Something to Live For


Everyone is talking about suicide and the increase of suicide rates.

As everyone who reads here regularly knows, I suffer from — usually not severe — depressive episodes.  Most of my depressive episodes are not suicidal and have no suicidal ideation.  They just, for lack of a better term “disable the doing switch”.  So when I’m depressed I sit and stare at wars.  The kids used to rather like it when I was mildly depressed.  Partly because they could tell me all the things they’d been doing that normally would make me hit the roof and I’d just go, “whatever.”

It’s not good for me, though, and it’s certainly not good for my productivity.  Until the “cycle of illness” started about five years ago (yes, might be age, but you know it was probably the cancer thing destabilizing everything.  I just need to take steps to get better.  AFAIK the cancer thing was encapsulated and is gone.  So now I need to get my body to stop freaking out) depression was responsible for my only writing three or four books a year, even though they usually were written in two weeks or less.

And yeah, when you’re already on the slope and something hits you hard, be it psychological or physical, suicidal ideation sets in.

It’s not rational, btw.  There is nothing about “My friend is having a hard time” or “my relative died” that should make you fixate on “if I kill myself everything will be better.”  A psychiatrist friend says it’s “Odd Brain Math.”  I.e. you think “This is unsolvable, but if I remove myself I don’t have to solve it.”

I know everyone is looking at macro effects for why suicide went up… and there might be some, among them that the economy is getting better.

As I pointed out in my post on acculturation, change is hard, even change for the better.  (And this year is a hinge year for me, a year of rapid change. Fun.) And the economy after 10 years of puttering (since the dem sweep of 2006) is now moving.  There are people who have stayed in college because “what’s the point” and now have to find jobs that cover their debts.  There are people who have been living hand to mouth, but all their friends were.  Now as some take off and some don’t, there will be depression for some.

And there are the people terrified by propaganda.  If you really expected to go to the camps the day after the election, and it still hasn’t happened, you should relax.  But most people won’t.  They’ll get more tense and scared.  It’s waiting for the other shoe to drop.

So yeah, there are macro trends.

But there are other things.  Like, you know, recently I’ve had virus from hell, and the ramp up is really slow, which means writing even on blog post takes it out of me.  One logical, usual aftermath of viral infections is depression.  They used to tell you that.  Yesterday, I realized I’d been caught in that.  Well, viral infections sweep the nation, so…

Whether you have the tendency of not, things will happen, physical or mental that will make you feel like life would be better without you in it.  Sometimes you might even be right.  Yeah, it’s rare, but it’s the trap terminal patients fall into and why I’m not fond of euthanasia programs.

If you’re very ill, even if you’re not terminal, and you feel like you’re a burden on those you love it’s easy to persuade you to die to “make things better.”  And I won’t say it doesn’t, sometimes.  We’ve all see people who die after a long illness and the family is better off, both psychologically and physically.

But here’s the thing… once that slippery slope starts, it lends credence to the black dog that rounds on the perpetually depressed and says “Life would be better without you in it.”  And in most cases that’s almost certainly not true. In most cases you’re making life awful for everyone else and leaving a mess behind.

So, how not to commit suicide — look, I’ve had to develop these tricks, okay?  Deal —

1- Have something to live for.  This can be your writing, your garden, your cat, or obviously your spouse, your kids.
I don’t know how you live without doing SOMETHING with your life anyway, so you know, don’t.  Find something to do that you care about, even if it’s “just” giving amazon reviews to books you’ve enjoyed, or patronizing a little shop you like, or making people happy by making their favorite dish.

2- Have someone or some cause you care about.  Preferably not a hate-based cause.  Yes, you MIGHT hate people who dump unweaned baby kittens, but instead of devoting your day on Craigslist yelling about it, go and foster baby kittens at your local humane society.

3- Learn something.  Find something you want to learn, then learn it.  The upslope of competency will keep you focused for a good long while.  When picking something to learn, make sure it’s something that you can use/feel good about using.  Even if it’s “just” learning a dead language to translate from it.

4- If you’re completely and utterly isolated, this isn’t a good thing, of course.  We’re a social animal, even the introverted ones of us.  Find something that makes you at least see people several times a month.  It can be a charitable organization, a book club or some sort of class.  I intend to resume art classes ASAP first because they help with covers, but MOSTLY because I really need to see people, etc.

5- If you’re going through one of those patches where there’s absolutely no extra (or sufficient) money and it seems like you’ll never get out of it, find little things that give you joy.  In a similar place, Dan and I found out that getting discounted fast food sandwiches and eating them on a hill overlooking the city made us happy.  So we did that once a week.  He bought me a very used book of DaVinci pictures.  That made me happy. Find something you like to read/look at/play with and schedule it in while you’re in a tight spot.  It keeps you from blowing your lid.  Hell, remember Heinlein “budget luxuries first”.  This is not an excuse to eat out every day when you don’t have money for rent, but in a very tight time, we scheduled a visit to the amusement park with the kids.  It meant living on rice for two weeks, but you know, we got a day out and it helped.  (The clue is “budget.”)

6- Even if you think you’re totally useless, do not be sure.  Sometimes just being SOMEWHERE will save someone’s life who will save someone’s life, who might do/father/be something important.

We’re not ponds, we’re ripples in the ocean.  Knowing or not you touch someone who touches someone who might touch many people in a positive way.

Remember the butterfly effect.  Sometimes you’re the butterfly,particularly when you try to live in a way that encourages/helps others.

7- Don’t be the awful example.  Every family or group touched by suicide sparks others.  Remember the thing about when you’re on the slope, it’s easy to push you all the way down?  That.  Don’t be what pushes people down.  Uplift them instead.  Find the good, then share it.

8- Now go and do something that makes you want to live.



196 thoughts on “Something to Live For

      1. And a lot of people in certain sectors don’t go for help now because of the current legal climate

    1. Yes! The worst round of depression I had, I had a hell of a time connecting with those who could help me. I’d blown off a work-related party so couldn’t talk to my friends there, and the relative who was a therapist was unavailable. (Didn’t want to lay it on other relatives because some were in equally bad or worse shape.)

      This was long before social media (the Internet was a glimmer in DARPA and Al Gore’s eye. Mostly DARPA), but I had access to an email list. Had to jump through hoops to get on line (some maintenance in the normal computers), but getting the “help!” message out got me through the night. Started to make contact the next day, and ended up talking to a pshrink, and more importantly, a psychotherapist. Worked out a lot of gubbage.

      I’ll still get a bit down, but a) things are mostly getting better, and b) the one eye issue that’s stubborn isn’t that much of a problem (the nerve that handles pupil contraction isn’t working to spec, so Old Man Sunglasses are a must for now). Patience is a virtue, and a hard one to hold at times. Still, I have faith, and that helps.

        1. OK, a bit of exaggeration; events transpired in 1993. We had Xwindows on Unix boxes at work, but home access was text, via dialup. Social media equivalents were mail lists and Usenet. FWIW, Netscape didn’t go beta until 1994. Time’s fun when you’re having flies.

          1. I remember when Google was in beta. Altavista was the search engine of preference. (had a position at DARPA 1995-97).

            1. I was at HP in 1979 to 2001. We pioneered a bit. Our IC circuit layouts were too big to post-process ourselves by the early ’80s, so we got a dedicated link to the Amdahl that HP corporate was running (until our own servers could do the same job for less resources).

              Ethernet came with the HP-UX boxes, internet somewhere in the later 1980s. I’m pretty sure we had web browsers when they first came out, before the MS Windows boxes could do the job.

            2. It took me a long time to switch because i could use tweaked search queries to find exactly what i want on altavista.

    2. Also, don’t be afaid to CHANGE help, if the help you get isn’t.

      Mt Lady and I have been VERY lucky, in that the vast majority of therapists and medcating physicians we have had have been at worst neutrally helpful (hat’s mostly the MPs,meho don’t friggin’ call back. I thinkmit’s against their version of the Hippocratic Oath). We ran into ONE therapist who wanted to insist (with complete lack of evidence) that I MUST be an abuser.

      We fired her.

      Remember, these people work for YOU, not the other way ‘round. Try stuff. Give them a chance. But if what they tell you doesn’t work, and doesn’t help, CHANGE THERAPISTS.

      1. YES. There was a point where we had to decide that the therapists weren’t helpful (most of them didn’t even have children and were a full decade younger than myself and had very little life experience) and the drugs were harming me.

        Getting off and taking control was good for me, and everyone else, because the scariest thing was the ‘sudden, I am not in control of me’ episodes – short, split second and bad.

        It wasn’t easy, and it was scary, but what was scarier to me was the thought that I might have one of those episodes while I was driving… and I might not be alone in the car at the time. *shudder*

        1. Jonathon Winters said the best thing he ever did for his mental health once he was diagnosed as Manic Depressive (back when that was what some were calling it) was refuse the drugs. He learned to realize he was depressive an say to himself “Oh, feeling depressed . . . oh well, it will pass.” and go on with life and not try to force things on his writing jokes etc, until it passed. He said from the start, he checked into the mental hospital to figure out what was wrong. Once he learned what it was he didn’t want them messing him up otherwise, and never regretted his decision.

          It runs in my family a bit, and I never really even thought about seeing if I suffer it to any degree in part because I tend to get side effects, and when one looks into those on the drugs they love to prescribe, egad, some seem worse than the issue they supposedly treat. The others are merely just as bad, and that seems best case. And often one of those sides is suicidal thoughts. For meds for depression and/or anxiety!

          1. And often one of those sides is suicidal thoughts. For meds for depression and/or anxiety!

            Yep. I wonder sometimes how many suicides were because of those side effects, on people who stayed on the drugs despite the harm they were doing, because they were told ‘this is supposed to help you and you’re just being stubborn/ not helping yourself.’

              1. Can be, depending on the drug and the person (individual biological quirks ya know). Some drugs/people combinations are *very* bad.

              2. I wonder how many school shooters are the side-effects of these drugs.

                I wonder if my stomach is torn up from taking lithium for 6 years…

          2. My Lady has experience of suicidal ideation as a drug side effect. The weird thing is, she can tell it’s from something outside herself, and go to her medicating physician and they re-work her medications.

