Five years later, and nothing's gotten better

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Five years later, and nothing's gotten better

Post by Pagliacci on Sat Nov 07, 2015 2:32 am

Trigger warning: suicide

Five years ago this week, I commented on a newspaper column about suicide. Getting these words out was really significant to me, because it was the first time I'd really laid all my pain out there, even if I was limited by the character limit on comments. Here's what I wrote:

I've been thinking of suicide a lot lately. I can honestly say I see no reason to go on, besides finding some kind of blind faith that things will get better. I'm 27 and I've been in terrible pain as long as I can remember. I have no friends. None at all. I've never had any real friends. I've never had a girlfriend or anything remotely resembling one. The only message I keep getting from the world is "Go away. Just go. Nobody likes you. Nobody wants you around. Just leave us alone and let us keep having fun. Just go." Even the most self-described "compassionate" people I've ever met have ignored me and turned their back on me. Things with my family haven't been good for a very long time, and I had to put up with intense emotional abuse well into my twenties. While everyone else my age was having fun, spending time with their friends and having relationships, I had my mother screaming at me day and night about how much she hated me and wished I was dead. I even called a suicide hotline earlier this year, and the person who answered my call told me that the life I described simply wasn't worth living, and that it was probably too late for me to do much to change it. Let me repeat that: a suicide hotline told me that my life wasn't worth living and that it's too late to change it. I don't even have happy memories. The only good memories I have are of a time when I believed things would actually get better. But I don't believe that anymore.

Now that I look back, there's one thing I realize that cuts me really deep: nothing's gotten better in the last five years. The only thing close to an improvement is that I've managed to put distance between myself and my family. But everything else has either stayed the same, or actually gotten worse. Think of the painful things I've brought up here on the forum. When I wrote the above, I hadn't yet been told that I was only kept around at my job so everyone had someone to laugh at. I hadn't yet been told by someone from my job's Employee Assistance Program that I need to realize that socially I'm twenty years behind, and that I'll never catch up. I hadn't yet been put in hospital for wanting to kill myself. I hadn't yet tried to join social groups, only to find that every single time there was someone there who figured out that the easiest way to show off to the group about how funny and clever they were was to make fun of me, the awkward newcomer, and I hadn't seen just how much other people couldn't help but be impressed by the people who did that.

In the last five years, I've only become more aware of how screwed I am, of how awkward and weird and bad at talking to people I am. Most of all, I'm aware that people only want to be around happy people, and actively avoid someone like me who's damaged, and in pain all the time, and angry, and radiates all those things everywhere he goes. But it's really hard not to be angry and in pain when you've had the experiences I have, and the rejection I keep facing from the world because of my pain only makes that pain worse. It hurts that the people I see around me are happy not because they tried harder, but because they didn't have all the massive obstacles in their way that I did.


*I should note that someone else also wrote comments under the name "anon" in that newspaper column, saying that depressed people have nothing to complain about and labelling psychology as a pseudoscience. I didn't write those, and if I'd seen those comments before I wrote my own, I would have used a different name.

_________________
Heard joke once: Man goes to Doctor. Says he's depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says "Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up." Man bursts into tears. Says "But Doctor...I am Pagliacci!"

Good joke. Everybody laugh. Roll on snare drum. Curtains.
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Re: Five years later, and nothing's gotten better

Post by Enail on Sat Nov 07, 2015 2:08 pm

I'm sorry that you're in so much pain. I think it's deeply courageous that you've managed to distance yourself from your abusive family even without other connections to make it easier, and I hope you can take pride in what you've managed to do.

I'm not sure whether you're wanting to discuss things in more depth or if you're more just looking to express your feelings, so I'll put my thoughts in spoiler tag so you can ignore if it's not what you're looking for.
Spoiler:

Pagliacci wrote:
In the last five years, I've only become more aware of how screwed I am, of how awkward and weird and bad at talking to people I am. Most of all, I'm aware that people only want to be around happy people, and actively avoid someone like me who's damaged, and in pain all the time, and angry, and radiates all those things everywhere he goes. But it's really hard not to be angry and in pain when you've had the experiences I have, and the rejection I keep facing from the world because of my pain only makes that pain worse.

I think you're both right and wrong about people only wanting to be around happy people. Some people really do only want to be with people who express nothing but happiness (though some of those people, it's because they have a hard time being happy themselves, so they want the people around them to reinforce happiness). And I think you've got it very precisely when you say people don't want to be around someone who is radiating anger and pain all the time. And that's especially true if it's not someone who's already a friend.

But there's also a little bit of nuance that I think you're missing and that maybe can be to your benefit: some people are okay with someone who feels damaged and angry and in pain, if they can put it on the backburner enough to try to connect and enjoy things with them. I understand that that's incredibly hard when you're so overwhelmed with anger and pain, but if you can find a way to set it aside sometimes so it doesn't get in the way of a connection, you don't have to be a magically happy, pain-free person to be liked.

I suspect that might sound fake and the kind of annoying thing people say to be encouraging. Maybe think of it this way - you wish you had friends, right? What do you picture in that wish, what are friends like, what examples from other people or media do you envy, how would this hypothetical you-with-friends interact with those friends? I'd guess you'd want people who can listen and care about it when you're in pain and angry, but I'm also guessing there's other things, like being silly and laughing together or having conversations about subjects that interest you or doing fun things together? Those kinds of things are often how friendships get built and become strong enough to deal with tougher stuff like supporting each other in hard times and listening to each others' pain. So if you've got that feeling of wanting people you can have fun and be happy with, that's the part of you that people need to see first, so you can discover how to have the light side of friendship together before seeing if you can be the kind of friends who do the hard stuff for each other too. Does that make sense?

I know the social skills and not having other people mistreat you parts are difficult too, but maybe figuring out ways to bring forward the desire for happiness rather than the anger and pain is one piece of the puzzle, at least.

It hurts that the people I see around me are happy not because they tried harder, but because they didn't have all the massive obstacles in their way that I did.

It sucks that the world isn't fair and that things are so much harder for some people than others. But it might be a good idea to keep in mind that some of the people that look happy probably aren't, and some of the people who do manage to be happy will have dealt with massive obstacles too. It's possible to go through abuse and loneliness and suffering, and to find happiness in spite of it. I hope that you'll have that some day.

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Re: Five years later, and nothing's gotten better

Post by jcorozza on Sat Nov 07, 2015 10:33 pm

To be honest, being around someone who is relentlessly happy is about as exhausting as being around someone who is always angry, or always depressed. I think most people prefer to spend time with folks who experience a variety of emotions. Even more so if others are experiencing emotions similar to theirs at the same time. Have you ever tried some type of counseling support group for people with depression/going through a lot of pain?
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