Why keep living, what's the use
Wow, we just don't get many questions at all about suicidal thoughts - mainly because if this happens during a chat, we're supposed to refer someone straight away to a suicide hotline, where people have far more training than the minimum that listeners need to start here at 7 Cups . . .
But that doesn't answer the question now, does it:
The thing is there's 3 parts to this answer: the first part is about how uncomfortable it is to be having doubts about continuing to live, the second is that there may be some signals that your brain is sending to because you're reading this right now, and the third is (of course) the answer to the actual question.
Feeling like life is not worth living anymore is a horrible, horrible type of pain, and basically until you've had it yourself, you may have no idea how distressing that sort of despair can be to experience: and even when you've "been there" yourself, doesn't mean that you can say "I know how you feel" to someone else who may be experiencing these types of doubts.
Given that I've said that, I know that, if you're reading this question right now because you've been having thoughts like this, it is just about certain that you are in a huge amount of pain, and I want you to give yourself a huge pat on the back for being so brave and putting up with such a nasty feeling so far, and especially for taking the first step to read about what you can do to answer this question.
There is an answer to "what's the use", and I promise I'm getting to that . . .
One thing that's important to know about thoughts like these is that, especially if they're been coming on for a while, they are very likely a symptom of clinical depression. Now depression can be caused by a plethora of reasons - grief, disability, sickness, loss, physical pain, even a few specific illnesses, like thyroid issues. Depression involves a brain chemistry phenomenon which works sort of like a chicken and egg cycle - it can be debatable which condition originally caused the other. Certain hormones, for example seretonin, can be reduced by depressive thinking (feeling sad and experiencing negative thoughts), and that lack of seretonin can itself, in turn, cause more depressed feelings and thoughts. Psychologists have worked out that negative thoughts cause sad feelings (there are a lot of "der" moments in psychology!!! - psychologists often have the job to prove scientifically that thoughts apply to everyone which people tend to already "know" about themselves ). Those sad feelings and negative thoughts and the seratonin deficiency that was caused (or was caused by) them can also a consequential effect of making the body feel tired and lethargic, which in turn also reduces the seratonin levels further. So if you're having thoughts like this and already feeling tired and listless, or maybe even like staying in bed, chances are really good that your body already has a deficiency of "happy hormones" (like dopamine or serotonin). Even a deficiency of melatonin can start this sort of depression-cycle reaction, so if you have these sort of thoughts it's also a good time to notice whether you've been missing out on enough sunshine (- the skin produces melatonin in the sun - even with sunscreen on - and long winters, especially in polar countries can produce a phenomenon called "seasonal affective disorder," which has been related to melatonin levels).
The important thing to know about this is that staying in bed actually means that your seratonin levels are further reduced as a result of lack of sunshine and exercise (which is why so many illnesses can cause depression). In fact during these current times, for many people, the drastic change of missing their usual exercise during the COVID lockdowns is itself causing this same seretonin level drop in many people, which after a while has actually led in turn to the sort of thoughts that lead up to questions like the one above: people who have been stuck working from home don't realise that even for a "low exercise" job, they do a lot more walking and standing up at and on the way to and from their normal workplace, and missing that exercise can trigger a drop in seretonin, which can lead to sad feelings and negative thoughts like this. The good news about this same triangular cycle (negative thoughts > sad feelings > tired / unexercised body > sad feelings > negative thoughts > tired / unexercised body) is that scientists have discovered that this cycle can be broken at any section of the triangle. For instance, even if you start exercising a little bit, even while you're still stuck in your room, it can have a direct effect on relieving sad feelings, both straight away, because you're a bit happier about having taken a proactive step to lower your depression, and after a couple of weeks, when the seratonin levels actually change. Here's some links to some in-bed workouts - the third one is a video: https://www.cosmopolitan.com/health-fitness/how-to/a35234/exercises-you-can-do-without-getting-out-of-bed/; https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/bed-workout-255681; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7gJ9C0nl44.
