From time to time, I help out an 86 year old widow. Let’s call her KAM.
KAM has the annoying trait of destroying happiness. She has buyer’s remorse to the point I have stopped buying anything for her or with her. She keeps the heat in her apartment set high to an uncomfortable degree. She can hear me perfectly well, as well as friends calling from Japan. However, she keeps the sound off on her television – even during her favorite shows. I wonder if her unconscious refusal to be happy is cultural – something left over from the old days.
Some years ago, I had a very close friend we will call SB. SB had the same frustrating trait as KAM. She would mess up her life even when things were going good. If she was about to experience joy, she would stop abruptly. How depressing, if you will forgive the pun.
Then there is this guy we will call . . . GUY. He has been depressed as long as I have known him. He has something I call Self Destruct Syndrome. At his very highest points of success, he would turn everything south. For example, he wanted to be an actor, and was lucky enough to land a bit part on ALL IN THE FAMILY. It was the last episode of the season, and he was invited to the “wrap party.” He could have talked to the biggest producer in Hollywood at the time – Norman Lear – but he abruptly left the party. He didn’t know why – he just left. The next thing I knew, he even packed up and left Hollywood. Some years later, he was in an extremely successful play. He had fans who adored him, and he turned his back on them. Watching him destroy all that is good in his life is disgusting. The lyrics of NOWHERE MAN by the Beatles fit him perfectly.
He’s a real Nowhere Man
Sitting in his Nowhere Land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody
Doesn’t have a point of view
Knows not where he’s going to
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?
Nowhere Man, please listen
You don’t know what you’re missing
Nowhere Man, the world is at your command
He’s as blind as he can be
Just sees what he wants to see
Nowhere Man, can you see me at all?
In my humble opinion, these people are never happy unless they are miserable. I looked it up in a psychological guide book titled DSM IV. Under the definition of Depression, it lists the following symptoms, which fit KAM, SB, and GUY:
* Intense sadness or despair.. The person feels helpless, hopeless, and worthless.
* No interest in activities once enjoyed.
* Loss of energy, fatigue.
* Sleep difficulties.. Either sleeping too much or not at all.
* Changes in appetite.. Either a noticeable increase in appetite or a substantial weight loss unrelated to dieting.
* Difficulty concentrating.
* . . . thoughts of death or suicide.
A good friend of mine has sent me a fascinating article – “Seven Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was Battling Depression” by Andrea Wachter. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
I hope her thoughts will help Nowhere Man and many others like him. Click the link for the complete article. Here are the main ideas.
1. Don’t believe everything you think.
2. Do the opposite of what the “voice of depression” suggests.
3. Don’t open virus-infested links.
4. Upgrade your mantras.
5. You are not alone.
6. Something needs to die, but not you!
7. One chapter is not the whole book.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.