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Objectivism as Anti-depressant

Posted by davidmcnab 5 years, 9 months ago to Science
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A disturbing proportion of people in the USA take antidepressants on a regular basis - 10% of the adult population average, ranging up to nearly a quarter of women aged 40 and 60.

One of the most depressing things anyone can live with is the belief that they exist for others. This axiom spawns the corollary that no matter how much you do, how hard you work, how much you invent, how much wealth you generate, it'll never be enough. If that's not a big black suffocating wet blanket, please tell me what is.

We recall that uplifting scene in The Fountainhead where Howard Roark hangs up his architect hat for a few hours and becomes a therapist to the sculptor Steven Mallory, delivering an improvised form of therapy not practised by any MD or ClinPsych, and how this snaps Mallory almost instantly out of chronic depression and substance abuse.

So I put forward a conjecture: A significant proportion, maybe the greatest proportion, of the endemic depression we see today is caused by people having lost themselves, by believing they are obligated to live for others; that their mental health can dramatically and permanently improve simply by being taught that it's safe and acceptable to honour themselves; that the most amazing thing they can do to support others is not live for them and bleed to them the fruits of their own labour, but to live for themselves, and set an example proving to others an amazing honourable life is within their reach as well.

Pack this up into a therapeutic protocol and I suggest you'd see antidepressant medication prescriptions and suicide rates plummet overnight.


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    Posted by $ jbrenner 5 years, 9 months ago
    Compared to the optimist that I used to be, as I have adopted more Objectivist ways, I have become depressed on occasion. I consider this a rational feeling, because it is in response to the persistent success of looters and moochers. I won't have the same optimism that I once had until Atlantis is built.
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    • Posted by 5 years, 9 months ago
      Hi jbrenner, thanks for your honest and sincere response. If it helps at all, I'd say screw the looters and moochers. Make them irrelevant. As Howard Roark replied when Ellsworth Toohey invited him to share his real feelings about him, "I don't think of you at all".
      Meanwhile, the most authentic Atlantis is the temple you construct in your own heart. That will subtly steer you into chance meetings with like-minded people, into weaving a web of fresh new connections and inspirations. The Atlantis you build within will take form without.
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      • Posted by $ jbrenner 5 years, 9 months ago
        I do that as much as possible, but the number of looters is so pervasive that it has already killed two of my business startups.
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        • Posted by 5 years, 9 months ago
          Oww, that's gotta sting. I'd be fuming in that situation.
          These days, it's got to the point where looters have to be factored into the business' strategic plan, along with other environmental adversities like fires, floods, major electrical outages, earthquakes etc.
          I am fully aware that this is easier said than done. I hope jbrenner that your next business epiphany turns out to be much more looter-resistant.
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          • Posted by $ jbrenner 5 years, 9 months ago
            All of the ten of us in that company had read AS. I was the last to do so back in 2008. We decided to shrug as a company and sold it to another company across the state.

