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THE MVP100 LIST - Big Law onboarding associates the pandemic from Healthy to Seriously Sick
Real firm culture talk - Are they your ride or die firm, or will they ghost you in a pandemic? Forget Chambers and the V100 list, because actions speak louder than stats. Like Warren Buffet says - you never know who was swimming without shorts, until the tide goes out.
The pandemic has revealed Big Law's real top tier players.
The rough score: Top Tier 10% are starting associates in the fall; Cum Laude 30% committed to starting associates in fall or providing a stipend; Passing 50% have committed to a firm start date.
Starting associates in with little delay.
- Covington & Burling (Sept/Oct – remote onboarding)
- Debevoise & Plimpton (Sept/Oct – remote onboarding)
- Hunton Andrews Kurth (Sept/Oct)
- Kirkland & Ellis (Oct - with full benefits starting Aug + 10k)
- Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (Oct)
- Quinn Emanuel (Oct - remote onboarding)
- Cravath (Oct/Nov)
- Wachtell Lipton (Oct/Nov – PTO for the bar)
- Milbank (choice of Oct or Jan start dates – remote onboarding, PTO for the bar)
- McDermott Will & Emery (choice of Oct or Jan start dates)
- Jones Day (Nov)
- McGuireWoods (Nov)
- Proskauer Rose (Nov)
Confirmed a start date and compensation for the delay.
- Hogan Lovells (Jan – 25k)
- Holland & Knight (Jan – 17.5k)
- Bass, Berry & Sims (Jan – 20k)
- Mayer Brown (Jan – 15k + medical insurance)
- Reed Smith (Jan – 15k + medical insurance)
- Pillsbury (Jan – 15k)
- Finnegan Henderson (Jan – 15k)
- Katten (Feb – 20k)
- Troutman Pepper (Jan or earlier – 12k + medical insurance + PTO for the bar)
- Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton (Jan – 12k)
- Ice Miller (Jan – 12k)
- Shook, Hardy & Bacon (Jan – 10k +medical insurance)
- Orrick (Jan - 10k -15k)
- Bryan Cave (Jan – 10k)
- Schiff Hardin (Jan – 10k)
- Thompson & Knight (Jan – 10k)
- Fish & Richardson (Jan or earlier – 10k)
- Alston & Bird (Jan – 7.5k)
- Duane Morris (Jan – 7.5k)
- Foley & Lardner (Feb – 10k)
- K&L Gates (Feb – will provide a stipend)
- Husch Blackwell (Jan – 3k)
- Cleary Gottlieb (Jan/Feb - medical insurance and optional pro bono scholarship, Sept/Oct remote onboarding for clerks)
- Winston & Strawn (Feb – possible stipend, medical, public interest opportunities)
Delayed start dates without providing or mentioning additional financial.
- Baker McKenzie (Jan)
- DLA Piper (Jan)
- Shearman & Sterling (Jan)
- Cadwalader (Jan)
- Dentons (Jan)
- Arnold & Porter (Jan)
- Baker & Hostetler (Jan)
- Squire Patton Boggs (Jan)
- Seyfarth Shaw (Jan)
- Fox Rothschild (Jan)
- Hughes, Hubbard, & Reed (Jan)
- Kramer Levin (Jan)
- Foley Hoag (Jan?)
- Littler Mendelson (Jan)
- Cozen O'Connor (Jan)
- Day Pitney (Jan)
- Morris, Manning & Martin (Jan)
- Bracewell (Jan)
- Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney (Jan)
- Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost (Jan)
- Dickinson Wright (Jan)
- Simpson Thacher (Jan - not allowing associates to start in Jan if they don’t sit for the bar)
Can't commit to a definite start date, but confirmed they need to delay.
