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How to Keep Going When You Want To Give Up on Life

TRIGGER WARNING: This post references suicidal thoughts and may be triggering to some people.

Since my first post on Tiny Buddha entitled “Why I Didn’t Kill Myself and Why You Shouldn’t Either,” I’ve been doing amazingly well. I thought I had this suicide stuff in the bag. I thought it lived in the past. I thought it was no longer a part of me.

I thought I had found my way forward and that I would never feel that way again. I thought my suicidal ideation was a historical part of my existence.

I was wrong.

Tonight, I sat in the bath watching the water trickle down from the faucet and all I could think was how easy it would be to watch the blood trickle down my arms into the water instead.

I thought of how easy it would be to drift away into nothingness. I thought of how easy it would be to not have to get up every morning to face another day of emptiness. I thought of the peace I would have if I were no longer afraid all the time and how wonderful it would be to be free from the prison of my mind.

Sometimes, I long for this.

Sometimes, I long for death.

I do not long for death itself, being cold and distant and immovable.

But, I sometimes long for something other than what I am. I long for a feeling of safety and security. I long to feel loved and cherished, not used and abused.

I long to feel anything that is something more than the nothing I feel right now.

What Do You Want?

I know what you want. I want it too. You want someone to love you, someone to care, someone to tell you everything will be okay.

You want someone to tell you that even if you aren’t perfect, you’re enough just as you are.

You want your parents to put your needs ahead of their own, because that’s what loving parents do. You want those adults who abused you to think twice before they steal your innocence and your ability to feel.

What you want is for the past to never have existed, and what you want is impossible.

I know what you want.

You want someone to care, and it seems as if there is no amount of caring that will fill the empty hole in your heart, and no matter how hard you try to fill it up yourself it only goes halfway and then starts slipping back to empty.

Every day is a struggle to survive. Every day you wake up and wonder, “How much longer can I go on?”

The emptiness that fills your heart and your soul begins to take over your rationality.

At some point the things that kept you going have become meaningless. The life you have lived for so many years was just a struggle to survive.

Today you are at a point where nothing means anything. You aren’t even in pain. You feel nothing. You want to give up. You want to no longer exist. You want to stop being.

The endless negative thoughts swirl around in your brain compelling you to end everything. The hope for the future subsides to a dulling ache keeping you going every day.

You stare at the television knowing you are wasting your life, but are incapable to get off the couch and get outside.

Yet, you keep going. Why is this?

Why You Shouldn’t Give Up

I don’t know why I don’t give up sometimes. Most days I want to give up. But, the human spirit is powerful. The desire to live is a strongly held need that keeps you in this world.

There is only one reason I don’t give up.

There is only one reason I don’t spend all my money, write out my will, and deliberately plan my death.

There is only one belief that sits in the back of my mind that keeps me going day after day.

What is that belief you ask?

Hope.

There is always something that I hope for. I hope for change. I hope for strength. I hope for love. I hope for caring. I hope that things won’t always be as they have been.

Hope, my friends, is the only thing keeping me, and probably you, alive.

What does hope mean? To me hope means not giving up. It means constantly seeking a new way. It means looking deep inside to find what exactly it is that seems lacking.

What About Now?

I can’t promise you things will change tomorrow.

I can’t promise you that your self-serving parents will suddenly see the light and give you what you need.

I can’t promise you that you will stop choosing the wrong partner or that magically things will be better.

There are so many days when I believe that all is lost and want to give up, and I don’t know why I feel this way. I feel stupid for not being happy for what I have.

I want to be enough.

I want to feel enough.

I want to thrive, not just survive.

So, for now I make it through the day. For now, I do the best I can do. I wake up every day and realize I need to change something and I realize that at some point it will change.

That, my friend, is enough. Believing that something will change is sometimes enough.

Because, “This too shall pass.”

Because There Is Always Tomorrow

How do I know “this too shall pass”? I know because feelings and circumstances always change. Change is the nature of life.

The day after I wrote this and while I was going through the editing process I called my doctor to see if maybe it’s time to get back on some medication. I was feeling despondent and knew something needed to change. Of course, they couldn’t get me in for another month.

So, where could I go? What else could I do? My answer to myself: “search Google,” of course. I started looking up bunch topics that I need to work on that were related to relationships, love, and happiness.

I came across a relationship coach who seemed to get exactly what it was that I needed at the moment. I watched a series of videos. Although I had heard all the things he spoke of before, for some reason everything resonated more deeply than usual.

I needed someone who would not just tell me that I am enough (intellectually I know this) but would give me the tools to help me believe that I am enough and keep me from falling back into the abyss of negative thinking that I tend to fall into.

When we are ready to hear, the message comes.

I booked a session with him and when we spoke everything became clear. I finally grasped the complex nature of how one can go through life without loving and accepting one’s self and how your fears can limit your existence.

