There is this weird, well, no, not-so-weird thing with depressed bloggers. Seriously depressed bloggers, I mean: not all those narcissistic people who are focused just a little too much on analyzing every detail of their own superficial mood swings.
With seriously depressed bloggers, when as a reader you check their blog regularly, you often open the page with a little worry and fear: will they be still around? And if there’s no new post, you may start worrying even more. Would that last post actually have been a last post? [see footnote below]
I’m sorry if recently, for some, I caused that kind of worry myself. Since my lengthy post about Freud’s cigar addiction, last month, I’ve been far too depressed, suicidal even, to produce anything of substance. Yes, I have been thinking about writing a real last post, saying goodbye to you all.
But you can consider this post today as a sign that I keep trying to go on. Just plodding on with my muddy life, day after day. I cannot guarantee anyone anything, but I can tell you that at least I’ve managed to make some kind of comeback a few times before.
If every time I emerged from a pool of deep depression this experience would have made me a little wiser, I would have been a truly great philosopher by now. But instead, such periods leave me just covered in mud…
Allie Brosh, author of the web-comic-and-blog Hyperbole and a Half, published a post about depression in October 2011. In her own brilliant style. Very clear, both in her text and her drawings. She began with noting that she had no legitimate reason for being depressed. Read it here: Adventures in Depression.
And then she disappeared from the radar. Not just for a few weeks: for a year and half. While she could do nothing but trying to survive depression, her readers were worrying.
Well, since yesterday she’s back. With a sign of life, a follow-up that is as brilliant as before. This new post, Depression Part Two, in the same text+drawings format, is a very precise report of her battle with depression.
If you are battling depression yourself, then Allie offers acute observations here that you may recognize very well. And if as a not-depressed person you are trying to understand what depression is, then her presentation may help you to understand it a little better.
I’ve always found it very difficult myself to give outsiders a clear understanding of the essence of depression. Sometimes I think perhaps this will always be an impossible task, by definition. But Allie comes close, in a very clear and intelligent way.
Maybe it’s the crisp style of her drawings that helps her to almost achieve the impossible. Ignoring all decency and copyrights, I brutally maimed one of her drawings to give you an impression, something that I hope will work as a teaser, seducing you like a movie trailer is supposed to do:
• footnote: As a tragic “last blog post” example, I was thinking of TV producer and writer Joe Bodolai. He was depressed, and on December 23, 2011 he published a long post in his Say It Ain’t So, Joe! blog.
It turned out to be a very detailed final balance of his life, of achievements and failures, weighing positive and negative things. And it seriously worried some of his readers. Three days later, on the 26th, he killed himself.
Joe Bodolai’s last post is still online: If this were your last day alive what would you do? Should you want to read it, then please don’t do so from some kind of morbid interest. Read it for what it was: a detailed, honest, almost rambling but very sincere final account from the desperate depths of depression.
As perhaps you already know, things tend to come in bursts here. The good and the bad. You may get several posts one week, none the next.
If I were talking too much about my own personal ups and downs here, that would limit the value and scope of this blog. Instead I keep trying to share things that I feel might be relevant or interesting to many of us.
But once in a while I want to tell you something, and am searching for words, only to find that my depression stands like a wall between me and the words that I need. This is such a time.
In short, yes, I just feel terrible at the moment. A bit like this:
And I know that when I feel this hopeless or even cynical, my words are not likely to help you one bit. I am sorry, but right now I cannot help it.
Well. Let’s honor someone else who, while tormented by deep depression, still was strong enough to find the words and a voice to leave something of value to us all. Jazz singer Susannah McCorkle, who with her unique ultra-simple, honest, direct, unadorned style never failed to touch some nerve. If we would call most singing something like dressed-up singing, then what she did with her voice was more like naked singing.
In May 2001, having fought serious depressions for many years, Susannah McCorkle jumped off the balcony of her 16th-floor Manhattan apartment. She had kept the full depth of her depressions so well hidden that for most people, her suicide came as a shock.
I don’t think we should follow her example, but I do think I can understand. I also think she deserves to be remembered – and remembered with respect.
