by demons.”

I’ve been there.  That moment you step off the ledge, you’re absolutely convinced that you’re doing what’s best not just for yourself but for everyone around you.  Even if you’re rational enough to see the mess you leave behind, you are certain it’s still better than dealing with you as you are.

It’s a lie.  It’s an awful lie. Again, it is better understood by externalizing it and realizing that depression lies.  If you view depression as demons taunting you, it’s easier to realize they lie.

What causes it? Why do best and brightest, people we admire, kill themselves?

Part of it is the defect that makes them great. We’ve talked about people who think they’re great at something (writing, art, whatever)  and who thoroughly suck at it.  Worse, they’ll never get better, because they don’t see ANYTHING that needs improving.  Those people might never accomplish anything.  They also will never kill themselves.

The high achievers, though, those that drive themselves to things we can only dream of?  They often feel they’re total failures.  I have a couple of friends like that.

And when you feel like your life is one of unremitting failure you open yourself to the demon voices.

No, I don’t mean that literally.  Or maybe I do.  Sometimes I think it would help if we could externalize it and view those voices as something else, out there.

We do that anyway, to an extent, by considering it an illness.  And it is.  I mean, it’s brain chemistry, though often exacerbated by personality.

On the other hand the personality is the same thing that allows us to succeed.

I’m not that successful, but many of you know I dance with the black dog on a regular basis.  Lately it’s been better for no reasons I can control: mostly that my hypothyroidism is getting treated, and that my hormonal cycle is a thing of the past.

But I’ve been there. Often.  Might be there again in the future.

So, if you’re there…. there are some things you need to know:

1- the voices in your head lie.  You’re not worthless.  In fact, you’re probably very worth it.  You just have this little defect in your brain. It causes you to devalue everything good you do. It’s not how other people see you.  It’s lies.  You are, as a friend says, “seeing the world through a distorted lens.”

2- Your being here can save someone else. Sometimes just your existing can save someone else.  You might never know it. There is someone out there who once engaged me in conversation on a day that would otherwise have ended very badly.  For her it was just a chat with a stranger.  For me it was life saving.  You might save someone’s life and not even know it.  If you die now, you won’t be there to save someone’s life.

3- It will get better.  I understand even for very ill people, bedbound, there are moments of joy as well as moments of suffering.  There will be better days.  I know you don’t believe me now, but do try to hang on.

For those of you on the other side:

Watch carefully, but don’t berate yourself, because sometimes you can’t see it.  Many people HIDE depression.  It’s the nature of the beast.  Mostly men, though not just men.

If you do spot it, bring it up.  Talk it out.  Listen.  Sometimes just having someone to listen to you helps.  And sometimes you call the suicide hotline and give your friend the phone.

If someone you love kills him/herself.  You’re going to be angry.  You’re allowed to be angry.  It’s an awful mess to stick someone with.

Don’t torment yourself by feeling that you must have done or failed to do something.  That’s not how it works.  Suicide is never a rational decision.  Rational people don’t kill themselves.

You can still be angry, but if it helps, view it as a car accident, a disaster, or more accurately a fatal birth defect.  The same thing that made the person you loved driven and self-demanding is the same thing that killed him/her.

Sometimes the demons win. Sometimes those who dance with the black dog stumble and fall.

All we can do is reduce the number of times that happens.

 

 

350 responses to “Dances With Demons

  1. This is a very kind post and one I desperately needed in 2005. Thank you.

  2. depression lies

    YES.

    • Sometimes by telling part of the truth– easy example, it’ll remind you of everything that ever went wrong….but nothing that ever went right, and it will tell you that everything that went wrong was something you should have, you could have, stopped.

      • Feather Blade

        I hate when that happens.

        And listing everything you’ve done right doesn’t seem to help.

      • One of my very favorite quotes seems very appropriate here…

        “A lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies.” — Alfred, Lord Tennyson

      • part of the truth

        The strongest lies, the ones hardest to break, are based on partial truths. That partial truth makes it harder to deny the pieces which are a lie.

        Earlier today I told a good friend that woulda, coulda and shoulda are three pernicious demons in their own right. You can also add in if-only.

        Frankly, unless you can point to an instance where you deliberately choose to ignore something screaming for attention it is only your own black dog speaking.

  3. Thanks, I think I kind of needed that this week.

      • This, onna stick, with bells on.

        Though, as a recovering* German Lutheran, I’d like to point out that, even though “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” and “work hard, seek knowledge, and adhere to absolute standards of excellence” are words to live by, “cry for help” is not, necessarily a pejorative.

        “Hand me that wrench.”
        “Grab the ladder, it’s tipping.”
        “OMG I’m spurting blood.”

        But while we’re working on that, giving the folks who think otherwise a face-saving out is a blessing.

        (*the part where I have to do it all myself 🙂

        • … the part where I have to do it all myself …

          I am convinced that we aren’t and never were supposed to do it all by our lonesome, because while we can do a great deal on our own, but we can’t and never could do it all by our lonesome.

          • I have found that, try as I might, their are parts of my back I simply cannot scratch, and places my body where, no matter how I contort, I cannot extract a splinter. All the will in the world has yet to enable me to see the obverse of my ears.

            In such instances, asking for help is no admission of failure, it is recognition of reality.

  4. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    There have been times that I had been depressed enough to “want it all over” and yes I thought about taking steps in “end it all”.

    I managed to get past that and am “safe” but I still remember being that depressed.

    While this is somewhat off-topic, my experiences with depression is why I hate the idea of “doctor assisted suicide”.

    The thing about “depression” is that the depressed person has (at least in his mind) d*mn good reasons to be depressed.

    A person with major health problems is bound to get depressed (maybe not to the point of ending it) and I shudder to think about somebody like that getting into the hands of somebody who thinks they are “doing the person a favor” by talking as if “killing oneself” is a valid option.

    I remember reading about an old woman in Europe, where the authorities “turned a blind eye” on “doctor assisted suicide”, was talking to her son about ending it and apparently her doctor had brought up the idea.

    Her son got her to a new doctor and IIRC she had a change of heart about “ending it”.

    Oh, don’t talk with me about “maybe it’s the best thing to do” because I was in that situation with both of my parents.

    There was some discussion about Dad’s condition and about “just making him comfortable” but fortunately Dad “just went quietly without problems”.

    Mom was a different situation as she had internal bleeding and the doctor told me that any operation would likely fail. Of course, Mom’s mind had been failing for sometime and her mind seemed to be completely gone when she had this internal bleeding. I told him to not attempt the operation and to make her comfortable. She didn’t last the day.

    • “doctor assisted suicide” = geriatric healthcare cost reduction program. It isn’t enough to let them die in their own time anymore, we have to give them the bum’s rush out the door.

      “Just kill the worthless eaters, all they’re good for is fertilizer.” Do not get me started. Hitler is alive, well, and running the Canadian healthcare system.

      • The Dutch, too, I’ve read.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        That and “get your inheritance early”.

        Note, there was no real estate with Mom.

        • Think of all the body parts you could contribute to others, to improve their lives. Really, you’re more valuable dead.

          • By the time you hit a certain age your body parts are no longer considered viable for transplant. That means we best not prolong your suffering…

      • I know someone this happened to in the US. (Short version: they repeatedly denied tests which would have caught his cancer in time.)

        Don’t ever try to tell me that ObamaCare doesn’t have death panels.

        • Oh, it does. It has to. There’s not enough money in the entire world to pay for all the medical care everyone wants, right when they want it.

          Therefore, all socialized medical systems have rationing.

          Sometimes they ration quality, the rich get the good doctors and the poor get the crap ones. Sometimes they ration access, only the rich can see a doctor when they want to, everybody else has to wait in line. Sometimes they ration based on amount. “You have X Health Points, citizen. The medicine you need costs Y points. Too bad. Move along and die over there by the open mass grave, please.” Then there’s rationing based on usefulness to the State. That’s the Nazi plan. The young and strong get care, the old, the weak, the stupid, the politically questionable, they get assisted suicide.

          But there is always, always rationing. That is why, in a socialized medical system, it is good to be a doctor. Your colleagues will look after you first, every single time. Because they know that someday, -they- will get sick.

          • Always rationing? Surely, once you defeat the hoarders, the unfair-share-grabbers, the greedy and the selfish there will be abundant medical care for all who need it?

            And what better way of determining who needs care than panels of disinterested, altruistic experts concerned solely with grabbing all the kickbacks, favors and scratched backs the system will allow professional experts?

            • Should I ever find myself in such a situation I fervently hope to be able to obtain a list of all those panel members. Be a pity if I were to check out without a sufficient cadre of well deserving honor guards.

              • Bibliotheca Servare

                Seconded, with feeling! If I’m on my way out anyway, I might as well do some good in the world before I go, right? I think turning tyrants into “good” tyrants qualifies as “doing some good” no? “Blood of Patriots and Tyrants” etc.

          • To be fair, rather than “all socialized medical systems have rationing,” it’s more accurate to say, “All medical systems have rationing.” There are X number of doctors who are willing to work Y number of hours a week. If the number of hours that patients would like to see doctors is greater than X*Y, we’re going to have to come up with some way to decide who gets that time. The market system uses money to do this, which has the added benefit that it can potentially increase the supply (if doctors make more money, there be more people wanting to be doctors, and if you offer a doctor enough money, he’ll probably be willing to see you in Hour Y+1). The socialized system uses some sort of government decree, which has the advantage that it (at least might be) “fair” but with the downside that it can’t really do much to make sure that medicine is good and plentiful. But one way or another, we have a non-infinite good and need to find some way to divvy it up.

            Which brings me to the fact that I’m pretty sure what’s really wrong with the US healthcare system isn’t “too many uninsured” but a simple supply and demand problem: too much demand, not enough supply. I’ve had experience with that recently. When I was suffering from postpartum depression, I couldn’t find anyone to see me. Calling the local practice, I was told, “If it gets to the point where you need to go to the ER, we might condescend to follow up with you; otherwise, you can just go @#$! yourself.” And they can do that because they already have more patients than they have time slots, so the fact that they’ve lost my business means less than nothing to them.

            • Some minor quibbles …

              One effect of Obamacare has been to push doctors out of private practice and into salaried positions … which has notably resulted in fewer patient care hours available, since salaried professionals are prone to put in their forty and go home, take their weekends off and fully enjoy all paid time off for holidays, vacations and “personal” days.

