Well, it’s Tuesday, it’s morning, and as usual, I don’t have any idea what I’m going to write about today. That didn’t stop me yesterday, of course, from writing quite a bit about various numbers and digits and physics and whatnot, and even choosing a nice paraphrase of a lyric from a song by the fictional band Spinal Tap as my title. But I don’t think I’m going to have anything nearly as fun (to me) to write about today.
I suppose this is the sort of issue my therapists have had to deal with at various times in the past*: is he just going to ramble on about some curious set of facts that popped into his head and struck his interest, and that he wants to share with someone else because he thinks it’s interesting, or is he going to be utterly—and sometimes contagiously—depressed?
Actually, for some people, even the first option might be depressing.
Of course, therapists get paid to deal with such things, so it’s hard to feel too sorry for them, though I always kind of did, even so. I’ve usually felt bad for almost anyone who finds themselves forced to deal with me, even if they’re being paid to do so, and even if they are (like you) coming to read my words voluntarily. I suppose it’s probably a kind of projection; I don’t like myself, nor do I like to deal with myself most of the time, so I assume other people find me as unpleasant as I find myself. Of course, they at least get me in smaller chunks than those in which I get myself, which is basically a continuous stream**.
Still, I suppose being exposed to my written thoughts in chunks of 1300 words or so (I think that was about how long yesterday’s blog post was) isn’t so bad. At least you don’t have to live with me. Everyone who has ever had to live with me, from my parents to my spouse to my children, has ended up deciding that it was not worth the effort, and they didn’t want to do it anymore. So they don’t. To be fair, my parents have since died, after having reversed course and helped me out through some real difficulties, but they still didn’t have to live with me.
It’s weird, isn’t it? There are people who don’t really want to be around you…but they don’t want you to kill yourself, either. And all the various clichés about why you shouldn’t commit suicide talk about how it will hurt the people who love you and whatnot. Okay, probably not all the clichés. But a lot of them.
Weirdly enough, it has traction, that argument. The anticipatory guilt actually gets in the way, that feeling of not wanting to cause sorrow for people who don’t even want to be around you, and who in fact are not around you, but who don’t want you to die, because then they would feel “sad”, which I guess is a euphemism for “guilty”.
The funny thing is, if you simply disappeared—not in any kind of dramatic sense, but simply in the sense of no longer being someone they heard from or about—they probably would never even notice that you were gone, except maybe, upon rare occasion, when something triggered the thought, “I wonder what ever happened to him?” Then they would shrug and go on about their day.
It’s bizarre to feel bound to the world by ties to distant people whom you don’t want to hurt or inconvenience, and who would ask you not to die if given the chance, but who don’t seem to mind thereby condemning you to a life of daily suffering, all alone, without any apparent available cure or recourse, just because your death would cause them a passing pang. It’s very strange.
It doesn’t exactly seem moral to me. I mean, I know there are people who say that depression is a passing thing, that suicide is a long-term answer to a short-term problem, all those trite memes, but I’ve had dysthymia (aka chronic depression) since I was a teenager at least—so, for more than thirty years—and apparently, I’ve had “ASD” since I was born (or before, technically), and trust me, nature is NOT guaranteed to give you only problems that you can handle or solve. Nature is allowed to destroy you—indeed, it will destroy you eventually—and it is allowed to do so swiftly or slowly, mercifully or with Lovecraftian cruelty.
Believe me, I’ve seen it. You have, too, though you might not be willing to admit it to yourself.
It’s so very strange. We don’t want other people to destroy themselves so they can at least escape thereby from a life dominated by suffering—from whatever source, of whatever nature—but we don’t want to go to the trouble actually to try to relieve such people’s suffering. That would require a lot of work. So we’ll manipulate and cajole and occasionally reach out and try to discourage someone who feels suicidal from going through with their escape plans.
Sometimes we’ll even lock them up by force (or, well, we’ll have someone else do that for us). And we’ll thereby leave them suffering because, I’m sorry to inform you, we don’t have very good and reliable treatments for depression/dysthymia, particularly associated with “neurodivergent” circumstances***, or for many kinds of chronic pain, and so a life can be both solitary and dominated by discomfort (mental, emotional, and physical) for decades at a time without significant respite. And while Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with and without SSRIs and other antidepressants and whatnot, can improve things to some degree, none of them have been studied for very long-term outcomes very well—there’s no money for that—and there’s no treatment that works for everyone.
It gets old. It’s a lot to handle on one’s own.
Anyway, I don’t know the point of all this, but really, if you’re trying to talk someone out of suicide or something like that, don’t tell them not to do it because it would hurt you unless you’re going to put your money where your mouth is, so to speak. If you are able and willing, then yes, for God’s sake, do help! PLEASE! Don’t expect people who are mentally ill to be able to help themselves. That’s absurd and frankly idiotic. It’s like typing the words “Change your operating system from Android to iOS” into your smartphone’s search bar and expecting it to do so. It’s like telling someone with a severed leg just to grow it back and expecting them to cast aside their crutches or prostheses, to rise, and to walk away on a new limb, as though the notion just hadn’t occurred to them until you suggested it. It’s like telling someone just to choose to stop having lupus, or asthma, or cancer and expecting them to be all better. It’s not something a person can just bootstrap themselves out of. Such people are going to need initiative from other people if those other people really, actually want them to survive and (perhaps) thrive.
But if you’re not actually going to try to help, then maybe you shouldn’t try to guilt someone into not killing themselves. Maybe you should just shut the fuck up.
Actually, maybe I should do that. I’m not being very positive and I’m not getting anywhere. I apologize.
*That’s “in the past” because I no longer go to therapy. It’s too expensive, I don’t have the time or the wherewithal to get to a therapist, the BetterHelp online experiment I tried didn’t last long before my therapist had to take maternity leave, and I hate trying to start all over again with someone new; difficulty feeling comfortable with other people is one of my big problems. Anyway, obviously it has all never had many long term benefits.
**One might imagine that it’s broken up by sleep, but weirdly enough, I never feel that I “get away” from myself in sleep, and I certainly don’t sleep very continuously. I rarely sleep for more than an hour or so before waking up at least for a moment, looking around, realizing that I’ve only been sleeping for an hour or so, and that there was no reason to wake up. Then I try to go back to sleep, succeed for a short while, and begin the cycle again until finally it’s late enough that I might as well just get up. The last good, restful night of sleep I can remember happened in the mid-nineties, in White Plains, New York, at 205 Pondside Drive. It was amazing!
***This is neither surprising nor anything for humans to feel too bad about. The brain is the most complicated thing humans know in the universe, by a significant margin, and everyone is a very long way from understanding it fully. Rocket science is easy. Neuroscience is hard.