A prayer from the living world

posted at 9:20 pm on February 26, 2010 by Doctor Zero

The body of actor Andrew Koenig was found in Vancouver’s Stanley Park yesterday. His father, Walter Koenig, said that his son “took his own life, and was in a lot of pain.” Like most of my generation, I grew up with Walter Koenig as Chekhov on Star Trek, and he played a superb villain much later, on Babylon 5. Until his press conference yesterday, I didn’t realize he was a man of such incredible strength and dignity. He asked for his family to be left in peace to mourn their loss. I hope he won’t mind if I take this sad occasion to address others who might be following the road that ended in Stanley Park for Andrew. No matter how far you have gone down that road, there is always a path that leads away. I could offer no greater tribute to Andrew and his family than trying to help you take it, or at least see it.

You won’t find the beginning of that path in your house, or your room, or any other private place where you torment yourself, and wonder why a world you’re hiding from can no longer see you. You’ll have to step outside, and take a walk through your town. You’ll pass hospitals where the gift of life is unwrapped and presented to the universe. In another wing, life is held as precious treasure by families gathered around quiet beds, surrounded by tireless machines and their tired, but determined, keepers. Perhaps you’ll find a hospice, where the dying embrace their last opportunity to share their lives with all who receive the blessing of a seat beside them. You’ll pass churches and temples, filled with the sworn enemies of despair.

You may find yourself wishing you could give the unwanted years of your future to the clients of those hospitals and hospices. I did, years ago, when I stood where you are standing now. I was on my knees at the time, offering that trade with all my heart. It doesn’t work that way. Those who tend the hospices can tell you why, and the people in the churches and temples can explain why it shouldn’t.

Stroll past your local police station, where the noble calling to risk your life in the service of others is answered… and the worship of death as a solution to problems meets its humiliating end. Maybe you’ll spot a recruiting station, where men and women who love their friends and families accept a duty that could take them away forever… because they know others love their families too, and there is no safe way to build and protect the future for them.

If your walk takes you past sunset, watch the cars rolling into the driveways of apartments and houses. If you walk from night into morning, watch the people reluctantly leaving their homes, to provide for their families. Those people are not wasting their lives, but fulfilling them. They return home to enjoy their reward, and renew their inspiration. Every day, they write new pages in the human story. None of us will see the end of that tale… but I know you share my appetite to read another chapter, and then one more after that. You may have convinced yourself to ignore it, but it’s still there.

Step into a convenience store for a cup of coffee or chocolate, and take a look at the newspapers. They are filled with pleas for help that you could answer. From the inner cities of America, to the broken streets of Haiti, and around the world, there are places where the clocks are filled with nothing but desperate hours. Another pair of hands, or another few dollars of support, are always needed. The years ahead, which you regard as a painful burden, can be given to them. It will take effort, and courage… but along the way, I can promise that your life would stop feeling like a burden.

You may view suicide as your last chance to shake the pillars of a world that has turned its back on you. The world doesn’t need any more shaking. If you’ve been telling yourself that no one will miss you when you’re gone, you are wrong. Your suicide would tear a hole through the future, and nothing could ever fill the space where you used to be. You might think you’re alone, but you don’t have to walk more than a couple of miles from your house to see a building full of people who would be delighted to meet you. There are places like Suicide Hotlines, staffed by men and women who have spent their entire lives preparing to hear the sound of your voice, and greet every day hoping to learn your name.

You may be afraid to face the years ahead. You’re not the only one, and if you extinguish the light of your faith and wisdom, you consign others to darkness. You might see death by your own hand as the end of unbearable pain… but I ask you to think about Walter Koenig, facing a wall of cameras with quiet grace in the hours after finding his son’s body, and understand that it’s only the beginning of agony.

You might have decided your fellow men are rotten to the core, and you’re weary of their company. Listen to the music of Mozart, or look upon the work of Michelangelo, and consider the argument of those who profoundly disagree. Maybe part of your problem is that you’ve been listening to the wrong music, or looking at the wrong pictures. Dark waters are easy to drown in. The judgment of the human race will not lack witnesses for the defense, and they will make their case to you, if you give them a chance.

Now, take the last few steps back to your home, and set aside one sorrow or terror with every footfall, until your mind is clear. If you’re thinking of incinerating the remaining years of your life, surely you can spare a few minutes for quiet reflection, and hear this prayer from the living world:

Please don’t leave us. We need you.

It is a quiet prayer, spoken in a soft voice, but it’s never too late to listen.

Cross-posted at www.doczero.org.

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Amen.

sulla on February 26, 2010 at 9:24 PM

Dark waters are easy to drown in.

A worthy line.

