Riddle me this . . .

Has a medical, or any, distinction been made between those who desire to kill themselves, and those who simply have no desire to live? I’ve had thoughts of active suicide only a few times in my life, and these are dismissed very easily. But…how do I describe it? I have no active desire/will/drive to live. I’ve done many things, completed commitments (none of which I really cared for). But…none of this really matters to me. I have no use for my own life. I can find meaning looking backwards at my past, but there’s no purpose looking forward. There is no ‘life scenario’ I want for myself; I can imagine nothing that might make me feel happy or fulfilled. I’m drifting through life, because there is no ‘life’ I truly desire. I’m 33 and have spent my life just ‘choosing’ since you have to choose something, right? But I’m sick of living a life I don’t want. I don’t want to kill myself, so how do I generate a desire to live?

Sit somewhere where you will not be disturbed.

Close your eyes and allow your mind to drift.

Find the moment when you lost the joy of being you.

Let me know when you find that moment.

–Dan Hartman, MD

7 comments to Riddle me this . . .

  • Dawn

    What if you don’t know when that point was? What if you don’t remember a time when you enjoyed life? What if you’ve felt this way your whole life, including early on in childhood? I don’t remember a life without depression and my suicidal thoughts started very young as well.
    No treatment has ever helped, so what’s a girl to do?

  • Katrina

    Boy do undertand. I have no purpose in my like too. I have tried to kill myself many times and I don’t want to kill myself now. I just have no desire to live. Life is very overwhelming for me. I read your response and tried what you recommended. I have found that place. What do you do now?

  • this post has haunted me, dr dan. yesterday, the ny times ran a video about 5 or 6 people w/schizophrenia. several of them did well in life b/c of ART, painting in particular. i myself am a poet and encourage people to channel their misery – or their happiness – into literature of some form. perhaps some of your readers might try expressing themselves – no matter what their feelings – through the sublime art of poetry. i’ve been attending free poetry workshops for 15 years and run my own in a willow grove coffeeshop.

  • Sarah

    This hit me really hard. I could never sort my thoughts correctly to understand what it meant to be suicidal, but not want to actually die. This really hit the nail on the head. This is exactly how I feel. I don’t want to die, I just have no will to live.

  • Susan

    Dr. Dan, I think your response to the person who wrote about lacking a will to live was trite and dismissive. I can relate to what he/she wrote and I can tell you that after years of severe depression and losing everything (the ability to work, my home, most of my close relationships), I can’t just “sit quietly, let my thoughts drift back, blah blah.” If you can’t say something helpful, say nothing at all.

  • doctordan

    Susan–What do you want . . . “the” answer to dealing with chronic suicidality??? A list of 10 things to do to keep yourself from hurting yourself? A list of places to go and people to see to keep yourself safe . . . You already know that. If you’ve been in therapy for 10 minutes you have been feed that stuff. Useful . . . but a diversion.

    We have all been hurt and we have all suffered terribly at times. Part of the “human condition”. When all of that hurt and suffering brings us to the point where the thought of ending it all is more common than the thought of going forward, those practical interventions are important. But they are a diversion. Inside all of us is all that we have ever been. Which means that inside us is that (sometimes very small) memory of being whole and happy. The taste of that is what keeps us pining for it. It is important to allow yourself to get in touch with it and realize that it is STILL a part of you, even when it seems elusive at times.

    Never said it was easy. Just believe that it is true. Even if you don’t or can’t see it and feel it right now. At some point . . . the time will be right, and you will find that small spot within you.

  • doctordan

    Katrina–just keep going back to visit that place. What you will find it that it is easier to find and will likely last a little longer every time you visit. Everyone needs a refuge from the storm. Perhaps you have found one.