- Skadden (possibly preparing for remote onboarding)
- Davis Polk & Wardewell (6/10)
- Paul Weiss (5/8)
- Goodwin Procter (6/27)
- Wilson Sonsini (5/20)
- Clifford Chance (7/8, can not start associates before Jan)
- Fried Frank (5/15)
- Willkie Farr & Gallagher (7/13)
- Vinson & Elkins (5/12)
- Nixon Peabody (5/7)
- Crowell & Moring (4/30)
- Venable (5/7)
- Faegre Drinker (6/13)
- Baker Botts (4/27)
- Kelley Drye (4/14, cut first years' pay 10%)
- O'Melveny & Myers (4/11)
- White & Case (7/13, but had been silent since 3/31)
- Morrison & Foerster (sent a calm app subscription and debt refinancing options)
- Mintz Levin (5/2, cut first years' pay 10% with no bonus)
- Munger, Tolles & Olson (fired their first years who are clerking - straight heartless)
Taking their sweet time, very little communication. Left you on read.
- WilmerHale (6/5)
- Weil, Gotshal & Manges
- Williams & Connolly (5/6)
- Cahill Gordon & Reindel (4/17)
- Ropes & Gray (6/27)
- Akin Gump
- Jenner & Block (6/17)
- Schulte Roth & Zabel (5/19)
- Haynes and Boone (5/19)
- Sidley Austin (4/24)
- Locke Lord (4/23)
- Gibson Dunn (4/13)
- Latham (said start date would be set by June and ghosted)
- Sullivan & Cromwell (7/13, but had been silent since 4/3)
- Paul Hastings (7/13, but had been silent since Jan/Feb)
- Greenberg Traurig (radio silence)
- King & Spalding (radio silence)
- Morgan, Lewis & Bockius (silent since 4/1)
No information Yet
If this is your firm lmk
- Boies Schiller Flexner
- Allen & Overy
- Perkins Coie
- Susman Godfrey
- Norton Rose Fulbright
- Irell & Manella
- Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton
- Steptoe & Johnson
- Arent Fox
- Fenwick & West
- Davis Wright Tremaine
- Blank Rome
- Ballard Spahr
- Kellogg, Hansen
My story about depression and anhedonia - Extra long read
This will be a long, long entry. How I came to be, where my depression started and where I suspect why I became anhedonic. Let me introduce myself first; I am a male aged 32 from western-Europe, suspect I was anhedonic between ten and thirteen years, and likely had depression for even longer, I am still trying to figure out some parts, even tho I try to process "What happened?" for about a year and a half now. I've never actually got officially diagnosed by depression or anhedonia, let me make that clear from the start. I've never seen a therapist, apart from seven/eight sessions which I will point out in this story.
If you wanna skip to the point where I started 'getting out of it', jump to "When I decided I had no choice anymore" It will also have a TLDR part about the wall of text before that. The reason I wrote all the rest as well, is because it all gives a lot of important context, in my opinion. As you all know, anhedonia is tricky and in every case different, as far as I guess (I am in no means educated regarding this, just have my personal experience). Anyway, here goes;
My early pastAs a kid I was pretty bright compared to other people, I wasn't a wonder child, but smarter than average. I had dreams, liked to laugh, I always loved video games and playing them, in general viewed things from another perspective than most people did. I always knew I wanted to do 'something with computers', partially because of videogames, but in general I liked technology. During my early school years (pre-teen), I was "the clown" of the class; I liked laughing, liked to make people laugh, and didn't mind attention although I wasn't seeking it too much. I was just me.
I was sometimes being teased by playing with computers so much (Even pre-windows era, MS-DOS and "Norton commander") and my SNES. Most of my classmates used to call me 'computergoat' because of that. I had one really good friend, which I always played video games with for years. He had a PC, I had a Nintendo, we both had a GameBoy. You get the idea. I had two more good friends in class, but I didn't get along too much with them, yet. The rest of the class were more like acquaintances, but I was on good terms with most of the people.