Spirit of 1776 on February 26, 2010 at 9:25 PM

Outstanding piece, Doc. And that said, we’re all gonna die. Why not make the best of it?

Pablo on February 26, 2010 at 9:27 PM

Very well said.

But, some people are broken from birth. They fight demons in their minds and in their hearts. Some are monsters, some are hapless victims who can never see a sunrise or hear the sound of birds in the spring. They just can’t.

I feel for the family. They will punish themselves for crimes they did not commit like not trying enough or that one last time, or listening or being there…

Guilt is the one curse those who chose to kill themselves leave behind.

archer52 on February 26, 2010 at 9:27 PM

Well said, my friend.
My cousin committed suicide in ’05. He was 23. He thought it wouldn’t matter if he wasn’t around. He thought none of us would miss him. Our family has never been the same. I wish to this very day that he would have realized how much this one decision shook the foundation of our family. And how much we all miss him still. His parents will never get over it.

mjk on February 26, 2010 at 9:27 PM

some are hapless victims who can never see a sunrise or hear the sound of birds in the spring. They just can’t.

My cousin was this. He wasn’t capable of seeing life as a gift to be enjoyed. After our grandparents died, he became so depressed that life was more of a burden to him. To this day, we all wish we could have been “there” for him. I suppose we always will.
He was a victim. A victim of his own mind and own perceptions of his life and how we saw him.

I need to get off of this thread before I spend the rest of the night crying….

mjk on February 26, 2010 at 9:30 PM

Beautiful.

Ingenue on February 26, 2010 at 9:30 PM

Beautifully written, Doc. Depression is not a death sentence.

Slublog on February 26, 2010 at 9:31 PM

As someone who has lost both a brother and a brother-in-law to bi-polar suicide, I can tell you that this is right. The hole ripped into those you leave behind will never, ever leave. For most people, suicide is presented as a glancing blow that happens to “other people.” When your loved one takes their life, the blow is severe and impossible to permanently bury.

Long after you stand in that graveyard, the loss is still profound.

My brother has been gone three years now. I can now go a few hours at a time without thinking about him, which leads back to all the things that happened, which leads back to the questions, which leads… well, nowhere. Because there’s nowhere to go with it. Every get together, he should be there. Every “yea” in his kids’ lives is coupled with tears that he’s not here.

And that will never change.

UnderstandingisPower on February 26, 2010 at 9:31 PM

“Your suicide would tear a hole through the future, and nothing could ever fill the space where you used to be.”

My thoughts exactly every time I hear of a senseless murder, death by accident, or loss of our brave men and women in the military…

Powerful piece, Doc.

… Thanks!

Seven Percent Solution on February 26, 2010 at 9:32 PM

Magnificent, Doc.
Thank you.

Stephen M on February 26, 2010 at 9:34 PM

he became so depressed that life was more of a burden to him.

Yeah, that’s the real sad part.

I don’t want to be a jerk and make everyone hate me (get in line), but I do wonder about when life is a burden and we – the ones left with the burden of guilt – counsel against ending that burden, if our motives aren’t selfish. i.e. whether we are not saying ‘do not shift your burden unto me/us’, as living saves it from us. I don’t approve of suicide, but I do wonder about that.

I like the line about ripping holes in the future also. Though, not all lives progress human civilization.

Spirit of 1776 on February 26, 2010 at 9:35 PM

Very well said, I am glad you made that walk and are still here to gift us with your writings and advice on this subject. I certainly hope it reaches the people who need it most.

bluemarlin on February 26, 2010 at 9:35 PM

Awesome, just awesome DZ.

I will be saving this.

bazil9 on February 26, 2010 at 9:36 PM

Truly, God has given you a great gift as a writer, Doctor Zero. I wish I could have had this article printed and in my back pocket when my brother killed himself 21 years ago this August. The pain of surviving never goes away.

koz on February 26, 2010 at 9:37 PM

Thank you for this.

daveintexas on February 26, 2010 at 9:39 PM

Just. Beautiful.

atheling on February 26, 2010 at 9:39 PM

That was beautiful. You brought tears to my eyes.

May Andrew find the comfort, and happiness he sought in life, but never found. May his family find peace, and comfort, and happiness in the memories they have of Andrew. I hope all those who suffer from loss, find peace, and comfort. Prayers for Andrew, and his family, and friends.

capejasmine on February 26, 2010 at 9:40 PM

Though, not all lives progress human civilization.

Spirit of 1776 on February 26, 2010 at 9:35 PM

They’re not meant to. The value of human life is intrinsic.

atheling on February 26, 2010 at 9:41 PM

Well done, Doc.

pugwriter on February 26, 2010 at 9:43 PM

This may save a life tonight.

