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Life Just Sucks Sometimes


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.

Specializes in Mental Health. Has 30+ years experience.

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 businesswomen 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.


Specializes in Home Infusion/IV Therapy & Blood Svcs..

Thank you for sharing your opinion on that subject. And kudos to your grandmother for being brave enough to be honest with herself & those around her, despite how difficult it must have been! I'm sure you're very proud of her & who you have become as a result of her honesty. What a great story!

Thank you for the great article! I absolutely agree with you. Nowadays people very often hide behind their "diagnoses" and do not attempt to change their lives!

Thank you for an eye opening view point! I am a nurse working in a high stress area and see my share of pain and suffering. I have been starting to feel alot of anxiety and depression lately and I feel it is starting to affect my life. I have been scared to speak with an MD because I don't want a bunch of pills RX. Your viewpoint has given me the courage to look at my life and make some changes instead of leaving nursing. Yes my life just plain sucks right now... but your story has inspired me to understand that I might need to change what area of nursing I'm in in order to feel better about life. Thanks so much!


Specializes in Med/Surg GI/GU/GYN.

18 years ago I was so sad I could hardly get out of bed. I couldn't keep food down, had constant indigestion, cried at the drop of a hat and could hardly function through my days. I tried talk therapy for a very short time, which was just long enough to make me realize it wasn't me...it was my circumstances and my choice to stay within those circumstances. I could have taken meds to help me feel "better", but they wouldn't change my situation. I came to realize that pain is a gift to us. Pain tells us, something is wrong and needs to be changed. I decided to change my circumstances. I didn't have a mental illness, my life sucked! Changing my circumstances involved proactive, difficult, painful decisions with lifelong consequences, but I knew I couldn't continue to live the way I was. It took time, but I healed.

I recognize mental illness and I also recognize the need for medications. Sometimes someone needs to be on medication for their whole life because there is a physiological issue. But often what people need to do is make the really hard choices and take action to change their lives, rather than being victimized by their circumstances. It's hard, it's painful and often life gets more difficult for awhile, but the emotional/mental pain is giving a message. Sometimes you need a little "boost" from meds for a short time to help you feel good enough to get motivated and make clear decisions, but then when the problem is fixed, you stop taking the meds. If you broke a bone, you wouldn't take meds to alleviate the pain without fixing the underlying problem. And once the bone was healed, you wouldn't continue to take the pain meds. The same could be said for much emotional, spiritual & mental pain.

Thank you for sharing this article. If your grandmother hadn't realized that her life sucked, plain and simple, then she wouldn't have made choices to change her circumstances. She wouldn't have become the healthy, strong woman she was. She could have had experimental brain treatments and medications that numbed the pain, but her life still would have sucked! Fixing the pain doesn't fix the problem, but usually fixing the problem fixes the pain.

Great Article! Thanks for sharing! Although I'm sure there are SOME people that do need meds...the GREAT majority do not...a reality check and /or a brief walk can do wonders!

A few mths ago I felt like I had finally lost my mind. I couldnt' handle ANYTHING all the sudden...I was very angry all the time. At the 1st apt I had w/ a new-to-me doctor, she immediantly prescribed anti anxiety pills....well, i took one and got extremely dizzy, i felt distant from the real world, like i was walking in space...anyways, I quit taking them and decided I was gonna have to figure how to "calm down" w/o taking meds...it only took a week for the anxiety to go away and I've been fine ever since!

Great story!The pendulum always swings far right and then far left to sometimes stop in the middle.Blanket diagnosis/treatment for sociological concepts most often causes misery for those unfortunate to have differences from mainstream.

I don't know how life is where you live.....

But I know your post is about situational depression.

I take antianxiety medication, and I take antidepressants. I have a good life, good husband, nice children... I believe my need for medication is chemical imbalance. I couldn't make babies without medical interventions, I guess again this comes down to chemical imbalances within my body system.

To be honest... this thread leaves a bit of a sad feeling...be careful about judging people you don't know.

Thank you for an eye opening view point! I am a nurse working in a high stress area and see my share of pain and suffering. I have been starting to feel alot of anxiety and depression lately and I feel it is starting to affect my life. I have been scared to speak with an MD because I don't want a bunch of pills RX. Your viewpoint has given me the courage to look at my life and make some changes instead of leaving nursing. Yes my life just plain sucks right now... but your story has inspired me to understand that I might need to change what area of nursing I'm in in order to feel better about life. Thanks so much!

I totally agree. I think I need to change nursing departments, not leave nursing. Thanks for the article and comments!!

Situational Depression, Think?

My Story is sort of parallel.

I was married then quit good government career/got divorced/went sailing in the Caribbean (oops took all SEVEN years of the 1/7 sabbatical )àmoved ashore-got-married-again=back in the same "life sucks" situation {Albeit I did it of my own free will )

During one therapy session the psychiatrist--who no longer took patients with health insurance--said he'd gotten the feeling the HMOs wanted him to just go out in his waiting room and write scripts for Prozac.

Now back in LPN-to-RN Transition, I almost failed due to medications ie with the Effexor I just didn't care. (What Me Worry?) Have tapered off and just squeaked through first semester=close call. But I DO believe that medications can help one stop spiraling down and give relief so one can look around/Up and begin to believe that life can be fun. And when I say "fun" it's using the Greek word eudaimonia, not drunked hedonism.