You may not realize it, but you may actually fear being happy and you may keep thinking negative thoughts as a means to protect yourself. I realized that I had to stop my negative thinking and that no one can make me feel whole and loved and valued if I don't truly love and value myself.

I realized I am still looking for someone to save me or for someone to validate me so I can feel whole, and guess what? It stops today.

I just decided. I decided that it was time to show up for myself fully and completely and stop delegating away my needs for others to fill like an empty vessel.

If you don't give up hope and keep looking for help and reaching out to others, you will eventually find the people, tools, and resources that you need to heal.

I do it over and over and I’ll do it again. If I can do it, so can you.

About Carrie L. Burns

Carrie L. Burns is a blogger on a mission of self-discovery. As a sexual abuse survivor that struggled for years with depression anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of self-love, and relationship issues, she found her purpose through writing and sharing her story with others. Check out her other writing at www.acinglife.com.

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  • This is why I learned never to give up because If I did, that meant I failed my mission

  • Melanie Miceli

    Wow. Just…wow.
    Carrie your bravery and strength have given me hope. I was just writing in my journal the other night (after another bought of criticising self talk) that I just shouldn’t hope anymore. I wrote it over and over again. Don’t hope. Hoping just leads to disappointment. But after reading your article (timely as ever Tiny Buddha! How do you always know?!) I know that if I don’t find my hope again, it will start to lead me down a very dark path that I may not find my way back from. So I’m going to go back to my journal, rip out those pages and start writing about hope again!
    Thank you!!!

  • Alicia

    That is exactly how I feel. However, as much as I have been struggling to find my reason to hold on, I have also realized that I am losing more and more hope every day. I got a new job, which is amazing. I have made many changes in my life that needed to be done. I’ve read and read and watched so many things and yet I still don’t see or understand the specialness of life. When there are things in my life that are great I know I should feel that, I know they should make me happy and that they should help fill me… but they don’t. I’m thankful for them, I’m glad I have them, but at the end of the day none of the things have changed how I actually feel towards life. I try to have hope for new beginnings and changes, but it’s slipping away because even amazing changes don’t do anything for me. Even more, I’m just losing hope that I will ever love life or have that want/need to live.

  • Linda Strader

    I’m glad you found someone to talk to, Carrie. That’s very important. When I was at my worst point, I stumbled on an organization online called “The Samaritans”. I wrote about my depression, that I’d lost hope, that no one cared…and they wrote back. For several weeks, until I could find a regular therapist, they “held” my hand, coached me, supported me. What a wonderful group. For anyone at the end of their rope, I suggest you reach to them.

  • greenwichslumlord

    Wonderful article…very inspiring…thank you Carrie!

  • Greg

    Thanks for sharing Carrie! As usual, your writing resonated with me. You just came to mind yesterday ~ hoping all is well with you. Lets connect when you have a moment!

  • Christy Hokula

    I just read your article and I felt a tinge of hope. I didn’t think that was a remote possibility today. Thank you for not giving up. This is a beautiful article

  • Lynn Smith

    Thank you for the article Carrie. I can really relate to it on many levels. One of the many reasons I wanted kill myself was because my brother drowned as a child. I often imagine what life would have been like with him as an adult. I find that a lot of my guy friends are younger guys who I tend to treat as little brothers. My mother has totally blocked it out of her mind. And now to the main reason I haven’t committed suicide is because of my mother. My therapist said that it would be very selfish of me. And that the worst thing for a mother to endure is the loss of a child, much less 2. Now, that being said… I don’t know what will happen when my mother passes away.

  • Santa-san

    This was a great post. Thanks Carrie <3

  • Dave B.

    Carrie, thank you so much for this article. After my wife of 30 years died five years ago, I became very depressed and wanted to join her in death. I had moments while driving of just how easy it would be to drive off a cliff or swerve just a bit into the path of an oncoming truck, overdose on meds, etc. I still find myself crying on almost a daily basis over the lost love I had – my lost soulmate. I couldn’t figure out just why I didn’t actually take my life. Your article is spot on. While alive there is still hope for a better tomorrow and for the memories of a lost love that I can keep with me always. Thanks.

  • Greg

    I’m so sorry Dave. This must be a very painful and difficult period in your life.

  • Bullyinglte

    Carrie – I can’t recall if I wrote you the first time, but it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out to the world like you have. You are doing amazing good for other people who struggle with suicidal thoughts due to ongoing mental battles. As a Certified Coach who also went through my own struggles, I’m glad you found an empathetic person to talk to. You are so far from alone in what you are sharing. One thing you mention is the elusive happiness. For some reason, many of us set our minds that we are supposed to be happy more than we are. Happiness, like sadness, is fleeting. Our lives are equally made up of both and everything in-between. This is something I talk to my clients about called being content in life. I work to give up labeling life with these terms, because inevitably they disappoint. A wise support person once told me that having a mental illness is like someone being an alcoholic. They never ever forget that at any time they may fail and take another drink. He said that, with mental illness (as with all illness really), you must be vigilant and aware that it is always around the corner and fight the good fight. I wish you all the best in all your battles forward. You are right that there is no promise for tomorrow. You only control today. And that must be good enough.