This was beautiful Doc.

Thank you for what you do.

katy on February 26, 2010 at 9:46 PM

To thine ownself be true….glad you figured that one out.
I wish Andrew Koenig had.

elclynn on February 26, 2010 at 9:46 PM

atheling on February 26, 2010 at 9:41 PM

Yeah, life’s a gift.

I’m just saying (again I don’t want to be an @ss) but not all future outcomes are good – a suicidal person who opts not to kill themselves but instead murders, not sure that’s an improvement. Though forgiveness may be easier to give then guilt is to get over. But I don’t mean to trample on the loveliness of this essay.

Spirit of 1776 on February 26, 2010 at 9:47 PM

I would type more, but the keys are all wet…

lovingmyUSA on February 26, 2010 at 9:51 PM

Radiantly beautiful.

David2.0 on February 26, 2010 at 9:51 PM

a suicidal person who opts not to kill themselves but instead murders, not sure that’s an improvement. Though forgiveness may be easier to give then guilt is to get over. But I don’t mean to trample on the loveliness of this essay.

Spirit of 1776 on February 26, 2010 at 9:47 PM

All the more reason to ponder Gandalf’s words:

Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.

atheling on February 26, 2010 at 9:52 PM

Doc, I am impressed not just with what you wrote and how you wrote it, but THAT you wrote it.

Often we are at a loss as to what to do or say in times like these. But we should always try.

Very well done.

Elizabetty on February 26, 2010 at 9:55 PM

Another literary home run from Doc Zero.

radioboyatl on February 26, 2010 at 9:56 PM

Awesome.

uncivilized on February 26, 2010 at 9:58 PM

Dark waters are easy to drown in.

It was already quoted…but it’s worthy of a bump. So true.

I didn’t go as far down that road as others, but I might have, if it hadn’t been for God, family, and friends. It was actively choosing – something finally stirred me – to turn my face into the sunlight and back into His Love that saved me. The only time I ever doubted my faith was when I was the most depressed. Despair is an awful thing.

Beautiful piece. Thank you.

JeepGirl on February 26, 2010 at 9:58 PM

Darn italics. “That” in “that road” is the only thing that should have been italicized!

JeepGirl on February 26, 2010 at 9:59 PM

There is no more noble thing that a person can do than
give a glimmer of hope to the sick and suffering .

sonnyspats1 on February 26, 2010 at 10:02 PM

Doc, so profound. Thank you. To all who have posted their personal stories of loss and regret. My heart goes out to all of you. I’m so sorry for your losses. Suicide is perhaps the most cruel of cruelties. I pray for you all to find peace. Just so very, very sad.

thare on February 26, 2010 at 10:03 PM

atheling on February 26, 2010 at 9:52 PM

Nice quote.

On the whole, I think personally that is why the concept of redemption is so enjoyable to me. It’s said that hope is the anchor of the soul, so it seems to me that when hope is lost there is nothing to hold the soul to it’s mortal partner. To me the question is how do you retain hope, or how do you give hope to someone with out it.

Spirit of 1776 on February 26, 2010 at 10:03 PM

Very nice piece. Should be reprinted and passed on for anyone interested in suicide prevention.

Internal pain can swamp all the positives of the external world. Whatever your demons are, suicide is a trick against you, so you’ll cut yourself off from better days. Diss the monsters by keeping the precious time that belongs to you.

Feedie on February 26, 2010 at 10:04 PM

As someone that has contemplated the ultimate price, I thank you for writing this, although it is too late for Andrew and his family. I understand the loneliness that goes into such a decision; I feel so impotent about such a senseless death and thank GOD every day for forgiving me for my sinful & selfish ways. I pray for my daughter; these things tend to me hereditary – no excuses, just facts.

May God forgive us all for out major & minor shortcomings – may GOD have mercy on young Andrew for his misjudgment. Please bless his family.

Ris4victory on February 26, 2010 at 10:05 PM

No offense, but this won’t help. And it might hurt. Depressed people aren’t logical. They aren’t open to new things. They aren’t interested in being cheered up. You can’t cheer them up. It’s chemicals in their brains. Unless you’ve taken drugs that affect those chemicals, you really can’t comprehend how much you are controlled by them.

misterpeasea on February 26, 2010 at 10:08 PM

misterpeasea on February 26, 2010 at 10:08 PM

You could not be more wrong. There are degrees of depression. But I do know one thing for sure, your post sure wouldn’t help anyone.

Doc’s post already helped everybody who posted here BEFORE YOU. Now maybe we can, in turn, help somebody in our lives.

Elizabetty on February 26, 2010 at 10:12 PM

You could not be more wrong.