            The drugs REALLY work for her. Before, the depressions could turn her into a zombie (non-flesh eating type). But they don’tmwork for everybody, and they don’t work alone.

            It’s important to understand that therapy (and by extension, psychology) is not science. It’s art. A therapist can suggest avenues of thought, and offer tools that might help. Then it’s up,to the patient to do the work. Fortunately, My Lady is stubborn as a pig, amd a hard worker by nature.

            It’s also VITAL to understand that a lot of it is ‘all in your head’, and that that means it’s WORSE than if it were an external issue. The peolle (fewer and fewer these days, thank the gods) who say ‘it’s all in your head’ as if that made it less trouble have it exactly backwards.

            Seriously; what we really KNOW about how the mind (as opposed to the brain…not that we understand THAT VERY WELL) works can be inscribed on the head of a pin with a jackhammer.

            If your therapist suggests something like ‘dance therapy’ that sounds absurd, suspend your disbelief and TRY it. A lot of things have helped My Lady that, objectively, make very little sense…except that they work for her and for some others.


            I keep my tongue between my teeth a lot when it comes to what she tries. A lot of ‘alternative medicine’ strikes me as pernicious claptrap…but if wearing a baseball cap backwards helps, invest in baseball caps. If biofeedback works for you, GREAT!

            Just leave the rhinos out of it, please.

            1. Things worked out for me after the ’93 depression episode. The work-crisis line referred me to a psychiatrist, who put me on Zoloft. That SSRI seemed to work for me, with side effects I could live with.

              I didn’t have much of a rapport with the shrink, and got a referral to a psychologist. (I’d gone through some in the late ’70s, but there was a lot of unfinished business in my head.) Those sessions helped clear the mental crap out, not least making me more willing to try emotionally risky things, like dating. It’s been an ongoing process, I think I’m doing OK.

              I kept bugging the shrink to get off the SSRI, but he wanted me on them. I wasn’t willing to argue at the time. (SSRI effect? I don’t know.) When my post-layoff Cobra ran out in 2002, I wasn’t going to continue. I don’t drink because of other medical issues, so the most powerful psychoactive drug I use is sold by Hills Brothers. 🙂 I can’t imagine going back on SSRIs or the like.

              1. I don’t know where it came from, and I’m not sure if it’s entirely accurate, but the mindset I’ve got about medication is that they’re like any other medical tool– for ease of use, we’ll say that they’re a cast or leg brace.

                Most people need to have their leg in a brace because it’s healing. The tool does something their body can’t, so there’s time to heal.

                There are also some folks who have so much damage that they’re not going to heal, so they’ve got to have a brace or some sort that helps take the strain off of the damaged limb.

                And there are some people who either lost, or never had, the function that the brace provides– maybe they need a whole false leg, even, instead of one of those nifty bionic braces or just a dang splint on the knee for a few weeks.

                For the brain, they’re all going to involve therapy and/or medication, but they’re radically different uses– and sticking a fake leg on someone who’s got a sprained knee is NOT GOING TO HELP.

                1. I think you’re right. I suspect I could have gotten off the SSRI a lot sooner than I did, but as far as I can tell, it didn’t hurt me. (Whew!)

                2. To sort of work within this analogy, if you present to the ER with leg pains you get asked some questions, and eventually (if it’s not completely obvious) we stick your leg in one of a variety of imaging machines–xray, CT scanner, MRI and maybe others until we either determine what the underlying problem is, and then base the treatment on *that*. Soft tissue trauma has different treatment than a fractured tibia.

                  If you’re depressed and you present to the ER as suicidal if you are lucky you get admitted to a psychiatric facility for up to 72 hours. You might get a handful of pills that “ought to help”. You might spend an few minutes talking to a pshrink of some kind.

                  Note that there are no blood tests, no CT scans, very little *objective* measurements.

                  This offends my sensibilities.

                  It *might* all be in your head, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start to measure what’s going on in there.

            2. In a discussion of religion and such, ESR at least once described ‘ritual’ as a sort of programming language with one can hack the mind. The instruction set might at times seem nonsensical… but if the code runs, the code runs. So.. “screwy but works” translates as “works.” If others have issue with ‘screwy’… well, they aren’t required to be running that code, now are they?

    3. #10 – be careful of any psych drugs that one might be on. The general concept is they help people; and for some they definitely do.

      Then there are people who aren’t helped by even the ‘mildest’ stuff like me.

      That’s where the rest of the list really really helps. Sometimes, for #1, even a pet helps – not a goldfish, but one that responds and returns affection, like a dog, or a cat, or a parrot-type bird, like a cockatiel. ‘Tiels are ridiculously affectionate, and easy to care for.

      1. It doesn’t have to be psych drugs. It’s becoming slowly apparent that various antihistamines can cause severe depression, at least in some people. After I realized that for myself I found several others.

          1. Yow. Nor I.

            (Though I do suddenly have this vision of the Munchkins doing the “From now on you’ll be history. You’ll be hiss.. you’ll be hiss.. you’ll be his-tory” bit but redone somehow with “…anti-hiss.. anti-hiss… anti-histamines…”)

    4. #9a – As long as you’re certain you’ll never need a job or several Constitutional rights ever again, because once you’re on that list you’ll never actually leave it. And these days, your current and future employers will be way more concerned about the liabilities they’ll incur if absolutely anything happens than whether or not you’ll be able to prove they discriminated against you.

      Even more guaranteed if you’re to the right of Stalin, of course.

      1. 10-4.

        Back when “doctor-patient privilege” and “patient privacy” were things, you could talk to your doctor about it with some assurance they wouldn’t report you to various city, county, state, and Federal agencies, and that it woudn’t become part of your insurance carrier’s database, available to almost any official with an interest (HIPAA doesn’t say what most people think it does), shared with various “partners”, and sold directly to almost anyone willing to pay for it.

        And once you get labeled, it’ll be stuck to you forever.

        If your depression was “all in your head” before, afterward you’ll have something real to be depressed about.

  1. Re: #6. There have been more than a few times that I did something that I thought would perhaps be a nice, small thing to do… only to find out later that it just happened to be (at?) an inflection point… and while small to me, was huge to someone else. That bit about “little things mean a lot”? True. Because you don’t know [Well, maybe YOU do. *I* sure don’t!] until later (if ever) what was truly little and what was not.

    I don’t know that I’ve ever saved anyone’s life as such. But there might have been a couple times I was that light tap on the stick that said, “Pull up.”

    1. I remember one truly awful day where everything turned around because the clerk at the music store was nice to me. It doesn’t take very much sometimes.

    2. I once inadvertently made a person’s week turn around (she told me later) by making two stupid jokes at the vending machine. It was the first time she’d laughed in quite a while. You really never do know.

      The Black Dog is a real b!tch.

    3. I’m a jerk, and my manners are rude. Long ago, I made the decision to be cheerful, ’cause it costs little, and can have a lot of unpredictable positive effects. Now, I don’t always implement well, there’ve been some very dark years, and there’ve been times when I have forgotten that decision and why I made it.

      As a matter of principle, I try never tell people to kill themselves. Yes, even when it would be better without them, and it isn’t convenient for someone else to do it. I do not wish to encourage suicide.

      1. It’s teh whole ‘takes 47 muscles to frown, but only 15 to punch the sonofabitch in the nose’ Thing. Smile., . I meant to say smile. ‘It takes the same number of muscles to smile as to punch the sonofabitch in the nose, and there’s less possibility of having to hire lawyers’. THAT’s what I meant to say.

    4. Sometimes, the reaction really doesn’t make any sense, either– we put a friend of a relative’s friend into tears (in a good way) because the relative decided we’d all be going to an amusement park, so Elf and I packed lunch; I think it was something incredibly basic centered on subs and chips, couldn’t have been more than thirty bucks to make enough food for ten.

      It was apparently outside of his realm of consideration that someone would just assume that the guest of our host’s guest would be someone you’d pack lunch for, while I can’t imagine packing lunch for all but one member of a group unless they asked, and even then I’d probably bring enough they could change their minds.

      1. When you’re accustomed to nobody caring whether you exist or not, the slightest kindness is like water to a man dying of thirst.

        1. /sigh

          That makes a horrifying amount of sense, when you combine it with the war on manners– about half of which is just a silent recognition of the inherent moral worth of other people.

          I wonder…how much of folks being extremely nasty is just the grown up form of the “I feel neglected, I am going to act up” that shows up in kids?

          1. I wonder…how much of folks being extremely nasty is just the grown up form of the “I feel neglected, I am going to act up” that shows up in kids?

            Probably a lot of it, combined with never being taught NOT to act that way.

          2. > about half of which is just a silent recognition of the inherent
            > moral worth of other people.

            I don’t know about the “inherent moral worth” of other people, but I’m pretty sure you should *judge* their moral worth until you know them at least a little.

            1. *chuckle* Catholic, Will. Even the most worthless bastard ever born was important enough for God Himself to be tortured to death, just to give him a chance.

              I TRY to keep that baseline in mind when dealing with people. Emphasis on try…..

      2. I never did learn the reason for the tears I got from a teacher one time, nor whether they were good or bad.

        We didn’t get along. She had recently sent me to the office for snapping at her (legitimately, I did it for a stupid reason). But when I was at the vet with my dog, I saw an ad for someone giving away a particular type of dog that I remembered she had said she liked (possibly Saint Bernards?), and wrote down the information and handed it to her in class the next day. She teared up, and I never found out why. That’s kind of bothered me ever since.

        1. I think too many people assume that, because don’t get along, then must necessarily hate one another and wish the other was dead. They fail to realize that it is possible to disagree with someone–even to heartily dislike them–and still be kind to them. Because you’re human, and so are they.

          It’s sad, that so many people think like that. 😦

    5. A friend insisted on buying my wedding suit because he credited me with turning his life around. How? By looking bored.

      He’d been having a *very* rough patch and I was apparently the only one who’d listen when he got in a mood. One night I apparently failed to look interested (or at least tolerant) enough. And he decided that if *I* (whom he apparently thought to be the very soul of kindness and solicitude and sympathy) was starting to lose patience with him, maybe it was time to start dealing with his problems himself.

      So he did.