Here she is with Waters of March, a kind of spring song that is half in English and half in Brazilian Portuguese, but I guess the English part is clear enough. The song’s last four lines are the same as the first. Translated:
a stick, a stone,
it’s the end of the road,
it’s the rest of a stump,
it’s a little alone.
Click the green “Play” button – if it’s missing, install Flash.
For a full StayOnTop playlist, go to the Music page.
Should I kill myself? Or not? That (since Shakespeare) is the question. At least for many of us, at those moments when we are very very very depressed.
Today I did an experiment (don’t take it too seriously, please). As you know there are several websites that pretend they can help when you need to make a choice: they say they can help people to make a difficult and complex decision. Any decision.
A decision-making website may be helpful, for example, if you are an office manager pondering whether you should sack a certain person, or leave her in place, or promote her. What you do is you enter all the pros and cons for each decision, and the website software will do its math and then present you with the result. A kind of recommendation.
So I decided to go to a proper decision-making site and have it process my Shakespearian question: should I choose life or death? Just because I was curious (and I have no employees to sack, nothing but this one important question).
To get my Life Or Death Verdict, I went to the Odesys website. They began by telling me: “Decision making is hard. We know. Why not let our system guide you through the process step by step until you have reached a decision?”
Below are a few screenshots. They illustrate how the Odesys software guided me through the decision making process. First, they asked me: “What would you like to decide?” just to create a caption. So I entered my question: Shall I kill myself or go on with life?”
Next, Odesys asked me to list all the different decision alternatives I was contemplating. In my case, this was not difficult: just the two alternatives that were already contained in my initial question. Either (1) kill myself or (2) go on with life.
Had I wanted to, I could have made things less black-and-white by entering more nuanced alternatives, like “go on with life in a psychiatric institution” besides “go on with life at my own home”. But I decided to focus on my two basic alternatives:
Then I was asked to list all the factors that might play a role in reaching a decision, in choosing between the different alternatives. After entering these factors, I should order the list by importance, the most important factor first.
I could have entered all kinds of things there, a large list. To keep things simple, I entered a somewhat arbitrary shortlist of five factors that I thought would reasonably cover the essentials. Sorted by importance:
(1) intensity of my depression;
(2) expectations for the future;
(3) physical health;
(4) relationships with other people; and
(5) dependency on antidepressants.
This is where I filled them in, in what I hoped was indeed the correct order of importance:
Next, for each one of my five factors I had to fiddle with sliders to indicate how this specific factor related to my two decision alternatives.
As example, here are the sliders for relationships with other people. I happen to be lucky enough to have a few friends. Because having relationships will not make me kill myself, I pulled the slider for that decision to “bad”. On the other hand my having relationships would support a decision to cling to life, so for that decision the slider went towards “good”:
Well, like a child in front of a gambling machine I waited while the Odesys machine rattled and pling-plonged, weighing my factors to spew out the result. Poinggg! Clonk. There it was. With “kill myself” lined in green, and “go on with life” in red:
Well, if you look at the green score lines, the result is clear. Odesys advises me to kill myself. The green “kill myself” option scored a winning 100 points, while the red “go on with life” option got stuck at 78.
Have you finished laughing at me and my stupidity? Don’t worry, this was just a fun exercise, I don’t take this serious at all.
The outcome of a pseudo-exact exercise like this has of course no real value. You know how it is with online questionnaires, depression tests and the like: usually what comes out of them, is what you yourself did feed into them in the first place. The result is manipulable, the weighing algorithms are arbitrary or unclear, the processed data are nearly always incomplete, and chance answers can greatly change the result.
In this case, if when sorting factors by importance I had just switched two of them (put intensity of my depression on place 4 instead of 1, and relationships with other people on place 1 instead of 4) then the option “go on with life” would have emerged as the winner.
Anyway, my thanks to you for reading through all this dry stuff to here. And my thanks to Odesys for their trouble in trying to help people who cannot decide. Oh, and of course I do realize that Odesys was not designed with suicide decisions in mind. Still, maybe distributing free gambling dice sets would also be a good decision-making idea? At least for some of us?
