[hackerspaces] Please reach out

Will Bradley will at heatsynclabs.org
Mon Nov 21 13:25:31 CET 2011

Thanks Mitch!
What advice do you have for someone who is being reached out to, and how
did you learn to love your life?

I frequently end up being asked to help, but so far my best advice is "when
I feel sad, I stop feeling sad and be awesome instead." It's cheesy but to
me it means that sadness is just an emotion that can be controlled. I can
choose to be deliriously happy regardless of, and in spite of, my
circumstances. Also, getting regular sleep/exercise/sun/food has a more
profound impact than many realize. This advice doesn't seem to help others
though, especially those with medication issues or who could benefit from
medication. Being awesome has a nice side effect of helping you love your
life (for your own personal definition of awesome.)

This works well for me, but hasn't for others, so please share so I can
better help next time someone asks for help hacking their depression!
On Nov 20, 2011 12:35 PM, "Mitch Altman" <maltman23 at hotmail.com> wrote:

>  I wrote a blog post yesterday that sort of went viral.  The server
> crashed from so much traffic.  Depression is something that a lot of us
> geeks experience.  I thought I would share it on the Hackerspaces.org list,
> too.  If you are depressed or feeling suicidal, please know that you are
> not alone.
> ------------------------------
> For folks who don't know, Ilya Zhitomirskiy, one of the founders of
> Diaspora, committed suicide recently. He was 22 years old.
> Ilya hung out at Noisebridge, and also led workshops and hackathons for
> Diaspora at our space. Most people who met him were quickly taken in by his
> enthusiasm and do-ocratic charisma. I became instant friends with him the
> first day he showed up at Noisebridge shortly after he moved to San
> Francisco last year.
> Hardly anyone had even a clue that Ilya was depressed, let alone suicidal.
> He was bubbly, cheerful, excited about all the way cool projects he was
> implementing, as well as the ones he had thought, and would think of.
> Last night was his memorial in San Francisco, followed a party in his
> backyard in the Mission. This party was typical of the epic parties Ilya
> threw in his backyard over the past many months, bringing together so many
> wonderful people -- incredible opportunities to have fun meeting and
> connecting with each other. The only thing atypical last night was that
> Ilya was not there.
> Both the memorial and the party were full of people who knew and loved
> Ilya, and who Ilya knew and loved. Ilya could have reached out to any one
> of us -- any time of day or night. He could have reached out. But he didn't.
> For Ilya to have held in and hid his pain so well that all of these
> people, including myself, had no clue -- Ilya must have felt *so* alone,
> *so* isolated, exacerbating his pain too greatly. If he had reached out,
> maybe -- maybe -- he could have lived another day. But he didn't.
> I lived the first half of my life in total and utter depression. No joy,
> just shame, just self-loathing, dread and anxiety and fear of other people
> -- total depression. I know what it is like to be depressed. I know what it
> is like to live for one's whole life knowing and believing that the best
> life might have to offer is the ability for me to endure the pain till I
> eventually died. That was the best possibility. As with Ilya, I hid all of
> this from the world as best as I could. And most people had no clue I was
> depressed.
> Yet, I learned, through making choices for myself, and learning from the
> consequences of my choices, and with help and support of others, over a
> period of many years, making more choices, learning, growing, crashing,
> burning, making more choices, more support. . . -- I eventually learned to
> live a life I love. I love the life I live! If I could learn to live a life
> I love, then, certainly, it is possible for anyone to do this!
> It is more than possible -- it is way worthwhile, way rewarding, way
> wonderful to go through the experiences of our life -- through the ups and
> the downs, through the all-arounds, and all the pain and suffering and joy
> and love and excitement -- and come to a place where you know that the
> pain, regardless of its intensity, is yet another (perhaps seemingly
> unendurable) experience, which gives way to more of what makes life even
> more worthwhile.
> Depression is an important part of life. Everyone experiences it to some
> extent. But to those of us who know chronic depression, it is our own
> unique hell.
> Unique as it is to each of us, we all share a lot.
> And we all have a lot to share with each other. Through the ups, and the
> downs, the all-arounds.
> For someone who has no experience reaching out, it can seem to be the
> scariest thing possible. But it is possible.
> It is very possible. Ilya is dead. But you -- you are still alive. If you
> are contemplating suicide, please know that you are not alone. You are part
> of a community of others, many of whom know what it is like to be
> hopelessly depressed. Many of whom are more than open for you to reach out
> to (if you only knew!).
> You *can* choose to kill yourself. But it will be your last choice. If you
> are ready to kill yourself, why not try out one choice first? What do you
> have to lose? I know it is scary, and perhaps way shameful, and maybe too
> awful, and extremely difficult -- but, really, what do you have to lose?
> Please know that you *can* choose to reach out to someone. Please, know
> that you can. Please, pick someone and reach out.
> Why wait till your pain is so unendurable? You can reach out now. (Really,
> you can.)
> Thanks,
> Mitch.
> [I also posted this to the Noisebridge blog:
> http://blog.noisebridge.net/2011/11/19/please-reach-out/]
> _______________________________________________
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