At the age of ten and further however, I became aware of the fact that the teasing escalated into (verbal) bullying; namecalling, jokes about me, saying I was weird/crazy, kids can be mean for no apparent reason. Probably I was being bullied a while before that, but I didn't realise it, but that's merely speculation or hazed in my memory lanes, I will try to keep it factual. I never tried to take it too serious tho, I generally laughed along with the jokes, as I was still sort of a clown/jokester, and ignored or 'accepted'/'tolerated' the namecalling.
When I was aged eleven we had a teacher I still hold a grudge against. She was a fresh teacher, just graduated as one, and couldn't really keep order. This made things really bad for my situation of being bullied, as people weren't called to order, they openly bullied me, always verbal, it never was physical as far as I can remember, maybe a single punch on the arm here and there, but nothing really structural. She only said something once during class about it, when I was crying, but try to ignore the fact that I was crying. Half of the class was singing a cartoon's song, with my name in it and replacing some words to make it nasty-spirited, that song was quite popular that year and made me very, very sad. Well, she told the class to stop (especially the popular girls liked to sing this song, and three guys). But as I expected, the bullying only became worse after that, which only affirmed my belief that I shouldn't share all of this bullying with my parents. I was ashamed a lot that I couldn't stand up for myself. I didn't expect my friends to stand up for me because I would feel guilty if they got bullied as well, so I let it all happen.
At the age of twelve we got a new teacher, which was sternly against bullying and made a better atmosphere in class itself, but during the breaks and after school it was still there. By now, my confidence was really low of course. I didn't stand up for myself, neither did my friends, and I thought that was 'normal', "I don't really mind" keeping myself big; I didn't want to be a whiner. I was relieved the last few months of this year tho. Next year would be at another school, so I wouldn't see most of the people anymore, I even started to enjoy some days at school and laughed at some of the bullies, keeping in mind that it will soon be all in the past.
My puberty yearsNew school, new chances, new hope. I was happy and felt so relieved for this new chance. It felt as a fresh reset which was very welcome in my life. But... The new hope was shortlived. During the first two weeks of this new school, word spread (some other kids came to this school too) what kind of person I was, I was weird, crazy and a dork/nerd etc. Many people joined this bandwagen and... well... It was kind of game over from the start. It all continued where it left off. It was still just verbal bullying, but now it were more 'generic' insults, like idiot, dork, sucker, ugly, weakling etc. Day in, day out, also, girls really acted like I was repulsive, making disgusted faces when I was near, I think you can imagine what teenagers can be like, well... I sure did at least.
My mentality continued surrounding my friends, I actually didn't want them to stand up for me at this point, as my bigger fear than being bullied, was that other people would be bullied because of me. After school we would just play video games. Because I was treated this way in general, I barely did anything surrounding my looks, I never wore 'trendy clothes' or did something with my hair, just simple, a tshirt or sweatter, jeans, nikes, done. All the time I hid everything from my parents, I never talked about it with my friends, I kept everything to myself.
The second year at this school, something good happened. Apart from school, I used to play a sport that was mixed, men/woman in one team. I always liked the sport and it was basically my only 'social' life where I wasn't bullied. I did get teased slightly, but that was peanuts compared to school. This year, I was in a new team where I met my first love. A social butterfly girl which was my polar opposite, she was popular, pretty, confident, but the best thing was; she was acting normal oor even nice to me. She made me feel like I was more than a pile of garbage (like the rest of my age group made me feel). The contrast between how I felt around her and how I felt when I was at school was insane to me.
In the end I reasoned the same as I did with my friends, there was no possibility that she could ever like me, so I will never be honest about my feelings toward her, she might get bullied because of me (she was at the same school as I was as well, one year lower), so if I truely loved her, I would refrain from ever saying that out loud, that was the rational thing to do. I had to swallow my feelings and hide them from the rest of the world. This love I felt, it caught me offguard, I never liked anybody before like this.
