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Life just sucks sometimes.


Specializes in Mental Health. Has 30+ years experience.

My Grandmother was born in 1904 and immigrated to America with her family shortly thereafter. When she turned 12, her Mother forced her to drop out of school and work twelve hours a day in a tire factory so the family could pay the bills. When she was 17, her family pressured her to marry a man she didn't love in order to gain financial security. Shortly after she said 'I do,' my Grandmother came to her senses and demanded a divorce.

Back then, divorce wasn't as common as it is now and her demand caused a lot of controversy in her community. No one could understand why a woman wouldn't want to be with the nice man who wanted to provide for her and many dubbed her a strumpet. But my Grandmother stood her ground and dissolved her marriage. However, upon returning home, her family had decided in her absence that she must be crazy. Literally. They had her forcibly committed to a mental institution.

Mental institutions were not the nice, clean, white places of healing they are today. Instead, they were filled to the brim with incompetent doctors who made snap diagnoses and ordered experimental shock treatments. Patients often spent hours strapped down in beds and force fed drugs that made them feel even worse. Some of them were raped, beaten, or otherwise abused. After all, they were crazy. Who would believe them?

My Grandmother told me all of this for the first time shortly after my 19th birthday. I had recently found out something pretty shocking about my past (Another story for another day, don't worry) and I went to her for confirmation because there wasn't anyone else I could trust to tell me the truth. She did confirm what I had learned and apologized for her part in it. Destroyed by the news, I confessed to her that I was thinking about going into therapy. My desire for a Doctor to 'fix me' is what inspired her story.

When she was finished, she said to me, "All the time I spent in that hellhole, people were constantly trying to convince me that I felt sad because there was something wrong with my brain. But do you want to know what I really learned?"

I leaned in closer, absolutely absorbed by the image of my tough Grandmother who raised her children, nurtured her (Second!) marriage, and was one of the first successful business women of her era spending time in a mental institution. "What Grandma?" I breathlessly inquired.

"I learned that I wasn't sad because there was something wrong with my brain. I learned that I was sad because my life sucked."

Initially, I laughed because it was funny to hear my old Grandma use the word 'sucked' in a sentence. But after that, I worriedly asked, "Are you saying I shouldn't seek therapy?"

"No," she replied, "I'm not saying that at all. What I am saying is that you should be wary of the Doctor who tells you a pill is a fix for your broken mind. The way I see it, you have a lot of reasons to be sad right now. So if that's what you're feeling, that seems about right to me."

Now that we live in a culture where mental illness is so incredibly popular that you're almost considered abnormal if you don't have one, her words ring even truer. A lot of people nowadays seem to think that any sign of anxiousness or sadness signifies a broken brain, and immediately upon discovery will run with their asses on fire for their prescription of Happy Pills.

"My brain doesn't produce enough serotonin!" they chirp. "This is why I'm always sad!"

It's always the serotonin. It's never the lousy job or the loveless marriage or the helplessness one feels when they finally realize they've been pressured into living a life they would have never chosen for themselves. No, it's never that. It's always a broken brain.

Now please don't misunderstand me here. I am not trying to lambaste psychiatric treatment nor am I denying the existence of real, valid, medically proven mental disabilities. I realize there are people out there who downright suffer from hallucinations, irrational fears and compulsions, and crippling life debilitating illnesses that wreak havoc on their lives if left untreated. I do not fault these people for taking the drugs they need to feel better. In fact, I applaud them.

It's the people who try to eradicate every hint of sadness and anger out of human existence I fault. Negative emotions are a vital part of the human condition and it isn't until we experience them that we truly appreciate the positive opposites. In other words, one needs sadness in their lives to be able to fully recognize happiness when they come across it. Without anger, we can never appreciate the calm; our hatred and indifference emphasis our love. To deprive oneself of any emotion characteristic to our nature is to deny the very things that make us human. Our minds work the way they do for a reason. They are not broken.

Modern day Americans are often trapped in lousy, disappointing, soul crushing careers. If they are not divorced already, their marriages are on the rocks. They live far outside of their means, rack up thousands of dollars of debt, and then they work overtime to pay for the toys they never have time to play with. They dedicate their lives to pleasing ungrateful children who won't amount to much more than they did. Hours of their downtime is spent in front of the television, switching from reality show to reality show, because it is easier to watch other people live life than it is to live their own. They feel all of this on top of the usual human maladies of sickness, death and grief.

To be perfectly honest, I would think it was weirder if most people didn't entertain thoughts of suicide.

The majority of people aren't sad because there is something wrong with their brain. They are sad because their lives suck. But rather than admit that to themselves, they run to the Doctor and beg for a diagnosis that alleviates their personal responsibility in this regard. After all, if a man in a white coat tells you're broken, you never have to worry about fixing yourself. The sad reality is that they'll spend the rest of their lives switching medications and wondering why nothing they take works and cures their disease. Never once do they consider that the disease is their life and true healing will come once attempts are made to repair it.

If you are sad right now, I want you to consider that perhaps there is nothing wrong with you. Perhaps you are seeing things the way they ought to be seen. Maybe there is just something wrong with the world right now? Instead of popping some pills in the hopes that they will put us on a perpetual even keel, maybe instead we should figure out what is wrong with our society...and fix it.

Thunderwolf, MSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Geriatric, Behavioral Health. Has 32 years experience.

A most excellent post, Thanet....thank you.

indigo girl

Specializes in Too many to list.

Yes, sometimes it sure does...