Elizabetty on February 26, 2010 at 10:12 PM

Really. I only speak from experience. But, by all means, enlighten me.

misterpeasea on February 26, 2010 at 10:14 PM

So touching and spot on, Doc!

If you’re too tired/frustrated/sad and can’t help yourself, make the call; let someone help carry your burdens for you while you rest.

TN Mom on February 26, 2010 at 10:15 PM

Well said.

darii on February 26, 2010 at 10:20 PM

That was beautiful.

conservative pilgrim on February 26, 2010 at 10:20 PM

My sister in law took her own life and no on knows why. I think the brain is an organ, just like the liver, kidneys etc. and can fail just as well. When the brain fails, bad things happen. But, I also believe, our souls however belong to God and can’t be killed no matter what.

rollthedice on February 26, 2010 at 10:22 PM

No offense, but this won’t help. And it might hurt. Depressed people aren’t logical. They aren’t open to new things. They aren’t interested in being cheered up. You can’t cheer them up. It’s chemicals in their brains. Unless you’ve taken drugs that affect those chemicals, you really can’t comprehend how much you are controlled by them.

misterpeasea on February 26, 2010 at 10:08 PM

It’s a beautifully written expression, as also sentiments, Doc, but “misterpeasea” is right ^^.

Depression isn’t reachable by advising the affected to cheer up or consider the positive or take a walk or anything that would otherwise cheer someone up who wasn’t suffering depression.

Aside from “the chemical thing” that most suffering depression are beset by, sometimes life serves indivduals really, really, really tough experiences and it just takes the time it takes to work through the trauma involved, which includes depression (so it’s not always caused by “chemicals”).

But depression isn’t a state wherein those affected can be rallied out by good advice. It’s far more complex and intense than that.

Great article.

Lourdes on February 26, 2010 at 10:22 PM

You could not be more wrong.

Elizabetty on February 26, 2010 at 10:12 PM

Really. I only speak from experience. But, by all means, enlighten me.

misterpeasea on February 26, 2010 at 10:14 PM

I agree with you, misterpeasea, and was engaged writing as much before I read that comment by Elizabetty…

An aspect of depression (of some kinds of depression) is general crankiness or defensive criticism of others (striking out at people)…

And it’s why the colloquialism makes sense, that, “anger is depression turned outward” and/or vice-versa (“depression is anger turned inward”).

People who are discouraged and listless and such CAN be rallied out of such by great encouragement, kindly words, other people being friendly and warm toward them, etc., but in depression, that’s not the case. It can’t be reasoned with in the same sense that a non-depressed person would be (depression being used here in a profound sense such as would encourage anyone to commit suicide or bodily harms upon others, not in the sense of being “down” or discouraged or lacking self confidence and such).

Lourdes on February 26, 2010 at 10:27 PM

Or, if you’re determined to go, at least do it openly and for a pressing cause.

Start a hunger strike ~to the end ~in front of the Iranian Embassy, at least.

(With a T-shirt with Neda Soltan’s last expression on it.
Rage against the dying of anyone’s light
.)

Don’t waste any sacrifice, if a sacrifice is your adamantine path.

profitsbeard on February 26, 2010 at 10:30 PM

God bless the family~this is such a sad ending to a sad journey.
May he rest in peace now.

HornetSting on February 26, 2010 at 10:30 PM

But depression isn’t a state wherein those affected can be rallied out by good advice. It’s far more complex and intense than that.

The closest experience I’ve had wasn’t me, but an ex-girlfriend who went into a deep depression a few weeks after we broke up. I don’t think that was related to our relationship, but her parents called me and to make a long story short, after she started seeing a doctor and taking drugs she started vocalizing what I would consider suicidal thoughts – certainly thoughts of action that indicated the part of the brain that calculates cause and effect was not attributing any value to life. I agree about the advice part, again antedotal, but there wasn’t a thing that I said or could have said that [seemed to] make a difference, but I do think that my physical presence made a difference. Just being there.

Spirit of 1776 on February 26, 2010 at 10:33 PM

Thanks

Aquateen Hungerforce on February 26, 2010 at 10:34 PM

This is beautiful, doc.

I’ve been in those dark waters. Just climbed out of them a few weeks ago. And every day, I’m grateful that I didn’t drown

SnarkVader on February 26, 2010 at 10:34 PM

For those who think Doc’s piece is a magic pill for those suffering depression, you may want to look at it a bit differently.

It seems to me Doc is not naive enough to think his writings or anyone’s writings will sway the clinically depressed.

I see this as the beginning of a long road. It begins with a small step. If someone is suffering and they read this, they first know someone else has been in their shoes. Knowing they are not the only one to feel depression is something that may trigger a response. And a response, large or small is a start.