            Regarding my next business epiphany, I am laying the groundwork for it now so that, when we have Atlantis built, I will release my product to those who can appreciate it fully.
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            • Posted by 5 years, 9 months ago
              I hope to see it announced here in the Gulch when it's ready. I can't wait! :)
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              • Posted by $ jbrenner 5 years, 9 months ago
                I just brought up the subject of Atlantis to the former president of our biofuels company last week. With the passing of his wife a year ago, he says that he is ready to leave.
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                • Posted by 5 years, 9 months ago
                  That raises a question - does Atlantis require a physical place like Galt's Gulch in AS? With the internet's resources of near-instant communication, strong anonymity and encryption options, even anonymous crypto-currency payments, we could set up a virtual Atlantis providing a shelter for trade in real goods and currencies. I'd love to see something like Silk Road, but without the emphasis on criminal good and services.
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                  • Posted by JoleneMartens1982 5 years, 9 months ago
                    Davidmcnab, you'd have to be careful, even with encryption, the criminals find ways, some criminals are unfortunately smarter than the rest of us. Unfortunately, we are only as strong as our protection, and if the government got word of our plans, we would be the criminals. It is a sad truth. I would go Gulch right now, with my 2 sons and my husband, but one of those boys is half liberal, his dad thinks I am crazy. He is somewhat intelligent, but very brainwashed by the system. His loyalty is his demise. If I went Gulch, he would have every form of govt known to man looking for me. And I would have a hard time doing that to him. Despite his obvious issues, he is a pretty good dad and part of our family, we have all learned to coexist very well, but I can't see him ever going gulch.
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                    • Posted by 5 years, 9 months ago
                      @JoleneMartens1982 warnings about the risks of crypto are never in vain, thanks for reiterating.
                      Sorry that you've got such a fundamental philosophical division in your family, that sure can't be easy.
                      The light at the end of this particular tunnel is that the Gulch no longer demands a geographical place. It's a state of mind - the feeling of waking up on a bright early spring morning, smelling the rain-kissed grass, hearing the birds twitter and feeling that beautiful music in your heart, saying "OMG it was just a nightmare after all. My life is MINE! I can't wait to start this glorious day!"
                      Hearts with this kind of charge naturally seek like-minded company, within local community and across the information superhighway.
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                  • Posted by Robbie53024 5 years, 9 months ago
                    Not sure how else you could do it. So long as you're in the US, you're going to be beholden to some gov't entity (and usually, several). Whether property taxes, drivers license, automobile license plate, sales tax, etc., there's no way to extract yourself from gov't control fully (unless you want to live with absolutely no modernity on public lands, it's done, but we typically call those folks bums).
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  • Posted by $ jlc 5 years, 9 months ago
    I think your conjecture is accurate davidmcnab, but I would add another parameter: because so many people have lost themselves in pointless social altruism from which deeds, they can see no positive return, their perception of a downward spiral in our society is accurate. (Please note that people who engage in personal voluntary altruism have the opposite experience.)

    Several Gulchers commented that they think that, when they see society clearly, they become depressed. My response to this is that there is a difference between ignoring reality and refusing to wallow in negativity. I _observe_ what is happening in the world; I choose to surround myself with beauty and brilliance and efficacy.

    Have you read the book Lest Darkness Fall? It is a story about an archeologist (nicknamed "Mouse" - no bulge muscled dork) who is transported back to Visgothic Rome...and decides to prevent the Dark Ages. I do not know that I can prevent the fall of dark, but I can keep my candle and a few others around me burning as brightly as I can.

    Why are there 10K people in the Gulch? Because we can all take our candles out and illuminate this site for each other. This is a fine anti-depressant: When I have had to deal with someone who is trying to get something for nothing, I can spend a few minutes enjoying the conversation here.

    Jan, trying for khalling's 'zen-optimist' but not there yet
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  • Posted by LetsShrug 5 years, 9 months ago
    That may true for many and I think you're on to something, but I've known some "depressed" people who are just mad that life is hard, or they think others owe them something and don't think they should have to lift a finger for the responsibilities that they've made for themselves. Or drug addicts that milk the system by claiming mental illness to get an ssi check. Or some who are so overly sensitive they can barely function.
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    • Posted by 5 years, 9 months ago
      LetsShrug of course you're right, and that's why I speak in terms of proportion, not across the board. The latter category you mention is particularly interesting, though. Many of these 'oversensitives' are dysfunctional purely because they're in the wrong situation. Some will come right if you put them in a leadership role. Others will blossom if you put them in front of a canvas or an AutoCAD terminal, etc.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 5 years, 9 months ago
    One of the great scenes in The Fountainhead the book and the movie, was Roark's encounter with Toohey in which Toohey tries to get a rise out of Roark by telling him everything he has done to destroy him. When he doesn't get a response, he asks Roark, what he thinks of him. Then, Howard Roark says in a few words the most destructive words to Toohey, while at the same time putting up a method of improving mental health: "But, I don't think of you, Mr. Toohey."
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  • Posted by khalling 5 years, 9 months ago
    This is an interesting topic. I think I probably fall into j 's camp on this one. Not so much with reaching an Atlantis goal but definitely acknowledging what is going on around us has to be addressed and that it 's rational to be upset about it. Living for oneself is essential to finding happiness and one must take stock in those moments or periods where you can experience the joy in life. But I am often baffled with some over what I call a "zen " objectivism. Basically that everything is wonderful, life couldn 't be better, etc. A positive outlook personally is great. But one can 't just ignore the economics and cultural negatives going on around them.
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  • Posted by fivedollargold 5 years, 9 months ago
    Depression is not the only reason for taking SSRI's (modern antidepressants). They also boost memory a little. Older people tend to be endogenously depressed as well. There is also a group of existentially depressed folk who get down about world events. There are likely a lot of peeps in this situation given the insanity perpetrated by Bush and Obama. This group might be helped greatly by objectivism or at least relevant parts of it.
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    • Posted by 5 years, 9 months ago
      @fivedollargold I concur. Old people definitely cop the blunt end, feeling our consumerist disposable society pushing them into greater and greater irrelevance. Medical issues aside, this alone would depress most, and could explain at least some of the cognitive decline we see amongst older generations.