              Related/unrelated, there has been an artificial reduction in the number of doctors produced in society over the last twenty, thirty years. There are fewer med schools taking fewer applicants than the demand for medical education would produce in a freer market. Sarah could probably do a week of blog posts on that subject alone, so I will not go further into that adit.

              Thirdly, one other factor driving the demolition of our healthcare system is the obscured pricing model being employed. Because I eschew health insurance (I liked my policy but couldn’t keep it under Obamacare rules — it was noncompliant by failing to provide services I was highly unlikely to require) I pay cash for my routine doctor visits, which earns me an upfront discount of (currently) 55%. OTOH, my prescription costs are higher out of pocket but I am not restricted to an insurer’s pharmacopoeia nor paying high monthly costs for a reduced price on a quarterly purchase.

              Beloved Spouse having had cancer treatment recently covered by insurance (a policy which has been discontinued because Obamadoesn’tcare) and trying to figure out the costs on that has been a nightmare, even with my being a professional accountant. I shan’t go into the means, beyond noting that every possible breakout for billing has been employed, so that a routine office visit takes pace at the hospital and produces separate billings for facility, doctor, attendant, lab work, scheduling and, for all I can tell, parking. Each item bills through a separate if related system at different rates, so that multiple bills arrive over several weeks rather than a single comprehensive bill. If we still had insurance there would be further delays as each bill routed through the insurance claims system, was approved, denied and/or partially paid.

              All of which makes it impossible to determine what a @!#$ doctor visit costs, which makes comparison shopping even more than commonly fruitless.

              Scot Adams has coined the term “Confusopoly” for systems, such as healthcare, insurance and Congress, which rely on baffling the buyer to keep prices profits high:

              Years ago I coined the term Confusopoly to describe any industry that benefits by keeping consumers confused. For example, mobile phone carriers know their offerings are too confusing for consumers to compare one company to another on cost. That is clearly intentional. If consumers could compare offerings it would drive profit margins to zero fairly quickly. By keeping their service and pricing confusing, they keep margins high.

              Insurance companies are also confusopolies. So are law firms. And the entire financial services industry is little more than a confusopoly. All of those services can be simpler, but to simplify would invite real competition. No seller wants that.

              I recommend it to your attention.

          • The problem with the Nazi health care plan in the modern West is we’ve been doing our best to make the young useless and unproductive…

          • There’s not enough money in the entire world to pay for all the medical care everyone wants, right when they want it.

            But there could be enough to pay what every citizen in a free demo ratio republic *** needed. ***

            Easily. And therein lies the rub.

        • There have been a few since Obamacare…

        • Yep. Group Health killed my BiL that way too.

      • So, everyone agrees that we should outlaw “living wills” / Advanced Medical Directives? Because ALL THOSE ARE is people looking at a situation and deciding “I don’t want to undergo the pain / suffering / crippling / whatever, and/or would rather not drain the financial resources my survivors will need once I’m not there, so let me die.” Because as long as those avenues exist, someone will pressure someone into signing one, or a doctor will decide that the conditions have been met influenced by politics, etc.

        And if we’re going to allow for that possibility, then why would we not allow someone who is terminal to get help rather than find a heroin dealer somewhere?

        How many choices are we prepared to take away just so we can signal OUR virtue?

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          I can understand the “DNR” thing and the “Living Will” thing.

          But I definitely want “safe guards” to prevent an older patient from being forced (emotionally or otherwise) to sign the paperwork to allow the doctor to kill the older patient.

          • Hell, a friend who at the time worked in a hospital saw a situation where… let’s say the fact the woman had a living will was taken as “wants to die” and she was allowed to die without treatment in ER even though when the living will was faxed in it said “make all efforts.” AGAIN that’s why I DON’T have one. At some point will appoint medical proxy, but that’s it.

            • Here in Plano, you file one with the hospital in advance.

              • Yeah, she was traveling out of her area, and had a recurring issue. I want to say grand mal seizures. The whole point was to make sure they didn’t just let her die. Yeah.

            • I’ve heard of a few too many “their body parts would be really useful for someone else” type stories for my card to allow for organ transplant donor status anymore.

              • Patrick Chester

                Again Monty Python’s parody becomes reality.

                Okay, not exactly like the “Live Organ Donation” sketch, but getting closer.

              • I know that’s true, but I also know that most doctors are not all med-sammys. So I’m an organ donor for now (I still have life-saving usable parts)

                • Most, of course not– but dehumanizing the bleeding pile of body parts in front of you is a survivial technique, and god-complexes are somewhat selected for, so we’re not talking a totally random sample, either.

                  And if you do take a random sample of folks’ thoughts, it’s a little scary how many are OK with “well, I don’t think she’ll totally recover, but those three people over there could use her kidneys, heart and liver.”

                  • I hear you. I guess in my win/loss calculation, the odds that the docs get it right and those three people get to be around for their best beloveds, by trumps the risk that they’ll optimistically screw over mine.

                    ***shrugs***

                    • *wolfish grin* You have a much higher estimation of their abilities than I do!

                      That said– I have my husband, and my parents, all of whom are much less cautious about possibal moral issues with organ donation, who would be taking over in cases where I really should be considered as a donation candidate.

                      If my husband doesn’t kill them out right for suggesting it, then it’s past the reasonable return on possible loss.

        • DNR means “do not resuscitate” which is very much a different thing than “doctor assisted suicide.”

          Most of the things they do for end-of-life is nothing more than putting off the inevitable for a few hours, maybe a week or two, The procedures are painful and disgusting, and they are going to die anyway. For sure. That’s what end-of-life means. You’re going to die.

          DNR means “do not snatch me back from death by extraordinary means, to linger here, suffering pain and indignity, at vast expense.” This is different from “I want to die. I am so healthy I will not die on my own. Please kill me.”

          DNR is a decision that is meant to be made by the individual themselves, at a time when they’re in their right mind. People realize that death is not the worst thing that can happen to you these days. When you say to a doctor, “do everything,” that takes in a lot more ground than it used to. You could end up as a head in a jar, fed by intravenous. That’s a thing now. Head transplants.

          DNR is also different from DNT, “do not treat.” That is a decision made by medical staff to withhold treatment because the patient isn’t worth the trouble, or for some other political/economic reason.

          Of course, what everyone should be concerned about is officials killing inconvenient old people in nursing homes, because its cheaper. You can bet the farm they will.

          • Aye. $RELATIVE had very late onset Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Motor Neuron Disease) and did the DNR. Didn’t want one surgery that was life-prolonging (feeding tube of sorts) and it was clear was annoyed about waking from it. The DNR made sense – there really was nothing more to do that would have been useful by then.

        • If you can see no difference between refusing treatment, and killing yourself, no explanation will make sense.

          Of course, that would mean that, logically, refusing to do a thing you can is the same as directly causing the effect– so you’re logically bound to eternally physically support those who can work, but will not, because if they starve it is as much your fault as if you’d forcibly prevented them from eating.

          • The argument is akin to the Left’s “If you don’t want to provide abortions then you are demanding women be pregnant.”

            I believe it may be the Fallacy of the Excluded Middle, or possibly of False Alternatives, but cannot be stirred to delve deeper into that midden. There are bad 1980 TV miniseries that demand my attention more.

            • Maybe hasty generalization? I know some living wills go into the same ground as suicide, but stuff like “don’t do organ transplants” or “no CPR, please” is rather different.

          • I see the difference just fine; reading the comments here makes me think some of YOU don’t.

        • It’s a reason I don’t HAVE one.

    • While this is somewhat off-topic, my experiences with depression is why I hate the idea of “doctor assisted suicide”.

      Yes. When I was writing my depression piece that Sarah kindly linked, I ran across the story of someone who was asking for doctor-delivered euthanasia because of intractable chronic depression.

    • It will always be cheaper and easier in the short term to give someone a poison pill and kill them rather than deal with the the reason they might want one.

      ALWAYS.

      The only starting premise that doesn’t view this fact with deep fear is one that sees us as things. Widgets.

  5. I’ve been around suicide a few times, and the experiences left me with an abiding respect for “You don’t know what’s happening inside someone else’s head…” as a starting point when trying to process what was going on, and what “made them do it”. Sometimes, there isn’t any “there” there. It just is.

    What was that line from Anna Karenina? “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” That’s pretty much the way of it with suicides; every case and situation is unique. Some people have a singular experience with it, come back, and others keep circling the damn lightbulb until they finally burn.

    I am acquainted with one of the very few survivors of a jump off the Tacoma Narrows bridge, the one that replaced Galloping Gertie. He made the leap, and lived, and I completely understand a lot of what went into that suicide attempt–His life, to him, was a flippin’ nightmare, and he couldn’t handle it. Jumping off that bridge actually saved him, I think, because it put an end to the pain he felt from his military career and the expectations he’d had forced on him. It would have been a lot better if he’d simply said “I’m not cut out for this BS; I quit…”, but he wasn’t able to, because of the oppobrium he’d have faced from parents and wife if he’d done that. By making the leap, which he fully expected to kill him, he basically solved that set of personal problems, which was flat-out ironic as hell. If his family had simply recognized that he wasn’t the vehicle by which daddy could live out his second military career, and fulfill his wife’s desire to be the Colonel’s wife like her mommy, well… Everybody would have been a lot better off. As it was, it took his jumping off that bridge to solve that whole impasse, and break the logjam of expectations he felt burdened with. And, it may well have been that the expectations he was perceiving as driving his demons may have only existed in his head–I don’t know if there really was all that pressure on him from family, only hearing of that from third parties.

    It was a strange damn case, though–I think that was the only time I ever saw a suicide in the military really “solve” anybody’s problems, but that one sure as hell did. And, I don’t characterize it as an attempt–It would have been one, if they’d found him on the bridge contemplating the leap, but… He simply stopped his car one day, going home, and then casually jumped over the railing into the Puget Sound some hundreds of feet below. His survival expectations should have been nil, and I forget what actually happened that led to him living–I think he hit the water near a fisherman, or something, and they pulled him in before he could drown.

    • I had a friend I dearly loved commit suicide several years ago. I won’t go into details, because the memory makes me sad, but her reason for going was her meds stopped working, and she wanted to die as herself – knowing who she was, knowing what her name was – while she was still sane. I couldn’t help her even though I tried to talk to her as much as I could; I was in a different country, and she was a minor at 17 (I was …five? years older, she was like a sister to me.)

