Normally, I would post the following as a comment under the original letter, but in this case I think my reply deserves its own post. The following is a response to this letter. It is a good example of what happens when writers to this column aren't really clear about the situation about which they are asking.
* * *
Your response wasn't what I expected, at all. The fact you are accusing me of furthering drama that degrades the furry community is really a low blow and I sense a very aggressive overtone in your message. To answer your question I did finish the handpaws for him, since I didn't want to be in debt to him and having him posses power over me any longer.
After reading my initial message again, I see that I left out quite a bit of information. This interaction that sparked the entire fire happened over 3 years ago, given I have matured a lot in the recent few years as everyone does at university. I can see my errors and I'd like to rather see these as life experience than outright shortcomings. I have my fair share in selfish reactions in response to the situation and what happened and I have apologized to FurX for this and I've really been trying to move on from what happened.
Your response is quite accusing of my own behavior and given the information I gave you I can understand why you feel the way you do. I know for a FACT that his intentions of starting to make suits wasn't as pure and was simply to get attention and wanting to be better than me or anyone else for that matter. He has confessed to people that his only intention for even making suits is for the attention. I am honestly happy for him that he made his suit ,because before he made his own suit he would sit and sulk at meets where I or anyone else for that matter had our own suits there. Like a jealous petty child.
He is an EXTREMELY toxic and jealous person and isn't well received by our local community for this, as I even said in my original message he oppressed someone who considered him a friend merely because of the fact she started making her own suits and loving it and she is better than him at it because she has a pure passion for making the suit and making others happy probably a more pure intention than my own by the looks of it. He did the exact same to her what he did to me. He even told her that he doesn't understand why she gets commissions and he doesn't, he won a cosplay contest with his work and she didn't.
Your response is exactly what enrages me about this entire situation, his pathetic behavior is scoring him sympathy from outsiders. It's exactly the type of game he plays. He is the scourge this community can do without, but yet you accuse me of wanting to be "popufur"!? When his literal only agenda for doing anything, for entering a cosplay contest with a fursuit, for making a suit, for doing anything within the community is solely for the intention of garnering the attention of others.
We are in a communal telegram group started by myself to promote our local artists and crafters in our community, when others post their work in progress he rips them to shreds with condescending aggressive messages and criticism that breaks others down instead of giving valuable input to help others improve on their work. He constantly complains about how hard his life is and needs his ego stroked whenever he posts anything on the group. I try to be as objective as I can when it comes to his work but he makes it really difficult, it's come to the point where I just don't want to post anything I do anymore on the group due to him responding the way he does. It's a sick and toxic situation and I've been actively trying to work around it or resolve it.
Yet you accuse me of doing this? You feel I need a wake up call?
I give and give and try my best to resolve things but it's a one way street apparently and the more I try the more I come across as the person in the wrong? If I ignore him he gets worse, If I actively go out of my way to try and resolve things I get accused of being the toxic person? Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
I've been trying to get out of this proverbial drama pit, but he constantly drags me back into it with petty behavior, passive aggressive responses to everything I say and do on chat groups. But it's my fault? Even though I've tried my absolute best to make amends, apologized to him on MANY times for my behavior yet he never does the same? It's easy to say just ignore his actions, but how much can a person really take before breaking?
To answer your 3 advice points directly
1)These hand paws were finished within a year of the initial agreement
2)I have done so, on multiple occasions in many different forms but it seems to always be in vain
3)I'm not jealous of him, I might have been intimidated by him starting to make his own suit back then since I was the fursuit maker of the community and was promoted as such and it did go to my head a bit. Your intial assumption of me acting in a manner that only benefits myself might have been correct was it 3 years ago, as I confessed I did act in a selfish manner of wanting to be "THE" maker, I have moved on from this mindset and I now actively go out of my way to try and help others starting the craft by giving them advice and constructive criticism. I guess I hate seeing in him what I saw in myself back then and that's what drives me to want to resolve it and give him advice where I can to help him out of the mindset. Yet it's always badly received by him and I come across as the person in the wrong.
Am I really to blame for his jealousy, how much of his behavior can I really be blamed for? I have done some injustices in the past and I have tried to correct these as I stated so many times on multiple occasions. I've tried moving on with my life, he somehow manages to worm himself right back into it. He wasn't in our crafters group until very recently and he just overwhelms it with his negativity, attention seeking petty behavior and if I call him out for it I'm in the wrong?