      You Really Never Know. Really.

    6. Absolutely. I held my ground for three or four months because of ONE compliment at the grocery store. One.

      …I give a lot more compliments these days.

      1. My wife could never understand why I would sometimes give compliments to complete strangers. It costs nothing. It brightens someone else’s day, even if only a little bit. And, it makes me feel good to do it. Triple win.

  2. About a year ago, I was suffering from suicidal thoughts. I had a lot to live for. I had a husband and a family who loved me. I had a baby girl who needed me. I had the knowledge that as hard as things were at the time, they WERE going to get better. Someday, my impossible to care for infant would be an adorable 4-year-old, and didn’t I want to be there when she shuffled across the stage at her first ballet recital?

    All of those would be good reasons for not killing myself, but ultimately, none of them were my reason. They were my excuses. I realized that the real reason that I didn’t kill myself was because deep down, I didn’t want to. I think we all have a self-destruct switch in our brains, for lack of a better word, and mine was still in the “safe” position. That realization frightened me; if the love of my family and the hopes I had for the future weren’t what was keeping me safe now, would they be enough if that switch ever did get flipped to the “destroy” position? I was terrified they wouldn’t be.

    I guess this is my long way of saying what writerinblack said before me: get help. There’s nothing shameful about it, so don’t let your pride get in your way of making yourself healthy. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for those who love and need you.

    1. I’d call them “tools” to help keep things from being bad– it’s not anywhere near a cure, but simply not having suicide as an option helps.

      In my mental space, it is simply not an option. So if something should start to say it is, there is SERIOUSLY MAJOR BAD THINGS going on, something is broken, get help.

      Thus far, thanks be to God, I’ve only been the help, not the helped.

    2. I want to state again, for the record, that you guys helped a lot. Just coming here in this vague, digital space and reading the posts and comments helped me a hell of a lot, in ways I can never really quantify.

      Y’all gave me parts of the positive reasons to stay alive. (I’ll admit that a small part of me refuses to kill myself out of sheer spite. Why go through that much effort to make someone who hates me happy?)

        1. “If I kill myself, the people who hate me become happy. Fuck that sideways with a pineapple. If I keep breathing, my mere existence is enough to annoy! Screw suicide, this is more fun, and less effort.”

          Was great pep talk.

          Also “This car cost me (cost in AUD), deliberately wrecking it is a waste of money. =/ “

          1. As I’ve said, there are some people I will take great pleasure in out-living. But I need to be around to enjoy that. And I ain’t giving them the pleasure if I can help it.

  3. #10 – Remind yourself it’s not permanent. No matter how much it hurts now, how hard it is to keep going, you can’t be sure it will be the same tomorrow. You can’t be sure it will be the same in 5 minutes.

    So hang on just that little bit longer.

    Whenever I start in that direction now, I can remind myself that if I’d let go last time I would never have met the Husband or any of the great friends I’ve found online.

      1. Damn, my allergies have gotten bad all of a sudden. My eyes are just watering like crazy. Must be the pollen.

        1. When Superman is written well, he is very good indeed. Too many writers (and directors) forget that his defining characteristics aren’t his powers, but his heart. As Christopher Reeve (who did get it) he comes out and says he’s here to fight for Truth, Justice, and the American Way and everyone laughs and says “yeah, right”. Only, he’s not joking.

          1. Sincerity.

            …just realized that he’s a lot like The Flash, but not a total goofball.

            Now I’m trying to figure out real superhero motives, and it’s morphed into a sort of RPG class thing– you’ve got Earnest Heart (Superman, cleric), the Dedicated (Batman, paladin), the good-guy fighter with a goal (Arrow…hm, probably rogue… their goals aren’t always good)……

            Clearly, I need more sleep.

            1. Superman, Flash, Spider-Man, and Captain America are the idealistic boy scouts of their universes. That’s not to say that they’re the only ones. But they’re the ones that are the most prominent and the best known. And two of them – Supes and Cap – are the unofficially acknowledged leaders and standard bearers of their respective communities.

              1. The next morning, I realized that two of them are based around raw strength, and two are based around clever application of a non-obvious power– and the two that folks keep trying to hijack? Ain’t the need-to-be-clever ones.

                The Flash, for example– there’s a page called Superhero Texts or something, short humorous exchanges. In one of them Flash asks Aquaman for a team-up, so they can try a combined attack…last line: Have you seen the movie ‘Sharknado’?

                I can see the Flash doing that. 😀

                1. Texts From Superheroes, which is fun and amusing except when they bring contemporary presidential politics into it and make characters like Cap the voice of Antifa and NeverTrump.

                  1. I believe there’s actually two different ones, there was a mini-squabble where the *really* political one tried to get rid of the other one, it kind of blew over…but yeah, some of them fall flat.

                    Advantage over modern comic book writers, they occasionally get it right, and it’s free, and short; so the costs are much lower.

          2. This is why I keep shaking my head at DC Studios and their failure to understand why their Superman/Justice League movies keep failing to achieve the heights of the MCU. And really, it boils down to the fact that they turned Superman into a gritty, depressed, broody angst-fest. And that’s NOT Superman, that’s Batman. (And even Batman is supposed to have a sense of humor. Black as night, sure, but he’s still funny.)

            I was nervous when the first Captain America movie came out, because I was SURE they’d ruin him. But they didn’t. Now, some of the MCU writers haven’t done so great with him (Joss Whedon, for example. Not that he wrote Cap badly, it’s just that…well, Cap is a boyscout, sure, but he’s also a troublemaker, someone who will stick to what he knows to be right no matter what anyone else says, and doesn’t blindly follow orders. Whedon wrote him as a typical paladin, as opposed to a proper paladin. But I’m hardly shocked at that.) But overall, they’ve done a good job of keeping him what he is: a truly good man. A man who doubts, sure, and who makes mistakes, but who remains, at the end, a good man.

            The actual comics division, on the other hand… (and they’re shocked their sales tanked…)

            1. The Batman I grew up on had largely come to terms with his parents’ death (mostly–as always it varied by writer). He continued because he was good at it. “World’s Greatest Detective” wasn’t just a line on the title page but something that played out a lot in the comics. He was the one who could be best friends with Superman. (Then publisher of DC, Jeannette Kahn ,on being asked why “World’s FInest” was being cancelled, said that the friendship between Superman and Batman “didn’t make sense.” Hack. Ptui!)

              His stories were often dark because of the villains he fought–folk like Joker or Two Face. He fought against the darkness, using the darkness against itself. He wasn’t the absolute psycho that he was leading up to, um, back in mid to late 80’s. (“The Dark Knight Returns” was a great mini-series, but I think it was a mistake to try to turn the “mainstream” Batman into it.)

              This change in Batman was one of the driving factors in my drifting away from comics, and symptomatic of much of the rest–they just weren’t fun any more. I wanted heroes I could look up to, not stories where the only way I could identify the hero was by whose name was on the cover. Bleagh.

            2. Batman in a nutshell for me:
              Thattwo-part episode where Joker had recruited a card-themed bunch of villains, where Batman goes in to “stop” Ace before she can kill everyone…stop, as in he’s the guy who goes in to kill her before she kills them….
              She’s a maybe 14 year old girl, in a goth-y outfit, on the edge of a breakdown basically the entire episode she’s being manipulated by Joker.
              …and I’m getting choked up, because the solution was an elemental example of why Batman is lawful good, even though the cops don’t like him.

              I give can hand-wave Cap following dumb orders by figuring he was giving people the benefit of the doubt when he really shouldn’t have. It works. 🙂

              Superman, though, holy CRUD can they not seem to grasp the idea of a decent human being.
              Maybe because they think, to steal a phrase, that there’s something wrong with Kansas…..

        1. *Snickers at her icon* My husband is really enjoying that show– seems to speak to a lot of folks that work in offices.

    1. #11 Work on getting physically healthy as much as you can – eat healthy, get enough sleep, get some exercise (long walks always help me. Or even short ones. Heck, pacing in my living room to music can work.)

      #3 has saved me a lot. I’ve had “learn something” and “do something nice for someone else” on my list for a long time.

      Making sure you do things you love can work – re-reading favorite books, watching old favorite movies. But sometimes I’m too numb inside to respond or even focus, and I have to resort to more severe things, at least at first.

      One of my problems now is that I can’t get a routine going for long term projects. I can make a good start on something, but the next day I’ll be interrupted, and I get completely thrown off, and I’m very easily thrown off things these days.

      Lists help – mapping out specific project tasks in a way I can see the whole thing at once, so I can get it back into my head. I know that once I get the sequel novel’s outline all done in stickies on the board so I can see the whole thing, that will help tremendously. Right now, all I have is a huge pile of scattered notes that I need to organize into plots and subplots, which I find utterly daunting.

  4. Made a deal with myself some years back. Whenever I thought about suicide I would put off any decision until tomorrow. It has worked for me for 50 years.
    So one method of dealing is procrastination.

    1. Walker Percy pointed out that most people are failed suicides. They just didn’t try.

    2. Enlisting a vice in service of a virtue is a tried and true method. When it works, you can even put of slacking for another ten minutes to finish the project you are working on. *chuckle*

  5. About 2 weeks ago, I checked into the ER at a local hospital because of chest pain. I came out knowing I have HOCM (still), high blood pressure, diabetes, and stage 3 kidney disease. I need medications to stave off interacting multiple causes of collapse and keep from sliding downhill fast. It was the cardiologist who barged into my room and asked why I wasn’t taking my medications, was I suicidal who really got me thinking. Consciously, no, I made that decision long ago and I hold to it. But I do have a sneaky underhanded rebellious streak, and I noticed that I was very tired of living and almost ready to let go. I knew that rebellious streak was guilty of numerous acts of self-sabotage, but what the hey? Murderous black dogs don’t fight fair. Time to call for a shotgun, and the neighbors, too. We all have to go sometime, but I’ve absorbed too much hero to quit without a proper fight.

    1. If I rely on memory to take my pills, it’s not going to work. I’ve found two solutions. 1) The morning and bedtime pills go into separate 7 day boxes, so if one gets skipped, it’s there to nag me. 2) For things like eye drops, I uses a calendar/planner program to notify me at the right time. When I was juggling 5 different drops, and neglecting any for too long was going to kill sight in one or the other eye, I had to do it right. My short-term memory sucks, and I know it, but I have the tools to compensate.