      Because of her circumstances, I could never find it in myself to be angry she took her own life. I knew she fought as hard, and as long as she could. I miss her, and all I can do is hope that she’s no longer suffering. I sometimes wish I could have given her the hugs I wish I could’ve given her, or at least said goodbye.

      I guess, for her, I understood why she did it.

      • Yes, there are some circumstances where it is certainly understandable. Although I do wish that the friend’s father who ate a gun because he couldn’t stand the pain from his inoperable brain tumor* would have chosen a different, less messy way.

        * Yes, I know brain tissue does not feel pain. I presume that either it was causing intracranial pressure or it was stimulating the pain recognition centers, but I don’t know for sure. It’s not exactly the kind of thing his son talks about.

      • Many of the arguments for this kind of death involve the inability to deal with palliative care. In your friend’s case would appear to be that this was impossible. In most of the western world the case is that it is either expensive or inconvenient.

  6. 3a). Even if you cannot actually believe that things will get better, as long as you’re still breathing, there will always be a tiny little maybe that no one and nothing else can kill. Don’t ever put it out. If you hold onto it, someday, you *will* look back and be glad you did.

  7. Once upon a time I talked a friend out of this. I don’t have permission to share details, so I will say that Friend had decided, based on the uncompleted and unmet demands of work and home life, that the best thing for everyone concerned was for Friend to quietly expire, then everything would be fine.

    Talking Friend out of it was the big Good Deed of my life, I saved a bunch of people a world of hurt that day. Friend included.

    There was another day I was on the bridge between Detroit and Windsor in a traffic jam. Some guy opened the door of his car on the opposite side from me, got out, went over to the railing and jumped the hell off. I didn’t see the jumping off part, but I heard the horns and the screaming. I immediately went to see if he really did jump. There was no trace of him, just slushy water in the river below, about 1/2 ice.

    What bothered me at the time, and still bothers me, is he left the car door open, and the engine running. A total abdication of responsibility, indicating either two huge middle fingers lifted to everybody, or a mind completely deranged and not functioning. I mean, who gets out of the car and leaves the door open? Muscle memory alone has you closing that door.

    My two cents worth on suicide: Don’t be an idiot. Whatever you think is So Important that you need to die, it isn’t. In the long run, none of this drama matters a damn.

    • BTW regarding depression, I have seen this sh1t-show. The one thing more than anything else I did that saved me, I never thought it was my fault I was depressed. The second most important thing was I let other people help me. I’m not so proud I can’t accept a hand up.

      Depression is an AILMENT, it is not something that happens to you because you were bad. Like any other ailment, if you take your medicine and do what the doctor tells you, presently it will go away.

  8. Having been very close to that edge (close enough that an old friend instituted a two cat rule for me) I do want to make one quibble and it is related to your third point to those on the edge.

    Suicide doesn’t come from depression but from hopelessness. Yes, depression is often (always?) the mother of suicide but fortunately depression is often barren.

    There is reason despair, which is just a fancy word for hopelessness, is a mortal sin while depression isn’t even mentioned.

    No, I don’t mean that literally. Or maybe I do. Sometimes I think it would help if we could externalize it and view those voices as something else, out there.

    This is why you write what you fear…this is why you don’t give up on a brilliant story because you are afraid it will reinforce sexism (on my mind from a rant a couple of days ago). Write the demon be it depression or hate or even despair.

    One reason to do it is to get it out there so you can see it and recognize it isn’t you.

    However, as a writer you can do it for another reason. When someone is hopeless seeing a movie or reading a story that takes that demon of hopelessness out of them there is a chance they can see it for what it is and that it is not them.

    You want art that changes the world? You want to send a message? Then write that darkness so the rest of us can see it for the imposter it is.

    • Fairy Tales do not tell people that dragons exits… People already know dragons exist. Fairy Tales tell people dragons can be killed… (h/t Neil Gaiman’s paraphrase of GK Chesterton.)

    • This is why I hate grey goo. It makes them more likely to despair.

      • Some of that sh1t is enough to drive you into a depression all by itself. I stopped buying books! They used to be an -escape- and now they’re causing damage? Who though that would be a good idea?

        • Yep. I have a lot less interaction with former hobbies because they are more political than hobby now. But then you run into nothing to do but be alone with your thoughts. That is why I loathe people who bring politics into everything.

      • OTOH, the nicest fan letter I ever did get was from someone telling me how much Isabelle and the Siren had meant to him, because the heroine of it is clinically depressed.

        BTW, I don’t recommend writing stories with depressed point-of-view characters. That was one of the hardest pieces I ever wrote.

        • No, she doesn’t jump off a bridge or anything like that. She has to do other stuff despite the depression.

          • I have heard of a situation where a depressed teenager was given a book by a teacher who said “Here’s a book I think you’ll relate to.” The protagonist was depressed and committed suicide. The teenager had to fight the urge to commit suicide for months after that.

            This was a panel that discussed what was appropriate to put in a children’s book, and what books might be appropriate for children. The point of telling the story was to illustrate that a book where a suicidal teenager commits suicide is for teens who have a friend with depression, or perhaps who have a friend who just committed suicide, so they could understand what a depressed person is going through….however, it’s also the *last* thing you want to hand to someone who is actually suffering from depression.

            • That’s one of the BIG complaints about the TV series and book about Thirteen whatevers – it does all the things suicide prevention programs urge people to avoid. One school district has removed the book and similar materials from their libraries because the district has had 9 suicides since last September.

            • See also: the utter shock that a freaking revenge-fantasy suiciding teen drama has resulted in…suicides.

              No #@$@ Sherlock, like that suicide groupings DIDN’T make that totally obvious? But hey, they got in the news!

    • I had one close brush with near-fatal despair one Saturday night, and in such a way that there were no easy ways to talk about it (relatives were either on the edge themselves/part of the cause, friends elsewhere for the evening, and my main dialup account at work was down (think stone ages; a 14.2K modem was hot stuff). Finally, I remembered a pphone number for a root login for a work computer and posted a message to a food-related mailing list I was on. Managed to get the Jaegermeister down the sink, and the .45 into the gun safe (that combination was hard to dial when shaking), and went to bed, perchance to sleep.

      Still felt like crap in the morning, but email responses came back (my boss was rather confused that Monday), and I was able to 1) get hold of my aunt, the social worker (Mom’s kid sister, and the closest relative I could talk to), and 2) get a call/referral through to the I Need It Now mental health line from work.

      A combination of meds, some professional help/talking with others, and a bit of a re-examination of my own priorities got me back to “normal” (within the standard for Odds). Managed to help a couple of people who were on the edge a bit later. I lived; later, I thrived. Survived the first layoff of my career with help from my wife and found a consulting job for a year. That got us enough cushion to cover us when the client went toes up. Somewhere along the line, I lost some of my introversion. Not all, but I can stand in front of people and talk. Even make sense, usually. Singing on key not part of the package. sorry. 🙂

      After that comedy of errors, I found “God is an Iron” to be pretty profound. The final irony; the struggle to communicate while running into so many blocks was the thing that kept me going. I’ve slightly revised my thinking; God has a wicked sense of humor.

      Moral, such as it is: Iif you are losing the staring contest with the black dog; talk to somebody. Anybody.

      • I personally don’t consider “likes talking in front of people” to be a “loss of introversion”. One of the funny things about introverts is that they have trouble with small talk, but get them going on a topic they enjoy and know lots about, and you can’t get them to stop talking!

        (And I have a *long* list of things I like to talk about…)

        Although I was always nervous, I always enjoyed teaching about mathematics as a doctorate student. Unfortunately, I’m also good at tuning out environmental noise when I’m focusing on something, which has led to a point where a student angrily exploded at the chattering of other students — it was embarrassing for me, in large part, because it should have been *me* who was angry at those chattering students!

        Of all the factors that quashed my desire to become a math professor, talking about math wasn’t one of them….

        • OK, you’re probably right. Not sure i like talking in front of people, but the shyness that caused me to stay well in the back of the crowd faded a bit. If I encountered a situation where a) somebody had to be in front of a group of people, b) nobody else wanted to do it, and c) I really wanted that something to happen, I’d be willing to stand in the hot spot.

          That’s how I found myself president of a club after the former president left in a hissy fit (chattering members at play) It’s also how I ended up running worship services (no sermon, though) for a few months. OTOH, my atrial fibrillation was hurting like hell, so I stopped doing that and left that church. Personal health won out.

  9. I’ve experience chemically induced depression twice. Once via a foolish overdose* of an anti-malarial known for depressive qualities, and once via dengue fever.
    Both times were just awful, and I never want to do that again.

    *I had taken my Monday regular dose, then thought I was having an attack, so I took a double dose the next day to treat it. I was later told I was an idiot.

  10. Brilliant post! Just brilliant! Thank you!

    Glad the black dog has been leaving you alone lately.

    I also loved “…it’s very easy to judge someone for something stupid and build a whole picture of what people are like that has nothing to do with reality.” Yes! I hope you will write that post at some point. 😀 You are such a clear and insightful thinker about so many things.

  11. Since I habitually wear Birkenstocks (we do the Japanese thing and leave shoes at the door, and the Birkenstocks are easy to get on and off; it’s amazing how much it cuts down on floor maintenance), and was an early driver of a hybrid car (it got an honest 68mpg on the highway, and Atlanta is MOSTLY highways; I’d have bought it if it put out the legal maximum of pollutants for 68mpg), a surprising number of people assumed that my politics are “liberal”. One even came up and admired the then-new Honda “Insight” and added matter-of-factly that Bush was going to outlaw such cars. I am best described as “Anti-Idiotarian”, and sadly no point on the political spectrum has a monopoly on idiots, but people will make fundamental assumptions on superficialities.

    • FYI, despite the popular misconception, surveys show the majority of Prius owners are conservative. It’s not hypocritical for a conservative to drive a car that gets 50 MPG. OTOH, if you’re a liberal environmentalist commuting alone in a massive SUV, you’re a shining example of hypocrisy.

      4 Prius’s in my immediate family. Me, 2 sons and a daughter.

      • Mileage is good. I forego mileage for safety, because I believe in the power of sheer mass to get through most vehicle crash situations. I still get the most mileage I can, given the mass constraint. Diesel rules.