But this was no completely useless exercise, because it offers one basic conclusion. The conclusion that maybe the current idea of decision-making is based on an incomplete view.
For it looks like the Odesys people think that every decision can be made into a systematically guided rational process. But all our decisions, not just those of depressed people contemplating suicide, but just as well the decisions of the manager considering the firing of an office clerk, are partly based on a strong personal, highly irrational, emotional component.
And all our decisions will always remain partly irrational, because we are human beings.
Now For Some Sentiment
After all this dull pseudo-statistical stuff, shall we turn to some old-fashioned irrational emotional maybe even blatantly sentimental sounds? Just for a little comfort and relief?
Here is, straight from the Heavens where he resides since 1995, the Portuguese fado singer Manuel de Almeida with his song Eu Fadista Me Confesso.
Click the green “Play” button – if it’s missing, install Flash.
For a full StayOnTop playlist, go to the Music page.
• explainer: The word “obrigado” you hear him repeating all the time, means “thank you”.
Is making morbid jokes about suicide good or bad? Can it help us to relativize (if only for a while) our own gloomy, depressed outlook? Is it a healthy relief to laugh about desperation? Or is it just cruel, making things worse by poking fun at something we ought to take seriously?
I guess there’s something to say for each of these viewpoints. Perhaps this will depend completely from your own mood.
“Celebrated filmmaker Patrice Leconte (Monsieur Hire, Girl on the Bridge, Man on the Train) shifts gears for this gleefully grim, Burtonesque animated musical. In a near-apocalyptic city ravaged by severe climate change and a perpetually morose population, the Tuvache family preside over the Suicide Shop, whose stock of rusty razor blades, well-knotted nooses, ritual swords and poisonous pests makes it your one-stop shop for doing away with yourself.”
“When the Tuvaches’ youngest son Alain comes into the world, however, the family is in for a nasty surprise: no matter how much his morbid parents and sad-sack siblings try to get him to look on the dark side, he remains incurably cheerful and optimistic — and thus a disgrace to the family name. What is the family to do with a kid who has no desire for death? How will their business — er — survive?”
“Adapted from Jean Teulé’s 2007 novel and replete with ghastly gags, droll animation and pithy lyrics set to merrily malignant melodies, The Suicide Shop garlands its wildly disturbing premise with gossamer black humour.”
Speaking for myself, I certainly intend to see it (but not in Toronto). As long as I haven’t seen the entire movie myself, I won’t judge. Maybe it’s funny, maybe it’s not so funny if you happen to be very depressed yourself: I just don’t know yet.
Here is a review of this movie by someone who already did see it, UK viewer Alex Tomlin at the IMDb movie site. On a 0 to 10 scale, he gave it 7 points:
“Not to be confused with family viewing, The Suicide Shop is filled with politically incorrect humour throughout that goes against the expected, including death, depression and nudity. That said, it is done well with comedy and has a wonderful French soundtrack.”
“Those less accustomed to the wider range of animation in Europe may be left a bit baffled (or even insulted) by the narrative and design. There are many times that the references to suicide could be deemed offensive for those of a more sensitive nature. The animation is stylised and might not sit well with some. Equally there is something lacking in the ending that does not fit the tone instilled throughout.”
“The Suicide Shop is however unashamedly bold in its genre – it is funny, heartwarming and wonderfully grim at times. A great film to watch for something different and aesthetically entertaining. I do not know if there is an English dub, but I strongly recommend the French version.”
To sample a bit of the movie’s atmosphere, here is the official trailer:
The Suicide Shop (trailer)
Well, at least we’ve got a kind of milestone here: this was the first time ever I embedded a video in one of my StayOnTop posts! Let me tell you, I’m not going to make this a habit. You know, I’m really old-school: in most cases, I myself find online videos more a distraction than an asset.
Sometimes, artists will make suicide look less gruesome than it is: embellishing or even idealizing it. Japanese representations of seppuku (the traditional samurai suicide by disembowelment) often do such a thing. They make suicide into something heroic. But the same kind of unwarranted beautification can be found in Western art, especially from the Romantic period.
