Drowning in Depression

What makes a person go online begging for help from total strangers, and then when someone tries to understand the problem, tries to understand why this stranger is publicly threatening to kill themselves, they turn on the would be helper and try to submerge them in their ire?

As I deleted all my comments from the thread that started this thought train moving and reported the post as a violation of the subreddit’s rules (what I should have done in the first place and will do the next time I see one of these kinds of posts there) I was reminded of this passage from Dune:

“Once on Caladan, I saw the body of a drowned fisherman recovered. He–“

“Drowned?” It was the stillsuit manufacturer’s daughter.

Paul hesitated, then: “Yes. Immersed in water until dead. Drowned.”

“What an interesting way to die,” she murmured.

Paul’s smile became brittle. He returned his attention to the banker. “The interesting thing about this man was the wounds on his shoulders –made by another fisherman’s claw-boots. This fisherman was one of several in a boat — a craft for traveling on water — that foundered . . . sank beneath the water. Another fisherman helping recover the body said he’d seen marks like this man’s wounds several times. They meant another drowning fisherman had tried to stand on this poor fellow’s shoulders in the attempt to reach up to the surface to reach air.”

“Why is this interesting?” the banker asked.

“Because of an observation made by my father at the time. He said the drowning man who climbs on your shoulders to save himself is understandable — except when you see it happen in the drawing room.” Paul hesitated just long enough for the banker to see the point coming, then “And, I should add, except when you see it at the dinner table.”

Dune by Frank Herbert (1965) pg. 139

(a Reddit thread discussing what the scene means)

When you are drowning in depression, it will do you no good to stand on the shoulders of the swimmer next to you. You will both surely drown if you do that. This is why rescuers in actual water emergencies frequently have to wait for a drowning person to stop fighting the water before they can attempt to pull the victim to safety. A drowning person will drown you and themselves in their frantic attempts to stay up in the air. They don’t know what they are doing. A depressed person needs therapy, and solid, stable people around them. Not more depressives that will pull them down deeper into despair.

Had I not found aid in the form of disability payments back in 2005, I would have been dead in 2006. I had it all planned out. I just had to start the plan in motion and it would have worked flawlessly. Probably. I was drowning in depression, convinced that I had to keep working to have any value to the people around me. It took almost another decade for me to figure out that I had value that wasn’t calculated in dollar figures, something that a working person who is convinced that they must keep working to have a meaningful life can’t understand. Not really.

I know this because I was one of those people and I can see the train of thought that lead me from my deepest pit of despair to where I am now. But I’m still burdened with the same chronic illness that forced me out of work twenty years ago. I know this because any time I forget who and what I am and try to start back into my old ways the vertigo sets back in and I have to take a week off in order to recuperate. Just like I had to do every other week back in the bad old days when I thought force of will alone would see me through.

I cannot rescue another chronic illness sufferer if that person can’t understand how I’m still treading water all these years later and flings insults at the methods I employ in order to cope. Hopefully they will also survive long enough to see the error of their ways. I won’t know because I can’t save them and save myself at the same time. They’ll have to find someone with a firmer grasp on reality than I have. I have people who want to see me keep on living. I hope that they do too.

Short Wave – How To Reach Out When Someone You Know May Be At Risk Of Suicide – April 5, 2021


She was going to have to give up nursing in order to treat her Meniere’s if she had Meniere’s. She didn’t have vertigo, so I tried to explain to her that she probably was misdiagnosed and should seek a second opinion from a professional. She then scathingly informed me that she was a professional who damn well knew what was wrong with her. She had endolymphatic hydrops that she developed from exposure to a chemical (she never said what) and hydrops was Meniere’s. She said I needed to educate myself. She then attacked me for being on disability for 15 years, leeching off the government as she put it.

It isn’t Meniere’s if you know the cause. It isn’t Meniere’s if you don’t display the full spectrum of symptoms. It isn’t Meniere’s if you can cure it. I wish I didn’t have Meniere’s. What she has isn’t Meniere’s. What she did have was evidence that:

It has been said that he who is his own lawyer, is sure to have a fool for his client; and that he who is his own physician is equally sure to have a fool for his patient.


Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

I’ve experienced this all my life. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting in a library or a classroom with people reading all around me, books quietly being opened, pages being turned, people whispering what they are reading to themselves, whispering to each other, and this feeling of being tickled in my brain, up and down along my arms and legs, a feeling of static electricity all over my skin surface would occur. It happened a lot.

I could not explain it. I didn’t even dare tell anyone about it for fear of being laughed at or being told I was hallucinating. The feelings persisted though, throughout my life. Anytime I was in a quiet space and these soft, rustling sounds would occur, I would get that familiar feeling.

I wondered about it a lot. I have a very active imagination. I wondered if I was telepathic or empathic or…? Even in my wildest flights of fancy, I couldn’t explain it. I dismissed the telepathic fantasy because I couldn’t actually hear people thinking, try as hard as I might. Dismissed the empathic fantasy because it didn’t seem to have anything to do with a particular emotion or set of emotions.

It was sounds and textures. Touching skin and moving my fingers softly up and down the skin causes the sensations, too. A few years ago I stumbled across the phrase autonomous sensory meridian response or ASMR, and I filed away the fact that there was an explanation for this weird thing I experienced. It was brought back to mind with this episode of Shortwave.

Short Wave – The Squishy Science Behind ASMR – October 17, 2019

It’s an encore episode, yeah I know. This was the video that I first watched way back when. Back when I first ran across the term ASMR and wondered if this was the thing that I experienced.

Accidentally GracefulASMR Unfiltered | Simple Sounds and Soft Whispers – Apr 30, 2015

Last year, when the Shortwave episode first aired, The Wife and I queued up some of the kinds of videos that the episode airs clips from. ASMR Darling, CosmicTingles, JellybeanASMR and others. We established pretty quickly that she did not get a reaction from any of the videos. She also noted the thing that the host of Shortwave first questioned. These are all young women. Is this sexual?

It isn’t sexual, although it might be related to a sexual response. Hard to say. I am not turned on by these young women. I find their crowding the microphones creepy. I understand that they have to be close to the mics in order for the soft sounds to be captured, but still. The mic isn’t the camera. Try backing away from the camera. You might discover that the ASMR response is higher if you aren’t looking at the video but just listening to it.

I haven’t tried playing with floam, the gag that Shortwave ended the episode with. The response can be triggered by tactile sensations, as I mentioned previously. I’m not a big slime enthusiast. It just isn’t my thing. Slime with styrofoam bits in it always struck me as pre-dirtied slime. Really not my thing. But put me in a crowded library with people quietly reading any day. It is an interesting (if slightly distracting) sensation to experience.