        • My daughter has been t-boned twice in her Prius, with witnesses pointing out both times the other person ran a red. (Pure bad luck on her part.) Both times she was hit by older heavier cars.

          No injuries. Air bags deployed both times. Side airbags on the newer Prius. The body shop guy who has repaired a few of our cars describes seeing a video the insurance companies show to body shop guys. An older, heavier solidly built car with a solid frame versus a new car, lighter weight, designed to crumple. Even without airbags, technology and design beat pure mass when it comes to survivability. A modern car is less likely to survive a collision. Most are totaled if the airbags deploy. But the people inside are more likely to survive.

          • But would she have done as well being side-swiped at 70 mph, having her front wheel stick in a soft shoulder and going ass-over-teakettle down the embankment? Those “they lived” Subaru commercials are the gods honest truth.

            I did enjoy the progtard explaining to me afterword that the laws of physics would have been repealed if I had only been driving an environmentally conscious vehicle.

      • Okay. But if they’re in a pious with liberal stickers, I CAN still make fun of right?
        As for SUVs given my tendency to carry enough wood to build a porch/floor a room and the unpredictable weather out here, I’ll hold on to the expedition.

        • We also have a RAV-4 for hauling things. We live in the middle of nowhere. Two cars, minimum, per family is a necessity, not a luxury. Except for the local Amish….

        • The irony is that hybrids were originally targeted for construction and utility trucks. The idea was to save on fleet fuel costs and replace a stand alone generator for larger loads. It never caught on, and not sure why.

          After doing the four cylinder thing, discovered the motors didn’t hold up as well as six and eight, and went to a full size truck. In retrospect, I would have been better with a four-door SUV with a trailer.

        • “a Pious”

          Don’t know if that was intentional or not. If not, it should have been.

          • It was. In CO I’d say 90% of them have “coexist” or Obama or Hillary stickers. Oh, and drive like d*cks.

            • I’ve always assumed that Toyota just put the “Hope and Change” bumper sticker on all Priuses in the factory to save time.

              Of course, I also thought that about pretty much all Subarus, and now I’m driving one, so on the subject of assumptions…

            • When we were in Denver, we heard a lot of people blame the horrible driving on California and Texas. The problem with that theory is that bad driving habits are regional and accounted for in that region, so you can tell where a problem comes from. California’s overall bad habit seems to be not using the mirrors, which actually works if everybody is doing it.

              Denver’s bad habit is using things that are not lanes as lanes; I remember well the first Thanksgiving we were there, driving to Fort Collins—and seeing all the vehicles that tried to get to the frontage road via the shoulder and failed. Or when they were doing extensive construction on the 225 to I-25 junction and people were driving on clearly marked no-go zones, just to get up a couple of cars.

              (Actually, we finally decided that everybody brought their bad driving habits to Denver and adopted others. Nasty little gene-swapping habit.)

          • Saw one with NM tags, an Coexist sticker, an Obama sticker, and tossing garbage out the window and driving like a jerk with one hand on the cell-phone. Talk about living down to the stereotype.

          • Feather Blade

            That’s what I always call them ^_^

        • Unpredictable weather? In Colorado Springs? From what my son says it’s predictable as long as you don’t go past 24 hours. A few weeks back I remember him saying, It’s 70 degrees out. We have a blizzard warning in effect…”

          CNY has similar weather changes. It was over 90 today. Low tomorrow night predicted at 39.

        • Crew cab F-150 better than any SUV. More hauling space and F-150’s are like cockroaches, hard to kill……

      • At the time I bought it (2001) , statistically only 1/3 of people who were buying hybrids identified as liberals; the rest were conservatives (It gets 68mpg! Neat!) or libertarians (It’s the most technologically-advanced car I can afford! Neat!), though the liberals were the ones pushing to require everyone to buy them. The general whizdumb was that the liberals were the ones buying them, but as usual it was less than correct.

        • And that’s the difference between liberals and libertarians, and to a lesser extend liberals and conservatives. If a libertarian, and to a lesser extent, a conservative, thinks something is a good idea, they’ll encourage it, and pursue it for themselves, but then leave it at that. If a liberal thinks it’s a good idea, they want *everyone* to do it, even to the extent that they’ll dismiss other people’s reasons not to change.

          I am highly encouraged by the LED lighting and its improvements….but I *still* think incandescent bulbs should be legal. (And I particularly despise the fact that incandescents were banned when curly fluorescent lights were pretty much the only option available, and consider myself *very* fortunate that LEDs had matured just enough to be almost viable shortly before the ban took effect.)

      • My 1989 Geo Metro gets 48mpg… no hybrid, no direct injection, CVT, nada. Just an old-school two-valve engine, throttle body injection, and five speed manual.

        Somehow, hybrid technology doesn’t impress me much…

        [subtraction] Rats! I forgot to tell the DMV I wanted an antique plate last month. Those are $7.50, one time only, vs. the annual $23 ripoff for a regular plate.

        Property tax on five cars and two trailers is up over $50 per year now. Thieves!

      • Michael Houst

        1 Pruis, 1 Tacoma.
        Ford royally screwed up when they discontinued their 1/4 ton pickup. Their loss, Toyota’s (and everyone else’s) gain.

      • Whether you care about the environment or not, hybrid cars don’t make sense. Their whole-life-cycle energy cost is easily shown to be more than a conventional car. (Don’t forget that all those batteries likely have a designed lifespan well under 100,000 miles, and at least some of those cars have electronics that prevent you from even trying to exceed that limit.)

        • They make plenty of sense … for sellers. Not so much for buyers or public policy.

        • I think they only make sense in that they theoretically push the edge of what we can do with batteries.

          Of course, they may only be providing the illusion of pushing the boundaries, so they *still* might not make sense…but I have seen no analysis on this angle, one way or another…

      • We went for the Subaru Forester. Deepest Oregon is one of the places where you can drive a Subie and not be taken for a Bernie-bot. A Pious never made sense where we live, but the older Forester gets 30MPG in the summer, and the newer one gets 33. When it’s a dump run or I need mass quantities of $SOMETHING, the Chevy pickup (complete with lumber rack) does its 15MPG thing. Yes, 2 people/3 vehicles. If I have to go back east on family emergency, $SPOUSE wants a vehicle she can use without a harbor pilot, and I’m not driving that beast across the country a second time…

        • 2 problems with a Prius so far:
          – Lack of gound clearance. I mean even dirt roads are a problem, and potholes!!!
          – Heavy. Escort, Camry, heck, even an Impala, you can usually push out of a ditch. Prius? Better get some real power to pull it out. And hope you remember where you put the screw-in tow eyelet.

      • I can only find one, from NPR, which was done online, and which was at the request of CarTalk; it didn’t ask about general politics, but about specific candidates.
        http://www.npr.org/2016/02/23/467852236/which-candidate-are-prius-owners-are-most-likely-to-support-not-who-youd-think

        But even then, there’s this:
        Among electric car owners, 86% of responses were for a Democrat and 14% were for a Republican.

      • It isn’t as much the average driver that gives a vehicle a reputation but the most obnoxious. The ones who buy a car for the guilt assuagance tend to be the most obnoxious. Drive what you want, but there is a reason people choose larger cars. You needn’t belittle them because they find it easier to eat higher fuel costs for the ability not to have to plan a trip and beg borrow or steal a vehicle for anything larger than an Ikea bookcase.

        Just as I’m stereotyped (correctly) as an aggressive, high speed driver because I have a 2 door or a woman in an SUV is a menace (or part octopi as there eat, apply makeup and drive at once)

        • “Just as I’m stereotyped (correctly) as an aggressive, high speed driver because I have a 2 door or a woman in an SUV is a menace…”

          Middle aged women have recently replaced “old men in hats” as my number one peeve on the road. You see somebody dragging along 10mph under the speed limit, weaving, turning left in front of you, braking for no reason, or generally behaving like some form of moron, it used to always be some old geezer wearing a suit and a fedora.

          Not anymore.

          • I TOLD my father that “old men in hats” were bad.

            Note: I have a stack of 20 or so hats around here somewhere that he was given over the years that he never got around to wearing, despite the fact that he wore a baseball-style hat every day for over 50 years.

            • “Beware of old men in hats” was coined by a friend of mine when I was 17 and riding a Kawasaki 100 motorcycle. Whenever you saw a head with a hat on it, you expected disaster. Turning left in front of a motorcycle was the big favorite. Also driving suuuuuper slooooooow, wandering over the line and braking randomly.

              These days CELL PHONE USERS drive -worse- than demented old drunks.

            • My dad, who always wears hats, says the exact same.

    • Yeah, did some researching on electrics. Live in Canada, and I would need a vehicle to get from home to my mom’s place. Only one EV on the market had the range to do it. Barely. And of course the given range is for optimum conditions. So not the middle of winter. Not many hybrids out there in the size I need (I am a support system for a toddler….) or at what I could jokingly afford. Then there’s the hydro costs in the province which are just criminal (over half my bill is so-called “delivery” charges and not usage). Then there’s the cost. The SUV I was looking at was $5000 more (with subsidies) then the standard IC model.

      So upshot, until they get a battery and EV that can go 300 km on a single charge IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER, not even going to bother with buying or looking at one again.

      • The Wonder Batteries will be out Real Soon Now. Trust me. Those monthly announcements for the last thirty-odd years were just flukes. “Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!”

        • And controlled fusion is right around the corner. Also, Brazil is the next superpower.

          • Fusion in another 50 to 100 years, maybe. After all, flat-screen hang-on-the-wall TV was 10 years away since the 1950’s… and fusion was/is 20 years away since the 1950’s.

          • Brazil — and always will be.

          • Do keep in mind that all energy on this planet is nuclear in nature, and comes from one of two sources. Either the decay of radioactive materials in a reactor or as energy collected and transformed into a useful state from our very own pet thermonuclear engine that we keep at a sensible 93 million miles away.

            • Not quite all. There is energy derived from gravitation – tidal power, for instance. Also, at least some geothermal energy derives from the initial coalescence of the Earth from planetesimals (and some from tidal effects, too).

              There’s also a very small amount of non-nuclear energy from meteor infalls. Most burn up in the atmosphere, which is warmed.

              • Excellent point, one that I had overlooked.
                Thanks for mentioning the exception.
                And of course gravity plays a part in all hydro power though the energy is still sun source through the evaporation cycle.