A tree starts as a seed. It’s a long process that unfolds but it started somewhere, with something small but powerful.

I think Doc knows of what he writes. Perhaps his road back started with a kind word or a beautiful writing.

If this touches one person, it was spot on.

katy on February 26, 2010 at 10:34 PM

I so understand the desire to give up and Doc, you’re right. The dark stories we tell ourselves seem so true and the sunlight so far away. Sometimes life is excruciatingly exhausting and some burdens can’t be shared by anyone: God must either give the strength to carry them or lift them Himself. And He must give us the courage to even imagine the light, to flirt w/ the concept of light’s existence.

May God be merciful to Andrew and wrap His arm’s around the Koening family and hold them in His love.

Thanks Doc Zero. This helps me continue to hope for the light.

Drusilla on February 26, 2010 at 10:38 PM

When you are at the end of your rope, look back and see what the other end is tied to.

mixplix on February 26, 2010 at 10:39 PM

Thanks, man. Hang in there folks, its worth it.

Clownballoon on February 26, 2010 at 10:44 PM

RIP Andrew

If this was someone higher up on the “star level”, his death will be another reason for Obamacare or something.

Having your best job as an actors is a secondary character in a 80′s sitcom and and always living in your dad shadow when he was a secondary character in a 60′s cult classic and seeing how the Olympics are destroying your adapted home sent him over the edge. If they knew what was the cause of depression was it would never happen. But it does.

tjexcite on February 26, 2010 at 10:50 PM

Lourdes on February 26, 2010 at 10:27 PM

What you two are missing is that it is not only depressed people who kill themselves.

Elizabetty on February 26, 2010 at 10:52 PM

Thank you. I hope this saves lives!!!

rpjones68 on February 26, 2010 at 10:53 PM

Absolutely beautiful, and powerful. Despair, like all things, will pass. If you let it pass, you will be there long after it is gone.

Sekhmet on February 26, 2010 at 10:53 PM

Well done DZ, well done.

toliver on February 26, 2010 at 10:57 PM

I bear the irrational affection for Chekov that came from years of watching Star Trek re-runs in my youth so although I read many reports of this tragedy leading up to the discovery, it wasn’t until now that I really felt it.

Inspired post, thank you.

I’m actually surprised I could be so insensitive because my brother tried to do himself in at one time and I was faced with the burden of exploiting our rather odd law against suicide to see him involuntarily incarcerated in a Medical facility until he chilled out.

Does it make sense that suicide is against the law? An extreme libertarian may argue that the law is silly but… without it I would be short a sibling.

Anyway… he’s better because we could buy the time and it’s been a decade of life we wouldn’t have had.

DANEgerus on February 26, 2010 at 10:57 PM

“Please don’t leave us. We need you.”

I am reminded of a story of a man half frozen, about to perish. He had resigned himself to death, when he heard the moan of a fellow sufferer up ahead. He shook off the approaching death that seized his limbs, enough to help the other man to safety. It was only then that he realized that in saving another, he had saved himself.

clark smith on February 26, 2010 at 11:03 PM

If a person has gotten to the point where they’d take their own lives I’m not sure anything could stop them. Some types of depression are caused by poor lifestyle choices but some stems from messed up brain chemistry. This beautiful essay of Doc’s could have a powerful impact on the former (and I hope it will) but I’m not so sure about the latter.

beachgirlusa on February 26, 2010 at 11:11 PM

beautifully written. thank you… I’ve lost several friends to suicide and I miss them still.

kringeesmom on February 26, 2010 at 11:13 PM

I’ve got an adult kid who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (which, for those of you who don’t know, is just a polite way of saying someone is manic/depressive).

I’m not trying to pooh-pooh, poor little me, but as background, we have thrown untold thousands…in fact over $100k…at this problem with all kinds of specialist…and they are pretty much useless. Put him on this drug, that drug, the other drug, they said.

Well, my dear, stong child (who I found out was flushing these drugs down the toilet when he was in middle school), finally told me, “Mom, we have the D.A.R.E. officers telling us that drugs are uncool. We have the school councellors telling us that they (the teachers)are our best friends and we can come to them if we have a problem.

Everyone says, ‘don’t rely on drugs, they are a crutch’ and you turn around and tell me, “take this pill. It will make you all better.”

Well, Mom, it doesn’t make it all better. And, I’m going to beat it on my own!”

There’s more, but suffice it to say, I’m proud of my kid.

It has been a very tough fight. This is a kid who is almost 21, who is one of the smartest, funniest, most thoughtful people, and with out a doubt, the kindest person I have ever known. He has taught me so, so very much, and I know his demons are hideous! At the same time, I see him go out every day and try to slay his dragons…and that makes me very, very proud of him!