I'm honestly at an impasse where I'm highly considering just dropping all the furry stuff and moving on with my life as to get him out of my life for good. Maybe myself "leaving" the community would be what's best for it?
* * *
I can only offer my replies based on the information I have been given. My original response was therefore appropriate. And I certainly stand by my advice that goes back not just to Mom but to Shakespeare: "Never a borrower nor a lender be." You also did not make clear that you had completed the paws, which is great, but I also stand by the statement that you should not have agreed to do something you didn't have time or desire to do. I am glad to hear that you have tried to apologize, and it is too bad he has not, apparently, accepted this apology.
Now my turn to apologize. I'm sorry I misinterpreted your letter and the situation. I'm also glad you have matured, but you need to not only mature but also move on. The letter you wrote to me portrayed a situation and a person (you) as they existed in 2016. My response was completely appropriate for 2016, as you yourself confess you were concerned about your reputation etc. etc.
So, back to square one, answering the question you initially asked. What does one do with a bothersome furry who has been causing drama for three years now and won't stop? It would have been much simpler, in this case, if you had simply asked something like, "What do I do about an annoying furry who criticizes everyone else's fursuit creations?"
The answer is that you treat them the same way you would any other troll. Ignore them, block them, shun them away. The only reason people do this sort of thing is to gain attention, and you are catering to that. NO, you are NOT to blame for his jealousy. You are not to blame for the way other people behave, just the way you behave. By letting this guy get to you, you are letting him win. AND! If you decide you will be "dropping all this furry stuff and moving on with my life" you definitely are giving up and letting him win.
Remember this, if nothing else: it takes at least two people for drama to be a problem: the drama giver and the drama receiver. Don't be a drama receiver? How? Well, by not allowing yourself to be upset by it, by not giving the other person power by reacting to it. Silence is your weapon. When I get criticized, I always think of this: "Do I respect the other person who is criticizing me?" For example, if my fiance, Michael, gave me harsh criticism, that would hurt me a lot because I love and respect him, and I would try to do something to improve myself and my actions. Do you respect and admire FurX? Obviously not, so why the hell do you care what he says? He's not worth it.
It takes two to tango, which also reflects back on my first letter in which I said you are part of the reason all this drama is still going on after three long years.
My advice is to make this letter your last one regarding FurX. Don't talk to him. Don't read his posts. Don't listen to him. And certainly don't give him the power to take away something you enjoy doing.
Hope you like this response better than my last one. And I hope you stay in the furry community. I'm sorry for any part I might have played in discouraging you.
I have this gnawing issue: I live in a country where fursuiters are scarce due to fur being extremely scarce. I eventually saw an opportunity to make my own fursuit when I got ahold of some nice furs and I did quite a good job at my first suit.
Cue Furry X (FurX). Just as I started being noticed by our local community for my fursuit making abilities, FurX came into the picture. We at first started chatting as friends, which came from another turmoil I had with a really bad person and FurX was there to talk to about it. He also had a bad experience with this person. He eventually told me don't worry about the bad person because he's just like that and he does things like that to people.
We eventually started becoming closer and closer friends, going out for drinks, going out on excursions. You know, just having friendly fun times together. Cue Boardgame convention (Bcon). So I was cash strapped and couldn't grab a ticket for the convention in time, and so was another friend of mine. FurX offered to grab the tickets for us if we paid him at a later time, which I saw no harm in at first. So we went to the convention. Both me and FurX suited; he had a suit he purchased from someone else just like me who started making suits.
Time passed and I grew increasingly more busy. Eventually, FurX tried to strike a deal with me where I'll make him a pair of handpaws in exchange for the tickets he purchased for us for Bcon. I thought at first the admission for the tickets aren't the value of handpaws; they barely cover the costs, but seeing as we are friends why not. BIG MISTAKE.
I had other commissions ahead of his; my other commissioners were fine with waiting a bit since they knew I was busy juggling full time studies with suit making. FurX eventually started pressuring me to finish his handpaws even though I explicitly said I do not have time. I was busy with my own bodysuit that I had planned long before this.
I was studying during the day and working on my suit during nighttime; at the same time my gran's health was deteriorating very fast, and since she's the person who taught me a lot about my craft and how to sew and work the machine I wanted to get the suit done in time to show her. She was extremely proud of me making my head and handpaws. This all while FurX is constantly applying pressure to me to finish his handpaws, I was studying for mid-semester tests and trying to get my fursuit done in time for my favorite gaming convention (Gcon).