For the next several years nothing noteworthy happened, the girl I loved went to another team, she also went to another school, nothing came off it. (In hindsight I can tell she also liked me... ouch) The bullying continued at school and I 'learned' that whenever I shut up and say nothing, people would bully me less and just ignore me completely. All those time, untill I was mid-sixteen, I missed the girl. For three years I loved her intensely, even though I hadn't seen her for years. "She was the only one I ever looved and I wont replace her." were my thoughts. It felt wrong too replace her, I don't know exactly why. Maybe because I never felt anything for anybody else ever since.
People around me had nice friendgroups, went out to drink, to make stories, kissed girls, had relationships, talked to oothers like it was no problem at all. This was incomprehensible to me, a life of being bullied and social isolation. Not complete isolation, but I still had the same friends as I had several years ago. My social life was non-existent, I went to school, did my sports where I talked to people, but never made new friends, and especially not with girls. I was conditioned that girls were majorly, phisically disgusted with me. At a certain point, my lowest low in life, I started to make gagreflexes whenever I thought about myself. I was convinced I was an utter disgusting being, not worthy of anybodies' presence. My whole essence was tainted and I 'understood' people acted toward me the way they did. It was only natural to be treated like this, was my conclusion, this was my life how it always would be.
After that point, I made a wish I up to this day regret ever making. I hoped and wished I had no emotions whatsoever. Well... In hindsight, it's painful that I did it, but I still doo understand why I made that wish in that point in time. Most things were unreachable to me, love, being treated normally. Most people seemed to dream about having a nice home later, or getting a date, or kiss a person... My only wish was 'not getting bullied or feel bad about myself, even if it was for one day', but it never came to be. Sadly...
Late teens, when I was 17 I met a girl online, we talked for hours for weeks, untill the early morning hours on MSN messenger. We met up once after weeks of talking, for two hours. She said we weren't a match after that 'date' (nothing happened, we didn't even exchanged a hug) on MSN messenger with the webcam on... Surprisingly I started crying because I was apparently hurt over those words. Then something strange happened, I felt happy. No, not just happy, I felt happier than I could remember I've ever felt. This pain of rejection, this pain that lasted for three or four minutes made me realise I could feel. I started laughing while still having tears in my eyes, obviously, the girl was confused, but said she was happy for me. I was so relieved... My reason to be happy was pretty simple. I thought I couldn't feel anything anymore at that point, which was kind of true, because I didn't feel like I was in love with her in the first place, but those tears were proof that I could feel, or at least had a physical reaction that made me cry, right? My 'broken heart with crying as a response' was an eye opener to me that "it" was still there, my emotions.
Next several years weren't really noteworthy for this story. I got a side job as a dishwacher, studied computer sciences, but I didn't feel a lot actually. Playing games was mundane, I started playing World of Warcraft since beta, and MMO RPG game, social heavy. If I look back, I can say that I "grew up behind my screen". I read a lot about psychology, even back then, interacted mainly via text and very sometimes, via webcam/microphone, but those moments were exceptional.
I got a girlfriend at the age of 18, she kind of came to me. She was from a whole other environment than I was, she was 16, depressed, selfharmed her with a razor, had many boyfriends in the past for short whiles. We had a relation for 1½ year (I was her boyfriend and het therapist, rookie mistake, but she was the first girl that showed so much interest in me, it was almost intoxicating) That was... Ouch... She cheated on me in the end and I litterally saw it coming. I told her weeks before we broke up: "The way you are talking about this friend is more than just a friend. If you get along for too long with him, you will eventuially like him." But I trusted her (as I should do imo, relations are based upon trust) After a few weeks she asked: "How did you know this would happen?" and I immidiatly know what she was talking about, weeks later. I felt horrible after the breakup, but was pretty okay after half a year. During the relationship I only felt something 'great' just once, for two minutes I felt "desired", the rest was rationally interesting, but emotionally flatline. She also told me I was a good influence on her while we were together and also; she stopped cutting herself completely.