      So, skipping needed medications would have to be deliberate, and I’m not going down that road. The most toxic of my medications would give a particularly gruesome demise with an overdose and nope. Ain’t gonna happen.

      1. I am horrible when it comes to remembering to take medication. Great when we are discussing the “whoopee happy times” type; because the chance of me getting hooked are next to none. Other types, not so much. OTOH I’m not in any danger of over dosing. Luckily I’m not on anything that missing doses = life & death, slow or otherwise.

        1. Two of the 3 mainstay pills aren’t bad. The third is. I have to take warfarin for Atrial Fibrillation (AFIB), and that requires a lot of consistency. I’ll be seeing the local cardiologist in July (he’s good, but the area needs more, as usual), and I suspect/hope I’ll be sent over the Cascades for an ablation procedure to rewire the heart nerves. I think that will reduce or eliminate the need for warfarin and the monthly clotting time checks.

  6. Once during a particularly acrimonious verbal battle I told my then wife that I’d rather be dead than live the rest of my life fighting like this. She immediately assumed that I was suicidal, thus proving that she was not even trying to listen to what I was really saying. But given her assessment I did have a long conversation with the therapist we were seeing. He agreed with me that she was in error, but did share one profound observation that has always stuck with me:
    Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
    To be honest it’s not something I can categorically rule out. If I was told that I have a terminal illness that would grow ever more painful, then sure, I’d consider my options. After naturally getting at least two other opinions on the diagnosis. Baring that particular situation there is simply too much still to learn for me to put an end to it all. Hell, I too survived a bout with cancer, has to have been for some reason.
    And Portagee, if you ever kill yourself I will hunt you down in the afterlife and kick your sorry butt.

    1. People always think there’s nothing worse than a terminal illness. But there are a ton worse things.

      It is definitely living life on the difficult mode, especially if it involves pain or embarrassment. But we all know we’re going to die, so what changes when you have a terminal illness? A closer deadline? A different cause of death?

      You could die tomorrow from a crazy carwreck. What makes terminal illnesses so much scarier than normal life? Nothing but known proximity of the Grim Reaper, and even that isn’t sure.

      1. Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear, a terminal illness that would end in excruciating pain was what I had in mind. That instance and that alone.
        As you say, we are all terminally ill, nobody gets out of this life alive.
        And were I to find that I had a terminal illness with even manageable pain I would embrace every second I had left and extract as much living as I possibly could.

        1. “Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear, a terminal illness that would end in excruciating pain was what I had in mind.”

          And that’s simultaneously reasonable…. and the gateway to a slippery slope.

          Who defines “excruciating”? Or “Unbearable”? Or “no longer worth living”? And is mental anguish less excruciating than physical?

          Once we had a cultural norm that said “suicide is wrong”. Oh, everyone knew it happened, but Western culture spoke with one fairly united voice. It was considered a moral failing, and there were social and even legal / practical sanctions against it.

          Now? We have a whole legal and social structure that allows and even encourages people to think and plan the circumstances under which it is acceptable to end their lives, either passively or actively. And as it has become more thinkable, why are we surprised that suicide becomes more doable?

    2. Guy in my home valley got a conclusive diagnosis that he was going to die of cancer in less than three months, max. One of the painful sorts, lots of doctors, all informed him that his best option was pain meds.

      His wife divorced him, and he let her– didn’t even fight for shared custody, because he would be dead. Basically handed her everything but the debt and enough money for him to live in a trailer near the girls while he died with as many pain pills as he could get, so he could see the kids for just a little longer. I think some consideration of making it so his wife could dodge any medical debts was involved, too, but my folks were so pissed that anybody could be so heartless as to file for divorce because someone got a terminal diagnosis that I really don’t know.

      Several years later, he still wasn’t dead, and decided that he should probably go back to living rather than sitting there waiting to die. Rumor has it that his wife did herself no favors with the girls in restricting them from him at random times, to “shield” them from the loss.

      Last I heard, he’d re-established his life just fine…point being, sometimes you get a miracle, and while fear of pain is totally understandable, it’s not wise to be controlled by fear.

      1. There is a special place in hell for people who abandon their spouses because of illness/accident/whatever.

        The vows DON’T say “only when you’re healthy/attractive”. >.<

        (Like the scumbag who threw gasoline on a fire–assuming the 'best' of him and it was accidental because he's a moron–burned his wife horribly…and left her and their small child afterwards.)

  7. I am pretty sure that if I believed that suicide was an option I would be dead by now. The main thing that has kept me from it is not the idea that life would become worth living again (which I usually couldn’t make myself believe) but the conviction that since I didn’t make myself I don’t have the authority to unmake myself. It sounds very cold blooded when I write it out like that, but it really is a great comfort. It removes entirely the worry about my quality of life, and if I make other people’s lives better or worse. All of that is irrelevant to me. I am alive because my Creator wants me alive and I will remain that way until my Creator wants me dead. How I feel about it is not important.

  8. Despair is a sin.

    I do not believe in preserving my life at any cost. There are things that might extend my life that are not worth doing.

    There are causes worth the spending of my life. At near certainty, not certainty.

    The convenience, whims and wishes of others are not such a cause.

    There is duty with life I have been given..

    What of past failures? What of disappointment? What of unmeetable dreams? What of goals I can longer meet? I have an obligation to strive, so that I do not lazily drift to deeper failure, and an earlier death.

    I have a rendezvous with destiny. This may not be glory or success in the eyes of the world. There is a plan for my remaining life, which I do not and can not know. Right thing to do is maximize value from that.

    If you’ll excuse me, I need to finish crying, and then move to some next tasks that I can actually identify. Action is a choice, and we have many choices.

    1. (hugs) Strong agreement, Bob and Misha.

      As the other Master (detective) said, “Your life is not your own. Keep your hands off it!”

      (Possibly a reference to the primary Canon, at 1 Cor. 6:20.)

    2. “I have a rendezvous with destiny.”

      This quote puts me in mind of a story of a man who was in his mid-50s. Military officer, a near-to-retirement Colonel. Good guy, but his career path had been good but not great, although he’d tried. Studied hard, trained hard, done well in the wars of his youth. He probably should have retired, but he was stubborn…and convinced that he was destined to do something great.

      Then a war came along. Four years later, George Patton had established himself as the greatest battle commander in American history.

  9. Most suicide is presumed to be based on depression of various degrees. Or too tired to go on. Everything outlined.

    What about those twits who are “I’ll show them. They’ll be sorry.” tantrums? The argument could be, they didn’t intend suicide, but that is what occurred.

    1. I had a REALLY nasty post here about the kind of shallow selfishness indicated by a “I’ll show them they’ll be sorry!”suicide…but I won’t. Such people have been wounded, too. They express it in ways that are immensely irritating, and I find it very hard to forgive them….but I should.

      I’ll work n that.

      1. What I have a hard time excusing is the people who involve someone else involuntarily in their suicide–ie, people who step in front of cars/trains/jump off of highway overpasses. Or suicide by cop. That, to me, is awful. Bad enough (and tragic enough) to take their own life, but to basically force another person to be the instrument of it? That’s a million times worse.

        1. Agreed. It takes a whole lot of self hatred & hate for the world to involve a stranger in your suicide.

        2. Apparently *two* airline pilots. There was the German pilot. And it’s now believed that the missing Malaysia Air plane was done in by a suicidal pilot. Bad enough when someone kills him or herself. But to take over a hundred random strangers with you…

        3. See my post above. There were instances, while I was on antidepressants, where I would have split-second ‘it would be easy to turn into that tree/bridge/lamp-post’ black moments. It wouldn’t have mattered if I had someone else in the car – those moments of having no self control and being in sudden deepest blackest despair… just no. I stopped driving, and stopped taking those drugs.

          I don’t have those instances any more, to my rage. Those antidepressants really, really hurt me.

          1. The Prevailing Narrative is that suicide is something that builds up slowly over time, until it overwhelms the will to live.

            But you’re not the only one to describe that sort of snap impulse. I’ve felt it myself, when I had no particular reason for it.

            I put it down to minor glitches in the wetware.

            1. Bipolars have an elevated suicide rate, and I understand that the mechanism underlying bipolar is defective brain chemistry. Specifically, unstable feedback regulation that varies whether it is too far one way or the other. The mania tends towards lethality because of the impulsiveness and poor judgement regarding consequences. The depression because it can make suicide seem like a good idea.

              So brain chemistry can make a difference.

              If something goes awry a little, the brain chemistry may slowly work itself away from sane. Ergo, slow onset suicidal tendencies. Slow changes are less obvious, hence avoid external intervention better. Slow changes can still be caused by defects manifesting at an early age, and kill at an advanced one.

              Fast defects that are, unlike bipolar, completely unstable, will kill rapidly. The ones that develop early probably cause deaths at a young age. Teen stupidity being a confounding factor that could conceal a lot of this. Fast defects generated later in life, are likewise probably rapidly lethal. They may also be rarer.

              Psychiatric drugs are wonderful for people who are really sick in certain specific ways. All medicines are poisons. Just about anything that adjusts the brain chemistry of someone ill that way to normal will adjust normal brain chemistry to ill. Use only under competent supervision when really needed. Because they screw with your judgement about how much they are screwing with your judgement. And because it sucks when you start out relatively stable, and discover a rare fragility that gets damaged by the drug.

              But the other side is ideology, philosophy or religion. A healthy enough brain chemistry can result in suicide when combined with a sufficiently defective ideology. With unstable brain chemistry, philosophy can make a difference in outcomes.

              1. Family tradition or cultural practices at least seem to be related to dealing with common issues– “the Irish” seem to have a manic depressive tendency which can be handled by channeling the depressive into the classic “bawling your eyes out singing a sad song” form, and the manic into “throw yourself into a fairly well defined role.” (….although traditionally the scary place that one came out was in battle…then again, that would explain a LOT of the flash in the pan arguments….nevermind)

                They say the men of Ireland
                are the men that God made mad/
                For all their wars are merry
                And all their songs are sad.