              • Now that you mention gravitation, it occurs to me that *all* our energy is actually gravitational in nature.

                That big fusion generator in the sky? The fusion is caused by a big mass of hydrogen so huge that it’s forcing hydrogen to become helium.

                All that thorium and uranium in the mantle of the earth, keeping the mantle warm? The result of huge masses of hydrogen fusing all the way down into iron, and then exploding, fusing everything else that takes more energy to fuse than is produced in that fusion (iron being the “turning point” where it takes as much energy to fuse the elements into iron as the fusion produces)*.

                Heck, even the tidal forces are the result of gravity.

                * Which really puts Kipling’s “Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all” into a new perspective: iron literally forces the creation of pretty much all the elements that are heavier than it.

          • It would have been. If it hadn’t been for Lulu and Dilma. (Obama and Hillary) Never underestimate the power of Communists to shit all over everything.

        • Get your Mister Fusion right here! Of course, it only works on a Delorean…

        • The SJW pastor’s wife of a church we went to once insisted that “everybody should be forced to use electric cars”. Neat trick for them; their house was offgrid and underpowered with a small solar system and portable generators.

          Same person insisted that most electric power came from wind and sun. Of course, she was thrilled that the hydropower dams were going to be removed. Said SJW didn’t appreciate it when my wife tried to inject some reality into the situation.

          I’m sure the woefully underfunded church was going to be on the hook for charging the SJW’s hypothetical electric car. Not sure if that church is still in operation; the SJWs left, then a few months later, we did, too. The rot had set in.

      • I do not know what brand or model EV it was, but heard from a fellow at a northeastern utility of one that couldn’t go up a hill with a passenger. Since he lived by the hill, he got to see this many times.

  12. “””As for libertarians, they’ve been known to call me statist (!) because I say “Yeah, but we’re never going to get it. Not on planet Earth.””””

    Oh, blast it! By this standard, I can’t call myself a so-called “anarcho-capitalist” anymore….

    (Not that I think getting to an anarcho-capitalist state is impossible, per se, I just don’t think it’s very likely, as much as I think we should push for it. Heck, if we can convince people to seek to minimize government, I’d consider that a success! And given the current state of our society, I’m not even sure if we could get that….)

    • You’d love “Statist Josh” who is an anarcho-libertarian and got tagged as statist by some troll (who got banned half an hour or so later, as I recall). It became a bit of a joke and he wore the badge proudly. 🙂

      • On the other hand, I got branded as some sort of “anarchist” because I made the claim that government regulation was government control.

        I responded with “(1) Why, yes, I happen to be some sort of anarchist, but (2) that’s besides the point, because by definition, government regulations *is* government control.” This was on an article about net neutrality, and I think I was the only one there trying to make the case that the government isn’t a neutral party, and therefore can’t be trusted to implement “net neutrality”…

      • He now reads the posts (and occasionally comments) on facebook.

    • I have learned that with people and philosophies, what is on the label may be very different from the actual contents. Do not confuse the package for the product. (Except when the product is a really big box.)

  13. Thank you for writing this. You don’t even have to be as far as suicidal to use this advice. I’ve known several people who were depressed enough that they just crawled into a cave of their own making and just gave up. Bare minimum living to stay alive. In one particular case, a lady I knew would do minimal stuff to get her husband and kids off to school and then go hide in a dark bedroom thinking dark thoughts, crying, and whatever. A friend would knock on the door, and when not receiving an answer, would go around to the bedroom window and knock and then talk through the window. She didn’t receive any answers for days at a time, but the (formerly) depressed woman said, later on, that just knowing somebody else was taking time to come knock on her window and make sure she was still alive and okay gave her the lifeline she needed to eventually start turning around and getting the help she needed.

  14. Very good post. Even good people get depressed. George Fox (who founded the Society of Friends, the Quakers) talked about a black dog getting to him in his Journal.

  15. It’s a hard thing. And sometimes not wanting to hurt my loved ones is all that keeps me going. It’s exhuasting when your mind is broken and your mind is what you use to solve problems.

    • How about not hurting yourself? Maybe start there.

      By the way, your mind is fine. You just FEEL crappy and sad. Body sensations are fleeting. Stare it in the eye and DARE it to come get you, it will shrivel and die under your gaze.

      I’m a big believer in the F**K YOU!!! school of mental health*. Stare into the abyss, and if it stares back or otherwise gives you lip, punch it in the face. It’ll cry and run away.

      *This is known as the Scottish School.

  16. Birthday Girl

    “The problem is that this one is best understood as “possession by demons.””

    Having been to the brink of that cliff and gently enticed back by an actual grace of G-d, this describes my experience wonderfully, although I would quibble and call it being ridden by a demon rather than an interior occupation. It really is something outside oneself that wants to operate upon/within oneself, something that is so very difficult to perceive when one is in the claws of it.

    And no, it makes no sense whatsoever to the observer, unless they’re equipped to see the demon … which often indicates an interesting story …

    • The technical term is “oppression” or “obsession”– demon screwing with your head.

      “Possession” is usually more of a driver’s seat thing.

      There’s also infestation. Kind of like insects with nasty diseases. Isn’t individual connected.

    • There are many times when I think demonic possession is the socially smartest answer. Calling it neurosis or psychosis does not change the nature, it merely abets the fact that the greatest lie the Devil has told is that he does not exist.

      Putting a scientifical label on a mood, be it Depression or whatever prompts people to terrorize a school, does nothing that calling it demonic possession does not do, and the latter allows us to better manage the results, answer the inevitable questions and get on with living.

      • Exorcists, however, say that there is a difference between demonic possession and mental illness, and the hardest cases to unravel can have both.

  17. I think that it is important to get into the morality of suicide, actually. There have been times in my life when the only thing that has kept me from succumbing to the impulse is my conviction that suicide is objectively wrong, no matter what I may be feeling at the moment.

    There are times when I cannot believe that it will get better, or that anyone would miss me. What I cling to is my sense of duty, that I did not create myself and do not have the right to destroy myself.

    • Of course its wrong. You have articulated it very well.

      Besides which, feelings change. If you don’t like the feeling you’re having right now, just wait five minutes and it will change to something else. Feelings don’t mean squat.

      This seems harsh and dismissive until you do it yourself. Get the egg timer and wait five minutes. See what happens. That’s a tool to pull out of the toolbox when you feel like crap. It cuts through drama like a chainsaw.

    • *nods*

      It is not an option, so I haven’t even considered it.

      Don’t know why I am fortunate enough to have that bedrock assurance, but I’m glad for it.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Believing that Suicide was a sin helped me at times.

      • Declaring suicide a mortal sin probably saved no end of medieval types. I mean, look at Japan, which doesn’t condone suicide, per se, but has a lot of that condoning in the past. They have a place called The Forest of Suicides. And you’re warned that you may encounter a recent one if you go there.

        • Some areas are suicide magnets.

          The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco had people jumping before it was even completed. The Wikipedia page says the official count stopped at 1,000 and unofficial continuation counts run as high as 1,600.

        • Not just the medieval. Saved my sorry ass.

  18. This advice applies to more than just depression — but then, it’s probably safe to say that there’s more than one kind of demon, too.

    I currently suffer heavily from “Imposter Syndrome”. Every day, I’m afraid I’ll be fired because of my inadequacies, and some days I probably even deserve it. Some days I even wish I could just quit — and the realization that I need to support my family is the only thing that keeps me plugging along. Indeed, no matter how ignorant I feel, or inadequate, or sick and tired, I find that if I just plug along, I at least get some work done. If there comes a time where my efforts are deemed inadequate, then so be it: I’ve been unemployed before. I can find work again.

    It doesn’t help that I consider myself a mathematician pretending to be a software developer….and there are days where I wonder if I should abandon any hope of being a mathematician, and just “give in” and be a software developer. Heck, I’ve even wondered if I should go all out, and do something wacky, like debug COBOL programs for banks that can’t give up COBOL just yet. Between long hours at work, family obligations, and family and personal health issues, it seems that I can’t find the time to learn *anything*. So I have to remind myself that I need to keep my mind open to possibilities, and I need to figure out if I can wedge myself into something that I want to do….

    • Feather Blade

      I don’t know if this will help or not, but…

      I like to remind myself that no knowledge is useless, and that the purpose of work is to provide the means to live, not to provide the means to give me my identity.

      So, the financial and secretarial work that I do while I’m studying to gain the skills for a more technical career will be useful to me, somehow, some time, even in the future, when I can call myself [professional title].

      • I’m not sure if I could believe the claim that “no knowledge is useless”, because I’m sure there’s plenty of knowledge that *is* useless. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not worthwhile to acquire that knowledge, and additionally, sometimes it’s *very* difficult to determine what knowledge will be useless, and what knowledge will be valuable.

        As a general rule, though, I’m guessing that knowledge of works that won Hugo and Nebula awards, to authors who haven’t written much, is probably not all that useful for the most part….

        Now, I just wish I had more time to acquire more knowledge!

  19. I hate the black dog. Hate it, and fear it, and have to watch carefully for its return. The past few nights I’ve been dredging up things that I know are really my anxiety problem trying to get claws into me again. I’ve driven them off, but they’re fluttering there, at the edge of my mental peripheral vision.

    http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2013/05/depression-part-two.html Y’all have probably seen this before. It has helped a few people, irritated more, and helped me help someone else once.

    • Shoot. The. Dog. Whatever that thing is that you’re afraid of, you are bigger than it will ever be.

      Don’t argue with me. You’re bigger.

    • Birthday Girl

      I don’t know whether this will help anyone, but for me, when it’s getting raw, the best approach is sheer stubbornness – I will not let the ba****d have the satisfaction … of course, as RES alluded above, you have to believe the da***d thing exists for this to help.

  20. There’s a good webcomic that has a monster that operates like this:
    http://www.daughterofthelilies.com/dotl/part-1-a-girl-with-no-face

  21. In my younger days I walked that dog many a time, or perhaps that dog walked me. The wheres and whyfors no longer matter; they were the opportunistic attacks of, as Sarah says, an inimical spirit. I still walk that black dog today, daily, but now there is no doubt as to who holds the leash. What turned that corner for me, what stripped the lying voices of all potency was, of all things, a Gahan Wilson cartoon. I wish I could find it online to show it, but it is easily described: a man sits in a plush chair with a gun and a suicide note, asking himself: On the other hand, “What if I’ve already pulled the trigger?”