Chewy the Lab on February 26, 2010 at 11:14 PM

Suicide is a permanent solution
to a temporary problem
.

christene on February 26, 2010 at 11:17 PM

Chewy the Lab on February 26, 2010 at 11:14 PM

That’s lovely tribute to your son. Bet the apple didn’t fall from the tree.

Spirit of 1776 on February 26, 2010 at 11:20 PM

christene on February 26, 2010 at 11:17 PM

Depends on one’s problem, although the legions of people who take their lives for rather trite reasons don’t help matters.

I’d like to add one thing to the discussion: avoid knee-jerk statements like the Black Plague. Some school counselor once told me to go to the ER if I ever had serious suicidal thoughts. If I’d followed his advice, the entire ER staff of my local hospitals would know me on a first-name basis.

Dark-Star on February 26, 2010 at 11:21 PM

My wife is bi-polar. Her ‘attempt’ was unsuccessful. Some help was needed and professionally rendered. Nothing her loving family had ever said or done had been able to lift the veil of darkness from her.

Professionals have provided all of us with many ‘extra’ years of her smile and fully open heart. And now her grandchildren are cradled and embraced by her tenderness. Yes, she still suffers. But the smile more oft is resolved than the hollowness of her former gaze.

Prayers have been answered in many forms. Yes, this is very possible. Encourage them to the walk of life.

Robert17 on February 26, 2010 at 11:23 PM

Up until my early thirties I used to think about suicide a lot. In high school people were predicting that wouldn’t make it until 18.
I thought it would be better if I was the weird girl-as I’ve mentioned before…I have Asperger’s Syndrome and have survived an eating disorder(sort of)-that went out almost in a blaze of glory. People would have to like me if I was dead-right?
Then one day it was pointed out to me that if I did the deed-I’d be gone and my suffering would be over-but the suffering of my family, friends, even friendly acquaintances would be just beginning. Suicide wouldn’t be a brave choice-instead it would be the ultimate selfish act. Besides-if I was gone-I would get to see the next chapter…and that next chapter might be awesome!
Prayers go out to the Koenig family.
-Barb

annoyinglittletwerp on February 26, 2010 at 11:25 PM

‘Would’-should have been wouldn’t.
oops.

annoyinglittletwerp on February 26, 2010 at 11:27 PM

My brother has been gone three years now. I can now go a few hours at a time without thinking about him, which leads back to all the things that happened, which leads back to the questions, which leads… well, nowhere. Because there’s nowhere to go with it. Every get together, he should be there. Every “yea” in his kids’ lives is coupled with tears that he’s not here.

And that will never change.

UnderstandingisPower on February 26, 2010 at 9:31 PM

It will get better. I know it’s hard to believe. I adored my accomplished and brilliant and loving older brother, who also ended his life.

I was crazy for the first two years. I was still in pretty bad shape at five years. By ten years, I felt like I originally thought I would have felt after five.

As the years went by after that, I felt joy again. Really. Real joy. It will happen.

I know that seems like a long time, and I know your suffering firsthand. How well I know it. But I’m years later in it, so please take hope in what I tell you.

It’s true that one will never be the same again. But that doesn’t mean that one will never feel joy again, or have a fulfilling life. It’s a somewhat tempered joy, to be sure, but in that also comes wisdom, and perspective, and – maybe – a deeper joy as a result.

It becomes . . . the way it is. What happened in one’s life. He was sick with depression, and he was lost. It is what happened.

Hard to articulate, but you are early on in it. I want to tell you there will be joy and life for you again. And he, of course, would want it to be that way for you.

Hang in there.

Alana on February 26, 2010 at 11:30 PM

Edit: I don’t mean “tempered” in the way I just said it. I don’t mean it is tempered at all.

You will find you can have full and real joy, just like you once did, before.

I mean, rather than tempered, it is perhaps bettered. As in, more appreciated.

Alana on February 26, 2010 at 11:33 PM

Just wondering how many commenters suffer from clinical depression or manic-depression?

Has Doctor Zero been diagnosed with clinical depression or manic-depression?

Eyas on February 26, 2010 at 11:33 PM

Suicide is a permanent solution
to a temporary problem.

christene on February 26, 2010

NO, it’s not.

Eyas on February 26, 2010 at 11:34 PM

If a person has gotten to the point where they’d take their own lives I’m not sure anything could stop them. Some types of depression are caused by poor lifestyle choices but some stems from messed up brain chemistry. This beautiful essay of Doc’s could have a powerful impact on the former (and I hope it will) but I’m not so sure about the latter.

beachgirlusa on February 26, 2010 at 11:11 PM

Thank you, beachgirl, for pointing out the glaringly obvious that most other commenters and Dr. Zero seem to have missed.

