I understand that you are ready to give up on life but please reconsider. I have witnessed many people who have wanted to end their lives but who were able to recover from their chronic depression. There is hope for you too.
I would strongly encourage you to read the New York Times article about individuals who attempted suicide and survived. The individuals featured in the article, like you, were at the point of no hope. They too believed that they could not continue living when they felt so much grief. They never thought that their lives would improve which lead them to attempt suicide. What is so remarkable about their stories is that they were thankful that they lived. Logically, you’d think that they’d be upset that they survived since their intention was to die. That was not the case. In addition, because they survived, many of them felt obligated to try to stop others from considering suicide.
Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust, shared a similar view of suicide. Like the individuals featured in the New York Times article, Dr. Frankl’s patients repeatedly told him how happy they were that they did not successfully end their lives. This seems to be a pattern.
Dr. Frankl also noticed that depressed people held the opinion that their lives were not going to improve. In fact, they were certain of it. This view did not square with logic. His work with suicide survivors showed that very often it turned out that there was a solution to the patient’s problem. There was not always an immediate solution but eventually their problems were solved. Their lives did improve. “Who can guarantee that in your case it will not happen one day, sooner or later?,” he’d often ask his patients. I hope you will consider this very question because it is a good one. Yes, things are not going well for you at this time but how can you be certain that in the future your life will not improve? The answer is you cannot know. “You have to survive in order to see that day dawn.”
You are assuming the worst outcome but you should also consider the fact that you may not be thinking clearly. Your judgment may be clouded by your depression. In fact, you share the same opinion that many of Dr. Frankl’s patients did. They were certain that their life would always be terrible but that was not true. Their judgment was incorrect. They were wrong. Why were they wrong? They were wrong because they were suffering from depression. They were close to losing their lives due to an error in judgment. Luckily, they averted tragedy.
Dr. Frankl also noticed, that among the individuals who suffered from depression, they lacked meaning and purpose in their lives. In other words, they had nothing to live for. Frederick Nietzsche, a 19th century German philosopher, may have also had a similar view when he said “he who has a why to live for can bear with any how.”
Three ways Dr. Frankl believes that an individual can create meaning and purpose in their life include: (1) helping others, (2) finding love (being loved or loving someone else) and (3) turning personal tragedy into triumph. The latter may be the most plausible in your situation because you’ve been suffering for many years. Maybe your suffering can be turned into something positive.
The aforementioned ways to improve your life should be attempted under the supervision of a mental health professional. I understand that you’ve been to many therapists and have also tried many different medications but I don’t think you should give up. Don’t stop trying until this problem is solved. Remission is possible but it’s going to require that you continue the effort to receive help. I know it is a difficult thing but this is your life and no one else can do it for you. There is a solution to your depression but it has yet to be uncovered.
Please consider returning to a therapist. The right therapist can make all the difference. I am not suggesting that therapy is the one and only way to recover from depression but if you were able to find a competent and seasoned therapist it could change your life dramatically. I hope you realize that there is hope for you.
If you are considering suicide then I strongly advise you to go to an emergency room immediately or to call 911. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. If you need help, please dial: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Call that number if you are feeling upset or overwhelmed.
Thank you for your question. Please write back if you have any further questions. I wish you the best of luck.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on January 5, 2010.