ask dr-robert

ask dr-robert ask psychologist todos santos ask psychologist dr robert saltzman

Just Because I Saw Your Page:

Hello, my name is Adriana I‘m 19 years old I live in Mexico City.

Lately I have had this feeling of emptiness, like hollow. No one of my family has died nor someone close to me, to make that clear. However, I feel worthless. But this is been going for a long time now, more than a year, and I want to be the happy girl that everybody said I was. But for the reasons I’m going to list below I feel deeply sad:

I do not see the point of life. Is it to come and suffer all these feelings and then dying just like that? (I don’t believe in afterlife)

I don’t feel like doing anything, I don’t want to see or speak with my friends.

I think no one is really my friend, because all they talk about is themselves.

I like to be alone just thinking how would it be to be someone else.

I wish I was never born. (A cliché I know)

I cry at night quietly, and sometimes I have to put a pillow on my mouth so no one can hear me.

I doubt in everything I do. In my French class I think I’m the dumbest, I love drawing and people tell me that I draw great, but I don’t think so. Whenever I speak, I think: "I should not say that." Or I’m afraid to say what I really think. I didn’t want to write this letter because English is my second language, and I don’t want to have grammar mistakes.

When I’m in school I go hide in the bathroom because I don’t want to see anybody. When someone talks to me, Even if I want to chat too, I think I’m going to mess it up, and so I go somewhere else.

I’m constantly thinking in “what ifs” What if I were prettier, richer, younger.

I am obsessed with getting older.

I hate being me.

I wish I could just sleep forever and live in my dreams.

I hate time.

I think I’m wasting my life.

I rather be on the computer to avoid socializing.

I do not do things my age.

I think I’m in some way invisible.

Doesn’t matter who is with me, I pretend I’m super happy

I haven’t told anyone, I feel so unhappy in a year or more.

I analyze everything I do. (Why did I say yes? Why am I watching TV? Why Am I writing this?)

I regret wasting my time, but I don't do anything.

I feel lonely, even in a classroom with more than 20 people.

I'm sad, because I know no one is ever going to love me.

And, I could go on and on. However, I do not want to annoy you.

In addition, I should mention that I was born with “crystal bones” and I spent part, (mostly) of my childhood in hospitals or with a plaster cast. And since I was 6 I use (it is even hard to write this) a wheelchair that even so helps me move, I HATE IT! I feel I’m a prisoner of my own body weakness. I hate seeing me in mirrors, I hate knowing I have to struggle with things average people don't. I WISH I really, really wish I could start over.

And the worst. My mind is rotting, and I am letting my self lose the strength I used to have, I’m being defeated in a fight that is with myself.

I really don’t want to stop living. I just I wish I could live another life. And maybe If I died, I could live another life.

My dog is the only one who just love for who I am. She does not see the can, only the soup inside.



ask dr-robert ask psychologist todos santos ask psychologist dr robert saltzman

Hello, Adriana--

As I read your letter for the first time and made my way down your list of reasons for feeling sad, I found myself separating them into two categories: some items on your list appeared to be symptoms of depression ("I hate being me."), while others seemed to point to the kind of existential angst familiar to anyone bright enough to notice the contradiction between the desire to find meaning in life and the obvious suspicion that ones life may be no more than a random event which has no enduring meaning ("I do not see the point of life. Is it to come and suffer all these feelings and then dying just like that?").

In other words, Adriana, I began to understand your letter to me as the kind of call for help and counsel that I receive often: an appeal for guidance from an intelligent young person who is feeling depressed, and also just beginning to come to grips with the angst that anyone must feel when upon admitting to oneself that, as Nietzsche famously said, "God is dead."

So, as I reached the last item in your list of what makes you sad ("I'm sad, because I know no one is ever going to love me."), I had already begun formulating a reply to your letter in which I would say that some of the items on your list are things that almost anyone would feel given enough insight to discern the human dilemma, while others in your list indicated to me that you are seriously depressed, and should seek professional treatment for depression right away.