    Because the boldest lie the voices whisper is that suicide ends things. Several theologies (is Buddhism a theology?) warn us that suicides go to Hell, after all, and what greater Hell might one seek than a continuation of a life so joyless as to engender thoughts of oblivion?

    That might be false, death might bring oblivion, but do you really want to take that chance? As Clint Eastwood prompted, “ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”

    Heck, worst comes to worst, you can always do it tomorrow, but as with tattoos it is wise to defer making decisions with permanent consequences based on a moment’s whim.

    • Lest anyone doubt my claim of walking that black dog: could anybody make the sorts of jokes I do not harbor a death wish?

    • Terry Sanders

      Nobody seems to read much past “To be or not to be” these days, do they?

      • “For in this sleep of death, what dreams may come…”

        Strangely enough, a Cracked article actually dealt with this point, suggesting (in their usual crude way) that would-be suicides might want to consider what sort of afterlife there might be and whether or not they would be making their situation even worse by going through with it…

  22. Well I might be hated, but it’s not only the good and decent that take there own lives. I’ve had two who were close to me that killed themselves. By the time they did it they had screwed over all their friends and relatives multiple times. Even to the point of putting their “freinds”, relatives and yes my life in jepordy. So it was goodridence for those honest enough to even think it. They had just run out of victims and wanted to leave a big guilt trip.

    • I don’t think I SAID it was ONLY the good and decent.
      I thought I mentioned in the post people who take their lives to escape the consequences of their actions.
      Then there are people who “attempt suicide” usually in a way it won’t come through, as emotional blackmail.
      I can’t do anything to help those, or those who survive them.
      So I’m concentrating on the other kind.

      • John from Tennessee

        Quite right, you did not say “only the decent”. I was emoting and responding to the thread as a whole. You author you. You​r creation took on its own life and touched my history.

        • Larry has observed that some people will deliberately “skim until offended” and then launch an attack on an article, often based on something that’s taken out of context. This is a common tactic for SJWs, for example.

          On the other hand, every so often I’ll come across something that touches an emotional nerve, and be so moved (by anger, usually, but really, any emotion can be touched) that I comment on something, without fully understanding the article….

          I think the difference between doing this, and what SJWs tend to do, is one of intent — anyone can accidentally “skim until offended”, but SJWs seem to have weaponized this as a tactic…

          • Those who “skim until offended” tend to not back down when their error is pointed out, while the mistakenly outraged are capable of climbing back in off the ledge.

            “Skim until offended” is actually somewhat of a misnomer — more typically they begin by being offended and skim until they find an excuse to unleash their wrightful rath.

          • It’s a common SJW tactic because they’ll put a poison pill in things– and they can’t tell offended from objecting to said pill.

            Of course, a lot of folks who quote the “skim until offended” rule are mistaking a disagreement on fundamental soundness with being “offended.” Example, I’ve had it quoted at me for pointing out biology in an abortion debate, or an off-handed statement that demonstrates an utter lack of foundation in the subject. (Ranchers graze their cattle for free on the national forest!)

            • What??? That’s crazy talk! Ranchers graze their cattle for free in the national forests.

              I’m not saying preposition misuse ought be a capital offense, not for the first count, at any rate.

    • …leave a big guilt trip.

      Turning that around, sometimes one simply refuses to give the bastards the satisfaction.

    • It’s still a loss. For those left behind, in terms of what might have been, because the suicide chose death instead of redemption.

  23. I struggled a lot with depression and anxiety silently through high school and college, but when things came to a head my senior year of undergraduate studies, what helped to pull my head above water was finding out that apparently the same mindset you describe is rampant in my dad’s side of the family. My dad struggled with it, along with one of his brothers and a sister. My grandpa struggled with it. Found out I had a great-aunt who was institutionalized for it that no one ever talked about either.

    Learning that you’re not the only one who feels that way helps a LOT. Especially when the same issue was admitted by my younger brother last year and he went on medication to try and help. (Seems to be working now, fingers crossed).

    But for days when I feel too worthless to get out of bed to do anything to help myself, I try to keep your second point in mind, that being here can mean something to other people. At the very least, I want to show other people that you can beat the demons back with a stick and still have a life.

    So hearing this from other people, like here on this blog, I think helps more people than we realize.

  24. Thank you so much for this article.

  25. One problem that is present in many communications between people on subjects of this nature, is that one of the people is simply not capable of understanding the other person well enough. In the case of the friends Sarah mentions, I can’t say one way or another whether this is case, but I have seen it many times. No matter how many times the person says they understand, the things they say continue to prove that they don’t, and this leads to acrimony on both sides.

    While I don’t suffer from suicidal depression myself, one of the things I am very good at is putting myself in others’ shoes. In the case of deeply depressed people, I’m able to envision the dark, cold, heavy fog that lays over the person like a thick, sodden blanket, sucking the energy from them, weighing them down, blurring the senses, blurring the thoughts, blurring even MEMORIES of anything that might raise the spirits, drive back the cold and the dark, and help the person see some light. And some people aren’t constructed in a way that they can apprehend that.

    Two of my friends were arguing this very issue many years ago. One of them told the other, “I’ve been depressed before. You just have to focus, and will it away” (or something similar to that). But when the black dog has hold of your leg it doesn’t usually work that way. And the person he’s got hold of needs to have a good reason to even try. If they haven’t forgotten that they have friends and family who actually do love them and would be far more hurt by them killing themselves than otherwise, sometimes that will be enough if they cling to it enough, but sometimes help is needed.

    And it can’t be simple platitudes, either. “Smile, that will pick you up!” Well, it CAN, but you need to be at a place where you can actually convince yourself to SMILE and not just grimace, or else it just feels like hypocrisy.

    What I am NOT good at is knowing what to say, so I’m going to leave that to other people.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      “They said ‘Smile, things could be worse’. So I smiled and things got worse.” 😉

      • “It takes more muscles to frown than to smile!”

        So you’re saying that people who go around with a smile are lazy? This dour expression is part of my exercise program.

        • My favorite observation on this topic is “It takes (I can’t remember, but isn’t it about) 47 muscles to frown, and 14 muscles to smile…but it takes 0 muscles to sit there with a dumb look on your face”.

          Encountered this from “Despair.com”, which has some very…enlightening…alternatives to standard motivational posters….

          • My favorite is the Dilbert version (paraphrased):

            Random passerby: Hey, little doogie, cheer up! Don’t you know it only takes 14 muscles to smile.

            Dogbert (zaps aforementioned passerby with phaser): That took a few more muscles, but I think it was worth it.

    • I think you’ve hit on one of the big issues– there’s at least two different kinds of depression. (minimum)

      And there’s a lot more than two different kinds of people. (those who have an urge to make a ‘two kinds of people’ joke, and those who don’t)

      Tactics that work for one person will not work at all for the other.

    • I’m able to envision the dark, cold, heavy fog that lays over the person like a thick, sodden blanket, sucking the energy from them, weighing them down, blurring the senses, blurring the thoughts,

      There are those who really are feeling that – I know. That’s me on a number of days. But there are those who aren’t like that, or if they are, they’ve learned to use it. The ones I hated the most were the ones who were, in effect, emotional vampires. They’re seen by me as a different kind of abuser. When they wouldn’t get what they wanted – usually some kind of affirmation or attention- they’d threaten to off themselves. I knew people like that and it was horribly, horribly toxic.

      They take the genuine suffering of people, appropriate it for their own use, and make it harder or real depressives to get the help they need.

  26. Just wish there had been someone to intervene with E.E. Doc Smith

  27. An attempted suicide who actually survived jumping off the Golden Gate bridge later said, ‘the instant I let go of the really I realized that every mistake in my life was fixable except this one.’

  28. I’m not going to argue that suicide is good thing, ever. However, had a high school acquaintance kill mom, dad, and 2 brothers because he was, well, a loser busy losing in life. At the ripe old age of 18. Under the circumstances, I think the world might be a slightly better place today if he had offed himself instead. There are always choices in life, and sometimes people make really bad ones.

    BTW, I don’t pretend to understand depression except in a detached I’ve read about it way. And from what I’ve read about it, I’ve never been there. I’ve had, over the years, a few people try to confide in me they were depressed. And all I could do was stare at them and say, “Well, stop.”

    • That’s a little like telling someone to stop having a broken leg, but I get what you mean.

      • The Mother-In-Law was want to use the phrase, ‘pull oneself up by their boot straps’. I would ask her to think that picture through.

      • It is -exactly- telling them to stop having a broken leg. Not the worst thing anyone ever said though, right? If you see someone dragging a broken leg, you yell at them to go get it fixed RIGHT NOW.

        • Feather Blade

          I don’t think I ever have been clinically depressed, but I do tend to, as a former employer called it, “Perseverate” – which is the blame-n-shame spiral that the mind can get into over the shoulda-coulda-woulda-ifonlys.

          (It can also happen when one gets stuck in a stress-induced cognitive loop, which prevents one from making any progress, in the middle of a project)

          That is the kind of mental funk that (for me) responds to the “Well, stop”.

          “What’s done is done, you can’t change it, so you have to live with it. Stop.”

          “but i’ll neve” “Stop.”

          “But..” “Stop. No. We’re not going to go over this again. We’re going to take a walk and eat something. Then we’re going to do something completely different and/or pray.”

  29. I’ve known three people who committed suicide. The first was a fairly casual acquaintance, and I’d hadn’t seen him for years before he died, so I can’t really comment on him. The other two, though, were among the last people I would have expected something like that from. For one, he had so many friends that his parents would have had to literally rent out a convention hall to hold the funeral, except that the owners of the convention hall were his friends too and donated the space for free.

    The more I think about it, the more I suspect that the Victorians may have been onto something with their “suicide while temporarily insane” euphemism.

    • Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
      We people on the pavement looked at him:
      He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
      Clean favored and imperially slim.

      And he was always quietly arrayed,
      And he was always human when he talked,
      But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
      “Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

      And he was rich–yes, richer than a king–
      And admirably schooled in every grace:
      In fine, we thought that he was everything
      To make us wish that we were in his place.

      So on we worked, and waited for the light,
      And went without the meat and cursed the bread;
      And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
      Went home and put a bullet through his head.

  30. This was something I really needed to read after how things have been lately. Carry a heavy stick to beat that damned dog off with if he shows up again!

