First off thank you for taking the time to read this and, hopefully, reply to it. I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible as I know you have a lot of these.
I’m a twenty year old male who is struggling with depression. This is caused by a number of things. Primarily I have been single my entire life and being in a relationship is something that truly matters to me not because of the physical nature of a relationship but because of the emotional connection one receives from it. Another primary cause would be due to the fact that my family beliefs and my own personal beliefs are beginning to diverge. This is a double edged sword because it at once severs a strong connection I’ve had with them over the years and also causes me to believe that life is ultimately pointless as I have been taught that this particular belief is life’s sole purpose.
Secondarily I struggle to gain friendships. I seem to be far more serious and focused deeper issues than my “friends” who never invite me to anything although they hang out with each other frequently.
To further extenuate the problem I believe that the reason I have been so alone and lacking in relationships is because I am far too nice and giving. I am well aware that people tend to think more of themselves then they actually are, but I truly am a “good guy”. I hold open doors, I don’t swear, I almost always put others first and I always have an open ear for others problems. I am genuinely interested in the well being of others. It would seem as though this quality is not desirable among men in this society (America). My desire for a relationship is great but my desire to hold fast to my morals is also great (and there enters the beliefs problem with further confuses the issue).
While each individual problem might be bearable they have, combined, brought me to a very heavy low. I know that many people have lives far more difficult and dire than mine and this ironically only makes me feel worse as I am genuinely compassionate towards these people. I have been brought to what will hopefully be my lowest point. I have considered ending my life a few times but I know how much that would hurt my family. I do not consider myself to be in danger of actually doing it but I suppose that line is what separates the dead from the living.
I’ve many interests but primary among them is psychology. I would be most grateful if you could direct me towards studies, terminologies to look into, and self treatments that might alleviate the issue. I seem to be stuck in several double-binds and I am vaguely familiar that my framework of mind needs to shift somehow but I am unaware as to how it may be shifted. I do not ask you to give me a fish, but a net if you wouldn’t mind that I may catch my own and that my solutions may increase with my predicaments as time progresses.
Thank you much and my apologies for the length.
A. I would suggest that you read the works of two important authors: Abraham Maslow and M. Scott Peck. Abraham Maslow is important because he studied the characteristics of self-actualizing individuals. Those in the process of self-actualization are thought to be the mentally healthiest individuals. Reviewing those characteristics may provide guidance about how to live, think and view the world.
M. Scott Peck’s most famous work, The Road Less Traveled, is a classic and timeless book. Peck discusses common life problems. He addresses anxiety, depression and how one can change their attitude to improve their life. I would highly recommend it.
In your letter, you provided a rationale for your depression. For example, you and your parents no longer share the same thoughts, opinions and values. You see that as something negative but in reality, nothing is more important than becoming an independent thinker. Maslow observes that many non-self-actualizing individuals don’t know their own thoughts, opinions or values. “Too many people don’t make up their own minds but have their minds made up for them by salesmen, advertisers, parents, propagandists, TV, newspapers, and so on.” In other words, they are not thinking for themselves. The fact the you are beginning to develop your own identity is a sign of growth but that is inconsistent with suicidal ideation.
You are also concerned about not having developed quality friendships. It is very difficult to form true friendships. It is easy to have work friends, school friends, etc. Though those relationships appear to be very real, they are almost always based on convenience. When you are no longer going to school together or working together, they almost always end.
Don’t assume that something is wrong with you. It may be that as you grow and change your values and interests are also changing. That is perfectly normal. In addition, very few people maintain deep personal connections to childhood or adolescent friends. People grow and change and they move apart. That’s the norm.
You also stated another area of concern; never having had a serious relationship. For you that is a sign that something is wrong. An alternative and more realistic explanation may be that you have yet to find the right person to devote your love, time and energy to. That same logic could apply to friendships.
Whenever someone has suicidal thoughts, they should seek therapy. One can be down. Life can be hard. Though this can be endured and may even be necessary to do so, suicidal thoughts are not normal and should never be ignored. Don’t hesitate to see a professional. If you had a rash on your skin, you could read many books on dermatology, take classes at a university and study case histories. I have no doubt you could learn to treat your skin condition but in essence you have done all of the work necessary to become a dermatologist. It would have been much easier to have gone to a specialist who has already done the many years of study. Learning to fish is a relatively easy thing. Learning to diagnose and treat depression is not. Please do not ignore your suicidal thoughts and feelings. They should be brought to the attention of a qualified professional.
I have limited information about your life and history. Thus, my response is limited but a therapist could take the time to learn many details about your life and provide a more thorough analysis. Therapy could also help you to move past this difficult period in your life. I wish you the best luck. Please take care.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Dec 2011
Randle, K. (2011). Depressed About Life Direction. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 1, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/12/16/depressed-about-life-direction/