PS:A Harvard trained psychiatrist I spoke with recently said that Prozac results in seratonin levels greatly ABOVE the levels in the average population, so in fact patients are being hooked on it.

Pain makes man think, thought makes one wise, wisdom makes pain endurable. Tea House of the August Moon

Well I would agree that life does suck sometimes, but being in the health care setting has saved my life. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly sides of life and death. The good, bad and the ugly have helped me keep my life in perspective and focused on what is important.

The events that injured me in my childhood have crushed many people’s lives. Some have survived other have not and everything in-between.

I don’t feel incredibly popular, it is something I wish I could cut out of me, but then again it has shaped me in both positive and negative ways. I have been behind the locked doors twice, been on different medications, still am, some have helped others not, Many hours of counseling. I have made some hard choices to take my life in different directions. At this point in my journey, I am doing well; I have good days and sad days, a pretty normal live.

Yes life does suck sometimes, for those who struggle, just do it, make the hard choices, fake it till you make it, and use whatever you need to succeed. If you don’t take care of yourself how can you take care of others?


Specializes in MedSurg, OrthoNeuro, LTC. Has 16 years experience.

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on mental illness and bless you and your grandma for having the courage to be real. I totally agree with you and even though I have taken antidepressants for a short period of time two different times in my life and am glad I was able to use that tool to help balance my brain chemistry at the time, I also utilized psychotherapy and learned some coping/life skills and learned that--yes, there was a reason I was so sad and it had to do with my life situation. I then had the courage to change my life situation and with time/healing/support from friends my life didn't suck anymore!!

Cajun Nurse

Specializes in Corporate Compliance ICU, US Army ret. Has 34 years experience.

This is a really great article. I would hope that the writer sends it to NPR. This would be a very meanful This I Belive segment.


Specializes in Retired OR nurse/Tissue bank technician.

I am one of those people who require psychiatric medication and likely will require medication and support for life. When depression is part of a person's life full time for a long time, it can become hard to figure out what is the illness and what is 'normal' sadness.

My psychiatrist teaches a modified Dialectical Behavioural Therapy program for people who do not have personality disorders. He teaches Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, Interpersonal Effectiveness and Distress Tolerance. Slowly, as I got more comfortable with my own mindfulness, I started to be able to discern what was the depression and what was a bad mood because life sucked.

When life sucks, I usually just let it suck, unless the sadness or anxiety that comes with it begins leading toward dangerous paths. Either way, I also have the skills to deal with the mood and anxiety issue-or I can call people who also know the skills and can give me a bit of a hand in remembering and using them.

There has been research that found that cognitive behavioural therapy is as effective as SSRI treatment for mild to moderate depression. However, most people (IME) would prefer the pills because (a) they don't have to do any work-they just have to pop a pill and (b) CBT makes them take some responsibility for their actions and their emotions. I've met a few people that were thinking about meds and when I suggested CBT, they brushed it off with, "I don't have time for that; the meds will be quicker".

CalNevaMimi, LPN, LVN

Specializes in DD, PD/Agency Peds, School Sites.

My guess is that spending time helping people whose lives suck more than our own would be a rapid cure. Also, FINALLY coming to the understanding that I was in control of my happiness helped me dump my sadness. Can't get that in a pill. It was hard work.

Psychtrish39, BSN, RN

Specializes in MDS RNAC, LTC, Psych, LTAC. Has 13 years experience.

How true.. I remember when my mom died after having terminal lung cancer and I started to cry I was in nursing school at the time of her death that my siser offered me a Paxil because I was crying. She was presribed it for anxiety and depression. She did not cry when my mom died and my family thought it was weird I was openly crying. Its called grief... I so agree with the poster. what a wonderful essay about life.

Thank you for your story on your grandmother Bless you :saint:

AtheistRN, ADN, RN

Specializes in ICU,Med-Surg, Sub-Acute, SNF, LTC. Has 10 years experience.

I totally agree with the sentiment expressed in your post. Perhaps some people truly have chemical imbalances, but for the most part, life CAN suck. Before I found my niche (school and nursing) I felt depressed for no tangible reason. Now I know it was because I was pretty unfulfilled.

I'm not saying it isn't really hard and sucky a lot of the time. I am a single mom of 3 and starting my ADN program next month, have to live on grants and loans, commuting at 5AM, kids in daycare for hours etc. But, this is life. Thankfully we are healthy, have running clean water, anitbiotics, shelter, ample food, and the 'net. Still, I get really anxious, and I do have a prescription for Ativan. Half a mg 1-2 times a week really helps me to calm down enought to put things into perspective. And no, I am NOT broken. My brain is interpreting things just as they are---sucky at times.

Right on for you and Granny.:yeah:


Specializes in Retired OR nurse/Tissue bank technician.

My guess is that spending time helping people whose lives suck more than our own would be a rapid cure.

Depends on the person. Some would definitely react by saying to themselves, "Things could be much worse", while others could find their day sucked even more with the thought, "I'm so stupid; why am I feeling so bad when it could be worse. I'm such a loser and terrible person....".

That's part of the reason my doc even recommends CBT/DBT for people for people WITHOUT mental illnesses; the skills taught in those two programs are useful for anyone and everyone. They don't make you feel happy all the time, but they give tools to help minimize the negative effects of the more difficult emotions.