A classic example from literature is of course Goethe’s 1774 novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (“The Sufferings of young Werther”), which became very popular all over Europe. It was the first novel that caused several copycat suicides. Several adolescent readers in the early 1800s got carried away to the extent that they really thought the best way to cope with a broken love affair was to kill themselves, like Werther did in the story.
I don’t really like such artistic embellishment. Intentionally or by emotional identification or by pure misunderstanding, it can make suicide into some kind of worthy, lofty, noble example – a tragic but understandable last act. A brave, almost honorable option. Evidently, it would better to not consider suicide such an example. To view it in a slightly more realistic way.
The Chatterton Craze
I want to show you a famous painting that in my view is a prime instance of untrue, mendacious romanticizing: the gratuitous beautification of a nasty, horrible death. Do you know about the brief, sad life of Thomas Chatterton?
Born in Bristol in 1752, young Thomas was a kind of poetry prodigy. He read a lot and in his early teens already wrote remarkable poems. At about 15, he claimed to have discovered and transcribed old-English poems by a medieval monk, one “Thomas Rowley”. This was Chatterton’s own invention; he wrote all those poems in brilliant medieval language and style himself. Many people were taken in at first. A few of these “medieval poems” were published; other ones were not yet accepted.
In the summer of 1770, feeling poor and lonely and rejected, 17-year-old Thomas Chatterton locked himself in his London attic, tore all his writings to shreds, and killed himself by taking arsenic. His body was found a couple of days later by a visiting doctor, who took care to preserve all the torn fragments of poetry.
Seven years after Chatterton’s death, in 1777, a more or less complete edition of his “medieval poems” was published by an admirer. They became popular, and after some discussion people came to the conclusion that indeed Chatterton had written everything himself. Some now considered him a genius and partly thanks to his young and tragic death, Chatterton gradually became a kind of cult hero.
In the early 1800s, ever more romantics began to write about him. Shelley, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Rossetti, Keats, de Vigny, Croft, all contributed to the romantic glorification of this tragic, brilliant, not understood, dramatic, lonely poetic hero. His praises were not just sung in verse and prose; several artists began to depict him – his death, that is. This engraving is an early example.
But in 1856 the Chatterton cult reached its zenith when the young Pre-Raphaelite artist Henry Wallis exhibited his painting The Death of Chatterton, complete with a Marlowe quote on the frame: “Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight”. This idealized, melodramatic work instantly became a tremendous success. For years, huge crowds came to see it, it was reproduced in lithographs, and Wallis was asked to paint smaller identical copies (he made at least two more).
Well, here is a picture of the original. Click it to see a larger picture for more details.
There are a few things I really want you to notice. First of all, the painting is titled “The Death of Chatterton” but actually it should have been named “The Dead Chatterton”, which is something different. Wallis did not depict Chatterton’s death, but how the young poet was supposed to have been found two days after his death.
If you think this is nitpicking, shall we try to imagine Chatterton’s actual dying? What happens if you poison yourself with arsenic?
Arsenic Poisoning in Reality
An acute arsenic poisoning goes like this. First, you experience confusion, headache, drowsiness and diarrhea. Your entire body begins to convulse. Your stomach begins to hurt terribly. You may have more diarrhea, begin to vomit, or urinate blood. You will get ever stronger convulsions with severe cramping, your muscles contracting involuntary.
You will not die immediately yet, but breathing becomes ever more difficult: it begins to feel like choking, with all the sheer panic that comes with suffocating, with desperately trying to breathe but somehow not getting enough oxygen: a bit like drowning. A cruelly slow, extended way of drowning.
What happens inside you is that the arsenic is interfering with several important metabolic processes in such a way that gradually, a multi-system organ failure occurs. Meaning that organs like your lungs, kidneys and liver are beginning to fail. Sometimes, but not always, the heart is affected too.
Finally, your contortions and your desperate gasping will come to an end when you slip away from your physical agony and struggling and panic and pain. You fall into a coma. And after that, after your last unconscious convulsions, yes, you die. Lucky you!
