I am sad and lonely and want to die.
Well, at least, I wanted to die until I posted a TikTok that is sure to go viral by lunchtime. Those little hits of Social Media induced dopamine have been my lifeline since defecting from NYC and leaving behind my network of friends, co-workers and some of the best wine bars on the planet. Knowing that things like bars and comedy clubs were closed due to the less sexy “C” word made it a little easier to burrow myself away in this Midwest, converted attic apartment and pump out content. But now that things are opening up, all I want to do is shut down.
I feel disconnected from my former life and all the friends I had therein.
My core support system now consists of a cat, a Danny Devito cut-out and a hot ass Dad. Not mine. Don’t be a creep. I exclusively date OTHER PEOPLE’S Dads. Anyway, the point is, I feel like shiiiiiiiiit and want to alternate between curling up into the fetal position and screaming at the top of my lungs while hurling bricks through the windows of abandoned strip mall law firms.
Now, just because we WANT to do something, doesn’t mean we HAVE to do that thing. One of the benefits of not killing oneself is that we gain perspective with each surviving year. I am comfortably familiar with feeling hopeless, helpless, lonely, non-existent and unloved. In my 39 years (ewww… gross old bitch) of living through a few unsuccessful suicide attempts, I have learned that the “bad” feelings tend to dissipate if we question the validity of the negative thoughts and actively behave in ways that contradict the “negative” thoughts.
Quick example: Last night, I was literally sobbing and repeating the words: “Nobody cares. My friends are only my friends when I am successful and producing content. Unless I can contribute to their success and clout, none of my old friends actually want anything to do with me.”
Fun, right?? Okay, I know I’m not alone with this “negative thought” loop so think of your personal shitty soundtrack and write out the trash you talk to yourself. I’ll wait.
Got it? Great. Now, write out what would be the OPPOSITE thought of the mean stuff you say to yourself. For example, the opposite of mine would be: “People care. My friends are my friends regardless of what I produce or what I can do for them.”
The next step is to behave in ways that reflect the new, opposite and “positive” thoughts. In my specific case, following suit with the “negative” thought patterns leads to withdrawal, self-isolation and straight up ignoring or discounting any attempted outreach from friends (i.e. not returning calls, texts, emails, etc.) and those behaviors create a world in which all the things I tearfully muttered last night become my reality. Conversely, if I behave in a way that falls in line with the new, opposite and “positive” thoughts, I am more likely to reach out to my friends which will lead to a reality in which I am surrounded by and in communication with the supportive people I love.
I fully understand that if you are in the throes of an intense depressive and/or manic state, changing thought and behavior patterns can be more difficult than making a little list and you should definitely call a professional and work CBT in conjecture with medication.
I am also aware that lots of people think it’s impossible to change a thought pattern (which may be the exact reason it has been difficult for them…??). So please know that I am not preaching some toxic positivity nonsense. Quite the opposite actually. It’s okay to not be okay all the time. That’s part of being human. Plus, if we were happy and “up” all the time, how would we be able to notice things like elation, unbridled joy and the irreplaceably magical feeling of falling in love.
Feel sad. Feel hopeless. But take a pity party break to write down and interrogate the thoughts behind those feelings, then figure out what their opposite thoughts would be and run a little experiment on your brain by behaving in a way that confirms and reflects the new, opposite and “positive” thoughts.
The dumber you think this sounds, the more you should probably try it.
Spoiler alert: it kinda works. I woke up to 3 texts and immediately panicked about having to respond!! Yay!! Just like the before times!!
Hopefully this was helpful or at least distracted you from your gnawing thoughts for a few minutes. It’s gonna be fine. And you’re already okay, it’s just a matter of realization.
You are loved and supported and safe. Reach out to the people in your life. Even if it's been a while since you talked them. Be honest with yourself and others about how you feel. Secrets can fester into shame and self-loathing which, I think we can all agree are shitty things to have banging around in our brains. Whether or not you feel it, you are already okay, it’s just a matter of realization.
Alright, I gotta check in with the Tok for my hourly fix…
Go show yourself some love and kindness xoxo