            2. The thing is, those snap impulses are not something that are normal for me – indeed, in my moments of lucidity, they were frankly terrifying. I wasn’t on psych drugs when I lost Damien; but I was aware that suffering Brandon’s loss after losing Damien, and having dragged myself out of that grief had left me with many raw emotional scars, and wasn’t sure I could recover as much when my surviving children and family needed me sane. Hell, I needed me sane. So I looked for help… and it didn’t help.

              1. They weren’t for me, either. Which was the point I was trying to make. A handful of times over decades, for no apparent reason. I don’t think there’s any real “why” there; that’d why I called it a glitch.

                Just because you got a glitch at a particularly bad point, doesn’t necessarily mean what was happening caused it.

      2. I bring it up because that is essentially what my MIL did. She’d be appalled we considered it a form of suicide, given her religion. But that is what she did. She had to be the center of attention. She’d called wolf one too many times, when she really was in distress & needed nursing home staff now, they had other life/death emergencies at the same time. They were minutes too late. This was a nice, well staffed facilities. She had money (translation, fair or not, considered a priority).

        1. Contrast MIL, with FIL or my dad.

          FIL had a major, “not going home or going home to die” heart attack, just before we told everyone we were having our son. In fact the heart attack changed our timing as we were waiting mid-2nd trimester to announce due to our tendency to have miscarriages. FIL was going to see that baby born. To the point when he didn’t make it (6 weeks short), it took everyone by surprise. He lasted 6 months on just will power.

          Dad lived with his condition(s) for 22 years. Never gave up. No even when doctors finally said you need hospice, the medicines are not helping & making things worse. He, mom, & hospice worked together to better his life & health. He lived 5 years more after doctors originally told him to go on hospice. Lived 6 months actually under hospice, because they finally got to the point where they needed in house care for him & that was how to get it, nothing else changed.

    2. I think, even in those cases…those folks still aren’t in their right mind. To be in a position where one is *seriously* contemplating suicide, to the point of overriding the survival instinct. Something has gone Seriously Wrong.

      (And this is why I am appalled at even the existence of something like 13 Reasons Why. Because just reading the blurb about it…it strikes me as the ultimate fantasy-fulfillment of the “And they’ll be so sorry!” delusion.)

      1. Nobody who contemplates suicide is in a good place in their mind.

        Never knew there was something tagged 13 Reasons Why. That is horrible.

        1. It’s a “critically acclaimed” Netflix series.

          There’s something very wrong with the writers at that company.

          1. “There’s something very wrong with the writers at that company.”

            Replies I keep coming up with:

            “You think???”
            “No kidding!!!”
            “Holy …”

            You get the idea.

          2. Netflix. The company that hust hired Barack Obama and his wife, and who pretend they can hide how much they’re paying him even though it’ll be public information at their next quarterly tax filing?

            “Sounds legit…”

      2. Been wondering how long until the suicide porn show would get mentioned… took three days.

        I see it wasn’t put out until the year after the stats being measured, but the mindset that let it get made just might be involved, y’know?

        1. Sanity is partly culturally dependent.

          The culture we have chosen to inherit has long had values infused into from Christian influence.

          The followers of the newer socialist and communist faiths have had the brilliant idea of converting entire populations through the ‘long march’.

          We are seeing some of the results of the late stage of that. Previous generations had more of the older values, whether from religion or culture, and could function in a more traditionally sane way. Like a woman with only one of the hemophilia recessives.

          Now we are seeing what can result from the pure socialist values, like someone without any dominant healthy genes.

          A religion that converts by attraction will leave behind a residue of people it has no place for, who retain previous religious values. The long march does not leave those behind. There is still a residue, of people with the values of the new religion, which has no place for them.

          The behavioral changes are predictable, because not all cultures and not all religions are the same. In absence of the culture and values of a higher civilization, you get the culture and values of a lower civilization, or of barbarism.

          The young suicides and the school spree killings are linked. It is not clear that socialism and communism are capable of sustaining a civilization, or of changing enough to do so. But we also have barbarians, who have never been shown how to find the path to sanity.

    3. The “too tired” bit is where I am right now. Spinning my wheels (any choice I make to improve my situation gets nullified), frustrated over my inability to change any of it, waiting for promised news that might change things (and deadlines have been missed on that news), and choking down the occassional bit of Wrath (anger is too mild a word) that bubbles to the surface when the frustration makes itself felt.

      The tiredness kicks in when all of the above combines with the still missing light at the end of the tunnel. We need hope. In one way or another, it keeps us alive. Without it, we have trouble getting up the strength to do anything.

  10. About half a life time ago I got an email from an estranged friend telling me that a mutual friend had killed herself and that there was going to be a memorial service. I went and the whole thing was surreal. She was such a part of the group that was there that I kept expecting her to come around a corner. During the service the pastor read what a part of her note. It said something like “I know there is more to life but I don’t have the energy to find out what that is.” I was in a really bad place in my life at that time and that experience put things in perspective. No matter how much better (?) suicide might have made my life, it would have left a giant wound in the lives of those I left behind. I never wanted to be the cause of anyone having to go through what I went through that day. It’s not much of a reason to stay alive but somedays it was all I had.

  11. My daughter and I have both had friendships with people, who committed, or attempted suicide. It was grim, in either case – having friends who considered that the permanent solution to the temporary problem was the viable way of escaping.
    There was a point in my life – the aftermath of my relationship with my daughter’s father, which aside from producing my daughter, was otherwise a monumental catastrophe, where I was hurting so badly, that I knew WHY people did it; just to make the pain stop. I knew WHY … but I never in a million years would have been tempted to do it. Because it would have left my daughter alone (the daughter whom I love extravagantly) and my parents in even more pain than they were already feeling.
    But yeah – I knew WHY. The pain can overwhelm rationality.

  12. My uncle took his own life ten years ago this October. I found out later that he’d made multiple attempts over the years. This was the one that finally succeeded.

    It took me a long time to come to terms with his choice, and while I still don’t agree with it, I finally understand why he made it. I don’t know if it’s my place to say why (don’t know how much info the rest of the family wants out there) but let’s just say knowing what I know about his life – especially his childhood – and his relationships with his parents… I can easily see why he felt he had no other options.

    As for me, I struggle with feelings of uselessness & worthlessness, and I confess that sometimes my thoughts go into very dark places. I’ve never seriously considering ending myself because I’ve seen firsthand what my family would go though if I did, but I was “too tired” for several years, so… yeah, I know where folks who say that are coming from.

    Things are FINALLY (as in this past week) starting to turn around for me, but six years of struggle to get there was tough, even though my problems were, admittedly, pretty much peanuts compared to what many others are going and/or have gone through.

  13. I must confess that I don’t understand depression. Oh, sure, I get depression in the abstract, but it’s empathy I lack. My father committed suicide years ago, as has another family member, along with a few acquaintances over the years. I don’t lack sympathy for those who suffer from it, but it’s something I’ve never felt.

    So when the second stepson turned to self-mutilation about three years ago in his mid teens, I was dismayed. Now that he’s just finished high school and preparing to ship off into the Navy, he’s recently expressed more permanent solutions to his mental anguish. He said that the only thing preventing him from doing it is the pain it would cause his mother and his little siblings. It’s tough to know whether or not his depression is chemical (it runs on that side), or situational (he’s made some poor choices in the past year). I suspect the latter.

    Here’s why: his greatest achievement to date has been to graduate high school, from a specialized high school that focuses on reducing dropout rates. He was there because of a serious aversion to work. He’s never done any real work, developed any skill, even had a hobby, or found much direction until he decided to enlist in the Navy. He has been the proverbial horse at the watering hole for his entire life.

    Something happened this past weekend to lend more credence to my suspicions about a sort of situational depression. His car broke down, so he dropped the transmission to find out exactly what was wrong with it. It was mostly an all day affair that left him covered in grease and oil from head to toe. It was the most work I’d ever seen him do. He’d never done any real work on his car before, despite always talking about wanting to. He determined the problem and discovered the solution. Sensing an opening, I asked him how he felt after all that. He said he felt oddly calm and motivated – two traits he’s not exactly known for, particularly the latter.

    Points 1-3 here, as soon as I read them, reminded me of him. No direction, no accomplishments, and in an 18 year-old male. Not a good combo. No wonder his self-esteem sucks. The slightest bad thing to happen to him and he spirals downward at an alarming rate. It’s a good thing for us all that he feels like he’s got some people to live for, even if his reasons for doing so right now aren’t exactly optimal.

    Thankfully, he’s going into the Navy to be a diesel mechanic, next month.

    1. With today’s kids I believe part of it is no one is allowed to stand out, no one is allowed to overcome obstacles. Everyone gets a trophy/medal or no one does. Everyone in the class has to be invited to the party or no one. One only has to try, not do. False self esteem. Then “Life isn’t fair” hits them. They can’t cope. But, have them “Do. Don’t Try.” as Yoda says, the false self esteem falls away & they learn what it means to do.

      Chemical imbalance occurs. There are those who get up & knocked down so may times they can’t see to get up again. There are those that can’t be optimistic. Reminds me of the story of parents with twins: One was pessimistic, no matter what the situation. The other was optimistic no matter what. So one birthday the parents got the pessimistic twin the most beautiful toys, everything the twin had ever wanted. The optimistic twin got a pile of horse poop. The pessimistic twin’s response was “I’m going to die. There is no other reason for these gifts.” The optimistic twin is frantically digging through the poop. “There’s a pony in here somewhere!!!!”

      My personal status is no matter how bad things get. No matter how many times I have to “get up”. “There’s a pony in there somewhere.” When I go, I’m going kicking & screaming “I’m not done yet!!!!”

        1. True. But I was specific. & Horse puckies don’t normally end up in the outhouse or, as part of this story, in the living room. 🙂 😉

  14. Something to live for– 1. I made a promise to my late-hubby that I would live to my natural length. It’s a much harder promise that I expected because it means I have to treat my body well… 2. My dog. She keeps me walking, eating, and caring. 3. Writing. It is third because even though I do like to write, it wouldn’t keep me here. Hugs– and sending you good thoughts Sarah.