So how you will you be found? Almost elegantly stretched out upon your bed, like this painted Chatterton?
No. More likely you will be found with your mouth still open from your last gasps for breath, lying somewhere on the floor in a contorted curled-up position, in a puddle of vomit, urine and blood.
A pathologist will immediately recognize you died from arsenic poisoning, because arsenic also causes severe hemorrhaging in the soft tissue of all your body orifices, including your lips and mouth, your nostrils, your eyes, your ears. They will show a dark reddish color from internal bleeding.
This Painting Is a Lie
There are several more details that make Wallis’s painting less realistic than it looks at first sight. Such as, here we have an untended human corpse two days after death, in August, in an attic room with an open window. Where are the flies? But I won’t go into more unpleasant specifics now.
Wallis did not paint Chatterton’s suicide. He didn’t even try. He painted just an esthetically pleasing fantasy, a posed scene, a Big Lie. And he made matters even worse by intentionally suggesting Peacefulness (or something like that). What do I mean?
On the face, Wallis painted an expression that you will have registered subliminally, but perhaps without consciously noticing it. This is because on the painting, the face is not in an upright position. I’ve taken the liberty of rotating the detail of Chatterton’s face here, so its expression will more directly jump at you.
What do you think? With his brush strokes, Wallis did what some undertakers will do: covering the usual emptiness of a dead face with a different kind of expression. In this case, a suggestive one. One that permeates the atmosphere of the painting even if you didn’t notice it at first glance. This Chatterton does look fairly happy with his having killed himself so gruesomely, doesn’t he? Almost content, almost satisfied. And certainly peaceful.
In the rest of the painting, in the background, Wallis skilfully added some small details to suggest the dead poet’s loneliness and poverty. But he carefully avoided any hint, even the slightest, of the ugliness, the sordidness, the bloodiness, the desperation, the gruesomeness, the misery, the wretchedness, the total loss of human dignity that usually comes with suicide. On the contrary: he made it look almost beautiful, peaceful, painless and dignified. A Big Lie.
Why this Lie? It wonderfully fitted in the Victorian mindset: both that of the then-modern artists scene, and that of the more conservative general public.
For the artists who joined in the Chatterton craze, this dead teen represented not simply tragedy. He also represented the bitterness of lacking artistic recognition, and more important, the exalted cause of artistic freedom and individuality. To them, Chatterton represented the heroic determination to be different, the stubborn refusal to accept life as it is, the bravery of preferring death over making any concessions. Chatterton was their hero.
And to the Victorian public that came in droves to admire this painting, it represented not just tragedy either. It also appeared to express a kind of moral lesson, in a pleasing and elegant way. The lesson that this brilliant young poet had to pay for his genius with his untimely death; that some of us may be uniquely gifted but that such gifts are nothing to be jealous about, because talent comes at a price.
Both the artists and the public preferred to see romance instead of reality, ignoring the simple truth that suicides nearly always involve unbearable mental agony, cruel physical pain, and a sordid loss of dignity.
Later artists gradually dared to show a little more of the sordid reality. An early example is the 1881 painting Le Suicidé by Manet that I featured in another post here.
But generally, people – including depressed, suicidal people – still prefer not to torment themselves with the actual, brutal face of suicide. In a way, that still is taboo. And this avoidance is certainly understandable.
But I wonder: in a few situations, might a honest confrontation with that brutal reality work as a useful kind of deterrent? A bit like how in some countries, packets of cigarettes must now legally show grisly photos of cancerous lungs?
Imagine a booklet with all kinds of graphic, explicit suicide photos: a mangled head after a jump from the top floor, a hanging body with wetted pants and swollen feet, and so on. Would this help to frighten people away from contemplating suicide? As a kind of reality check? To be honest, I would like some researcher to try this out, to test such a “frightening strategy”.
It would not work with anyone – that’s for sure. It would not work for people like the extremely depressed at the end of the line, or people who’ve already made up their mind, or people who feel a psychotic urge to kill themselves.