I want to emphesize here, that during my teens and puberty, video games have been my 'escape', meaning they were my sole form of noticable entertainment. Fleeing into a fantasy world where I could be the hero, or just practiced my reflexes, eyes, hands or just satisfying my curiosity or imagination. I've been called bitter from 19 and on, nothing seemed to entertain me apart from games, which took it's toll of course. Most things were dumb, stupid or lame in my experience. Games were where it's at. I did continue playing sports, because I rationally thought that exercising was healthy and then I at least had some form of human interaction. I didn't listen to music either, at all, apart from gaming OST's. New or old.
One more moment, where I can say (looking back at least) I was kind of (or starting to be) anhedonic, was when I said to my best friend at the time, a girl from my spoorts team, that I was interested in her (I was 19/20 here). It was the first time ever I confessed to anybody. I didn't 'feel' love exactly, but I knew I was intellectually interested in her, since we talked a lot, better than I ever did with anybody. She practically ghosted me... We didn't talk anymore, we didn't see eachother apart from sports but she ignored me foor months. I didn't feel anything in the least, but I understood her in a twisted way back then. I mean, my self-esteem was still non-existent, I understood she was scared/disgusted with me. She never talked to me about it once, probably scared?
We went out sometimes in group form, lots of mutual friends, she started to show interest in my best friend from elementary school (the friend mentioned a long while back, which I gamed with, he had the game PC). During a night, they started kissing right in front of me, my other friends, from the group, were furious at her, but me? I didn't feel a thing when she kissed my friend. I was confused why they were furious. Apparently they knew I liked her and they became angry for me. She asked me later if she should apologise to me, and this confused me even further. I wasn't hurt as far as I could tell, she was clear about having no interest in me by ghosting me. SHe was confused by my response, but she was thankful. Oh, yeah, and my guy-friend told me that I "Should have executed my plan to get in her pants differently." Which annoyed intellectually me a very little bit, because he was getting the wrong idea from my point of view, but I just took his 'advice' or whatever. He was talking down on me for my 'techniques'. After a few weeks they broke up, again, didn't feel anything with that. Anyway, I learned that I should never tell a girl I liked her, because that would/could only end up being ghosted like that. It was only natural that that happened to me (I reasoned like that).
Some other noteworthy things: I never looked anybody in the eyes, in general I expected people to be mean to me (But I never percieved it as mean, it was just 'normal'), if they were nice I thought they were teasing me or they were 'tricking' me. Apart from the earlier described time I never straight up told a girl I liked 'em, I felt inferior to most people in most aspects. I did start writing a thing like a diary, it started as a problem diary. I wrote things in it since I was eighteen, my reasoning was that my thoughts were too fast to make sense. If I wrote 'em down, I was forced to slow down my thought process, because I can't type as fast as people can think. This way it felt way more structured in general, giving me a better view on some things.
My twentiesI had two other relationships during my twenties. One lasted 5½ years, the other 3½ year. But, let me stay chronological. My second girlfriend, met her at 22, was a nice girl, I was her first, she was 18. She was an average looking girl, but pretty smart and we could talk for hours, which was interesting to me as I didn't really experience that much emotions in general. Intellectually she was interesting, sharing ideas, views, opinions, all sorts of stuff. She wanted to wait having sex, take some time, which I gave to her, I liked her so I respected her. Or, well... The talking was the only thing, in hindsight, which we matched at. We were opposites, I exercised a lot as it gave me adrenaline rushes and I noticed I was intellectually sharper when I regularly exercised. I am by nature a pretty energetic type, physically energetic at least.
We barely went out, this GF had sereve social anxiety and didn't want to do anything. In bed she was pretty vanilla, not that it mattered that much, I didnt felt any need to try new things like I once wanted, but those desires were long gone before I knew it. In general she was kind of scared to try new things. During all those years, we never went out once, well... We went on vacation to Italy once, but she booked it, and it was a senior holiday trip. That's quite opposite what energetic me wanted, but 'whatever', my opinions and desires were drowned for a while and I just wanted to make her happy, because I could notice her happiness more than my own.
