Struggling In The Swamp Of Sadness

Note: this is not a cry for help (I am actively getting help). It’s a statement of solidarity with other people who are suffering right now.

This is going to start pretty dark. It will get more hopeful as we go. Content warning: this is all about suicidal ideation.

I spent a lot of time this weekend reading up on famous suicides. I ended up on a site called Lost All Hope dot com, which bills itself as one of the most comprehensive suicide resources online. I was there looking at painless ways to commit suicide. (Spoiler alert: it turns out that a lot of the ways you think might be painless in fact are not, and that the ones that are more painless are messier, and that the best way to kill yourself actually requires the help of another person, which makes it more of a murder.) I was not in what we usually consider a good place.

Right now I’m dealing with a lot of depression and anxiety. Some of it is situational – I’m unemployed, running out of money and don’t see a clear path towards being a position where I can get a real job that will allow me to move out of my current living situation, where I’m accepting the charity of friends. But there’s something I’ve learned in my 18 months of sobriety and spirituality – it isn’t my situation that’s making me want to die, it’s how I’m relating to it.

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Three Voices

Here’s what my depression tells me:
All the times you felt okay, you were delusional. I’m clarity. I’m the truth. You’re not okay. You’re bad. The world is bad. It will never get better. You will never get better. It’s all a waste of time. Shouldn’t you just go to sleep and never wake up again?

Here’s what my anxiety tells me:
It’s all fucked up. You’re fucked up. The other shoe that dropped? It’s the first of a hundred shoes, a fucking millipede of shoes, and they’re all hanging over your head. Whenever you feel like you can handle it and it’s going to be okay? That’s confusion. I’m clarity. I’m reality. I’m telling you the hard truths, and the hard truth is that it will never be okay and it will only get worse and worse and worse. What’s even the point of going on?

Here’s what the dharma tells me:
Everything changes. All the time, at a rate you can’t even keep up with. What you feel today you will not feel tomorrow, or maybe even later today. You are not the feelings that arise within you, and you have the power to examine those feelings for their truth, and you have the power to discard what is not true. You do not have to take it personally. “Okay” is not defined by things outside of you. “Better” is not defined by things outside of you. You have the ability to define those things for yourself. You cannot control the world, but you can control how you react to the world.

The Least Wonderful Time Of The Year

This is a tough time of year for a lot of people. Maybe you’re having a tough time this week and you’re thinking about irrevocable decisions you could make to end the suffering.

I’m not going to tell you it’s going to get better. That’s the kind of bullshit people tell you and then you feel betrayed by it. It doesn’t always get better. Sometimes it gets worse. If we’re all being honest with ourselves we have to accept and acknowledge that.

What I will tell you, and what I can guarantee is true, is that you won’t always feel this way.

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