      As for the Obushama Administrations, and similarly retarded governments in other parts of the world, to me that reflects the current stupidity and disengagement of the voting population, not exactly uplifting.

      Objectivism with its emphasis on internal attribution and invidivual empowerment can certainly relieve a lot of the angst. We learn to make the f***tards irrelevant and just get on with our lives, creating, striving, trading, and sharing with enlightened people in our lives who we care about.
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      • Posted by BeenThere 5 years, 9 months ago
        "Objectivism with its emphasis on internal attribution and invidivual empowerment can certainly relieve a lot of the angst. We learn to make the f***tards irrelevant and just get on with our lives, creating, striving, trading, and sharing with enlightened people in our lives who we care about."

        Not always easy, but can be accomplished.........
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    • Posted by jdg 5 years, 9 months ago
      One of the best reasons for avoiding treatment for depression (or at least, not letting the system do it) is that if certain authorities find out, you lose your gun rights and possibly more of your autonomy.

      Psychiatry is just one of several businesses that really need to exist off-the-books, just so people can use them without betraying themselves.
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  • Posted by $ CBJ 5 years, 9 months ago
    I agree with most of the comments here, but depression can stem from physical causes as well as psychological ones. A deficient diet and lack of exercise take a cumulative toll on the body and can make us less resistant to the mental and psychological causes of depression. Taking care of our bodies *and* our minds makes it easier to combat depression and maintain a high level of psychological health, in spite of all the irrationality we see around us.
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    • Posted by JoleneMartens1982 5 years, 9 months ago
      CBJ that is so true. I realized this recently. My husband and I, in our early 30s had started falling apart, my knees were failing, dizzy spells, frequent illnesses, and the doctors had no response to the ailments. Just through pharmaceuticals at it. I ended up breaking my ankle, severely. Fell into depression, couldn't walk for 2 1\2 months. Fortunately, I used my time wisely, I read Atlas. This book made me realize I had fallen victim to the prescribed nonsense. We were living off boxed and packaged meals, never working out, no vitamins. As I researched my "conditions", I realized it was a calcium deficiency. I had a lack of vitamin D and I was not absorbing the calcium. I started taking vitamins, working out and changed to a whole foods diet. Our lives have really turned around. All of us are so much happier and healthier.
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  • Posted by johnpe1 5 years, 9 months ago
    well said david!!! . every time someone mentions
    depression in reference to me (once or thrice),
    I laugh -- and they have no idea why, *blaming
    depression.* . I think it's a cult of medical and
    therapeutic work-generation, as well !!! -- j