During our relationship, there was one specific game coming up from a series that releases once every five or six years, a series I have really fond memories of, so I was looking forward to experiencing that again, obviously, since I didn't have that much joy in my life anymore. The day was there, I started up the game and ended up stop playing it after 15 minutes because I was bored as fuck. At that exact moment, I knew, my first realisation since whenever, that something was wroong with me. I knew something was wrong because I didn't enjoy a video game I was anticipating soo long for. Apart from my relationship that didnt seem to go well anymore, intellectually and rationally analysed. I had a thought which I never had before: "I might be in need of therapy."
Without telling anybody, I went to therapy the first time in my life. I'll spare the many details, but the first therapist was an idiot, trying to 'steer' me toward a diagnose. She kept hammering and pointing out: "See? that MUST be because you are afraid of change." and every time I told her noo, she was surprised. After that first session she said she would look for another therapist for me, because she was out of ideas. The second therapist was a 'listener', basically no ideas, just listening and saying yes to my thoughts. She asked me if I exercised enough, if I came outside enough, the standard questions. I took care of my body pretty well, I was in shape, strolled for an hour or more several times a week, all was physically well (on the surfacelevel). At the seventh or eighth session, I knew intellectually what was wrong with me, or so, I thought. I reasoned that I was in a relatioonship I didn't want to be in anymore. It took me a while to came to that conclusion, but thanks to my diary and writing down my thoughts, analysing former diary entries, it was only logical. (After that last session I never made another appointment, since it was a waste of my money and time)
So after 3½ years I would go to my girlfriend and told her I wasnted to break-up. I told her "because I didn't feel it anymore", I thought, but it was more a rational decision. The next day she called me, crying, and I sumbitted to try it again. I still don't know why, probably because I know she would be pleased getting back together, "at least somebody getting fun because of me in my life."
What followed was the most soulless and sense-less period of that relationship. We tried new things, she said it went better, but I didn't feel it, but rationally observed, I guess she was right. Looking back, I am ashamed how I was toward her. I was getting snarky, short answered and sometimes even plain mean toward her, getting more and more frustrated why I didn't get any joy at all out of this relationship. I didn't have any reason at all to be NOT happy. On paper she was a good match, she was a nice person and loyal as well. Since the break-up we didn't have sex at all, because it would frustrate me since I didnt feel anything with it.
The next time I broke up, was about two years later. It was, again, a rational decision. I really, really didn't like how I treated her, she deserved better for how kind she was and how much she tried making the best of it. She said it was okay, that she still wanted to try to help me and save our relationship. This time, I didn't give in. I asked her to call a friend, that could ome over to soothe and talk with her that night, after I left. When I left her home I cried and threw up after the talk we had for three hours. I guess the physical stress got me, but also the guilt that I was such an asshole toward her for so long, she deserved so much better than what I was. Within a week though, she foound a next boyfriend, which kind of relieved my guilt; she was over me pretty quickly, indirectly admitting I was an ass to her. Also, she probably was looking for sex after a little over two years without it.
Within a few months I started talking to another girl, which started the same as my other relationships I had. We talked, for hours, and hours, and hours. Consecutive weeks long we would talk for hours per evening. I was thrilled a little, "Maybe this is a person I will actually feel more with, besides the poossible intellectual interest... Maybe emotions?" was my major thought. My last ex, this gf, was a stunning 9.5/10 in my book, at least in the physical department. She was really into me too, I should have been the happiest person alive, she was 18, and by then I was 28. We differed 9 years and eleven months. Talking was our main thing. She was scared, scared for one thing.