My gran passed mere weeks before Gcon; I never got to show her my finished suit. The day Gcon started, I was writing a double test since my units were a bit messed up and I had to write two tests in one day. During the day, FurX would message me and ask about the handpaws. I didn't reply since I was stressed for the tests. Furthermore, I had LAN tickets, so I still had to pack my car with my PC and my suit and all my stuff for the weekend. I got home at around 4pm, dead tired from writing a double test series. I had to fur my feetpaws to have them done for Gcon. As I was busy furring them, FurX messaged me and I simply snapped. I cussed at him and told him he'll never get his handpaws if he talks to me the way he does, and I ended up blocking him.
He didn't respond to this well; he started facebook shaming me and going onto every platform imaginable to slather my name and tell people what a horrible person I am. Luckily, the audience he reached knows me and they know what my situation is and promptly defended me.
I was mad as hell for his super-inconsiderate actions and his entitlement to something that was actually done as a favor for him. I arrived at Gcon after a 30-min angry drive from home. I arrived at 7pm, tired and defeated, and still had to set my computer up. Luckily, my friends kept a place for me to sit. It was only after setting up that I received a message from another fur saying that FurX is really upset and that I shouldn't dare show my face at the annual Gcon furmeet we have. I spoke to a few other furs about it and decided I will make a point of going to this furmeet. I eventually pulled up my blow-up mattress and fell asleep ... at a LAN at 10pm I was exhausted after that day.
The next day was exciting since it was my first time ever going in fullsuit to any kind of convention, and it was my first reveal to the community of my suit. I was nervous and excited. I had a wonderful day and I couldn't wait until the furmeet we have at night after Gcon, the very same one FurX tried to ban me from.
I was at the meet. FurX showed up too, and I kept on chatting to my friend who went through the entire thing with me to help me remain calm. I wanted to approach FurX and give him a piece of my mind, but my friend stopped me. Eventually, came time to suit up. I got suited up and everyone loved my suit. It was one of the first suits at a furmeet, and since it was a relatively new thing I got a lot of attention for it.
Until a point where FurX and his other friend started talking to me and picking my suit apart, showing all the errors and asking me things like “why didn't I do X or Y?” I brushed it off and moved on with my weekend. They weren't worth my energy and spoiling my afternoon to engage. I was a bit down after I unsuited though.
The next morning, I decided to unblock FurX, and he got hold of photos of me at Gcon through the Facebook grapevine. He sent a picture to me outlining even more errors on my suit. I immediately responded with “Are you enjoying constantly showing errors in my suit?” to which he just responded, “No,” and the conversation ended there.
So that is the brunt of the story, until this day over 3 years later there is still beef. I have tried on many occasions to just move on and be the mature adult—you know, shit happens; live and let live.
He eventually started making his own fursuits. Probably to spite me or be better than me at fursuit making, to which I say, “Great, more fursuit makers!”
But his constant growing jealousy of what he perceives of me being "famous" for fursuiting is growing worse and worse. I was approached by a local radio station for a live on-air interview with a group of other fursuiters of my choice. I didn't choose him, and why should I?
We were also interviewed at our second annual con by a local magazine and I was one of the people that were specifically approached to be interviewed. FurX very angrily and slyly would glance at me and constantly walk past the table where I was being interviewed. I had a blast talking to the interviewer especially since we're both from the same cultural background, so we understood each other on a different level.
FurX was intensively jealous of this.
I eventually got a message from FurX saying he's surprised I didn't choose him to go on the air with me on the radio interview and that he's proud of my achievements. But at the end of the day that was exactly the reason I didn't choose him. I'm not pushing a personal propaganda I'm pushing the furry propaganda. I didn't go on the radio for myself; I went on the radio to represent the furry community. He wanted to be on the radio for the simple matter of being "popular."
I have friends who tell me that he complains to them because all he wants to be is popular. But it's gotten to a toxic level where he oppresses even his own friends. One of his friends started making fursuits as well and their work is better received than that of FurX, and FurX made the new maker feel so bad for being better than him and the new maker took it up quite personal which upsets me because fursuit making isn't about who can make the best suits; it's about creativity and giving back to the community that we love. Being contributors.
So I'm constantly dealing with FurX being condescending and passive aggressive toward me in a group where I am forced to be as an admin due to my status involving our convention. It's starting to grow worse and worse where he's targeting my messages and anything fursuit related he has some kind of comment to make, especially if I post it. But it extends to more than just this group. In general, he has become this person who just sucks the joy out of life.