    • THAT is what I’m talking about. Beat that f-er soft. Beat it so bad it fears to come back for another go. Stare it in the eye and scream something uncomplimentary in Gaelic.

  31. Topical, because of events that have pushed me into depression recently…

  32. As a retired military forensic pathologist, I’ve seen a fair number (of suicides) over the years, The one that came closest to making sense was a fairly senior NCO who had pleaded guilty to molesting his children and was about to be sentenced. Laws apparently require that any sentence of confinement for more than 180 days automatically includes “forfeiture of all pay and allowances.” Military group life insurance pays on suicides.

    The saddest I know of (luckily have not personally had to work such) are the people, usually girls, who attempt to kill themselves with acetaminophen (paracetamol/Tylenol) and wait too long to change their minds and seek help – AFTER the drug has done lethal damage to their livers.

    Personally, I used to contemplate how much life insurance I had and whether people would interpret “motorcycle against bridge abutment” as an accident. Then I passed out, still drunk from the weekend, at a Monday morning staff meeting I was supposed to be chairing. After a command “encouraged” rehab stint, my psychiatrist (whom I had told, AFTER that Monday, I was depressed, drinking too much, and needed help) told me that “If I had known how much you drank, I wouldn’t have thought you were depressed.” (This doesn’t break any anonymity I ever had.)

    There are a lot of people in the “recovery communities” who seem to have had black dogs as their preferred mascots.

  33. Many years ago I looked my then wife in the face and told her that I’d rather be dead than continue in what our life had become. She immediately informed all our friends that I was suicidal, totally missing what I was actually trying to tell her, that unless she found a way to control her psychological and physically abusive tendencies I was unwilling to continue the relationship. When I finally did pack up, leave, and file for divorce she was amazed that I truly no longer wanted to be with her. I think we burned through seven family councilors all told before I left. Every time one would suggest that she might share in the blame for our problems she fired them and sought a new one. The one at the time she decided I was suicidal did offer what I always considered excellent advice. He said suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I was always relieved that I was able to find a permanent solution to my problem that did not involve one of us dead and the other in prison.
    Years later I engaged in a written suicide pact called a DNR. Facing major surgery I filled out a form and gave the doctors permission to kill me should the worst happen and I came out the other side of the OR alive but in a vegitative state.
    Faced with a credible diagnosis of a painful and terminal disease with little if any hope of cure, I can understand some rationale for ending things on my own terms. After several second opinions of course.

  34. I am reminded of a plot element in the James Blish novel Black Easter: the last and greatest of all black magicians uses summoned demons to drive a prominent scientist to suicide. IOW, suicide as a manifestation of literal demonic possession.

  35. Pingback: Dances With Demons — According To Hoyt | darkumentation

  36. Artists are an odd lot. So many artists talk suicide and defend it, and then fight their final illness to the last second, continuing to write, like H. P. Lovecraft, or directing a movie literally from the death bed, as John Huston directed his film based on “The Dead,” by Joyce.

    • One of the humbling things about getting older is realizing that a lot of youth’s “I would nevers” … you would.

      • ‘In theory, theory and practice are the same, in practice….’

        One of the few good things the “highly respected” bioethics experts tend to do is absolutely fail to apply their theory when it’s not something they want.

        Old people are useless and should die! But… my mom has dementia… I’m going to pay for the absolute best care for her, because she’s mom, and justify it as my getting satisfaction out of it….

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          “If you pay for the care of your mother with dementia, that’s fine. However, since the State is paying for that care, the State can decide that caring for individuals with dementia is wasted money and decree their deaths.”

          The above was in one sense sarcasm but is also why I think “Free Health Care” is a potential danger.

          Before her death, Mom suffered from dementia and I would have killed anybody who said that “she should be eliminated”.

          Fortunately, her dementia didn’t make her a “terrible patient”.

          I had problems being around her because “she wasn’t the mother I knew”. 😦

          • Submitted for your consideration …

            Theresa May’s Dementia Tax
            [SNIP]
            The Tory manifesto says, in effect, that people who need care in old age will have to pay for every penny of it – no matter how big the costs – if they have more than £100,000 in assets, which will be protected. Payment can be deferred until after death, but there’s no escaping it. If you have a home worth, say, £216,000 (the national average), own it outright, and need to be looked after for a long time, you may have to cough up £116,000.

            Currently, it’s true, anyone with assets of over £23,250 has to pay for the full cost of their care (family homes are included in totalling assets for those in residential care). But the government, at least until today, was going to introduce a cap of £72,000 in 2020 – based on Sir Andrew Dilnot’s proposals made in the coalition years. Now people risk having to pay far more than that.

            Let’s imagine two 80-year-old widows who live next-door to each other somewhere in the south of England. Their properties are both worth £312,000 and they have another £10,000 in other assets, so a total of £322,000 each. Happily, they both live till 95. Unhappily, one of them suffers dementia for 10 years, and soon needs round-the-clock care. The other widow is healthy and reasonably active until the very end of her life.

            Under the new Conservative plans, the one who is healthy until the end of her life will leave her estate completely intact to her loved ones. The one who needs all that care, however, will be billed up to £222,000. Over 10 years, at current costs for care, that’s very plausible: the BBC estimates that nursing care costs £1,000 a week; home care £16.70 an hour; ordinary residential care £700 a week.
            [END EXCERPT]

          • My mom’s mom was…difficult… her entire life, but once dementia started in it was the whiplash that got to folks– her favorite daughter would suddenly be a total stranger she’d deny, coldly; my mom (the UnFavorite) might, in the course of a visit, go from “pleased to meet you, what did you say your name was?” to “young lady, WHAT are you doing back from college and what did you DO to your hair?” and into “(first name only, indicating this was something Really Important), your sister is crying. There’s something wrong. You need to find out why your sister is crying….”

            She’s been gone over a decade, and she wasn’t my mom– at mom’s request*, I didn’t try to visit her the one time I was stateside after she had demetia– and I’m tearing up. I’m scared of what will happen when/if my mom also has dementia, I can’t imagine going through it.

            *hugs*

            * it took me several years, until mom opened up about some of those visits, to figure out she was terrified that her mother would mistake me for her(a very probable thing, her high school classmates sometimes did) and say something that would destroy me. I’m still not sure if I made the right choice in obeying mom.

            • It has been a little over a year since my mother’s dementia ended, quietly one evening. The last five – ten years of her life it took an effort to accept that the person I was visiting was no longer my Mom, she was simply what remained of her. It helps to learn that distinction, to accept the limits of her circumstances. It is an illness and like any illness it … demands accommodations from family. We accept the limits that being a child impose on our kids, so must we accept the limits with which age burdens us.

              No, it is not pleasant, but we have not been given the Lord’s Grace that we might carry light loads but so that we might carry loads lightly.

            • My great grandmother ha it and would confuse my grandmother with her sister- in the middle of a conversation-, my older sister with my aunt (to be fair, they were only 12 years apart and did have physical similarities) and… would recognize me every time. And then tell me for the millionth time how much i looked like her husband who I never knew.

            • I understand that. I have pictures of my grandmother where she was well and happy. The only memory I have of her isn’t a good one,but I treasure it since it is the only good memory I have of her. Before she died my mom asked if my brothers and I wanted to visit her in the nursing home she was in. I declined since I didn’t want to exchange the one memory for a worse one. She passed away a few months later and I didn’t regret seeing her at her worst. My heart goes out to my mom and my late grandfather who had to deal with it the most. Have a lot of first cousins that only know their grandmother through stories and pictures.

            • The last time I saw Daddy’s father he did not recognize me. (I think he was looking for a much younger person.) It was at a family gathering for the winter holidays. Daddy and The Step-mother were very busy running around trying to get a fancy feast on the table. I was chatting with The Step-mother’s eldest daughter. My Grandfather came up and, before moving on, told us he was looking for his only grandchild, who he had heard would be there.

              A minute later The Step-mother came up to tell me that my Grandfather was looking for me and started to scold me for avoiding him. I let her go on for a moment before I told her that I knew he was looking for me, he had told us as much. Her daughter agreed.

              Later my Grandfather sat next to The Spouse at the dinner table. On hearing that The Spouse lived in North Carolina, Grandpa proceeded to tell all about the family he had down in North Carolina — us.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Funny thing happened with Mom before she left us.

              Mom always “recognized” me when I visited her in the nursing home. Not sure if she knew who I actually was, but she knew me as a “regular person she knew who visited her”.

              Ruth, my sister, who lives an hour away never felt that Mom knew her (even as somebody she knew if she wasn’t sure who) when she visited.

              Ruth visited Mom a couple of weeks before she died because it was Mom’s birthday. Ruth had a good visit with Mom and Mom said something as Ruth was leaving that made Ruth think that “Mom knew her”.

              As I said, this was shorty before Mom died and Ruth thought about that after Mom’s death.

              I’ve wondered if G*d had given Mom a bit of her old self because He knew this would be Ruth’s last time to see Mom alive.

              Ruth didn’t have a good relationship with Mom (which I only learned later) but it had hurt her when Mom appear to see her as a “friendly stranger”.

              G*d apparently gave Ruth a sight of old Mom.

              • I didnt like visiting my great grandmother because i could see her lack of confusion as to my identity hurting everyone else.

              • I think He does that a lot– same grandmother sat up and addressed empty air as if it was her husband, and I think a few other people. But she used a nickname she hadn’t used since he died, because that’s what she addressed him as, not what she called him. And then she passed.

                Of course I think he came to get her.

                • My grandfather told my grandmother all his brothers were there and were all young again. He was the youngest of 9 and the first to get married, so his youth was roaming around as part of that pack of boys.
                  So…
                  And then he died. I hope they came to get him.
                  When I was between life and death, grandma visited. She’d been dead five years. Dan was alarmed, but it was clear she was just VISITING.

  37. There is some suggestion that the “charming individual” who tried to crash Times Square was attempting suicide-by-cop. Whatever your faith system or lack there of, I am inclined to suspect that, had he succeeded, his final destination would have been rather… uncomfortable. Long term or short term depending on your faith system.

    • I heard a news report that seems to indicate that he heard voices, among other things. If this is true, then my heart goes out to him, regardless of what evil he’s done. I have a sister who is schizophrenic, and while I have only a smidgen of an idea of what she goes through, I cannot help but have sympathy for those who live with such demons.