That I would leave her, she was scared to death for that (I was her first boyfriend), the reason? She didn't enjoy anything sexually and was afraid being left alone for that reason. She cried a lot about that fact. Every time I would soothe her anxiety: "We can have fun in moroe than one way, sex is fun, but not the world to me." She felt physical pain whenever I touched her intimately, also if she touched herself. She was frustrated because of that because she didn't understand how people could enjoy it. I didn't want to be "that guy" by leaving her for a reason like that, so I accepted it, even though she knew I was physically attracted to her and that I found it hard. I enjoyed her company enough to settle for just that, we kept on talking, she was intelligent and I liked her points of views in general.
She had a list of things mentally though. She also had sereve social anxiety, she was hypochondriac, she was obsessed with healthy food and scared of eating anything unhealthy or drinking alcohol to name a few. Everytime she has a 'hypochonder attack' (as she called 'em) I would soothe her about it, calling her for hours until it went away. This became a daily thing during some weeks.
Over the years she became less and less interested in me and sometimes told me she felt relieved after I left (I usually stayed at her dorm for 3 days a week). I didn't feel pain or annoyance whenever she stated that. Even after the fact that she thought I should be at her dorm for more days a few weeks before that. She felt like I didnt care for her needs for only staying two nights a week, even though I had a full time job.
We planned one holiday, near the end of our relationship, to Japan, our mutual interest (she was studying Japanese at the university). But she got scared and angry at me. She actually didn't want to be with me anymore, and angry because I didn't cancel my ticket for her "I never been to Japan before, and you did once". I told her that I didn't wnat to break up quite yet, and that we could go to Japan as just friends. She reluctantly agreed. This point I reasoned as well that I didn't go on holidays for over six years at that point. I always found it a waste of money since I didn't get any joy out of it. I rather saved my money or spend it on useful things.
Three weeks before we went to Japan she told me something in an arguement that didn't hurt back then, but later it did (will explain later). She told me, and I quote: "You are so, so not attractive to me, even repulsive, phisically and mentally. I would like to try to have sex with somebody, just not with you." Back then, I understood her. I still had low self-esteem and I even agreed to her that I was pretty repulsive. She also said, several times: "Sometimes I really get the vibe that you are a robot without emotions from you."- makes sense now. After the holidays which we planned we spoke just twice, once to exchange our last stuff (sleeping gear, games etc) and once after a two month radio silence, after the break up, to say eachother good bye and our thoughts so far after the break up. At this point I was 30, almost 31.
Another point I should add to this story: I became an alcoholic without even realising it. For years I had been drinking alone at home, a bottle of malibu, mixed with coola in my glass. It's ben my guilty pleasure since my 1st gf, probably the taste remined me of the days I could still feel emotions, that's how I think it is looking back to it. I did it in secret, my last ex hated alcohol "You will get cancer from it" (hypochondia was talking for her), so every friday evening, when I went home, I drank a bottle, as for saturday, as for sunday. During the weekdays I didn't drink. Always alone, in secret, while playing games, for years.
Some lose things what my anhedonia meant for me: I don't know a lot of preferences of my own. I never knew what I genuinly liked or disliked when it comes to a lot of things, since everything was a big bland thing too me. Food was just fuel to me, I never enjoyed eating, I ate because that would make me go on, just like a machine. I never felt the urge to leave my home (I was still with my parents), never had any urgency to work on myself since I always placed my exes above my own, I didn't feel anything anyway. In my eyes I was a lost cause... I never talked about this 'state of being' with anyboddy. Always kept it to myself and I thought this was just a regular and average life, I shouldn't whine and just swallow it, it was part of life... Well... Things changed from there...