  15. There’s a thing going on here that might not be recognized, and that’s that the statistics are not regular. Until quite recently, there was a huge social stigma to suicide. ‘Accidental discharge while cleaning his gun’ (more than one actor) ‘failure to negotiate a turn’ and ran into an embankment, ‘died after brief illness’, ‘unexpected drug reaction’ (seconol and whiskey’ll do that!). In an attempt perhaps to save the sensibilities of friends and family, the reputation of the individual, or for insurance purposes, I dunno why, but there is much less reticence to talk about it today than before.
    ‘Death from natural causes’ was considered a perfectly sufficient explanation, but it must now be ‘complications of Alzheimers’, ‘cerebral embolism’, ‘cancer of the whatever or ‘chronic cardiovascular disease. Therefore mare people are dying of those causes? I suspect not. Rather, the filing system has become more accurate.

    1. My mom will absolutely rage about “death due to flu.” She can rattle off 45 different things, add that the person was in their nineties and had a hard life, and growl that just because they had the flu doesn’t mean it killed them. LIVING killed them.

      She does have a point.

      It’s not so popular anymore, but “got turned around in a snow storm” and not mention they’d drank an entire jug of alcohol of their choice, as well as “work accident,” are two other methods.

  16. #4 Learn Something.

    Physics, chemistry, and materials sciences.
    There are a number of serious technologies we could use to improve our world. Clean and safe energy generation. Clean, safe, and dense energy storage. Improved means of Earth to orbit transportation. Improved speeds for interplanetary transportation. Getting around the light speed barrier.

    Biology and medical sciences. Regeneration, rejuvenation, life extension, organ manufacturing, brain to computer interfacing, and there are still thousands of diseases and developmental conditions that still need cures.

    Skills! Learn how to fence, how to shoot, how to juggle, how to bake a cake from scratch in a cardboard box, etc.

    #10 Get a dog; and not a Basset hound, Saint Bernard, or Newfoundland type either. You want a dog that looks at you and says, “Come on! Let’s go do something fun!” A four-legged friend that relies on you for food, water, and companionship that gives you a reason to get out of bed each morning, and preferably one that you can’t give away for someone else to take care of after you’re gone so you have to stay and take care of him or her.

    1. As I’ve recently discovered, a “wauzer” (half miniature schnauzer/half westie) is definitely on the list of “makes you want to go do fun things”. Tiny little buggers, but just so darned cute. (And think they are waaaaay bigger than they actually are. But small enough that exercising them doesn’t kill you. 😀 )

  17. The thing about suicide that has gotten me, ever since my weird and somewhat wild teenage years is rather backwards of how most of my friends felt about it. It sucks, yeah. It’s more than a little selfish. Folks have said it’s a permanent solution to temporary problems, and it is very true at that. Wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

    That’s not what gets me. It’s that suicide is so damned *easy,* what strikes me as odd is that the rate is so very *low.*

    I was trained as a physical anthropologist. Before that, I went to at least three funerals a year for as long as I could remember clearly (big extended family). Farm work and rural living has its own share of vivid, visceral death. When you’re a volunteer rescue worker that shows up, too. The human body is a durable, adaptable machine, biologically speaking, but if you really want to, it is trivially simple to make it stop. So if people really, truly want to die, permanently, why don’t they?

    There’s always a reason. Sometimes you have to really look for it, or listen to yourself when you aren’t self-censoring so you can hear it for once. I know a guy who is alive today because of, not a cute little kitten or puppy, not a wife and kids or the mailman or a job. He didn’t kill himself (and knowing the fellow, he really would have) because his plant would die.

    It was a scraggly looking peace lily, the kind you see at funerals. Someone from work sent it when his grandmother died. Guy spent his lunch breaks trying to keep that sickly looking thing from giving up the ghost. Even had soil chemestry tested. Got a bigger pot when the roots were getting all gnarled up. Kept it on his desk at work and spent his lunch break taking it to the window to get some sun.

    Crazy, you might call it. But little rituals like that- and I call it a ritual because you better believe there’s some significance in them- matter. And that’s what makes a life. Having things that matter in it, people that matter, too.

    We are flawed, strange looking apes, with the oddest of habits. Despite that, and sometimes because of that, we thrive nonetheless. Maybe obsessive plant watering is one of those genes that Humanity wants to keep around. Maybe the complex characteristics that make up the classic suicidal depressive may sometimes be advantageous- genius and depression are commonly found together.

    One thing is for sure, though. The interesting times we live in, good bad or indifferent locally, are worth sticking around for. If nothing else, there are still a few good books I haven’t got around to reading yet. *grin*

    1. Crazy, you might call it. But little rituals like that- and I call it a ritual because you better believe there’s some significance in them- matter. And that’s what makes a life. Having things that matter in it, people that matter, too.

      Got a horrible, sinking feeling there…because the first thing that came to mind is how many of my classmates, if they’d seen me babying a plant, would make sure to kill the plant.

      Exactly because I cared about something they didn’t.

      1. That’s an attitude that game developers need to be reminded of *constantly*.

        “Oh, it’ll be so neat! Everyone will be playing on the same server, and you can trade or battle or blah blah blah!”

        Then the game gets released, and it’s one massive griefing-fest. The ability of game developers to overlook the many, many, many existing examples of just how much a small minority of gamers will screw up an online game community more or less because they can never ceases to amaze me.

        1. The only time I ever found that interesting (as opposed to obnoxious and fun-killing) was a fascinating article I read many years ago about a ‘plague’ outbreak in World of Warcraft (which I play on occasion, but sadly missed that particular incident). In a nutshell, an in game ‘plague event’ that was not intended to exist outside a particular area in the game didn’t quite work as intended, and was helped along by those of the ‘burn the world down’ types who figured out the bug and used it to spread the plague across entire servers.

          Alternatively, there were other players who stepped up and acted as first responders would in a real world scenario, set up quarantine camps, directed lower-level players to safe areas (because the plague would almost instantly ‘kill’ their toon should they contract it, and apparently the time for it wasn’t reset with death, and so they’d be stuck dying/resurrecting until it wore off).

          Apparently the whole thing caught the eye of a scientist who specialized in the spread of pathogens, and who also happened to play World of Warcraft. She watched the whole thing unfold, and wrote up an article about it.

        2. Just about 100% of every MMORPG fails to code consequences of Player Killers into the game environment. In the real world, forces would be mobilized, even in a medieval setting, comprised of locals, or police, or military, or combinations of all three, to hunt down the murderers.

          I’d use something like an Infamy stat where every time you kill a player, your Infamy goes up. Higher infamy would increase the agro range of guard NPCs, increase the numbers that respond to attack, and provide an increased chance of a posse hunting you down in the wilderness/dungeons. Be a real downer if you just took down a boss dragon and the local constabulary kill you and take your loot before you recovered from the dragon. And not that hard to code into a game either. You could even make the odds dynamically resettable by a DM/GM too. We won’t need to ban PKers, just make the unsufferable blighters miserable.

          1. Most of the ones I’ve played (City of Heroes (rest in peace), World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars the Old Republic, and Secret World) actually do take it into account. Unless you *choose* to play on a PvP server (in which case you already know what you’re walking into), player-on-player ‘violence’ is restricted to specific battleground areas or to actions (example: going into ‘enemy held territory’ usually puts you on a timer; the timer runs out, you get flagged as ‘killable’ by enemy players) and agreed-upon duels (ie, you send an invite to someone else–enemy or ‘ally’–to duel and they can agree or not as they choose). As to looting, there are options for how the group leader wants to do loot. Most folks default to choosing ‘need or greed’ dice rolls, and woe betide the asshat who abuses the need rolls (which always trump greed). Word gets out that is a loot ninja, and then no one will group with them anymore.

            I realize that this was not the case in a lot of the earlier MMORPGs, but later ones definitely learned from the lessons taught in those situations regarding griefers and PKers and so on.

            It also depends on the game. Of the ones I’ve played for any length of time WoW is the one where I’ve encountered the most of that nastier type, while most folks I’ve ever met on the Lord of the Rings online game are some of the friendliest folks you can imagine (well, most of us ARE there just to geek out over Middle Earth, it’s true…).

            Of course, this is also because I’m as much an introvert in MMOs as I am in real life, and so only team up either when I have no other choice, or if they’re a real life friend, lol. So there may be lots more ninjas/jerks out there that I simply haven’t encountered because I don’t constantly group up.

      2. Was a particular sort of workplace at the time. All male, most of us in our middle thirties, early forties, only the two of us childless. Boss rode us all hard as anything. Stressful, long hours, work through your coffee break sort of place.

        In my teens and twenties, sure I could see that happening. Okay, being honest, at all walks of life, male or female, folks can and have been utter b*stards at times. We had our days. Quirks. Another fellow had his coffee ritual, five a.m. every day save Sunday. Best dang cup of coffee you’d ever have, but no refills- someone else had to do that, and it was always worse. The first one involved some alchemy of a thing- one week it was French pressed, another it was cold grounds, but always excellent, and never twice in one day. And he never cleaned the pot after, but always before. I’ve still got my cup. I only drink tea in it these days.

        Nobody messed with the coffee ritual, the plant, or the cat that fell through the ceiling. It was a strange sort of truce, I guess. We were absolute hell on each other in peer review, but outside of that, nothing worth mentioning. On any given Tuesday you’d think it was a dull, boring sort of place to work if you walked in off the street. Smelled good in the morning though. Like coffee and citrus (cleaning agent in the little kitchenette, not a bad smell though).

          1. I didn’t tell the story about the cat who fell through the ceiling? *speedread*

            I didn’t tell the story about the cat who fell through the ceiling. Crap. Unintentional story hook number 457. Because this “totally never happened, not in any universe whatsoever under penalty of law.” *ahem* Other than that. Something similar to this may have hypothetically happened, but in reality* never did.

            The roof leaked. It leaked when I got there, it leaked when I left, and it probably still leaks today, despite having more money spent on fixing it than the entire building was worth. Insurance companies avoided us like normal people do telemarketers. I kept an umbrella over my workstation. Later on, we made sails out of sheet plastic to channel the water into the floor drains. Thank himself the floor drains never backed up.

