Hopelessness – a Case of the “Fuck-Its”

by Pete Russell

Ahhh … fuck it.


Depression shows up in many ways: sadness, sluggishness, feeling unable to get out of bed, losing interest in things you used to be passionate about. One of the most debilitating manifestations of depression is hopelessness.

When hopelessness takes over my mind, I feel like I have a “case of the fuck-its.” Why bother, you know? Who cares about that, fuck it. Who wants to go out, fuck it. Who wants to do that thing that needs to be done, fuck it. I’ve got a case of the fuck-its.

For me personally, when I lose hope, it becomes insidious. It bleeds into everything. It transcends depression and becomes a worldview. Especially in today’s political climate, where it feels as if the big-money bastards have taken over, where it feels like society on the whole is on a collision course with disaster, personal depression becoming worldview is especially overwhelming.

Rediscovering Hope

There’ve been periods in my life when a case of the fuck-its could last for months. I mostly a pretty positive guy, but when hopelessness gets its hooks in me it can be hard to get out of it.

There are a few things that I found that help to shift my perspective when I feel hopeless. They don’t work every time, maybe, and they might not work for everybody, maybe, but one thing’s for sure: taking a small step is better than doing nothing.

#1 – fresh air and exercise. When I get a case of the fuck-its, it’s easy for me to get lazy and stay inside. I’m disabled and semi retired, so I don’t have a job to go to. That makes it even more pronounced when I’m feeling hopeless. But here’s the thing: the human body is quite a miraculous thing, and your body manufactures its own feel-good chemicals when you exercise. Also, we evolved in nature. Our bodies were designed to be out among the trees and getting natural sunlight. Ancient peoples talk about the healing power of communing with nature, and in the “civilized” Western world we’ve lost contact with that healing power.

It’s hard to for me to get out because of my disability, and that’s what makes it even more important to do so. Fortunately, even though I live in San Francisco, I’m close enough to Golden Gate Park that I can get out among the trees where there are birds and squirrels and bumblebees and whatnot. I’m a freak for bumblebees, and they always boost my spirits.

Can getting out for a walk among the trees overcome hopelessness for you? Maybe. It surely can’t hurt to try, it makes me feel better.

#2 – diet and nutrition, especially B vitamins. Plenty of research has shown that B vitamins can be great for depression. This is especially true for B-12 and niacin, B-3. I’ve noticed that when I take those supplements my depression is much better. I feel much more hopeful. If I let them lapse, I often pay the price in terms of my mental health.

Also, because of my disability, it’s hard for me to take the time and energy for food prep. Because of that, I eat a lot of processed food. Way too often, I pull something out of the freezer and stick it in the microwave. That means I’m not getting the nutrition I really need.

And so I try to force myself to eat better. I buy fresh fruits and vegetables fairly often, and try to make it a goal to eat them before they go bad. I hate to throw out rotten vegetables that I didn’t eat because I was too busy eating microwave crap.

If your physiology is anything like mine, take a lesson from somebody who’s been there and give B vitamins a try. I just buy a normal B complex, or especially a high potency one. You don’t need to worry about side effects of taking too many B vitamins, your body flushes them out really quickly. That’s one of the reasons it’s easy to get depleted, they’re water-soluble and your body does not store B vitamins for long. You really have to get B vitamins every day. I also take a B-12 supplement in a B-3 niacin supplement.

Can taking be vitamins overcome hopelessness for you? Maybe. Just the same as with exercise, it surely can’t hurt to try, it makes me feel better.

#3 – do something for others. Giving of yourself, volunteering, trying to make a difference for someone else; there’s real magic in that. The hopelessness part of depression, I think, has roots in low self-esteem. Partly because of my disability, I have miserable self-esteem a lot of the time. I feel like I don’t make a difference in the world.

So, I try to make a difference in the world, helping an organization that needs volunteers. Even if my efforts make a small contribution to somebody else’s well-being, or somebody else’s happiness, or helps improve somebody else’s day, it means I’m making a difference. It also takes my mind off of me, and shifts my thoughts to helping others. It shifts my thoughts to what I can do to improve someone else’s life. That way, at least for a short period of time, my intention is not on me. My attention is on giving someone else hope. And I think that hope can grow as a gift; if you give it away, it makes it easier for you to have it.

There are a couple places that I volunteer, and wherever you are, if you struggle with depression, I recommend that you pitch in to make a difference for others. Even if it doesn’t help with your depression, it will help somebody else. And that’s worth doing just for itself.

#4 – don’t keep it inside – talk to a loved one. A lot of us who suffer with mental health issues don’t want it to be known. We try to hide it, or mask it, or pretend it isn’t there. Putting on a brave face doesn’t help if you’re suffering inside.

It really helps to talk it out. Sometimes, nothing can help lift hopelessness more than unburdening. In my personal experience, therapy helps – talking to a professional can be tremendously valuable for dealing with depression and anxiety. But if you’re not sharing it with the ones you love, then you’re keeping it bottled up where it matters the most.

So I encourage you, don’t be afraid to talk about what’s up for you with the people that matter most. Talk to family, talk to your closest friends. When you unburden your pain, with the people that matter, I believe that that’s where the real healing takes place. Therapy is great. But loved ones are what really matter.

