content warning: discussion of whether everything is or isn’t hopeless bullshit; the word “suicide” comes up briefly; it’s all actually pretty hopeful; maybe that’s a bummer depending on your depressedness
I’ve had a great week or so, precipitated by a very good weekend, and I’m starting to feel a different way about one of my usual thought experiments. The experiment is, “if you could have never existed, would you?” (Note that this is very different from “do you want to die”, because dying once you’re alive really sucks, while never having existed isn’t good or bad, it’s just nothing.)
In fact, we can imagine a ladder of feelings:
4. I’m glad I’m alive.
3. I don’t want to die, but I’d rather never have existed.
2. I don’t want to die, but I don’t want that badly not to die, like if I got randomly hit by a meteor that’s ok.
1. I want to die but not badly enough to take action on it.
0. Actually suicidal-with-a-plan.
Luckily I’ve never been at level 0 and rarely am at 1 for more than a few seconds (and even then my mind still overpowers it), but I usually hover around level 3, and when I have dipped into level 2 I’ve started seeking more help (therapy and antidepressants, luckily not something destructive like bad drugs or embarrassing memes with fake beards). But lately I’ve been kinda testing the waters of level 4. Like, maybe being alive is… good, actually?
(Some of you probably reacted to that last sentence with “duh” and some of you are probably like “wtf no way dude”; I acknowledge and honor all these feelings.)
For me this started with a physical feeling. I can’t logic it out, but at one point I felt good enough to think “oh yeah life right now feels good, and what if I accept that as truth?” It had some of the noetic quality around it, like it just seemed inherently true. So… what if I just accept that truth, that life is ok?
I see two possible objections:
1. You gonna trust something just because it seemed true once?
Well, it seems less scary than some noetic knowledge, like “quit your job and become a monk” or something. “Life is good” seems like pretty harmless noetic knowledge.
2. It’s hard to sustain.
Yeah, since then I’ve had some moments where I’m again like “eh heck with it all, that was just nonsense.” How do you argue “well last week I thought it was good” with “but it feels so bad now”? “It feels bad now” tends to win. I guess, insisting “I want to feel good again” is the kind of clinging that won’t get me anywhere; so maybe in those cases, I just sit and watch the feelings, and then regroup after they’ve passed and see where I’m at then. At least for the past week or so, it ends up back at “yeah life is ok still.”
(I’ve got some thoughts too about how I’m managing mood more generally, but they’re too premature to post still.)
We’ll see, man. This stuff comes and goes and this may be another swing of the pendulum, but we can hope that there’s a positive effect in addition to the cyclical one.
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