Dear Captain Awkward,
I realize that the following is a little out of your purview, and wanted to thank you beforehand for looking at it, even if you don’t respond.
I find it very difficult to care about the course that my life takes. I definitely feel emotions like a normal person (I laughed a lot when reading through your blog), but I have trouble feeling personally connected or concerned about people, myself included, though I am altruistic to people in general regardless of whether I know them or not. I also consider life and death to be equally value-neutral–as in, dying isn’t a horrible tragedy to me, though having your choice of whether to live or die taken away against your will is certainly very sad–and the world to be more bad than good. Because of this, I have always considered it a possibility that I might kill myself if my life gets too unpleasant, painful, unlivable, or just too boring.
This isn’t a problem for me, since I don’t particularly care if I live or die. What is a problem for me is the idea that doing so would make other people’s lives miserable. I have seen families after a suicide and it is not pretty; I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. However, forcing myself to continue to live for the sake of others after I’ve already decided otherwise sounds distinctly unappealing; it’s just a milder form of having my choice taken from me.
What do you think is the right course of action? Should I just distance myself from them preemptively and hope that it’s enough?
Not Enough (or Too Much) Empathy
Dear Not Enough Or Too Much Empathy:
This is pretty far above my pay grade, but I’ll attempt it.
I have to come down strongly on the side of “don’t kill yourself.” Don’t kill yourself. Ever.
There’s a new season of Sherlock coming!
People all over the world have taken to the streets to try to change the world, and maybe they will.
In a couple of months winter will be over and the world will come into bloom again.
I will try to write more funny posts that make you laugh!
To be bored is a privilege. It means you have too many mostly similar choices before you and can’t settle on exactly the right one – you get stuck in the existential cereal aisle for a couple of hours. It means that you have a temporary reprieve from the eternal struggle for survival, and your brain doesn’t know quite what to do with it. It’s a side effect of life in a wealthy Western country. If you want to feel less bored, can I suggest a) making stuff (art, music, science, really great food) and/or b) helping other people? Even if you’re not “inspired” or whatever? Maybe do the thing and trust that the feelings will come from the doing?
I don’t know what to tell you about your friends. I’m sure you’d find a way to explain it all to them in a letter, but maybe you should try “I sometimes think about killing myself and what stops me is wondering how it will affect you?” as a conversation opener while everyone’s still alive. It might mean that your friends do annoying stuff like call for professional help and check you in somewhere and then you can be bored somewhere new for a while. Maybe telling them (and succumbing to the treatment they send you to) is an act you can do to get them used to the idea and make them feel like they are helping. They can say “We tried everything to save her.”
Maybe the help they get you will actually help. You know that wanting to die because you feel bored and disconnected from everything is a well-defined treatable condition, right? You can call yourself a “potential sociopath” (in the subject line of your email)(and maybe you are), but what if you’re just depressed? Wouldn’t that be embarrassing, like, you could have taken medication and talked your feelings over with someone, but instead you killed yourself because you thought you had some unique and special condition?
I’ve seen people die. I’ve seen pets die. You just blink out, like Christmas lights unplugged from the wall. It’s so fucking final.
I talked to my grandfather on the phone one last time a few days before he died at 96. He couldn’t say much, but he said my name with love and he told me that life is beautiful. He believed in an afterlife. He believed he’d be reunited with my grandmother, who he missed. And he still wanted to live another day, another minute. One more breath.
How can you want to die when you haven’t been to all the countries yet? There are stories in the middle of unfolding, don’t you want to know how they end?