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For the first time in my life, I’ve found myself contemplating suicide. I feel like I’m disappearing without hope or interest in living anymore. I’ve tried therapy, venting, medication, self-help, sleeping — nothing has brought me relief. I don’t know how to pull out of this depression. How can I stop this feeling? How can I find meaning in life?
— Suicidal Tendencies
Dear Suicidal Tendencies,
I think every person, at one time or another, has found themselves imagining what it might be like to stop living. Sometimes this can be out of desperation, but other times it’s just a way to get back in touch with not being dead. As the saying goes, “Being alive is alright, especially when we consider the alternative.” It’s healthy to think about life and death, even when we’re feeling hopeless. Or perhaps especially then. We shouldn’t be afraid to try and imagine what it would be like to kill ourselves. Often times, it can help us get a refreshed perspective and appreciation for the astounding adventure we’re part of, and how truly frightening and challenging it would be to really end it all.
As far as we’re aware, being dead is an impossibly unimaginable experience anyway. It might not even be an experience at all, but rather the total void of non-experience. When I’ve been in pain, sometimes non-experience sounded pretty good. Whatever it is to be dead, almost all of us have tried to fathom it, and in times of great anguish, we’ve probably wondered if it might be preferable to the discomfort of daily living. Only the most brazen of believers would unquestioningly assume that the afterlife — if there is one — is something we can comprehend and prepare for. And if there is an existence after this one, it would be pretty bold to think we could have the foggiest idea about what it consists of or feels like.