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  • Posted by Mamaemma 5 years, 9 months ago
    I haven't said anything about this, because its a little embarrassing, but I haven't read Atlas cover to cover for a long time, because it is depressing.
    Not too long after coming into Galt's Gulch, I remembered a quote and looked it up:
    "We do not hold the belief that this earth is a realm of misery where man is doomed to destruction. We do not think that tragedy is our natural fate.........It is not happiness, but suffering that we consider unnatural."
    I think each of us has the capacity to choose to be depressed or to be happy. I choose joy.
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    • Posted by fivedollargold 5 years, 9 months ago
      Interesting reaction. Fivedollargold found AS uplifting.
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      • Posted by Mamaemma 5 years, 9 months ago
        Atlas has a happy ending. The heroes win and I knew they were going to rebuild the world. But if I were to read it right now, it would be depressing because everything she wrote about is coming true. When I read it 45 years ago, the Anti-dog eat Dog rule and 10-289 seemed to be pure fiction that made a great book. But now it seems all too real, and it's depressing for 2 reasons. 1) I don't see any way for things to get better, and 2) I am completely powerless to stop what is happening.
        That's the thing that has hit the hardest since 2008; my powerlessness.
        So I don't watch the news, although I check Drudge report every day, and I try to concentrate on the many good things in my life.
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        • Posted by khalling 5 years, 9 months ago
          you are not powerless. check a premise mama
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          • Posted by Mamaemma 5 years, 9 months ago
            I have power over my own life and my own choices. I can choose whether to continue working although the circumstances are worse and my pay is less, or I can shrug. But I am powerless over what is happening in the country and society.
            What am I missing, khalling?
            PS just got your book and started reading it today!
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            • Posted by khalling 5 years, 9 months ago
              thank you. i hope you enjoy it! You get that this about ideas. everywhere you go, wherever your influence, you can influence. we have the world to win :)
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              • Posted by Mamaemma 5 years, 9 months ago
                Ok. I gotcha. I do do my best to spread these ideas. Have you ever heard Rush Limbaugh say that even most liberals actually live a conservative life? I think most people who work actually live according to a lot of Objectivist principles, but just don't know it.
                Mostly I try to point out to them that only we have a right to what we earn.
                Thanks for taking the time to answer.
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        • Posted by ewv 5 years, 9 months ago
          Think of the positive aspects of reading the novel. It's a great inspirational novel because you read page after page about good people living in a way you can relate to in a purposeful action plot, while the villains are exposed for what they are and mocked for it -- whatever they get away with you don't see them portrayed as happy or otherwise benefiting from it in a way that really counts for happiness in life.
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    • Posted by khalling 5 years, 9 months ago
      this is interesting. I found Fountainhead depressing until teh very last scene. I found AS to be an action thriller. I knew the heroes would win :)
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      • Posted by LetsShrug 5 years, 9 months ago
        Really? Depressing? Howard wasn't thrown off track by anything and wasn't afraid to do or say what he wanted. I found it gripping and refreshing.. the other characters, not so much, but they were nothing in Roark's shadow... And they knew it.
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  • Posted by $ Commander 5 years, 9 months ago
    So, what I do, on average, is to purchase 15 copies of The Virtue of Selfishness every year. In my acquaintances I gift these, with specific reference to "The Objectivist's Ethics", contained within. A beautiful 25 page essay that sums the simplicity beyond the complexity of Rand's writings. Understandable word-symbols to explain "Right Relations" (Alice Baily, 1956, The Reappearance of the Christ). This is foundational regarding conscious human interaction. I ask that the recipients question the source of their beliefs, and if they can modify or integrate the concept of self worth / sovereignty / value within this. For about $120 per year I pass on a message....something productive for mind and soul, rather than feeding the conspicuous consumption "machine" of our present culture. So far, I receive about two return contacts per year regarding the growth / change these offerings have made. An excellent ROI. The feedback I get is unilaterally of personal assertion in taking charge of one's life direction and attitude toward these ends.
    "Enthusiasm: You can't beg, borrow, buy it or steal it! You have to catch it! The only way to catch it is to walk with enthusiastic people." (My Dad is a genius)
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  • Posted by $ Thoritsu 5 years, 9 months ago
    But what about the people living in conditions that are really depressive? Oh my god! Where is Sally Struthers? We need anti-depressants for these poor people.

    Paul Hogan (as Crocodile Dundee) said it pretty well.

    These people need to wake the ___ up! The light from another's candle diminishes your none.
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  • Posted by BobFreeman 5 years, 9 months ago
    Great topic! I’ve been using the reading & listening to Rand & others & communicating with pro-freedom folks as an anti-depressant since discovering Atlas in 1966.

    Even with that, I still leaned on ethanol as an anti-depressant thru school prior to being granted State permission to write prescriptions for toxic drugs, at which time, my wife & I switched from buze to diazepam in the form of Valium ‘cause it was cheaper & more convenient.