But our body is not all we need to pay attention to if we have thoughts like this of course. There can be other negative thoughts which precede this "edge of despair" sort of thought. If you examine what is running through your head now and then and look for a set of very common thoughts which are nevertheless not really logical or helpful, chances are that one of them has been churning around before the despair started to kick in. We've got lessons on "cognitive restructuring" - how to recognise and challenge these unhelpful thoughts, as well as thinking of more helpful thoughts to replace them with - at https://www.7cups.com/depression-help-online/ as well as the same challenge for unhelpful anxious thoughts at https://www.7cups.com/anxiety-help/ - the lessons are a little mini course, which can sometimes be a bit confronting, so don't worry about taking a break and having a chat about something if the urge strikes you. There is no rush to learn this stuff, in fact it's like chess - it takes a while to put what you learn into practice - but learning cognitive restructuring can really work wonders to cut down the anguish that negative thinking can cause. Remember that once you've learned to recognise and challenge unhelpful thoughts, they are still going to pop up from time to time - that's just how human minds work, so don't be angry or disappointed if you notice that happening.
Feelings are signals that mostly come from a different part of the mind than our consciousness - trying to fight feelings can be like trying to hold back the tide. The good part of this analogy is that feelings also come and go, thankfully faster than the tide. It often doesn't seem like it, but even when you're really low with depression, some times are worse than others, and that means that some times are logically better than others. The most desperate and painful times actually come in waves which eventually recede. (Average time for the most intense and painful feelings is 30 - 90 minutes: sometimes what saves you if these waves come is a persian expression that is around 1000 years old, which states "this too shall pass". In my case a really good comedy movie, or anything to distract me from the worst feelings ). Being able to accept painful feelings uses the same skill that is used to accept physical pain, and there is a 7 Cups course that teaches this "ACT" skill, called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, at https://www.7cups.com/act-therapy-techniques/ that's really worth a look.
Now I know I'm telling you a lot about these courses, as if they are more important than they would actually seem, but what most people don't realise is that when people go to the best private mental health clinics, they are paying about $60 -70 000 dollars per month to learn these very same skills. (Of course these clinics also have nurses to help you deal with difficulties and psychiatrists visiting every day, as well as exercise therapists, private psychologist sessions, a GP to check the whole of your body, great food and someone watching to make sure you're safe, but the topics from each of the lessons on these courses are the same topics for inpatient group sessions which psychologists also teach - I'm not saying that doing these courses is better or even the same as going to a private hospital, but for many people these hospitals just aren't an option). The skills on these courses all take practise and a fair bit of self-exploration and growth, which in itself can cause growing pains, but if you're aleady having thoughts like this then you're already quite likely aware of massive psychological pain.
If you're in Australia, the good news is that where most private health insurance takes 12 months of payments to kick in, mental health hospital cover only takes 2 months before you can claim - so if you're already feeling like this, and you think you can hang tough for a couple of months, its definitely time to make your first private health insurance payment right now. This is about $200 - $300 in Australia, and worth every cent. Many public hospitals in Australia are vastly overcrowded, have involuntary patients, who can be scary, disturbing and dangerous, very few (if any) of these lessons, nurses who are overburdened, and a medical model, which means they will put you on drugs which may or may not be the right ones at the time - the psychiatrists there are just as overworked as everyone else, and you can be prescribed medication before you even get to meet the doctor. Of course there are some really great public hospitals specialising in mental health in the capital cities, but for the most part in Australia, unless you just happen to live in the right suburb to be sent to those specialist hospitals, public mental health inpatients are all lumped together in a ward that's just a part of the local general hospital, which has no training, little activites and is a very depressing place to be - as if you needed that to deal with as well.
The reason I'm talking about hospital is that with thoughts like "Why keep living, what's the use," you're already down to a 3 or a 4, and you should be thinking about hospital for certain if you reach a 2 - 3. Depression/happiness is measured on a subjective scale of 1 to 10, and 10 is mania, which is no good, because even though mania can feel fantastic, feeling like you're 10 feet tall and bulletproof, or like you're a spiritual messenger from God, this state can lead to really bad decisions, where you make a fool of yourself, put yourself in unnecessary danger or spend all the money that you've ever had as well as get yourself into a mass of debt. So lets say that feeling relatively calm, content and mellow and neither happy or sad is a 7 - that's a great place to coast, and 8 or 9 without any particular external event to justify that sort of jubilation, like winning the lotto, acheiving an important goal, being on a fantastic cruise or getting married is also a signal that there's something to worry about, and it's time to check out your mental health with a doctor. As soon as you've been starting to feel sad or negative, you've been hitting numbers below 6.9 and now that you're down to contemplating whether it's worth it at all, you've definitely made it down to at least as low as a 4. At below 4 it gets to feeling inclined towards suicide, or having "ideations" of suicide, where you imagine doing it, and at below 3 you're starting to make plans about how you'll do it, at 2 you're starting to get together the tools, and below 2 you're making attempts. So obviously a good time for the turning point is now.