I feel sorry for him, I really do. Trust me, I've tried to make things right but I have eventually given up since I don't want to deal with him anymore. He just makes me negative and doesn't really listen to anything one says. He even steps on those trying to help him.
People think that he's like this to me just because of our history and some people laugh it off and says, “You, too.”
What I am ultimately asking for is advice. How can I just move on from this and get him to stop griping at me for being me? His jealousy is extremely toxic, and I've been trying to eliminate toxicity from my life. I'm so tired of this pettiness, and a single message from him can really ruin my entire day. I'm sure others see his aggressiveness toward me and see his ill intentions, but honestly I've been trying actively to get over this issue and every interaction with him is like one step forward and two steps back.
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First, my condolences over the loss of your grandmother; she sounds like she was a sweet and supportive lady. I just wanted to say that before you read the rest of this, which I hope you will take as a wake-up call.
It’s not difficult to see where you went wrong here. Actually, there are three places where you went wrong, at least, compounded by bad behavior on both parties.
Let’s begin with my policy about money and friends/family. My mother wisely advised me years ago, “Never loan a friend or family member money; you either give them the money or you don’t. Do not expect it to be returned; provide it as a gift, and only give what you can afford to comfortably.” In your case, FurX offered to cover your entry into Bcon with the expectation that you would pay him back (a condition to which you agreed). I would never have done this. If I chose to help a friend get into a con, I would pay the way as a gift and never ask for the money in return. Or, as in the case with a room, I would offer to split the cost of the room, which helps the other person while not getting yourself into the quandary of having provided a loan. Loans are a recipe for destroying relationships, as you have found out too late.
Your next mistake was agreeing to his offer that you make him forepaws in exchange for—according to you—the less valuable tickets he bought for you. Not only did you feel this was not an equitable trade, but you did not have the time to sew the paws as quickly as you should have, and you knew it, or really should have known it.
Your third mistake was cutting off all communication with him. That is very unprofessional of someone who considers himself a businessman in the fursuit industry. You should always openly and honestly communicate with your clients, especially about the status of their commissions. You’re belief that you are doing FurX a favor is incorrect: you agreed to do a trade with him, entering into a business deal, which is not a favor, and you should have treated it as a business contract.
From this point, things go precipitously downhill, with your making speculative claims that FurX decided to make fursuits to somehow spite you, and with your cutting him out of the interview you were asked to do, which was actually a wonderful opportunity to mend bridges if you had taken it.
Given the three things above, I’m definitely leaning in favor of FurX’s point of view, not yours. That said, he has also behaved a bit immaturely by criticizing your fursuit-making skills, but at this point a bit of bitterness on his part is understandable.
One wonders, as well: did you ever finish his paws? All you seem to care about is your own fursuit while simultaneously accusing FurX of wanting to be a popufur. Hmmm. Pot, meet kettle.
You wish to move on? My advice is this: 1) If you haven’t already done so, finish his paws and give them to him; 2) apologize to him if you haven’t already (you don’t explain well how you tried to make amends); 3) stop being jealous, stop worrying about what he is doing, and focus on your own business. Stop worrying about who is a popufur and stop claiming that you have noble intentions to promote the furry fandom when it is quite blatantly obvious you are more concerned about your reputation as a fursuit maker.
Finally, in the future, do not promise things you can’t or don’t want to deliver on.
Sorry for this rather harsh letter, but you need to hear it. This is exactly the kind of drama that degrades the furry fandom, and you are contributing to it.
FurX, if you are reading this, you would do well to drop this issue, too. Learn from it, and try not to repeat your mistakes.
Good Luck to both of you in your future fursuit-making endeavors.
What should I do about past mistakes?
Hello there, I'm a furry from the UK. Due to past experiences (which I'd rather not disclose), I ended up developing a very unhealthy coping mechanism that involved me posting controversial (think political) comments, with the intention of sowing hatred against myself. One of these incidents, involving a well-known furry, went too far, and I was evicted from at least one furmeet on the grounds of causing them unnecessary drama.
