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I feel like I have no value or purpose in the world really. I "work", but it serves no real meaningful purpose in the world, could be done by literally anyone, and is poorly paid. The only people who do the work I do are other people like me who are too dumb to make any progress in life. I really should've never been born. I'm just a burden on my family and society. I really am a complete screw up and an incredibly stupid, worthless person. I have a college degree, on paper. But really it's just that I must've gone to a shitty school where they actually mistook me for someone who has value to the world and isn't a complete moron. I wouldn't kill myself, but I just don't get why stupid people like me are even born. I guess idiotic screw ups like me have some sort of purpose to the world, but I just am having a very hard time seeing it. Sometimes, I have wondered if perhaps I'm just here as an example for other people of what failure looks like, so other people who actually have value to the world can avoid becoming screw ups like me. Or perhaps, there's something else that I'm just not seeing. 

Edited by Steve223
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Steve223 -

I am very, very, very familiar with the state of mind you are experiencing. There are two factors at work: 1) The symptom of Major Depressive Disorder that causes the sufferer to generate and believe negative things about himself, and 2) Unanswerable questions about the nature of life, purpose, and being - in short, existentialist angst. The second factor is devilishly difficult to manage for a person who thinks a lot about it (I think about it all. the. fricking. time) but more importantly, it tends to reinforce the first factor.

Fortunately, the first factor can be managed with the correct medication and, I have found, with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (your mileage may vary). The key is to train your well mind to become alert to what I call "red words". Let's look at your post and see what your red words are:

I feel like I have no value or purpose in the world really. I "work", but it serves no real meaningful purpose in the world, could be done by literally anyone, and is poorly paid. The only people who do the work I do are other people like me who are too dumb to make any progress in life. I really should've never been born. I'm just a burden on my family and society. I really am a complete screw up and an incredibly stupid, worthless person. I have a college degree, on paper. But really it's just that I must've gone to a shitty school where they actually mistook me for someone who has value to the world and isn't a complete moron. I wouldn't kill myself, but I just don't get why stupid people like me are even born. I guess idiotic screw ups like me have some sort of purpose to the world, but I just am having a very hard time seeing it. Sometimes, I have wondered if perhaps I'm just here as an example for other people of what failure looks like, so other people who actually have value to the world can avoid becoming screw ups like me. Or perhaps, there's something else that I'm just not seeing. 

That's a lot of red. A lotta lot of red. You don't deserve that kind of mental abuse, and no, you don't, because nobody deserves that level of mental abuse. So: Q: Why are you saying these terrible things to yourself? A: Because you're deep in the grip of Depression and very symptomatic. But the thoughts seem real, don't they? True, believable, logical? Of course they do - they're being generated by your own brain, so they seem like your own genuine thought processes that you would normally rely upon... except they're not. Those red words are the result of misfires between the neurons in your brain, the failure of neurotransmitters to successfully pass information from one point to another. The scrambled information that results is what is coming across to you as self-criticism. (This is a simplified analogy, of course, since the science behind it is still poorly understood).

The good news is that you can teach yourself to filter out the scrambled bits from the genuine thoughts. When I first realized it could do it, it made a colossal difference. I decided that there was no way I could be as bad as I thought I was, and besides, there was evidence against it; therefore that negative voice saying the bad things was lying. The next time I heard "You're an idiot" I stopped right then and there, before I could let the thought sink in, and said, "You're lying," and mentally threw those words in the garbage. Each time a critical thought came - stupid, ugly, useless - I called the voice a liar and threw the words away. Eventually, I didn't hear them anymore. It's not that they never came, it's just that my filter became so efficient at diverting them into the trash that I just ignore them now.

Let's look again at yours.

You have a college degree. On paper, you say? Well, where else would it be? I don't think people use a lot of sheepskin anymore. The point is, you were found suitably promising for acceptance into a college, and persevered through a course of study requiring many hours, with enough success to be recognized with a degree in your subject. So, college graduate, that means all the times your brain said you stupid, dumb, moron, and idiotic were invalid - they don't jive with the evidence. They're lies.

You succeeded in the difficult task of obtaining a college degree, so that in itself casts serious doubt on the validity of screw up and failure, but you haven't told us what it is you're basing those claims on. It doesn't matter. Everybody screws something up at some point, and everybody fails at some point - that's how we grow. Screw-ups and failures are not a character flaw, they're a process of improvement. Oh, but wait - you're employed. You were found worthy to be hired and your work is successful enough that you hold that job in spite of your condition! Since you obviously don't screw up and fail at everything, and succeed at difficult and important things, neither of those words can logically apply to you. They're lies.

This brings us to statements that are based on value as determined by other people: worthless and burden. These are lies from your own head right on their face, because you would have to be a telepath to know whether other people think those things or not. Whether you are of worth to someone else is for them to decide, and feel, not you. You can only accept it, and the degree to which you may be of worth to any given person, or humanity at large, is an imponderable because none of us can ever know the full extent of the effects of our actions. Like the ripple by the shore that becomes a great wave at sea, your small kind deed might change a mood, then a mind, then an action elsewhere that saves a life. And you'll never know your worth. Similarly, you can't assume that you are a burden on people - unless they're having to roll you over on an hourly basis, wipe your behind and change your bedpan because you're unable, get some perspective. People have a tendency to make it clear when someone else is being an unnecessary burden. If you have to guess, you're probably not. Two more words that your brain says that it can't back up. Two more lies.

Now. when you say you have no value or purpose in the world and you should never have been born, I have to stop you there. Those statements are irrational. You cannot possibly possess information to substantiate either of those statements in any way - in 50,000 years of human experience, no one has divined the answer to The Meaning Of Life. I suspect that both of these statements on your part are offshoots of the question "Why must I suffer?" and why not? That's just as ancient a question as "Why am I here?" I'm terribly sorry, but there's no Registry where you can go and look up what your personal purpose is meant to be in life (I've checked). It is logical, however, to say that you have a purpose in being here, because it would be illogical for you to have appeared for no purpose. Likewise, you cannot say you should not have been born, because you don't know the reason for your material existence. You were born. You exist. You think, therefore you Are. The voice in your head that tells you you have no value or purpose in the world and should never have been born is therefore talking out its ass. It's all lies.

To recap: stupid, dumb, moron, idiotic, screw upfailureworthless, burdenno value or purpose in the world, should never have been born. Looks like a clean sweep.

Though you may notice that I marked one word in bold: The word should. That word is a double-red word. Any time you think it, you must challenge it. Should? Says who? Where is it written that you have to be that certain way? What happens if you're not, or you don't? Should points to an external judgment, an expectation, that is almost certainly not to be taken at face value. Should can help you learn to stop red words before they get inside your consciousness and sink in. Never let a should slip by.

You're nothing like what you describe, Steve. I don't have to know you to know that much. I can tell by the lies your depression tells you. You don't have to live this way. If you're not seeing a therapist or a psychiatrist, I urge you to consult with one as soon as you can, and in the meantime, try to learn to stop the self-harming lies from worming their way in. You can do it.

I wish you well.

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Steve223, 

I'm sorry to say I know exactly what you're talking about, and it's a terrible place to be. I'm trying like hell to get out of a bad depressive episode myself, and have all those same thoughts. I am so glad Cerberus is here to share his experience and knowledge. I hope you can soon find some treatment that will bring you out of the abyss.

Cerberus, 

Thank you for your excellent post. It demonstrates the true purpose of the boards in that a reply written in response to another member is so applicable to my current situation, and so helpful to me. 

 

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