Right now at 4 is a good time to hit your GP up for some seratonin / dopamine adjusting medications (or melatonin replacements, which need a liver test done before starting a course, because they can have side effects which lead to reactions in the liver). These hormone-adjustment medications take 2 - 4 weeks to take effect, and you might need a temporary mood stabiliser in the meantime to take away the painful nature of thoughts and feelings that you've been so brave to endure. I know it doesn't feel all that great to take pills for your mind, but you've put up already with all this psychological pain, and no one deserves at all to feel so much psychological pain that they start to say "Why keep living." If you had caught this at the "I don't seem to be able to get a break" stage, it would maybe have been reasonably safe to get away with just exercise and learning some issues to deal with "stuff", but now it's got to a stage where that amount of psychological pain might get in the way of being able to even concentrate enough to be able to learn the skills you need. You don't deserve this pain, and if you can't afford a lovely private mental health clinic, it's still worth getting a prescription to get some relief, if only just while you're "on the mend."
There's one more important skill that I want to introduce you to, and that's dialetic behavioural therapy, most importantly the part where you get back to knowing and liking yourself, by identifying your favourite values, and by doing positive activites as if they were medicinal measures - medicinal painting; medicinal music; medicinal yoga; medicinal . . . whatever normally makes you happy. Because you've already got yourself down to a 4, these positive activites might not feel like they're as much fun as they usually do (at least straight away), but you're also used to coasting at around 6 - 7, so they have to make up for starting from a few steps behind the start-line. The 7 Cups course on "managing emotions" at https://www.7cups.com/help-managing-emotions/ has a great list of positive activities to "prescribe" for yourself, and these will help get you on the mend and on the way back. Maybe you can schedule yourself for two or three of these per week at the same time as you get started on some medication to help you through the toughest times - don't worry, starting on medication does not mean that you will be stuck with taking pills for life - most people are okay after they turn the corner and get back out of the "beyond blue" stage.
One thing to note, during the time before the effects of hormone balancing medication, exercise, cognitive restructuring, act, dialetic therapy and positive activities kick in, is that there are actually times when things get easier, and even when you have a chuckle or two: the depression will fool you that every day is always hard all day and nothing has been funny at all - it's important to really stop and take specific notice during this period if something good happens or occurs to you, because the depression can trick you into forgetting something good has happened at all.
Lastly, like I promised, here is what "the use" is - the reason why it is worth all this nasty distress and pain: you ARE special, utterly unique and the world needs you and has a plan for you. I KNOW this for a fact, because if this fact didn't exist for you, then it sure wouldn't exist for me - I don't deserve this reason to exist any more or less than anyone else, even if some people seem to have more reason to exist than me. The only reason that anyone else in the world is special is because you personally (yes you!) are special, and always have been. The proof of this is that you and I are alive. Right now, the depression is in the way and blocking you from seeing that, but there is a specific reason for you to be alive, and something coming up in the future that you're here to see or be a part of, and which might not even happen if you're not here. There is a light at the end of this tunnel, and you don't have to know exactly what that light will reveal to justify toughing it out and taking the steps to make it back into the sunshine. When you've made it through, or started to make it through, drop me a line - I'd love to hear from you. Thanks for reading this and thanks for contemplating that there is a "use", a reason and a really good chance for you to come back out of this darkness. Welcome to the road to recovery . . . take care, and don't forget we at 7 Cups are here for a chat, and you don't deserve or need to do this recovery alone. All the listeners at 7 Cups are forward to hearing from you, all day, and any time.