The depression of success:

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

I am a 38 years old and have it all. Good job, good husband, great kids, enough money, and a dog. We have a nice house in a nice suburb of a nice city. Things were great until three months ago when I asked myself, “is this it?” Now I can’t quiet my mind. I am restless and I feel empty. I can’t enjoy my kids, husband or situation. Every time I fake an orgasm I feel like a piece of me has died. Am I going crazy? My best friend is on antidepressants and says it sounds like I need one too. Lately I have been obsessing about this guy at work and I am afraid I will do something stupid. What is going on? I have no reason or right to feel this way.

Losing It.

Dear loosing it,

If this is the first time you have ever felt this way, I call this the depression of success. By all of our cultural standards, you have won. End of game. Some poets have killed themselves upon achieving success rather than go on and loose what they have achieved. I call that narcissistic stupidity.

What you have built up to this point is a base. It is a starting point for the next level. Trashing it and starting over would not only be stupid but would also eventually lead to this exact same point again. Now that you are secure and stable it’s time to think about someone other than yourself. When Madonna reached this point she adopted a poor starving Afro-American child. This child brought meaning to her life, through service. This was something she learned from the Kabbalah. For you, some form of charity or service would serve the same purpose. You might argue, “but I have no time!” But I have to ask- if you have the leisure to contemplate the meaningless of your life and enough time on your hands to contemplate screwing it all up, you have plenty of time to rearrange your schedule to do service and help someone who doesn’t have your blessings.

I was curious as to what she would say so I asked my ten year old daughter how she would solve this problem. Her response: “get into art!” Since art is about learning how to look, you could probably use this skill.

We live in a throw away culture and many people who have reached the same point you have throw their lives away as well. You can be infinitely more imaginative than that.

Taking antidepressants for this type of depression is our cultural reflex, but it is a mistake. Medication will just enable a person to avoid making important changes in their life. For a while you will feel better; you might care less about everything. But over time, if you change nothing in your life and add nothing of substance to it, you will come again to emptiness. Your doctors will probably up your medication, then change your medication, and soon what started as an esoteric crisis will be diagnosed as bipolar because the medication itself will cause bigger and bigger emotional crashes. Sometimes antidepressants can be lifesaving but not all depression is the same. Find someone who can help you distinguish the difference.

Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Granny says: I’m not as ready to classify these feelings of yours as narcissistic stupidity, Losing It, although the solutions that you are considering don’t show a great deal of intelligence. I think that you are long over-due for a self-evaluation, and you at least have the sense to question your first instinct to reach for pills and illicit sex to fill the void you admittedly now face. What I am first taken by is that in qualifying yourself as “having it all,” you list absolutely nothing but material possessions and social standing. I’ll give you a nod for the kids and the dog, but you distinctly left out the fake orgasms; I suspect you left out a lot more as well. You are living in a house of cards, lady, and it’s starting to come down.

In our culture, we are trained to be good consumers, otherwise there would soon be no culture left. Everything here costs money. People won’t struggle to get the cash to buy goods unless they are brainwashed into thinking that material possessions and personal desirability are the ultimate goals in life. You’ve been brainwashed. Now, for the first time in your life, you are starting to realize how empty this “dream” you’ve achieved is.

Perhaps you can bring more meaning to your life through service, but I would not go into it with attitude of “I have so much, now I must give to the less fortunate.” Quite honestly, you ain’t so fortunate. You are spiritually empty, selfish and shallow. All you have to give is your time and your money. Before you can give emotionally to anyone else, you need to gain some genuine emotions. Perhaps you should do some volunteer work with the idea that YOU have something to gain, not those poor souls whom you are supposedly saving.

I can’t read Madonna’s mind or make any assessments as to her spiritual depth or motivations, but I do have to observe that the one time in recent history when I saw her out with her adopted African son, they were at the Grammy’s, both dressed up like pimps and acting cool and cocky. Madonna did not exactly seem to be extolling virtue or service of any kind. It looked to me as her son was following in his adopted mother’s craving for the spotlight, status and flashy clothing. I’ll say no more.


About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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