But maybe, just maybe, it might work with a few others: with what I call the suicide dreamers. Those who in their depression develop some abstract fantasy of blissfully releasing death, without being fully aware of the more gruesome dimensions of such a death.
Well, this is just a wild thought. Maybe such a “frightening strategy” would do more harm than good. Of course I don’t really know.
I do know that the romantic Chatterton cult has never completely disappeared: his myth lives on in art and literature and music, even today. In exactly the same way as the myth of Victorian beauty Lizzie Siddal (who also died young) still lives on today. There are poems, songs, even an opera and a novel about the Chatterton theme.
Robert James Selby
An often-mentioned Chatterton song is the one by French singer Serge Gainsbourg, but I don’t like that one at all. I’d rather go for the fine Ballad of Thomas Chatterton by English singer Robert James Selby – who happens to be a bit of a Chatterton lookalike, see the photo below.
Does Selby with his Chatterton ballad make the same error of idealizing and romanticizing as Wallis did with his Chatterton painting? That judgment I want to leave to you, but at least this is a good song.
If you want to know more about Selby, or if you are interested in his album Scrap Book Ballads Volume One, please do take a look at his Robert James Selby blog which is in fact a full-fledged artist’s website. Warmly recommended.
So, here is Selby with his Chatterton ballad (give him a little time).
(click the green “Play” button – if it does not work, install Flash)
• footnote: The original 1856 painting The Death of Thomas Chatterton by Henry Wallis is in the London Tate Gallery. Right now this painting is one of the 150 works in the Tate exposition Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde which will run until January 13, 2013.
The model posing as dead Chatterton for Wallis was the young writer George Meredith.
The earlier 1794 engraving Death of Thomas Chatterton by Edward Orme is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London.
• update: (thanks to reader AnRi) The Centre for Romantic Studies of the University of Bristol hosts a Thomas Chatterton Society dedicated to the poet’s work and historical background. Anyone who is interested can apply for membership here.
This Saturday, November 17, 2012, is the yearly Survivors of Suicide Day. Today, “survivors” does not mean people who survived a suicide attempt, but all the people who are left behind after a relative or friend committed suicide. In the USA alone there are some 7 million such survivors every year: all of them trying to understand, trying to not feel guilty, trying to come to terms with the often unanswerable question how someone they loved could make such a fatal decision.
This Survivors of Suicide Day is meant to offer some support, consolation and healing, with various local events and online activities. It grew from a 1999 American initiative taken by US senator Harry Reid after the suicide of his father. Thanks to the worldwide opportunities of Internet, it gradually got a more international character. But it is still sponsored by the AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention).
So if you want to know more about it, or perhaps participate yourself in one way or another, please go right away to this part of the AFSP site:
I myself am a “survivor” in both senses of the word. I have survived two suicide attempts myself, so I can understand the sheer desperation that can cause people to commit suicide. But I also lost both a sister and one of my best friends to suicide. So at the same time, I do know very well how difficult it is to understand someone’s suicide decision. How, even if you do understand a little why he or she took that irreversible step, it still is almost impossible to accept.
To illustrate how hard this is, here is the suicide note left by Nirvana rock star Kurt Cobain, when in April 1994 he shot himself. As a suicide note to his loved ones, it is fairly clear:
(see bottom of this post for text version)
The grief among Cobain fans was so enormous that some of them chose to ignore the obvious facts (and also Cobain’s already self-destructive behavior in the months leading up to his suicide).
Some of those fans simply refused to accept what had happened, and began to insist that, no, this could not be suicide. They developed a totally implausible conspiracy theory, seriously claiming that this note was a partial forgery and that Cobain actually had been murdered.
Here is, once again, the well-known Kübler-Ross mourning phases model:
In terms of this model, those Cobain fans who constructed a murder complot theory obviously got stuck in the phase of denial. Some of them still prefer to believe that murder story today!
If accepting a suicide is already so hard when you’re just a fan or admirer, then how hard will it be if you are a relative, an actual lover or a close friend? So hard, I can tell you from my own experience, that you may be tempted to follow the other’s example and to kill yourself, too.