Goodbye to the "Fuck Its"

Sometimes it feels like the "fuck-its" are here to stay. At least for me, that’s not true. At the very least, they come and go. And when they show up, at least I know what to do now.

The steps that I mentioned above don’t work every time for me. But they work most of the time. And, taking one of the actions above, or several – even if it doesn’t work, at least I’m taking action. Sitting and letting a case of the fuck-its get the better of me doesn’t get me anywhere. Taking action puts me in control.

And that gives me hope.

Mental Health in a World Gone Mad

by Pete Russell, 1/16/18


Wellness and mental health, dealing with depression and anxiety, are hard enough in normal times. These are not normal times, however. The kind of social and political divisions we are seeing are dividing families, fracturing communities, breaking friendships – and even putting a strain on international relations.

Tensions are high at every level. In close personal relationships, those tensions lead to greater anxiety and greater stress. This is especially true for families and relationships outside the world of affluent whites. Writing from the perspective of the United States, new immigration policies are causing enormous anxiety in immigrant families. We are literally seeing it on the news: children torn from their parents, parents torn from their children, families broken apart and some deported while others stay.

Even for those of us that are not living that nightmare, the stress is high.

Politics, “Othering” and Mental Health

Political divisions around the world are having a profound impact on mental health. Partially spurred on by Vladimir Putin’s information warfare tactics and espionage, conservative nationalism is on the rise everywhere. This kind of political landscape naturally gives rise to racism, as communities divide along ethnic lines. The power of this kind of polarized thinking runs very deep. Our ancient ancestors lived in tribal communities, and even as they became more civilized there were always wars and conflicts. Tribalism lives on as racism and anti-immigration movements.

“Othering” can be an insidious trap to fall into. Nationalist manipulators use subtle language to drive a wedge between races and ethnicities. Instantaneous electronic media picks up on othering messages, and before readers and viewers even know what has happened they find themselves thinking of certain groups as enemies. The more politically polarized a nation becomes, the more deeply this kind of trend is instilled.

Economic Anxiety

In the United States, new legislation and government policies are having devastating economic consequences for many millions of people. At the time of this writing, healthcare from millions of children is being eliminated. A new tax bill promising prosperity for everyone is in fact a massive giveaway to the richest few.

Economic inequality has grown dramatically worse in recent decades. The rich get richer, the middle class is disappearing, and more and more people struggle to make ends meet. Home ownership is no longer a reality for an increasing segment of the population. Manufacturing jobs continue to leave the United States, as corporations seek greater profits from overseas labor and relaxed environmental standards.

While working-class people are struggling, they are watching as billionaires and corrupt politicians trade favors in limousines and country clubs. The American dream is slipping away for many, as more and more of the nation’s wealth accumulates at the very top of the socioeconomic spectrum.

For working people who struggle with mental health issues, anxiety and depression can get worse in conditions like these. It’s easy to feel helpless. The rich and the powerful keep getting more rich and more powerful, and there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it. And so depression becomes deeper, anxiety becomes more pronounced. It can feel like an endless cycle.

Steps to Take

We cannot change the world around us; or at least, we don’t think we can.

But we can change the world. We just can’t do it by ourselves.

Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions can cause us to isolate. There’s a tendency to think that we’re alone, that we have to do it ourselves. That’s the trap that binds us to inaction, that binds us to succumbing to fear.

We can change the world in community. No – we can’t do it ourselves, but in bonding with others who also want to bring about change, we combine our strengths. We contribute to something larger than ourselves. We work together with other passionate people to achieve what we could never do ourselves. And there’s power in those actions. There’s power in community.

Mental wellness can be an elusive and tricky thing to hold on to. But a holistic approach to living helps us find balance when we feel unsteady. Giving of ourselves – contributing, working to make life better for others – that can restore balance. It can build esteem, and give our lives a sense of purpose. In our struggles with mental health, being a part of something big and important can make an enormous difference.

And in our close communities, our families, our workplaces and churches and social groups, open dialogue can go a long way toward relieving depression and anxiety. Holding is burdens inside lets them grow – letting them out in loving community dissipates them. Talk about it. It can really help.

The world has gone mad – crazy, loony mad. When we work to restore sanity to the world – it can’t help but be beneficial to our own mental health.

Welcome to Bipolar Bear

Bipolar Bear is the story of a moody polar bear ... and explorations into bipolar disorder, which used to be known as manic depression. Bipolar disorder is surprisingly common, effecting about one in every 40 Americans.

Bipolar disorder is also increasingly common, alarmingly so for children. Researchers At Columbia University, among others, studied statistics in two time periods - 1994-1995, and 2002-2003. During this difference of only eight years, diagnoses in children increased by a factor of 40! Yes that's right, 40 times as many children were diagnosed only 8 years later compared to the baseline. Among adults, diagnoses doubled.

What this tells us is that environmental factors contribute to bipolar disorder - in other words, something around them changed. What was it? Well, it could be nutrition. It could be societal factors. It also could be technological factors - which seems quite likely. Between the '94-95 time frame and the '02-03 time frame, th internet exploded into being as a part of everyday life.

Is the internet to blame for the extraordinary spike in bipolar disorder?

It's hard to say. This is one of the topics we'll be exploring. Check back soon and thanks for visiting!