Specializes in telemetry, med-surg, home health, psych.

thanet....how enlightening, I agree with your post completely...I have often thought the exact same things when dealing with my psych patients....

It is our society that has caused a lot of these so called "mental problems" for sure....everyone wants a "quick fix" and the easy way out...

Excellent post....I would take it to work with me but would probably be fired,,,,,that would be taking bread and butter from the docs....

Thank you for your story, your grandmother was full of wisdom! Meds or no meds, life can still suck--it is what we DO about it that matters.

I agree that feelings are meant to be felt, I agree that typical Americans have lost what it means to be fully present. So how can we inject a more sane approach to life in society?

I personally have worked as a family therapist for a long time trying to help where I can in the hope that my small ripple matters.


Specializes in telemetry, med-surg, home health, psych.

my son is giving me a hard time.......put him on Adderall and put me on Prozac so I can deal with it;

my husband just left me for another woman....put me on Lexapro so I can function;

I get so nervous...put me on Xanax so I can get through the day....

too many "pharmaceutical quick fixes" that lead to long term dependence and don't help get to the root of the problem to fix it...or give us coping skills to deal with life.....that is what it is....life....

like Mom used to say "life is not a bed of roses" there are ups and downs and highs and lows....why don't we understand this and realize our feelings of sadness, depression, anger, etc. are part of our ways to deal with these ups and downs????

or do we just want to take a pill and be numb to these feelings????

That was a most excellent post. I found it a little late in the game, but hey, that's fine.

It's like my mom said, "Everyone thinks they are entitled to happy all the time" and it's just not true.

Cheers, I could have written that myself.

Orca, ASN, RN

Specializes in Corrections, psychiatry, rehab, LTC. Has 26 years experience.

In these days of fast food and instant entertainment, everyone looks for a quick fix for pretty much everything. Whatever is wrong with you, take a pill and everything will be fine. Manufacturers of psychiatric medications advertise on television to reinforce this. "Ask your doctor if (insert name of medication here) is right for you." Translation: Tell your doctor you need another pill to fix what is wrong with you.

In times of severe emotional trauma medication can sometimes help. I took Prozac for about 90 days when going through a divorce years ago, and I am convinced that I am around to write this today because my doctor was perceptive enough to intervene. However, once I got past the rough patch I decided that antidepressants were not going to be a permanent fixture in my life. I no longer tie my perception of my worth to what others think or how many possessions I have. Your grandmother was right. Sometimes your life just sucks, and you have to make choices to change the situation.


Specializes in Psych, Informatics, Biostatistics. Has 25 years experience.

What a great post. I had a rough day; demoralizing to my self image more than anything.

Thanks for an uplift!!


Specializes in Psych, Informatics, Biostatistics. Has 25 years experience.

What a great post. I had a rough day; demoralizing to my self image more than anything.

Thanks for an uplift!!


Specializes in Psychiatric.

Thanks (belatedly) for this post. I feel very much the same way--while I'm sure there are some people with legitimate chemical imbalances, when I read/hear about what home/famly life is like for some of the kids in my unit, I think if I were them I would want to kill myself too!


Specializes in psych nursing/certified Parish Nurse. Has 45 years experience.

this lovely thread is so right--a positive approach can be taken to even "life sucks"--of course it does! We are supposed to learn to make ourselves better people (stronger, more resilient, more enduring, etc.), if life didn't provide those opportunities we'd really be in a mess! (And since so many insist this shouldn't be--it is they who are lessened by that attitude, "medicating themselves", "pigeon-holing" themselves with the "chemical imbalances" (actually, this isn't even good science--there is no such thing as "chemical imbalance"; at least in the enduring state--medications, however, could be seen as "chemical imbalance" from one point of view) from which the "life sucks" attitude--entrenched--becomes not helpful. Realizing how important "suffering" is to human well-being and growth... needs to become much more generally realized, because in spite of all humankind's efforts to relieve it: it has become worse and worse and more and more prevalent... is "someone" trying to tell us something?


Specializes in Forensic/Psych/Surgical nurse.

So true, so true. I have a prescription for my G.A.D and while my life doesn't suck, I see how often prescriptions are given out and I can understand that some people may just need a hug or a family that supports them or what have you. Great post! Thanks plenty.

indeed a great post, it helped to remind me to embrace the suffering and not run away from it. life in reality can be a great challenge, somehow as medical professionals we got lost in over analyzing or find the reason behind the chemical imbalance for the cause (although this is very legitimate in some cases)...helping to change the mindset of our society will require much change in many forms and deep prayer.

chevyv, BSN, RN

Specializes in Gero Psych, Ortho Rebab, LTC, Psych. Has 20 years experience.

During my 6week post partum check up, I started sobbing in the doctors office (feet in the stir ups and all). I had just finished telling the doc that my newborn son (1st born) had just gotten out of the hospital following the shock of his first open heart surgery (he was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrom) and had attended my fathers funeral the week before (sudden death). She freaked out and wanted to put me on anti-depressants. Now mind you all this was my first time out of any hospital or funeral home since giving birth. I had only been home 1-2 days. This was supposed to be a wonderful time in my life with a healthy newborn and grandparents smiling. It was nothing like that. It was scary and sad (mixed in with some really good things like bringing my baby home).

I remember looking up from those stir-ups and telling the doc that I really think it's okay for me to feel sad right now. I refused the pills but promised if I felt I needed anything I would schedule an appointment. The posters grandmother is exactly right on, sometimes life sucks.

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