            Some bright spark thought to put in a drop ceiling at one point. Replacing sodden ceiling tiles was a regular thing. Customers coming in (a thrice per year thing)? Put up new tiles, hope they don’t soak through before they leave. It worked, as many good human endeavors do, most of the time.

            This wasn’t one of those times.

            The thing about that leaky roof was its eccentricities. The wet spot moved. Occasionally it would find a new spot, where some forgotten maintenance worker left a tool, and *thump!* The big Craftsman screwdriver we used in the kitchen was found that way.

            On this particular day, the *thump!* was followed by a most curious “mrreow?” It was coming from the shred pile, where all the waste paper went.

            “Oh, you have an office cat! How cute!” Well, he was. When he was dry, which he wasn’t at the time, and brushed, which hadn’t happened in a while from what we could tell.

            “We most certainly do not.” Boss was certain of this. No pets in the building. Insurance. Allergies. Rules and such. Never happened, never would. There was a definite undertone of “somebody get this feral beast out of my shop!”

            The cat chose this moment to hop right out in front of everyone, covered in tiny bits of shredded white paper and packing peanuts. And proceeded to lick his bottom, one leg stuck up in the air. The customer giggled and asked if she could pet him, but was successfully distracted away. The rest of her visit ended uneventfully for us peons. Mostly. We had work to do, and were dangerously close to finishing a job. The customer was a potential *next* job, which we all desperately needed to keep getting paid.

            When we looked around, after she left, the cat was gone.

            Not gone-gone. At least, we were pretty sure he hadn’t climbed back up in the ceiling. And the stairwell remained closed. Anyway, we had work to do. The boss came back in.

            “Where,” he asked in that deceptively mild tone he had, “did it go?” We shrugged, shook our heads, or grunted our ignorance. What cat? We didn’t see any cat. I believe it was one of those moments of clarity we humans are sometimes blessed with that he didn’t inquire any further. Some folks just seem to have an irrational aversion to anything furry. It may be mentioned at this point that the boss was once a competitive swimmer, and had gone completely bald by the time I first met him.


            “Is this your cat?”

            Now picture this. A tweedy little man in glasses shows up at your door, holding a cat in totally the wrong way (thumbs and forfingers making a circle around the cat’s torso). I imagine this going on up and down the apartment building next door, because, oh, let’s call him Fred (say he hated the name “Fredrick”) just *had* to find the little guy’s owner and bring him home.

            But it’s not your cat. It’s not anybody’s cat. This cat is homeless. At least, as far as Fred could tell. And Fred couldn’t take him home. His wife’s dog would murder the little guy. So he takes him back to the shop, leaves him a coffee cup with some water in it, and a copier box lid with some sand from the back lot in it and maybe a muttered prayer for lost causes.

            Fred’s like that. He may go about it in the worst way, but his heart’s in the right place.

            You may note that this flies in the face of official authority. You may wonder what awful mess might appear to the first man through the door that next morning.

            Nothing whatsoever. The water level in the cup was a bit lower, and the sandbox a bit scuffed, that was all.

            Coffee guy, let’s call him Dave, would come in ten minutes before the rest of us, unlock the door and turn on the lights. And of course make the most amazing pot of coffee known to man, but only one pot, once a day. This morning was fairly normal. Five men gripping cups of that dark, powerful drug, blinking blearily at this Houdini of cats sitting primly on the break room table, accepting head scratches as his noble due.

            “What are we going to do with him?”
            “He’s got to be somebody’s cat. Too sociable to be a stray.”
            “He’s old, too. Look at those rheumy eyes.”
            “Might be just sick. Take him to a shelter, they’ll look after him.”
            “Right, in the middle of January. More like they’ll just stick him and bury him.”

            That wasn’t likely to happen. Dumping him in a shelter, I mean. We have our limits, and harming children and pets is way on the other side of that line.

            “Nobody in the apartments next door would claim him,” said the Fred.
            “Not likely. As fast as those places turn over, he might have gotten left behind.”

            Probably was. Accident or on purpose, no one ever came to get him. Even with his gray and white face posted on telephone poles for blocks downtown.

            “Should we name him?”
            “He probably already has a name. Wouldn’t want to confuse the little guy.”

            And so he was called “cat,” and that was that.

            When the workday started, he disappeared again. Smart. The bossman did his morning walkaround, paying particular attention to sunny spots by the window and flat spots and underneath desks and tables where his small furry nemesis might hide. No cat. What cat? Where? Not here. We were too busy.

            That afternoon- long after the boss went home- it was decided to take the cat to the vet. We didn’t know how the cat would handle it, so a few of us piled into Fred’s van and took him to get poked, prodded, and stuck. The cat, not Fred, I mean.

            Cat was old. Fourteen. His eyes weren’t bad, just gunky. They brushed him and checked his vitally important bits and pieces. Most of them were still present and working, just old. Whose cat was this again? We paid and left. Cat went back to the shop, with a spare can on spam we found in the break room. And that was that.

            The boss never found him out, surprisingly enough. His allergies started bothering him and he spent less time on the shop floor, looking over our shoulders. Productivity somehow improved. We got more customers. Cat got a flea collar with a tag on it that read:


            Cat liked Fred best. He liked Bob, the guy with the plant, second best, but Bob was too introverted to participate much. Cat would crap in the plant pot if he was upset with him, so Bob did the bare minimum he had to to keep the cat from doing that. Fred learned how to hold a cat, and the left shoulder of his work shirts collected fur.

            The mouse problem that plagued the break room was stopped cold. Cat wasn’t one to bring “presents.” So we didn’t have to dispose of any, thank goodness. We kept the traps, but disarmed the springs just in case.

            That last year, cat started to go blind. We found out the same day we found out where he’d been hiding. The wall between the boss’s office and the shop floor was hollow, and there was a smallish hole in it at floor level, hidden behind the copy machine. We’d moved the trash can there to do some maintenance, and he just bounced off.

            Not much changed on the shop floor during the day, from a cat’s perspective. He could have been going blind for a long time, that just happened to be the day there was something different.

            We took him to the vet again. He didn’t mind. But this time he was older, and not in such good (for an old cat) health. Liver. Operation would have killed him. It was a Saturday, so there wouldn’t be any work tomorrow.

            I’d like to think that Sunday was one of his best, but I wouldn’t know. I’m not a cat, though I can get along with them. He’d been eating less, and that day he didn’t eat at all. Drugs though, he was fine with after the needle. Just for pain was all, and it would have hurt without that.

            He didn’t get dumped in a lot behind the shelter. We buried the little guy in a shoebox at the pet cemetery outside of town. He was a good old cat.


            I heard Fred’s littlest wanted a kitten for Christmas that year. It was November when our good old cat died. I think they named him Cotton, not because he was white (he wasn’t), but because Fred’s little girl couldn’t say “kitten” very well. And he taught her the right way to hold a cat.

            *Reality: because there might, hypothetically, be a furry little ghost in the boss’s wall to this day, drinking from a paper coffee cup and sneaking out in the morning and late evening when he’s not there. In a totally not true, just made up fashion, of course.

      3. On the other paw, there are my dormmates. There was a winter, long and dark and cold, in which my fiance and I broke up… and less than a month later, he married his high school sweetheart. My roommate, also a high school friend of his, officiated the wedding. A bit of a hard time, see?

        I had a jade plant. It survived everything – being in a room lit with only fluorescents, and those off a good chunk of the day (okay, and monitors, too.) Single-digit humidity, and infrequent watering, mostly with cold tea of coffee from the dregs of a mug. It not survived as the single spot of green in a long Alaskan winter night.

        At one point, the boys were rough-housing, and knocked the plant over, spilling the soil out of its pot. You know what they did? Scooped it all up, looked for the nearest soil-looking thing, and added used coffee grounds to the pot to make up what they couldn’t get out of the carpet. And vacuumed the carpet.

        And then looked up care of jade plants, and proceeded to baby that thing without telling me. Because it meant something to me, and I had already taken as many kicks in the teeth as I could handle. It thrived.

        …And I got better.

        1. *hugs* Freaking dust…I just cleaned the dang house yesterday….

          I’d even say there are more good people like that than the bastards– it’s just faster, more effective and easier to destroy than to successfully nurse a plant along.

        2. The coffee and tea dregs probably helped it enormously, actually.

          I used to work in a place where one of the women had all of the plants growing in nothing but coffee grounds, in a windowless interior office lit by fluorescents, and those were the healthiest office plants I’d ever seen, second only to the giant aloes (apparently they like the humidity) in a dry-cleaners shop.

        3. Succulents. About the only thing that will kill them is too much care and water.

  18. Inspirational writing from someone who awes me with her ability to get up and continue after being knocked down by biology again and again.

    One caveat: the butterfly effect is not about foreseeable consequences of any action (or event). It’s about living in a (mathematically) chaotic world, where invisibly trivial occurences can have momentous effects.

    For instance: exhale completely, right now. By emptying your lungs, you exhale an extra 150 ml or so of air, which contains about 7.5 million carbon-14 atoms. Those atoms will end up in different places than they would have if you hadn’t forced them out of your lung just now. Some of them will decay, and some of them will be (or won’t be) embedded in a DNA molecule, and will (or won’t) start a cancer going, cause a birth defect, or mutate a bacterium or virus into a new form – because you exhaled.

  19. “If you’re very ill, even if you’re not terminal, and you feel like you’re a burden on those you love it’s easy to persuade you to die to “make things better.””

    And what have we done? Set up a whole legal apparatus which encourages people to actively consider “these are the circumstances under which I will not live, and society will support me in giving up and allowing it to happen.”

    There’s a lot of arguments in favor of “living wills”, “Do not resuscitate”, etc. —- I have one myself — but I have to wonder what role that’s played in making suicide more acceptable.

    1. I know of at least one murder that was done because it’s legal for terminal folks to kill themselves at least in some states. And the “old bitch” wasn’t willing to do it for him.

      And there’s not a damned thing I can do about it, because we found out about it when we were taking the worthless sack of shit to scatter her ashes.


      More related to the suicide angle, it’s definitely enabled bullying of those who are “in the way” of the bully to encourage them to off themselves as they clearly have no value.