  • Carrie Burns

    I think you are totally right. It may be that realizing life is everything…pain, happiness, sadness, struggle, ups and downs makes the downs tolerable. Thank you for the kind words!

  • Carrie Burns

    Maybe ask yourself what she would want? My father died suddenly at 55 of a massive heart attack after 34 years of marriage. I KNOW he would never would have wanted my mother or us to stop living. I can only imagine the pain you are going through. Maybe you can find a way to honor her life to find some purpose? Hang in there.

  • Carrie Burns

    So welcome!

  • Carrie Burns

    I’m so sorry Lynn. Why do you think you carry such guilt over it?

  • Carrie Burns

    As long as we are alive there is always hope…even as trite and stupid as it sounds. I have been there more times than I can count. Thank YOU for reaching out!

  • Carrie Burns

    Thank you my friend 🙂

  • Carrie Burns

    Thank you!

  • Carrie Burns

    Thank you for the recommendation. Sometimes I think we need just ONE person who understands us or “gets” us so we don’t feel so alone.

  • Carrie Burns

    Maybe there is no specialness and maybe that’s the problem. We are programmed to believe if we have the right house and car and spouse and kids and blah blah then life will be magical. But, maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s struggle and pain and hope and love all intermingled?

  • Carrie Burns

    You are so welcome Melanie! Some days are easier than others, but I’m learning that critical self talk is DOOM to the soul. Not always easy to switch out of, but can be cone with practice (baby steps).

  • Carrie Burns

    Ya gotta keep going. Definitely keep moving towards your mission!

  • Bullyinglte

    I have found that, when I thiink of life as little stories with beginnings, middles, and endings, it is much easier to let go. For example, I was horribly abused by bullied daily from when I was 7-13. Of course, it affected me and the long-term effects of bullying (C-PTSD, which is all the mental issues that go with it) stayed with me and were my burden for 30 years. It all caught up with me eventually and I figured out how to let go, by letting that part of my life end. It wasn’t my whole story, just a small one and I let it consume me for 30 years (that’s a long time). So, I went through what we all end up going through and developed my coping mechanisms, of which my favorite is that life is made up of many journeys with beginnings, middles and endings and then you must let them go, not let them ruminate, but learn from them. I have now lived 7 years in mindful peace once I made that change. Just some food for thought. Letting go is both refreshing and positive and changed my whole perspective of life.

  • Linda Strader

    Yes, it does help, Carrie.

  • charlene rice

    Hi Carrie, thank you for sharing and today I’m going through the same thing. I am 57 yrs. old and I’ve been at this self-discovery, healing thing since I was 21 yrs. old. I’ve read more self-help books than you could shake a stick at, been in and out of therapy for roughly 20 yrs., been a recovering alcoholic and addict since 1993. And I’m bipolar. I have some amazing days now mostly thanks to Eckhard Tolle and practicing living in the present moment – if you can get yourself there, no one can hurt you and you are o.k. – it is the best and most precious thing I’ve ever experienced and your inner child may pop out and say hello. Sometimes I have my bad days still but it’s typically because I get frustrated with people in my present for ex. neighbors (I live in an apartment) and they invited bedbugs by bringing in questionable furniture and those bugs had gravitated to my apartment. Very difficult thing when others aren’t doing their part or being responsible and it directly affects you. So after I’m done typing this I’ll probably go to youtube, look up Eckhard and get my medicine. Best of luck to you, I wish you may blessings, I know you’ll make it, but more than anything – I wish you love, joy, and peace NOW! Charlene

  • Carrie Burns

    Thank you so much Charlene! Ekhart is amazing. I’ve been on the same path and sometimes it’s exhausting but sometimes it all seems worth it. I think we all have our karmic journey and we can only do the best we can do. Best of luck, love and joy to you as well!

  • Gray, Wm. Allan

    Excellent article Carrie!
    For many, HOPE = Hold On Please Everyone.
    Stay well.

  • Anna

    Life sometimes takes you on ways which are untold and unexpected. Its like telling you that you have to enjoy the ups and downs of the roller coaster ride. Sure that, there will be times when you feel like giving up. Try to engage yourself in some things that you like….take stroll….spend some time with your loved ones.

  • Barry

    Great article Carrie. Very raw and I’m sure it will give hope to many. Keep sharing your experiences and wisdom xx