I am a forty-four year old man with an innovative and well-paying job in the software business. Everything in my life is good. I’ve been married to a wonderful woman for twelve years, we have a six-year-old daughter who’s smart, healthy and delightful, we live in a house we love in a Seattle neighborhood where we have a lot of friends. But despite my good fortune, for the past year or so I’ve suffered from a crippling sense of despair and depression, which I suppose the holidays have brought to a head (why should I feel so terrible when everyone else is running around having a great time). To be very specific: I feel dead inside, almost as if my spirit is weighed down in concrete. I have consulted therapists and psychiatrists, and have tried three different antidepressant medications, none of which have worked (they all make me numb). Oh I can go through the motions of life, but there’s no joy whatsoever. I wake in the morning and think, what’s the point? Knowing exercise is a key to mood function, I force myself to work out at the gym, go for runs, enjoy nature — but I still feel flat. You will ask about my spiritual life. I grew up Episcopalian, and believe there is a guiding intelligence or force of good at play in the universe. This, however, does not even begin to touch my problem of despair. I was a physics major in college and cannot get over my sense that life is cruel, random, pointless. No matter what we do, we all die in the end — and so? One last thing — Seattle weather, even the long shitty winter, does not particularly affect my mood; I’ve lived in different climates and actually enjoy grayness and drizzle. I hope you will have answers for me, Knowles. I cannot go on living this way.
– Flatlined in Seattle
Fighting one’s own inner moods and inclinations can be the work of a giant. So first, my heart goes out to you. Despair such as yours is like a black fog that settles into the cracks and crevices of one’s being and then, without the proper, rousing wind to blow it out, is very hard to get rid of. The right antidepressant could dispel that fog, so I suggest you continue to work with your doctor to find the best medication for your system. Don’t give up on exercise — that would be a big mistake. And don’t give up on walks in nature: trees can be our best friends, silently counseling us in times of despair. Here’s another suggestion: past life regression with a good practitioner. This may sound utterly woo woo, but I have had friends who experienced immediate relief from the darkest despair after taking such a journey. Dolores Cannon, now deceased, has written many books on the subject and her method may be the one you should look for (she would see only one client a day, spending up to five hours with the person as she regressed them to what could be called a pre-birth state). That, if you are open to it, would be my best suggestion as it allows for a deep exploration of one’s current life and meaning at the same time as it springs one from a dark, stuck place of suffering. In my opinion, it is worth exploring every option, even slightly offbeat ones such as hypnosis, holotropic breathwork or, as some people have found very helpful, going on a vision quest with a reputable shaman. These three or four possibilities may be totally out of your comfort zone which is why it would be a good idea to try them. That’s it, that’s my bag of tricks, though there is one other thing I’d like to say. It is my firm belief, judging particularly from research on near death experience, that some part of us — our soul, our consciousness transformed to spirit energy — continues after the death of our physical bodies. Before you say, “Knowles you’re crazy,” do some of the research yourself. I guarantee it will change your perspective and start you back on the road to good mental health. Please let me know how it goes.
All the best,
REACTIONS TO DIVIDED BY RELIGION
When I married out, my parents sat shiva for me. I thought surely things would change after I had children, but that didn’t happen. I haven’t seen or spoken to anyone in my family for twelve years. I have two adorable daughters and you’d think their grandparents would want to see them, but no, the dictates of an old desert religion are too important. My husband’s parents are cool and do their best to make up for my loss, but that doesn’t take the terrible sting out of it. So sorry and hope you have better luck.
Janet C., Baltimore
There is a reason why God Almighty in His wisdom created tradition and religion. People are happier and better served if they stick with their own kind. That includes you, sweetheart. As you see, the proof is in the pudding. If you’re smart, you’ll rethink your choice of husbands.
Pete S., Tuscaloosa
As a gentile who married a Jew, I say GO FOR IT! I had absolutely zero problems converting to Judaism. We keep kosher, celebrate Shabbat, go to shul and follow all traditions. My adopted religion makes me very happy and, luckily, I have the support of my parents, as well as my husband’s who welcomed me into their family with open arms. I dearly hope things turn out better for you.
Ivy Kushner, NY
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Disclaimer: CD Knowles is not a doctor or psychotherapist. Any opinions expressed on Knowles Knows are just that — opinions.