    In 1973, we invited Covert Bailey to our Lake Tahoe home for three weekends where he taught us … & 35 other dental teams, how to effectively teach prevention to our clients. During that time, he successfully helped us to convert from drugs to aerobic exercise as a great health benefit … including attenuation of depression. We’ve been enjoying that, and freedom from drugs, ever since … and all the side effects of aerobic exercise are positive.
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  • Posted by strugatsky 5 years, 9 months ago
    I think that your proposal will work for a minority of the population. To be mentally self-sufficient, one has to know himself, which is possible only through education and logic, two ingredients that most people lack. This is why, I believe, altruism is popular - the quantity of feedback is high (never mind the quality), it is instant and requires no thought process higher than that possessed by a pet. Likewise, Facebook is popular as it provides large quantity (and low quality) support without any investment in thought.
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  • Posted by wiggys 5 years, 9 months ago
    david,
    you maybe right about 10% of the population taking antidepressants from a doctor, but what percent use alcohol or street drugs for the same reason? 50%?
    That said if objectivism were a cure it would have changed things years ago. keep in mind that AS is only second to the bible as the most influential book read in the USA. now for some reality; in order to comprehend objectivism one must have an education as a base. In the USA today we have a population of primarily uneducated people because the educational system in the USA has deteriorated so badly for almost 100 years. I personally do not see any changes as you would like to see. From comments I have read by Ayn Rand I do not believe she had any hope of a positive change either. Her primary reason was directed towards the educational system which starts at the top, the universities and they are not interested in making any changes, therefore the level of stupidity that they exemplify will continue to be taught.
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    • Posted by cranedragon 5 years, 9 months ago
      This is why we support the program of ARI to distribute copies of Rand's books in high schools. So long as we can continue to reach some significant part of high school and college students, we have a chance of spreading the influence through the group that is now feeling the pain of rising debt [governmental and personal], the skewed effect of Obamacare, and the plummeting likelihood that any of the social programs that are benefiting their parents and grandparents will be there when they retire.
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      • Posted by wiggys 5 years, 9 months ago
        I believe you have missed the point; education! I am very aware that the institute has done a magnificent job of getting more attention to AR however, once these high school students graduate and go into a college the teaching of philosophy does not include objectivism or it is spoken of by the faculty in a disparaging way. I do agree that there are some students that go beyond AS to study the objectivist philosophy but unfortunately the number is miniscule compared to the overall population.
        The second aspect of our country at this moment in time is the simple fact that we have an infrastructure that is deteriorating and it is happening much faster than even AR would have projected. I have mentioned a book on this site that you should read, AYN RAND ANSWERS the author so to speak is Richard Mayhew.
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      • Posted by 5 years, 9 months ago
        The problem you're going to find with distributing AR's books in schools is that these days, attention spans are much shorter. If a message can't be grasped in a quick Facebook status, it'll probably be thrown into the 'tl;dr' pile and forgotten.
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  • Posted by LibertyBelle 5 years, 9 months ago
    This isn't about any comments that I have read
    today, but when I previously said "H--l, no," as to
    whether an Obama supporter could be a resident
    or Galt's Gulch, I had misunderstood what it meant
    to be a resident. I had thought that a resident of
    Galt's Gulch meant a consistent supporter of
    Objectivism, but now I see that it is supposed
    to be a sort of association of people comment-
    ing upon it. So that is not quite the same.
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  • Posted by dukem 5 years, 9 months ago
    This is for me one the most interesting topics/threads yet.
    I've taken SSRI's on and off for about 15 years (I'm 71) primarily at the request of the women in my life, who do not like what I vehemently assert when I'm off them. I see the world more clearly then, and am more than willing to say it like it is - the truth - and when one's partner is liberal, it makes for fireworks and great discomfort on their part.
    So, why do I have them as partners? A subject for another time, I suppose.
    Suffice it to say that reading the Gulch over the past few years has made a huge difference in my ability to know there are others like me, and it supports my ability to tell the truth, no matter how drugged out I might be on SSRI's.
    So consider this a therapeutic moment for me, until I can finally attain that entry into the Gulch not only of my mind, but also of my geographical location.
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    • Posted by JoleneMartens1982 5 years, 9 months ago
      Dukem I am sorry to hear that you are taking an antidote to fit into their lives, hopefully some day you will have drugless peace, from a former user of not so legal antidepressants, this is a topic very close to my heart. It is an amazing feeling to see life clearly and to not give a $#@% what people think of your opinions. I always thought something was wrong with me, because I could always, from a young age, see through all the bs. But I chose drugs to fit in, rather than finding those willing to accept my intelligence and strong opinions. I wasted 10 years of my life on it and them. Ihave been clean for 8 years now, and I am happier now than ever! I left all my friends behind with the exception of a few. Life is much better when you are loved rather than sculpted, and this group for me as well as the book Atlas Shrugged, have been an answer to a 33 year old question that I never knew how to ask. I am a better person now, I am more able to move forward, my thinking is clearer, Imake ddecisions better, my life has changed 100%, some don't even recognize me.
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