Artwork: Tess Emily Rodriguez
She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
I'm so satisfied with my life that I don't know what else to do
I'm a woman, 48 years old. For the past ten years or so, I've been feeling content.
Before, I was suffering from past trauma that led me to depression, suicide, commitment issues, and so on. Then, I took care of myself and freed myself from all those things. I went to therapy; I rebuilt and developed myself again.
I'd been feeling so content and satisfied with my life since. I’d come to realize that I have reached all my dreams. I'd been in a playful mode; I could find funnies even in my saddest situation.
But after several years of feeling satisfied, I'm bored.
First, I thought I was bored because I didn't have new dreams. So I tried to generate some. After having reached those new "unnatural/not genuine" dreams, I felt bored again. I raised my standard in doing things in order to have something to pursue. But things seem to be pretty easy for me now. If I succeed, I'm happy. If I don't succeed, I cry a little, evaluate and reflect, and then I learn the lessons. I try to give back to society by providing free services for those who need it. I'm still passionate about it, but not as much as before.
I practice meditation, mindfulness. I went again for counseling, but the three psychologists I met didn't quite help. None of these has helped me to find the passion again.
Then, I started thinking about committing suicide again. A long time ago, I was suicidal because I was depressed and desperate. But this time, I can't say I want to commit suicide because I feel sad and depressed — I'm just bored with life because I have nothing else to pursue.
Do you think you can spark me or challenge my mind so that I can figure out what to do next?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.
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As Kierkegaard said, boredom is “the root of all evil.”
I tend to agree. But first, let’s get clarity on the situation. You are not bored because you are so satisfied with your life. Being satisfied would not equate to boredom. By saying that you are content and satisfied, but bored, and even suicidal, is selling yourself short.
Boredom is not depression, but they are cousins.
I describe depression as inertia. For me, depression equals inaction, a lack of decision making. It is like living in a vacuum with no forward motion, stuck on an endless loop. So for me, boredom is a huge symptom of depressive episodes. That can go hand in hand with looking like everything is fine — working, socializing, volunteering, meditating, etc.
But clinical depression and other mental health issues don’t work that way. Everything in your life can be fine, and you can be doing all the things that should help and still feel awful. Because brain chemistry sometimes needs more than we have in our tool kit.
What concerns me is that you’re thinking about suicide again.
This shouldn’t be taken lightly. I know you mentioned that the last three psychologists you saw did not help, but I think you need to keep trying. Find a new one. It sounds like you can access care; I hope you do. From my experience, even if this goes away temporarily, it is likely to come back. And you don’t want to risk having it come back and put you in a place of desperation again.
You asked, “Do you think you can spark me or challenge my mind so that I can figure out what to do next?”
What I want you to do next is to seek some professional help.
And, outside of that, think about something you may have always wanted to do that you thought wasn’t possible or seemed frivolous. Maybe that means skydiving or hiking. Maybe that means taking an improv class or going on a writing retreat. Whatever it is, take those risks, grab those opportunities.
But above all else, please seek help for the return of suicidal ideation.
Lastly, you didn’t mention if you have spoken to any friends or loved ones in your email. I encourage you to do so. Connecting with people helps. Being truthful about what we feel inside, even when it feels scary or embarrassing, is freeing.
The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I’m not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I’ve gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, dating, friendships, depression, parenting, sex, consent, what I’m watching, what I’m reading, what I’m baking, Eucryptite, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me: email@example.com. As always, your anonymity is golden. Lastly, I’m so excited to share with you my Ask Erin Self-Care Guide, free when you sign up for my weekly newsletter. xoxo