Then I arrived at your paragraph about "crystal bones"--you certainly were saving the worst for last—and all the quick and ready words I had in mind seemed inadequate at best. As a person who walks freely, I can only try to imagine your suffering as a child and the unhappy impressions all that pain, fear, and humiliation must have left on your tortured mind. No wonder you feel depressed and hopeless. No wonder you struggle with feelings of inferiority. No wonder you wish you could start over.

If your reasons for consulting me were simply depression and existential angst (I say "simply," but treating those two elements of a human life often proves far from simple), I would advise you to seek the help of a skilled psychotherapist who probably would start you on some kind of antidepressant medication--Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, or the like--aimed at addressing the more biological side of your mood disorder, and begin talk therapy focused on the emotional/philosophical/practical side of it. I would advise you also that seeking "the meaning of life" seems far too grandiose a goal for someone who already knows that God is dead. I would counsel you instead to try to feel the essence of each particular moment, and to allow the bigger question of the ultimate significance of our suffering and striving to answer itself, if that is what happens, or even to remain unsolved, mysterious, and beyond human ken forever.

For example, Adriana, as you read this reply to your letter, perhaps you will be able to understand and appreciate that someone in this world has heard your words, comprehends them, and feels for you. If that knowledge brings you a moment of relief, or perhaps even a moment of happiness, that is the meaning of this moment, and the next moment may reveal a new meaning, but one will not know that until then. Perhaps much later in life one will look back and see some overarching meaning to all the suffering, all the seeking, all the striving, all the wishing, or perhaps not, but that will have to wait until old age. Young people such as yourself simply lack that perspective (if, indeed, anyone has it), and, in my view, should not burden themselves with the question "what does it all mean."

Yes, both of us someday will die, and since you and I have no expectations of an afterlife we imagine that everything called "myself" will end at that moment. And so, reckoning that it all must end, we may feel that nothing in life means anything, or at least does not mean anything enduring or important. But we are not at that moment of ending; we are at this moment, this time, this occasion, always this one. And in this one, you are reading the words of someone who cares about you and your suffering, and who wishes you peace of mind. So my wish for you, as you read my words in this very moment of life, this moment which happened never before, and will happen never again, is that you feel a sense of connection, a sense that someone cares. And I hope that such a sense of connection with another human being will be meaningful to you, if only for a moment, for I do not have the power to give you a new life, but only to wish that this one will yet be better for you.

That said, Adriana, let me give you my professional take on your situation. Judging from your letter, you are suffering from a rather severe form of depressive disorder which should and must be treated as soon as possible. I say "must," because, left untreated, depression can do serious harm and often worsens. The proper treatment, in my experience, involves both medication and psychotherapy (or sometimes psychotherapy alone), but never only medication without ongoing psychotherapy. In addition, given your very sad and stressful medical history, you may also be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (your feeling of emptiness, "like hollow" seems suggestive of that) which, if you do suffer from it, also must be treated as soon as possible. Since you have been hiding your despair, finding someone who can hear about it and help you seems particularly urgent, and, since your history is such a difficult one, you must try to find the very best kind of psychotherapist to be your guide. I am certain that in Mexico City there are such people, and I wish you luck in finding one, for with the right kind of help, I can well imagine your despair lifting, leaving you free to exercise your striking honesty and obvious intelligence--the soup inside--in ways that you would find satisfying and worthwhile.

By the way, your English is excellent. I only wish that my español—mi lengua segunda—were as good.

Please feel free to write to me whenever you like.

Be well.

Thanks to your support, "ask dr-robert" has become the world's number one ask the psychologist site.

Pass it on:

Tell a friend about this page!
Their Name:
Their Email:
Your Name:
Your Email:
(all information remains private)

Or, if you find the site worth sharing, link to from your webpage, newsgroup, discussion forum, or blog.

return to ask dr-robert archives

page last modified August 13, 2008

copyright robert saltzman 2008 all rights reserved