Since then, I've thrown all of my effort into a complete turnaround of who I am as a person, and I honestly like who I am now. I've accepted that some bridges must remain burned because of my past actions, however, I do still think about my mistakes on a daily basis, to the extent that it has affected my overall mental health. I've accepted that I'll likely have to live with that mistake hanging over me for the rest of my life, but it has also manifested into an innate paranoia that those who have 'let me back in' secretly despise me, and are waiting for an excuse to cut me out yet again, despite what they have said to me directly. I'm not sure what to do regarding these feelings, as I see people being 'cancelled' every day for mistakes I feel are far less egregious than my own. I'm at the point where I'm honestly just waiting to be 'cancelled' myself, and it's giving me no end of stress.
What should I do regarding my past mistakes and how to deal with them?
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Everyone is guilty of some transgressions in their lives, and no one can “cast the first stone” as a result. In other words, we are not perfect, and that’s okay. I’ve certainly done some things that I regret and that have hurt people in the past. Since you do not detail exactly what you did, I will speak in generic terms here, which in its way is better as this letter could help others who read it more if they can see how it applies to a variety of cases. For that, I thank you for your important letter.
What you need to do is take the path towards forgiving yourself and getting on with your life, whether or not others forgive you, too. Remember, you can’t control how others will react, but you can control your own actions.
You have already taken the first important step, which is acknowledging that you did something wrong in the first place, so good for you on that point!
Second is to ask those you have harmed for forgiveness. Doing so must be absolutely sincere (people can tell when you’re not sincere, so don’t kid yourself), but you should be prepared for the fact that not everyone will forgive you. Hopefully they will, but you’ll have to accept that they sometimes won’t. It seems, too, from your letter that you are coming to terms with that, which is quite mature of you.
Third is to forgive yourself. You can’t move ahead if you don’t believe in yourself and that you can do better. If you’re always saying negative things about yourself (e.g. “I’m a bad person,” “I’m an idiot,” etc.) you will bury yourself in a deep hole from which you can’t climb out. When you feel negative thoughts enter your head, counteract them with positive statements like “I am a caring person who is trying to do better and to be more helpful to and appreciative of others.”
Fourth: learn from the past. Let’s face it, we can’t grow as people if we never make a mistake! Learn from those mistakes. For example, many people (including yours truly) have sent off angry emails (or social media posts) without thinking first only to regret them later. Before you shoot yourself in the foot, the lesson here is, take some time to cool off and really think about what was said and how you will respond. Then, go ahead and write that email, but save it in a draft first. Wait a day, then go back and re-read it. At that point, you might choose to edit it or maybe delete it entirely.
Fifth: Go out into the community again (yes, in person if you can) and try to make amends with others and be good to them. Three things can happen here: 1) you will find that you are forgiven a lot sooner than you expected to be; 2) you might not be accepted right away but, with time and work, you will regain your friends’ trust; or 3) some might never forgive you. All three of these have happened to me, and #3 can be sad, but at least you will have learned more about relationships and, in the future, be prepared and equipped to do better (I am a much better friend these days than I was as a kid and as a young adult).
Sixth: Gain empathy. Now that you know you’re not perfect and you need forgiveness, you should develop empathy for others so that when they transgress against you, you will know what this is like from their perspective and be able to forgive them should they seek that forgiveness.
Seventh: Realize that you are worthy of love and friendship. We are all beautiful in our emotional and psychological complexities. We have good and bad points. So give yourself a break and go buy yourself a nice ice cream treat.
I'm going to be blunt. This one problem is like a hydra - you cut one head off, two more take its place. I've been through the procedure mentioned in my last letter and survived, but with the world currently as it is, I'm not sure whether I'd really want to.
I'm really, really worried about the UK and my life and where I'll be in the next few years and I feel like I'm losing my grip on things. It's overwhelming when I wake up in the morning and just feel constantly depressed over how my life is falling apart and I don't have any control over it.
This first started back in 2016 with the EU referendum. I was too young to vote in it, but my family voted leave. I was at the time a remainer in secret, as my grandmother has this habit of force feeding her opinion to everyone else. Flash forward three years and it's approaching Brexit day. Whatever side people voted on, it's clear it's going to hit our economy pretty hard. There's talks of diverting already stretched police forces to the border to help with new customs checks etc., and food prices facing a significant increase.