There are many historical examples of suicides where a “survivor”, overwhelmed by unbearable feelings of grief, anger and guilt, also committed suicide a few days or weeks later. A random example of one suicide triggering another one is the death of the brilliant young Japanese mathematician Yutaka Taniyama, in 1958. A month after his suicide, his girlfriend Misako Suzuki also killed herself, leaving a note saying that she had no other option but to join him in death.
To me, this “trigger effect” is one main reason why after the suicide of a loved one, you as a “survivor” should not keep your terrible mix of feelings to yourself, but should try to share and discuss your feelings with others. See the entire Surviving Suicide Loss section at the AFSP website.
In remembrance of Kurt Cobain, here is one more time the song All Apologies from the Nirvana album In Utero.
(click the green “Play” button – if it does not work, install Flash)
• tip: see above – if you are in shock, grief and confusion because someone you love committed suicide, then at least try to share your feelings with others as much as you can.
• update: Because someone asked for it and the picture version is hard to read, here is the full text of Cobain’s unbalanced, rambling suicide note:
Speaking from the tongue of an experienced simpleton who obviously would rather be an emasculated, infantile complainee. This note should be pretty easy to understand. All the warnings from the punk rock 101 courses over the years, since my first introduction to the, shall we say, ethics involved with independence and the embracement of your community has proven to be very true. I haven’t felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music along with reading and writing for too many years now. I feel guilty beyond words about these things. For example when we’re backstage and the lights go out and the manic roar of the crowd begins, it doesn’t affect me the way in which it did for Freddy Mercury, who seems to love, relish in the love and adoration from the crowd, which is something I totally admire and envy. The fact is, I can’t fool you, any one of you. It simply isn’t fair to you or me. The worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by faking it and pretending as if I’m having 100% fun. Sometimes I feel as if I should have a punch in time clock before I walk out on stage. I’ve tried everything within my power to appreciate it (and I do, God believe me I do, but it’s not enough). I appreciate the fact that I and we have affected and entertained a lot of people. I must be one of those narcissists who only appreciate things when they’re gone. I’m too sensitive. I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasm I once had as a child. On our last 3 tours, I’ve had a much better appreciation for all the people I’ve known personally and as fans of our music, but I still can’t get over the frustration, the guilt and empathy I have for everyone. There’s good in all of us and I think I simply love people too much. So much that it makes me feel too fucking sad. The sad little sensitive, unappreciative, Pisces, Jesus man. Why don’t you just enjoy it? I don’t know! I have a goddess of a wife who sweats ambition and empathy and a daughter who reminds me too much of what I used to be. Full of love and joy, kissing every person she meets because everyone is good and will do her no harm. And that terrifies me to the point where I can barely function. I can’t stand the thought of Frances becoming the miserable, self-destructive, death rocker that I’ve become. I have it good, very good. And I’m grateful, but since the age of seven, I’ve become hateful towards all humans in general. Only because it seems so easy for people to get along and have empathy. Empathy! Only because I love and feel sorry for people too much I guess. Thank you all from the pit of my burning nauseous stomach for your letters and concern during the past years. I’m too much of an erratic, moody, baby! I don’t have the passion anymore, and so remember, it’s better to burn out then to fade away. Peace, Love, Empathy. Kurt Cobain.
Frances and Courtney, I’ll be at your altar
Please keep going Courtney,
for her life will be so much happier
without me. I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU”
June 18, 1924 –
Today just a random example of death by depression: Reuben Wanamaker (57), who since 1913 had been a judge in the state of Ohio's Supreme Court.
Wanamaker had sought medical treatment for severe depression since 1923, which had not helped him (remember, modern antidepressant medication did not yet exist).
On June 18th, six days after entering the Columbus Mount Carmel hospital in a bid to have his depression treated more effectively, Wanamaker killed himself by jumping from a fourth story hospital window.
This case illustrates one of my own strong impressions that may still be valid today: when hospitalizing depression patients, the suicide risk appears to peak in the very first week after admission to the clinic.