      Fortunately my sister’s schizophrenia is under control…

      But if he doesn’t have schizophrenia, and did what he did under his own free will, I’d like to his final destination would have been *very* uncomfortable…

      • If he was self-medicating for schizophrenia, then he’s got so many other problems the courts – earthly and otherwise – will have their hands full. If he’s claiming that, or if it turns out it was purely the stuff he claimed to have been taking, I hope the punishment fits the crime.

        • Unless there’s been a major drop in discharge-paranoia, he’s unlikely to actually be schizo— he was discharged from the Navy for behavior issues, and it wasn’t during the first few months, so he had to be both really out of control and not certifiably crazy to not be a mental health discharge. (We had a gal at my school who went that route– there’s an additional angle that a mental health discharge is easier to push through than “holy heck, this person should NOT be in the military.” She was doing a full-on Klinger route. The refusing to shower is what actually gave them grounds, because they couldn’t get any evidence she was crazy, rather than just desperate to get out….)

  38. “It’s a lie. It’s an awful lie.”
    Yes. This.
    I have a reason for the hope that is within me. I can share that reason. But, do NOT believe the lie that ending your own life is a better way..

  39. One other item for talking with people you know is to realize what calling for professional help will do to them. There is still a very heavy stigma against depression and when emergency help is used it can very easily destroy a life. I’ve personally seen emergency confinement abused and have gotten adept at talking myself out of it. A close acquaintance should be much better able to both be trusted and thus elicit truth and understand what the true threat someone has. My mind always plans things out. Doesn’t matter what. But I tell a cop or emt that I have thought about suicide, have a preferred method and the means and I will be pc’d. And there go my hobbies, my job and everything else. Does a great job of making people hide issues.

    • I blame the Obama-era gun grabbing from anyone who so much as asked for depression related counseling for a lot of the veteran suicide spike.

      • But it ain’t just them. Since I’ve had treatment for depression, I am barred from a chl in my state of residence for a decade if the doc is willing to sign off at all. My full time would at best put me under review if not bounce me from division.

        It’s done great at pushing me away from people and increasing my lack of trust.

      • I suspect the negative portrayal of vets in the MSM contributes to their alienation and at least marginally increases their death count.

    • In certain professions, it can end your career.

    • Not sure if it is still going on, but after the FAA pulled a guy’s medical after he admitted he’d seen a counselor a few times following his son’s death, the word went out to never talk to a medical person. Talk to friends, talk to clergy, but never to an MD or other licensed therapist/counselor. *Sigh*

      • I can not get an FAA medical because I take antidepressants. You can challenge for I think four meds.

        • Yes, because I looked them up to see if my anti-anxiety med is on the OK or maybe list. If you are on Paxil, Prozac, or one of the re-uptake-inhibitors, you can apply for and get a medical with waiver. There’s four approved by brand-name, and a few others (IIRC) that are so close chemically that you only have to jump through one smouldering hoop, as opposed to four flaming ones.

  40. Thank you Sarahfor writing this from the bottom of my heart. Thank you to those Huns who get it for showing me that you indeed get it. Thank you to the Hun who bravely admitted he/she didn’t understand depression. The past 14 months have been _very_ stressful for me. I have bipolar disorder and due to stress and to a medication stopping working (actually, it’s reached homeostasis in my body), I’ve been going through a major flare-up, the worst one I have had. This has caused me to leave temporarily (I hope), the university I transferred to from a community college last fall. The Black Dog living with me is a huge black Lab and the other dog here is a huge, hyper Jack Russell terrier that races around the yard digging up the garden, barking at all the birds and cats, and trying to dig out the gophers. (As if Jack Russels weren’t hyper enough as it is.) I’m under treatment with new medications and a psychologist, but my hopefulness wears thin some days. My husband is a gem and staying around for him, my cat, and the chance that I will be able to return to school are what’s keeping me around some days. I hope I haven’t said too much.

    • I missed my point in my first post. I want to say that I feel like I found a support group this afternoon (Friday, 5/19) when I know I really didn’t (but no disparagement meant). My husband and I live in a city that’s new to us and we don’t have friends here like our friends back where we moved here from. I don’t feel I really have anyone to talk to face-to-face. You folks gave me a feeling that I am not struggling alone today., in a very important area, more so than the political & general culture discussions do or the horrid state of contemporary SF and F discussions do. That’s why I’m grateful to you, ❤

      • Carol,
        Glad you feel welcome.

        Beware the minotaur, his puns are atrocious.

        Please, no double-dipping in the guacamole.

        • Thank you RES! I love atrocious puns, which is one of the many reasons why I find my husband delightful. Double-dipping in guacamole or any other dip is simply gross, unless one is eating chip and dip by oneself. 🙂

        • Beware RES — his puns are horrendous. But we still LOVE him.

        • Really?

          Really?

          You have no room to talk.

          • Well, normally he’d have no room to talk.

            This is a natural Soapbox habitat, which means there’s a whole lot of that required resource.

            What? Didn’t you know that’s why they’re so numerous and are healthy enough to sneak up on people here, who otherwise might not be good prey?

          • “Oh Minotaur, Thou Art Black.” — Wallaby.

            • ‘Tis a relative thing. No, not of ancestry, though there might well be a good many black-coated in mine. However there is no doubt I have, on average, a lower albedo than the wallaby.

              Now as to the truth coefficient of his claim, I will state that he certainly ought to know, should he not? The real question, once one adjusts for the wallaby’s, er, amphoteric moments, and compares… is how are “atrocious” and “horrendous” ranked relative to each other?

              • I think “atrocious” means a few vocal groans. Where as “horrendous” leads to one beating their head against a desk because the victimizer is out of physical reach…

              • The distinction between “atrocious” and “horrendous” can best be explained via simile: they are akin to the distinction between a 20 megaton nuclear explosion and the explosion of 20M tons of TNT. Either way, there’s a horrible mess and an unpleasant aftertaste.

                Some people would apply the comparison between Ouzo and Retsina, but I like ’em both.

                • “Atrocious” = Ouch! I wish I’d said that.

                  “Horrendous” = Ouch! I wish you hadn’t said that.

                • As do I. As do I. That said, Ouzo is certainly more potent per unit.

                • Had to scale it down a bit, and it’s dated, but:

                  • Love me some Flanders & Swann in the morning, but the day I take moral instruction from Brits’ll be the day I commence to spelling me last name with an O’ afore it and speak with a bit of a brogue.

                    • It’s more of.. historical interest.. than instruction as such, now. Despite what might have been intended at the time.

                      The nuclear (or nucular…) tune I wish I could find the name of and the writer/performer of (some Canadian, judging by the other tunes on the sadly label-free tape encountered years ago). It was something like, “Let’s have a nice, clean holocaust, with a nice, clean Neutron Bomb!” and went on about the “Prince of Peace, the Lord of Love… J.C. President Carter” who was going to “save us all from sure annihilation, with a great big neutron bomb!” As Carter’s memory was being whitewashed or just plain forgotten and Reagan was being accused of being ready to, by design or incompetence. start WWIII, it was hilarious to encounter that tune in the early 1980’s.

      • Stay around. Don’t be shy. My mom is bipolar. I KNOW how devastating it can be. Hugs.

        • whoa flashback

          (you told me the same thing when i… unveiled here after lurking for six months and mentioned that …)

      • Folks here can…take the edge off.

      • Also Bipolar and just getting back into the workforce. You’re not alone in this struggle. ❤

    • I’m also bipolar so believe me i understand.

    • Said too much? I don’t see anything there as “too much”.

      I have a Jack Russell, too. Today she was learning about Cicadas, because a portion of the local brood are coming out four years early.

      Hug your dogs, your husband, and your cat (if that last is safe), and good luck getting back to school.

      • My dogs are metaphorical of my bipolar disorder, sorry to say. I do like Labs and Jack Russells, though. And almost every other breed of dog. But I my husband and I own a cat. We’d have more than one but we have a space limitation and a rather easily bullied cat right now.

  41. Thank you all for welcoming me. I really appreciate it. <3. I already know and love RES's and Orvan Taurus's puns. While I only have puns come to me sporadically and infrequently, I love the happiness they give me and I love to hear them from others. (I'm an Odd that way, too.) Sarah, I don't envy your growing up with a bipolar mom. If I may, *hug*.

    • Oh my. You realize that now your health will indeed be of great concern here, never mind anything bipolar. Or field effect, for that matter.

      • I don’t really think it would give people here too much cause for concern, but we already know that viewed from outside, this place is considered by many to be a self-assembled, virtual asylum, with no guards and no orderlies.

        Of course, knowing that, one wonders why some people insist on coming here and poking people with a stick sometimes. You’d think they would realize that it might be dangerous…

        • That just means it’s full of the interesting people. 😉 It’s obviously the best place to hang out. (And reading comments during slow periods at work keeps me sane.)

      • Umm, you’re making a transistor joke, yes? (Although I worked for Radio Shack for a couple of years long ago, I didn’t have much understanding of what I was selling.) I must apologize, too, for my sense of humor needs to be taken out to be sharpened very soon. My mind is a blunt instrument today.

  42. Of course, there’s always this view:
    “Rudyard Kipling
    The Comforters
    “The Dog Hervey” — A Diversity of Creatures

    Until thy feet have trod the Road
    Advise not wayside folk,
    Nor till thy back has borne the Load
    Break in upon the broke.

    Chase not with undesired largesse
    Of sympathy the heart
    Which, knowing her own bitterness,
    Presumes to dwell apart.

    Employ not that glad hand to raise
    The God-forgotten head
    To Heaven and all the neighbours’ gaze —
    Cover thy mouth instead.

    The quivering chin, the bitten lip,
    The cold and sweating brow,
    Later may yearn for fellowship —
    Not now, you ass, not now!

    Time, not thy ne’er so timely speech,
    Life, not thy views thereon,
    Shall furnish or deny to each
    His consolation.

    Or, if impelled to interfere,
    Exhort, uplift, advise,
    Lend not a base, betraying ear
    To all the victim’s cries.

    Only the Lord can understand,
    When those first pangs begin,
    How much is reflex action and
    How much is really sin.

    E’en from good words thyself refrain,
    And tremblingly admit
    There is no anodyne for pain
    Except the shock of it.

    So, when thine own dark hour shall fall,
    Unchallenged canst thou say:
    “I never worried you at all,
    For God’s sake go away!”

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