      1. aaaaand this is why I am opposed to legalized assisted suicide. Because there are too many selfish, amoral asshats out there who will encourage the very ill to off themselves ‘for the greater good’ just because they can. (And we’ve seen it happening, too.)

    2. “There’s a lot of arguments in favor of “living wills”, “Do not resuscitate”, etc. —- I have one myself — but I have to wonder what role that’s played in making suicide more acceptable.”

      Mom has a signed a DNR with conditions. “You will fight for me until I am in a comma on a machine. Then you can let me go.” Or officially, just short of brain dead. She is 84 this year. Daddy has been gone 9 years. Right now she’s busy. That might change if she has to actually slow down. We’ll see.

      Her mom, had a response to “you won’t get out of this life alive.” — “wanna bet?” till the day she buried grandpa, they were 95; she’d been in congestive heart failure the entire 2 weeks between when grandpa had died, until his funeral. She was going to do things her way, period.

      Not sure but I think grandma put the definition of “stubborn” to shame.

      1. Sarah, if that’s what you want, better make sure they have a medical power of attorney to do that. Don’t leave things up to the interpretation of the doctors / medical ethicists / lawyers.

  20. “If you’re completely and utterly isolated, this isn’t a good thing, of course. We’re a social animal, even the introverted ones of us.”

    I wonder if anyone has really studied the intersection of introversion, isolation, and suicide. When/if someone does that study, they should also add “Odds” to that study, since being an Odd can also be very isolating.

    1. So much “yes” here. A community of Odds, and so many of us have had our bouts of (or brushes with) mental illness. Does the Oddity influence the depressive tendencies, or does the depression encourage the Oddity?

      I’m dysthemic, which basically means that my Highs and Lows are lower than average. Only one of my 4 siblings has shown signs of a similar problem, and no one here will be shocked that he’s the only sibling that also counts as Odd.

      1. In my case, the abnormality strongly influenced behavior, which had a role in creating certain circumstances, and those circumstances had a strong depressive influence.

      2. I’d guess “yes”– at least as long as you define “mental illness” in the format of “negatively affects ability to live a normal life,” then it’s both the cause and result of Oddness.

        It’s like we’re growing on frames, and Odds’ frame is slightly different– what folks usually miss in that metaphor is that normal frames are that way because it minimizes the deformation that the plant causes on the frame, too. 🙂 Have a plant that does something odd, it’ll change the frame’s shape, which will change how the plant grows on the frame; start with an odd frame, the plant will grow differently, and change the frame in an odd way.

        1. While you are right, I don’t like to look at it like that. I lived through a childhood of always being told that I was defective because I was an introvert (and an Odd, although it took me finding this blog to understand that was even a thing) in an extrovert world. Being an introvert is NOT a mental illness. Hell, it isn’t even really abnormal (the googles say somewhere between 25% to 50% of people are introverts), no matter what the extroverts who think they rule the world want to think. Being Odd IS different, maybe even a little abnormal in that it is “not the norm”. And yes, being either an introvert or odd (or especially both at the same time) can cause challenges that Odd/Introverted people may not have the tools to overcome if they don’t have help… which I admit can cause a condition that can, technically, be called “mental illness” by your definition (which I admit is the common definition).

          But damnit! There isn’t anything WRONG with me… and it’s been an up-hill battle (both ways) realizing that and making myself BELIEVE it.

          So, you’re not wrong… but the idea makes me all pouty-faced and grumpy. Besides, Screw normal… normal is boring!

          1. I quite agree– nothing wrong with it, any more than there’s something “wrong” with my being short, or having pale skin; so I need to use tools to reach high stuff, and I need to be more aware of sunlight to avoid burning. It’s just an is, which only causes problems if you assume that the plant will grow in exactly this way because OF COURSE the frame is going to be thus and such…..

            I also find it amusing how many extroverts assume that their needs are a baseline, while those who don’t share the needs are defective and different needs are somehow a problem, too. 🙂 Noisy twit isn’t really part of the extrovert characteristic plot, it’s just more common over there…..

            1. Now, if only I could figure out how to relate to my youngest daughter. She’s both short AND an Extrovert (she takes after her mother, ex wife #2). The rest of the house are introverts, so she has the opposite issue as I did growing up. She’s an Extrovert stuck with a bunch of introverts. And to add insult to injury, most of us are also tall. We try not to make a big deal about it, but I can tell it annoys her.

              1. Have you tried that “five love languages” test?

                It’s kinda faddish, but 1) it lets her know you care, and 2) it can give you ideas on how to let her know.

                “I love you” is a pretty big balm for annoyance.

          2. > Being an introvert is NOT a mental illness.

            I expect the next DSM will fix that…

            Eventually, *everyone* will have at least one of the diagnosable conditions listed in the DSM. And then they’ll be “helped” “for their own good.”…

            1. and they will ALL be ranked as conditions that keep you from being able to own firearms.

      3. Honestly, I think neither. I suspect the real issue is related to isolation.

        It’s a given that you won’t like everybody you meet…and not everybody will like you. But when you’re an Odd, the number of friends goes down significantly, and the number of people who actively hate your guts goes up. Not a pleasant existence.

        Now, we make another error – teenagers are frequently told, “These are the best years of your life.” Shortly thereafter, the Odd teen thinks, ‘I’m lonely, teenager-poor, and detested by a lot of people.’ With predictable results. Better to tell them the truth – the teenage years are hard, doubly so for an Odd. It’s a decade of hard slogging. But keep your head up and locked, keep your nose to the grindstone – for there are green fields beyond.

          1. We prefer to say instead: “Least encumbered of responsibility part of your life.” You don’t have no responsibilities, but generally a whole lot fewer than you will have later.

        1. I’ve never been an extrovert, or one of the “Popular” people, but I think that the whole “best days of your life” line actually does apply to at least some of them. One guy I knew (who probably didn’t know me from Adam/the crap he scrapes of his shoes) in high school is probably one of those. Football team, could have dated cheerleaders, but dated (used) all the best looking “nerd chicks” (some of them friends of mine) who would practically worship him, “put out” in an effort to keep him and do his homework afterwards. Football scholarship to a decent university. Admiration from everyone around him. Dude had it made!

          The rest of the story: After high school, he dropped out of that nice university when he lost his football scholarship because you actually have to be more than just “popular” to play college ball. Ended up working with my Dad at Trailmobile building semi-truck trailers (hard work, ok pay, not great though) until the Trailmobile factory shut down (Dad was fine, even though he was older, he had skills and was able to get another job). His already “going down hill” life just went down hill from there. Last I heard, he was unemployed, constantly drunk, and living off his wife, who isn’t happy and will tell anyone who will listen about just how unhappy she is… right in front of him, and doesn’t care how it makes him feel. I ran into the pair of them at a bar the last time I was back… well… not “home” because while I did grow up there, that place was never really “home”, but anyway, I got the whole ear-full.

          Pretty sure high school WAS the best days of that dude’s life. I actually feel sorry for him… No TOO sorry, since I had the privilege of being his punching bag a time or two back in the day (who, me hold a grudge? Not really, but not holding a grudge doesn’t mean you have to start LIKING someone), but man… when your own wife tells people what a POS you are, right in front of you, and all you can do is put up with it? That’s just sad.

  21. “But here’s the thing… once that slippery slope starts, it lends credence to the black dog that rounds on the perpetually depressed and says “Life would be better without you in it.” ”

    That’s the insidious one that nearly killed a person I knew once a long time ago. Name and defining characteristics concealed to protect, this person was having marriage problems, kid problems, and work problems. They decided that if they just stepped out of the picture, everything would be fine.

    It is an evil lie, and negates the very basis of our being. If there really is a devil, this piece of work is surely his.

    So you tell your friend what I told mine, NO, THE WORLD WILL NOT BE BETTER OFF. It will be worse off, because you won’t be here for me. The only thing that matters in life is that you’re in it. Don’t leave.

    For all the talk of suicide from the morally bankrupt Left, I present Charles Krauthammer. An example of a man forced to eat the biggest shit-sandwich there is, spinal paralysis, who forged on and made a good life anyway.

    “You want my life? Come and take it!”

  22. Second try, because WordPress:

    “But here’s the thing… once that slippery slope starts, it lends credence to the black dog that rounds on the perpetually depressed and says “Life would be better without you in it.” ”

    That’s the insidious one that nearly killed a person I knew once a long time ago. Name and defining characteristics concealed to protect, this person was having marriage problems, kid problems, and work problems. They decided that if they just stepped out of the picture, everything would be fine.

    It negates the very basis of our being. If there really is a devil, this piece of work is surely his.

    So you tell your friend what I told mine, NO, THE WORLD WILL NOT BE BETTER OFF. It will be worse off, because you won’t be here for me. The only thing that matters in life is that you’re in it. Don’t leave.

    For all the talk of suicide from the morally bankrupt Left, I present Charles Krauthammer. An example of a man forced to eat the biggest shit-sandwich there is, spinal paralysis, who forged on and made a good life anyway.

    “You want my life? Come and take it!”

  23. I question the numbers. The CDC data set runs from just before the real estate crisis through 2015. Those were the worst years for old White men – lost job, lost house, hated by President Obama and deplored by Queen-to-be Hillary, scorned by media, shamed by academia, basically nothing to live for. And guess who’s the largest group of suicides in that data set? Old White men. Coincidence, or cause-and-effect?

    But wait – now there’s Trump. Jobs. Economy rebounding. Pride in America. Hope. What are the current suicide numbers? If they’re sharply down as I suspect, coincidence, or cause-and-effect?

    1. That was me, in spades. Please feel free to send my e-mail carbonelle AT juno …dot… com to anyone you think might find it helpful. We’re going with Classical Conversations.

      1. Did you try a non-curriculum route yet, or prefer the curriculum route right off the bat?

        I’ve heard good stuff about Classical Conversations, I just prefer the free-form…so far. 🙂

  24. Just FYI, the comment from “Andrew S Milbourne” that’s stuck in moderation limbo is mine: that’s my “professional” WP account.

      1. Yes please, if you can find it (but please don’t feel obligated to slog through the moderation swamp looking for it): I have to create & expand a “professional” social media presence as part of my grad school class.

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