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Is It Okay To Give Up?

Question:

Dear Sir,

Like so many people, I am the result of all that I have been through. My perception of life is colored by the hurt, disappointment and confusion of my journey. I have tried hard to influence, reduce and change these negative thoughts by replacing them with gratitude, understanding and love.

For years I have been on anti-depressant medication, at present, Escitalopram 20mg. Through lots of reading, talking and listening, I feel I have become a ‘better’ person. I am more patient, kinder, less judgmental, but unfortunately, also very lonely.

Perhaps through years of struggling with my depression I have shied away from others. While with others I had to keep up the ‘act’ of normality, but, when alone, with my dog, my angel, I can be myself. After a life time, of an uphill battle of maintaining what looks like, ‘a normal life’, I am exhausted. Simply exhausted. I am now nearly 53, no children, 2 ex husbands, don’t own a home anymore, have a casual job and, to be honest, no one close to me. However, I am healthy, independent and live in a wonderful environment and own a beautiful dog.

My problem is that, though I am on meds, and though I know there is so much to be grateful for, I am giving up. I now feel this deep apathy about what’s supposed to happen next. I am tired of it all. I would like to end my life peacefully as I feel I’ve done my time, seen and felt it all. Like, thank you very much, it’s been interesting to say the least, but I’m done.

I know I must not take my own life because it will hurt and upset the people who care and love me. I know how I feel when I hear of someone who has committed suicide and listen to their family. It’s torture for those left behind. But sometimes I don’t think others understand the torture of not feeling well inside yourself, day after day. I don’t think I am depressed though, because I do see how beautiful life can be and is. I know real love and am aware of all the good things in my life. It’s just that I no longer have the strength to keep up the pretense.

I guess it’s immature and childish, really, but I just don’t care anymore. I have this vision of myself, homeless, jobless, just another invisible grey haired person, with a dog, sitting in the shade in the park, reading a book from the public library………and that’s what I want to do……….

What do you think, have I lost it completely?

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Answer:

No, you have not “lost it completely,” in fact, you have not lost it at all. However, I agree that you feel lonely and depressed. Yes, still depressed even though you stated that you are not. No, it is NOt okay to give up.

It appears that your loneliness has its roots in a life time of avoidance of deep, personal and intimate relationships. While you do have friends, they do not take away the loneliness and they do not and cannot provide meaning in your life.

In a sense, you are experiencing an existential crisis by which you find yourself not knowing what your life is all about. You do not know if you contribute anything meaning full to others or if you really matter to others. Your life has great meaning but you have not, as yet, found it. Your quest is to find that meaning.

I don’t know but its possible that, while you are on medication, you are not in psychotherapy. I have the impression that you have never been in therapy. However, I have no way of knowing if this is accurate. Most certainly, medication without therapy is less effective than a combination of both.  

I am sure that you can be helped by a combination of group and individual psychotherapies. There, you can explore the meaning that your life has for you and you can learn from others how you are seen and experienced. This is important in helping you more happily navigating your way through the rest of your life.

In the mean time, there are many things you can do to help yourself. For example, its important to end you social isolation.

1. Even if you previously had therapy, its important for you to return and, as I mentioned above, it should include group therapy.

2. Most of us feel better when we are doing things to help others. There is lots of research supporting this. As a result, I believe that volunteer work could be helpful for you. It can end you dilemma of being alone and can give you the sense that you are doing things for people who, then, greatly appreciate you and your efforts. There is a huge need for volunteers in our public schools, libraries, hospitals and, etc.

3. If you have clearance from your medical doctor, an exercise program is enormously beneficial both for physical and mental health. Included in this there are the much less physically demanding activities such as, yoga and meditation.

In sum, there are so many things you can do, so many things you can contribute, so many things you can enjoy, so many things you have never thought about doing that it is a shame for you to believe that your life is over.

I want to strongly state that it is never too late in this life. No one is ever too old in this life. Never too late for what? Never too late to change, grow, live life, to the fullest.

No, do not give up.

Best of Luck to You.

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