Eyas on February 26, 2010 at 11:37 PM

Beautiful, Doc. Thank you for sharing something so profound and so personal.

I’ve struggled with depression and am still climbing my way out. This passage from my favorite novel (The Man Who Was Thursday, by G.K. Chesterton) has helped me understand a little better the importance of what seems like senseless suffering:

“You!” he cried. “You never hated because you never lived. I know what you are all of you, from first to last–you are the people in power! You are the police–the great fat, smiling men in blue and buttons! You are the Law, and you have never been broken. …I curse you for being safe! You sit in your chairs of stone, and have never come down from them. You are the seven angels of heaven, and you have had no troubles. Oh, I could forgive you everything, you that rule all mankind, if I could feel for once that you had suffered for one hour a real agony such as I–”

Syme sprang to his feet, shaking from head to foot.

“I see everything,” he cried, “everything that there is. Why does each thing on the earth war against each other thing? Why does each small thing in the world have to fight against the world itself? Why does a fly have to fight the whole universe? Why does a dandelion have to fight the whole universe? … So that each thing that obeys law may have the glory and isolation of the anarchist. So that each man fighting for order may be as brave and good a man as the dynamiter. So that the real lie of Satan may be flung back in the face of this blasphemer, so that by tears and torture we may earn the right to say to this man, ‘You lie!’ No agonies can be too great to buy the right to say to this accuser, ‘We also have suffered.’”

Rosmerta on February 26, 2010 at 11:44 PM

after she started seeing a doctor and taking drugs she started vocalizing what I would consider suicidal thoughts

Depressed suicidal people may lack the energy to carry it out. A risk with antidepressants in the first few weeks is the energizing effect they can have before receptor changes occur that give the antidepressant effect.

Unquestionably, some people with bio-chemical conditions get relief from medicines. Some odd and intractable moods happen in absence of bad life experiences. The mass-medicating of kids is unsettling, however, as there is a good chance the culture, loony parents, or schools made them that way in the first place.

Feedie on February 26, 2010 at 11:44 PM

Excellent piece, by the way, Doctor Zero. You are a gifted thinker and writer and I’m blessed to be able to read your thoughts.

As for this business about depression and medication/treatment versus advice – I felt about it similar to the way Katie @10:34 expressed it.

I didn’t take Dr. Zero’s piece as something to stand in place of treatment/medication, but rather as an addition to it.

I firmly don’t believe you can talk a person out of serious depression. But that doesn’t mean that cognitive approaches aren’t valuable, as well. I didn’t read this as an either/or thing.

Very good food for thought from Dr. Zero, who has been there and knows of what he speaks.

Alana on February 26, 2010 at 11:47 PM

Please don’t leave us. We need you.”

There is never a road so long that cannot be successfully traveled. It takes a bit of reaching out when you feel so buried by cares and despair that you don’t think you can make it one more step.

I’ve felt overwhelmed recently during a sharp and sudden decline in my mom’s Alzheimer’s stage. She took a “trip” at 2 in the morning in 20 degree weather, walked down our road and thank God, knocked on a neighbor’s door when she saw a light on. I was awakened by a deputy sticking his head in my bedroom door saying “Ma’am, we’ve found your mother”.

It has only been in the last few days that that iron-clad clench on my stomach has relented, and I’ve been able to eat a few meals a day.

On the bright side, I have lost some weight.

Intrepid on February 26, 2010 at 11:49 PM

Just wondering how many commenters suffer from clinical depression or manic-depression?

Eyas

My brother, severely.

beachgirlusa on February 26, 2010 at 11:50 PM

The mass-medicating of kids is unsettling, however, as there is a good chance the culture, loony parents, or schools made them that way in the first place.

Feedie

Nail on the head, I couldn’t agree more.

beachgirlusa on February 26, 2010 at 11:52 PM

I’d say I’m a candidate for either clinical depression or anxiety disorder. My adrenalin gland is on overdrive, and for some reason I have an incredible amount of energy that I’ve not had before.

No time for classic “depression” here. Mom might escape!

Intrepid on February 26, 2010 at 11:54 PM

Just wondering how many commenters suffer from clinical depression or manic-depression?

Pretty easy to tell. The ones getting all weepy about how powerful and helpful the post is to depressed people? Don’t suffer. They think that because they’ve been sad, they understand depression.

misterpeasea on February 26, 2010 at 11:55 PM

I’ve got an adult kid who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (which, for those of you who don’t know, is just a polite way of saying someone is manic/depressive).