But then there's the other side of the problem. In the past, I've used the fandom to escape from all of this, but this is now under threat from Article 13 (since renamed to Article 17) of the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. This law, while it does not explicitly state this in writing, would force all Internet sites to install filters to check for copyright infringement at the point of upload for user generated content (basically YouTube's Content ID system but stricter and for everything). I run a furry YouTube channel that I fear will get deleted (YouTube's CEO has said they might have to block EU uploads) and the problem only gets worse from there. While there are exceptions written for small sites, the vast majority of sites don't fall into these. And back when GDPR [General Date Protection Regulation] was introduced, a lot of websites restricted EU access. I worry that sites such as FurAffinity and Furry Amino will choose this option instead of spending a fortune on filters (that are expected to be 100% perfect and non erroneous, which is effectively impossible) and simply choose to block all internet traffic from the EU, effectively cutting me off from the fandom. (The final Parliamentary vote on this law is on Tuesday at midday UTC therefore please read up on the result before replying to this.)
So that's the position I'm in. I'm worried about my economic future, my safety (more police at border equals less police dealing with the rise in knife crime) and also worried about losing the community that has helped me weather this storm.
I'm just getting so overwhelmed - every time I try to ignore any of this, I just feel the urge to do 'one quick Google search' to see the latest news, but end up sinking hours into analysing the outcome and trying to wonder how I'll cope in the coming months.
* * *
I'm glad the operation went well, and I hope it has helped with your hearing!
Okay, Brexit. Oy vay, right? I'm in agreement with you that the UK exit from the EU is a moronic decision that was inspired mostly by people (mostly older, conservative people like your parents and grandmother) who are afraid of change, immigrants, and international cooperation. It's totally idiotic and, yes, many people like you believe you're going to be hit hard economically. I'm sorry for you.
My understanding of the GDPR is that it is mostly about websites complying with privacy regulations set up by the EU, especially regarding personal data collection. Any website that interacts with citizens in the EU has a laundry list of policies to conform to, including providing opt-out options, adding SSL if not currently doing so, having written cookie and privacy policies, making sure that any third-party gateways (such as for shopping carts) are compliant if you use them, informing users in your policies that you use Google Analytics (if you do), and so on. Actually, all of the above are good ideas that websites and phone apps should do anyway.
If a website is not compliant, I believe that, yes, it could be blocked by the EU countries, but you won't be in an EU country anymore, so, if it applies to your online experience at all, it would only apply to content coming out of the EU, which it would do right now anyway. I could be wrong, but I don't think Brexit and the GDPR are going to affect your online and phone browsing access, including to furry sites.
As for the future of the British economy and issues such as police protection, well, I don't think anyone really knows how that is all going to shake out after Brexit. The government is just fighting with itself, and it is an awful mess. The world is going through a lot right now. I mean, the United States is having serious problems, and there is a rise in dictatorships and dictator-like governments all over the place, especially in South and Central America, Southeast Asia, and former Soviet Bloc countries. The reasons behind this are too complex to get into for this column. England, though, is one of those countries, and it is happening in large part because of the fear of immigration and a fear of loss of cultural identity.
With such challenging times ahead, family, friends, and community will be more important than ever. I think from the furry end, at least, you can rest assured that we will stick around for you and give you moral support and encouragement.
No one can say for sure what the future will bring, but I hope my words provide at least some comfort to you.
As of now I am struggling to find a reason to live. I have been off-and-on suicidal and depressed for quite some time and had multiple suicide attempts in the past years.
I just cannot find happiness anymore and I unconsciously have thoughts of “what is the point?” And “life will only get harder than it is today”
At the same time, I seem to have it made. I go to college that dad is paying for, I have a job I enjoy, I exercise a lot, so I am in great health, stimulate my mind via books, news, studying, and have a plan for my future: get through college and earn a pilot license. Dad says I have a lot going for me, which is true: loving parent, no financial worries, great food to eat, etc.
Though I have strong OCD [Obsessive Compulsive Disorder], I have medicine that helps tremendously (though not 100% effective). Dad and his girlfriend have great relationships with me and same thoughts for them.
So, how can this be? I have it better than most people, but I think about taking my life. Am I being stupid and spoiled? (According to dad and my therapist that is an OCD thought). What should I do? I have been to the psychiatric ward twice: once a few years ago and this year, but they really did not do anything helpful. I am torn between “many people have it worse then you so you should be grateful” and “life Is too hard.” How do people survive worse than me?
I tried meditating, talking it out, focusing on academics, reading, exercise … but things do not get better.
