We have received comments from readers who tell us that our ideas caused them to be distressed or depressed. If you are one of those readers you need to consider the following. As human beings become anxious they often lose their focus and objectivity, and misinterpret what they are reading. If you understand what we are saying, there is absolutely no reason to be depressed by our ideas.
Why not? First, our conclusions may be right, we may have a permanent non-physical consciousness which gives meaning to life. Second, we may be wrong, life may have permanent existential meaning and value without a life after death. Third, if there is nothing after physical death you are absolutely free to live a life filled with both pain and joy, knowing that if you die today, or next year, or ten years from now, the "pain" will be as if it never was.
No matter which of the three is right, depression and suicide destroy the possibility of finding the meaning and purpose which may in fact exist in each and every human being's life. We are a small part of the whole. Unless the answer is revealed to us by the whole, we can never know during our physical lives what really happens when our physical life ends. Life may have physical or non-physical meaning and value right now that we do not, and perhaps cannot during our physical lives, recognize and understand.
Beyond the fact that we cannot be sure we are right, nothing we have said changes the fact that all human beings can choose to do that which is good and live as positive a life as they can with the belief/faith that life may have meaning and purpose. This fact is extremely difficult to accept if you are searching for meaning in your life, you do not believe that there is a life after death, and you are discouraged or depressed before you start reading.
If your mind is not receptive and clear, when you read our ideas they may touch raw nerves, and you may stop understanding what we are saying. If you do not agree that the possibility of "nothing" absolutely eliminates suicide as an option then carefully reread our book, including "Afraid of Nothing?", and this section until you understand why our conclusion is true.
It is very important to understand that every person can live a positive life for the rest of their lives, loving their neighbor, doing that which is good, with the hope that physical life does have existential meaning and purpose and/or that there is a life after death. There is no reason whatsoever to be depressed, there is every reason to do that which is good and live the most positive life you are willing to live, with the hope that life has meaning and purpose.
There is no reason at all to reject the possibility that each of us has some kind of permanent physical or non-physical consciousness. There is no reason at all to reject the possibility that each of our lives has existential meaning and purpose even if there is no life after death. There is no reason whatsoever not to search for an alternative to nihilism, to seek existential meaning and purpose in our lives, to explore the possibility of a permanent physical or non-physical consciousness, to search for a reason for living. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever not to live for the possibility, however remote you may believe it to be, that you can make choices now that will lead you to a positive life that has meaning and value.
We have readers who indicate that they are distressed and depressed by the possibility that they may have committed the eternal sin. If God exists and if there is an eternal sin, then God gives us the choice to commit the eternal sin or not to commit the eternal sin, period. It would seem that those who have not committed the eternal sin would be distressed if they believed that they might have committed the eternal sin. It would seem that the very fact that someone is distressed by the belief that they may have committed the eternal sin may suggest that they have in fact not committed the eternal sin.
Physical and mental disease cause extreme anxiety and depression, and may lead a person to believe that they have committed the eternal sin and that they will live in hell after their death when in fact they have not committed the eternal sin. If you are distressed and depressed by the possibility that you have committed the eternal sin, then you need to talk with those who you believe have not committed the eternal sin, including religious counselors. Talk to several people, especially mental health professionals if there is any possibility of psychological or emotional influences or problems, so that you may better determine what you have and have not done.
It can be very difficult to find qualified professionals, and even when you do find them, it can be very difficult to tell them about your fears. Find qualified professionals and talk to them. You need to overcome any reluctance you may have to talk with those who might help you, and be willing to allow them to help you decide what you really believe is true. Seek professional help now!
If you do not yet understand the fact that there is no reason whatsoever to be disturbed or depressed by our conclusions (including our conclusion that if there is no life after death your past, present, and future may be annihilated on your physical death) then you still do not understand what we are saying. Please take as much time as you need to reread this book, including the chapter Afraid of Nothing, and our other book, and carefully think about what you have read, until you satisfy yourself that there is in fact absolutely no reason to be depressed by our conclusions, and absolutely no reason whatsoever for any human being to commit suicide.
The following paragraphs contain links to websites which offer information about, and help for, Distress and Depression.
Some who are deeply depressed believe that their lives are meaningless, and to escape the pain of living they seek the peace of suicide. If you are suicidal visit www.areason.org, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255, and get professional help immediately.
(Mental Health Association website - http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/suicide)
Life is full of good times and bad, of happiness and sorrow. But when you are feeling "down" for more than a few weeks or you have difficulty functioning in daily life, you may be suffering from a common, yet serious medical illness - called clinical depression.
You are not alone
Every year more than 19 million American Adults suffer from clinical depression. Young or old, man or woman, regardless of race or income - anyone can experience clinical depression. Depression can cause people to lose the pleasure from daily life. It can complicate other medical conditions - it can be serious enough to lead to suicide. Yet this suffering is unnecessary. Clinical depression is a very treatable medical illness. So why don't many people seek the help they need? Clinical depression often goes untreated because people don't recognize the many symptoms. They may know some symptoms, such as sadness and withdrawal, but they are unaware of others, including anxiety, irritability, and sleeplessness. Some incorrectly believe that only people whose depression lasts for months, or who have completely lost their ability to function, have "real" - or "clinical" - depression. Many people even wrongly think that depression is "normal" for older people, young adults, new mothers, menopausal women, or those with a chronic illness. The truth is, clinical depression is never "normal," no matter what your age or life situation. Also, people need to know that treatment for clinical depression really works - and to learn how to go about finding the treatment they need.
Clinical Depression can be Successfully Treated
Clinical depression is one of the most treatable of all medical illnesses. In fact, more than 80 percent of people with depression can be treated successfully with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both. Only a qualified health professional can determine if someone has clinical depression. But knowing the symptoms of clinical depression can help you as you talk with your health professional.
As with many illnesses, if treatment if needed, the earlier it begins, the more effective it can be. And, early treatment increases the likelihood of preventing serious recurrences.
You Do Not Have to Cope with Clinical Depression on Your Own
Some people are embarrassed to get help for depression, or they are reluctant to talk about how they are feeling. Others believe that depression will go away on its own. You can't just "Tough it out!" Help is available.
Talking to friends, family members and clergy can often give people the support needed when going through life's difficult times. For those with clinical depression such support is important, but it is not a substitute for the care of a health professional. Remember, clinical depression is a serious illness that you do not have to treat on your own.
(from the National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/depression.html)
A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.
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