I’m not trying to pooh-pooh, poor little me, but as background, we have thrown untold thousands…in fact over $100k…at this problem with all kinds of specialists…and they are pretty much useless. Put him on this drug, that drug, the other drug, they said.

Well, my dear, stong child (who I found out was flushing these drugs down the toilet when he was in middle school), finally told me, “Mom, we have the D.A.R.E. officers telling us that drugs are uncool. We have the school councellors telling us that they (the teachers)are our best friends and we can come to them if we have a problem. But, bam! we do that and we’re in deep sh*t. Everyone says, ‘don’t rely on drugs, they are a crutch’ and you turn around and tell me, ‘take this pill. It will make you all better.’ Well, Mom, it doesn’t make it all better. And, I’m going to beat it on my own!”

There’s more, but suffice it to say, it’s been extremely tough, but I can’t tell you how proud I am of this kid.

It has been a very tough fight. He’s almost 21 now. He has grown into one of the smartest, funniest, most thoughtful people I know. And, he is and has always been, with out a doubt, the kindest person I have ever known. He has taught me so, so very much.

At the same time, I see him go out every day and try to slay his dragons…and that makes me very, very proud of him!
It is horrible, but I have steeled myself for so many years to prepare myself to lose him (not just because of the bipolar thing…there are other factors).

Trust me. That is horrific for a mother who loves her kid! But, it is also something I must face in order to maintain sanity. Please understand that it isn’t something I want to happen. It is an event that I am bracing myself for…again, in order to remain sane.
I love my little boy (who isn’t so little any more), and I can not even begin to tell you how I admire every fight he has waged in his life. He is a role model for me, and I am reminded every day, that he is a better person than I am. I’ve had it pretty dang easy all my life when I look at this person who struggles every single hour of every single day.

LOL: this has been very therapeutic for me, though I’m sure everyone will scroll past it. That’s cool. I would too.
But Doc Zero, just know that your heart felt post meant a whole bunch to this mom.
God bless you!

Chewy the Lab on February 26, 2010 at 11:56 PM

Intrepid

I’ll be keeping you and your mother in my prayers. God bless.

beachgirlusa on February 26, 2010 at 11:58 PM

Also, thank you to Misterpeasea and to Lourdes. Although I appreciate the sentiment behind Dr. Zero’s post, it may or may not be helpful to those who are experiencing circumstantial depression. For those who suffer from clinical depression, Dr. Zero’s piece could be a sharp shove at the precipice of a high cliff. A recognition of the difference at the outset of the piece would have helped.

Eyas on February 26, 2010 at 11:59 PM

misterpeasea on February 26, 2010 at 11:55 PM

LOL

Eyas on February 27, 2010 at 12:00 AM

There are millions of depressed people out there who, more than anything, simply need someone to extend some friendship. Instead, they generally get treated like dirt. This society encourages people to ostracize the depressed, and then blame the depressed person for being “selfish” when he or she finally can’t take it any more and kills themself.

Even Doctor Zero’s post says not a word about the moral and ethical obligations that the rest of you have to treat the depressed like actual human beings. Instead, he shoves the depressed person into an emergency room and then spend the rest of their lives seeking some sort of redemption for a crime they never committed.

Put out your hand, or your arms for a hug. That’s the first damn step. And it likely won’t be anywhere near the last step you’ll have to take yourself, if you actually give a damn about the depressed person.

The Lone Platypus on February 27, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Pretty easy to tell. The ones getting all weepy about how powerful and helpful the post is to depressed people? Don’t suffer. They think that because they’ve been sad, they understand depression.

misterpeasea

You’re a bit harsh and cynical, don’t you think? You don’t know what they feel or understand.

beachgirlusa on February 27, 2010 at 12:00 AM

Pretty easy to tell. The ones getting all weepy about how powerful and helpful the post is to depressed people? Don’t suffer. They think that because they’ve been sad, they understand depression.

*applause*

The Lone Platypus on February 27, 2010 at 12:01 AM

Chewy the Lab on February 26, 2010 at 11:14 PM

I’m usually hesitant to pass advice on the issue; but if your son has not been prescribed an MAOI, I would recommend at least trying it. The risks are overstated, especially for a physically fit young person, and it may work where more commonly prescribed meds have failed.

Eyas on February 27, 2010 at 12:03 AM

That really brought a tear to my eye. Zero, you are one gifted thinker. Thank you.

ParisParamus on February 27, 2010 at 12:05 AM

You’re a bit harsh and cynical, don’t you think? You don’t know what they feel or understand.

beachgirlusa on February 27, 2010 at 12:00 AM

It may be harsh, but if I read Misterpeasea right, the cynicism comes from long experience and is warranted.

Eyas on February 27, 2010 at 12:06 AM

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