Anonymous (age 22)
* * *
Thank you for your important letter. And it is definitely important. It illustrates starkly the fact that depression is a disease that often makes no sense (in that it can have no readily apparent cause), not only to the people around the sufferer but often to the sufferer themselves. As you may know if you have read my column before, I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager, including an attempted suicide when I was 18. I did this even though I apparently had nothing to be depressed about. I had a loving family, we were not poor, and I had just been admitted to the University of Michigan.
But depression doesn’t care about any of that. I obviously survived, but there are still days when it really gets to me.
My first observation here is that it sounds as if you are being treated for OCD with a prescription, but you are not getting any help for depression? As you must know, OCD and clinical depression are not the same thing and will require different treatments, whether that is medicine or professional therapy. I’m confused—and perhaps you are leaving this out—that you have attempted suicide but are not getting help specifically for that. You can find treatment help by visiting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at https://www.samhsa.gov/find-treatment. For immediate assistance if you are considering suicide again, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat with them online at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/.
That said, perhaps it will help you to tell you how I deal with depression. It is a depression that coincides with yours in some ways in that I often wonder what the hell is life all about when it can really seem very pointless. To be frank, over the last few years since Jim died, this has been an even more difficult question for me to answer.
One thing I do is that I recognize the monster for what it is: an irrational feeling that is caused by imbalances in the body. Knowing that there really is no valid reason for me to want to kill myself (I’m in good health, I recently got engaged, I do not lack for food or clothing or shelter), I understand that this Depression Monster is all in my head and that if I ride it out it will eventually go away. This may or may not be what you are dealing with. Are you suicidal all the time or does it come and go? Perhaps, if it comes and goes, you can try to ride it out as I do. How do you do that? Well, number one is to make sure you don’t indulge in listening to sad music, watching sad movies, drinking alcohol (a depressant) or taking drugs, or looking at photos that make you sad. Try to put yourself in a happy environment. This may not work right away, but it will help.
There is an even deeper issue here, too, however. The angst and worry one experiences when the big question—what is the meaning of life?—can never be answered. The good news is that this could be an indication you are more intelligent than the average bear, because smarter people tend to think more about the big picture and to strive more in life than less intelligent people.
I believe the problem you might be having is the “Is this all there is to life?” quandary. This happens with successful, intelligent people at times. They have great careers, great families, lots of material goods … and then begin to wonder, “So what?” My sister had this rather existential issue recently. She confided to me that she had achieved what she wanted in her career and had all the things she wanted but was rather depressed because she felt at a loss as to what else to do with her life. What she has been doing is traveling a lot, which is great. I admire her for being adventurous and all, but I get this suspicion that she is just trying to fill her time or find something out in the big, grand world that just isn’t there. At least, it is no more there than it would be in her own home.
When one finds no satisfaction in accumulating wealth or material goods or fame or power or even sex because these are all selfish pursuits, the answer is to find satisfaction in UNselfish pursuits. I have said this before in my column, and I will say it again now: the only thing in my life that has brought me joy, hope, and a feeling of accomplishment is helping others. Whether it is helping my fiance with his medical issues, or helping a friend get into school, or giving a bit of money to a charity, or writing this column and helping people like you, these things give my life a sense of meaning.
I do not believe that we are here for just ourselves. We are all connected; we all need each other; no one is an island; no one can fill a vacuum with a single particle. We are interconnected waves of energy, not compartimentalized dots of matter, and we all intertwine with one another.
My suggestion for your dilemma, dear furiend, is to go outside yourself and help others. That could be anything: volunteer at an animal shelter, work at a church, campaign for a politician you believe in, entertain the elderly with music at a senior home, get involved in theater, organize a campaign to clear trash from the beaches, and on and on and on. In other words, get involved in the life all around you, with the people around you, with something outside your vocational pursuits.
A final suggestion is this: seems to me you are very driven in your education, thoughts of a career, and even your hobbies are all designed for self-improvement (books, exercise, etc.), which is great, but don’t forget to have some fun, too! It kind of sounds to me that you are not really enjoying your life. Life isn’t only about work and improving oneself. Perhaps you would find some joy in focusing on being a furry a little more? Or try something else creative, such as music or painting or acting. A little more color in your life wouldn’t hurt. Does this sound selfish and contradicting of what I just wrote above? Perhaps a bit, but actually creativity brings a lot of joy not only to yourself but to others. It is why I fursuit, because I love the expressions on people’s faces when they see me, as well as the hugs.
I hope some of this helps. Remember, if you seriously feel like you can’t make it on your own, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline as mentioned above.
Please take care. Write again if you have questions or just want to talk.
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