When I decided I had no choice anymoreA little TLDR for those that skipped all former text: Been bullied for around seven years total, in elementary/highschool. Self esteem was non-existent during and after that, always felt less than other people, sometimes got nauseous or had gag-reflexes during my lowest point when thinking about myself. Over the years I slowly slid into feeling less and less lifestyle. I tried to rationally think my way through life and tried to hide all of my 'true' feelings for other so they wouldn't become worried about me (I wasn't worth their worries), usually pussing up a mask/faking my 'shown' emotions until it became second nature. Started writing a diary in which I sometimes wrote about things that kept me occupied in life, usually about struggles. Had three GF's, one cheated on me, second I didnt want to be with for a long time without me realising it and the third one dumped me even when I sacrificed a lot for her. All three had some serious mental issues in their own way. Story continues after the last break-up at my age of 30.
After the break-up I started doing a thing I had never done once before: I would read the entirety of my diary I had been writing for years. More than ten years I have written my thoughts, my objective goals, and, from my early entries, my emotional desires which I had forgotten and buried. I took a day off from work since I was 'sick' and started reading. In total, it took me eight to nine hours to read it all, and, well... It was slightly like I was reading something from somebody else, the sadness I once felt, the urgency I described about changing myself with 'being happy' as a goal... They were all gone at this point. Especially one entry made me realise one thing. I remember the line very, very vividly and I get goosegumps bringing it up again. The line was this: "I really should work on myself right now, I already missed a few years of 'living', but when I postpone it any longer I will be thirty before I realise." I started tearing up reading that, which surprised me. My once biggest fear became my reality and I had forgotten it completely. This diary I wrote became something indescribably valueable to me, a little over a decade later. "I have forgotten who and what I am." was my conclusion, and that was only at 1/3rd of my (so far) written file.
Reading that line made something else happen; I started to have stomachache. I never had this feeling in my guts before, but with all the reading I did about psychology and self-help online, my guess was it had to do with mental/emotioonal pain. I had the thought: "If I don't change now, I don't know if I want to exist any longer." I always made a BIG distinction between 'living' and 'existing'. For longer than half of my existence, I just did that; merely existing. I wanted to actually live, "whats a life worth compared to a rock? It's there, but it doesn't enjoy or hate anything, it just is. I want to be human again." I think most people that had one form of anhedonia or another can relate to this, maybe not... (Again, I only found out about anhedonia AFTER this particular moment)
The next five months, I had constant stomach-ache, it was always there, always nagging pain, not as bad to the point I became paralysed of pain, but it was there, reminding me of some unresolved stuff from my past. After two weeks I welcomed it, as a memento, a scar. Something HAS TO HAPPEN now. I never felt this feeling before, urgency, this cooncentrated sadness, this powerless feeling, but I accepted it. I didn't want to pretend nothing is wrong anymore, or act the way I always had been doing, because, CLEARLY it did not work for me. And I want to be NOT ME any longer. I didn't want to be a slave from my past behavior for one second more. I decided I need to do some things oout of character, rationally decided, but for the benefit of maybe, JUST MAYBE, I could feel more. So I gathered the last things of my recent ex, like a photoframe of her and me, a suffed animal, a video game I got from her and some other random things. I gathered them and took a giant iron hammer, went to a spot where I was isolated from my town.
I put her stuff on the ground, I 'gently stroked her cheek on the photograph with the back of my fingers, said farewell with tearing up eyes and relently smashed the phootoframe while crying. This was the first time I cried in a long, long time, even after the breakup. I didn't want to be collected and "strong" anymore, I want to be human and cry, I wanted to feel, I wanted to live. During the smashing I also threw up and I even smashed a few holes in the concrete, glass was flying around from the frame. I felt horrible, but that was good. I learned an important lesson that day.
"Pain is good". Hear me out on this, because I still think this way. Pain for the sake of feeling pain is bad. But pain is merely a 'language' from your body to tell you: "Something is harming you." or "Something isn't right." Pain is your body telling you something shoudl be done in order to prevent more harm. During the five months of stomachache I came to realise, while reading my diary over and over again, analising what I said and how I said it (might not be a surprise I choose my working carefully by now, it's even worse in my native language) that I have blocking a lot, almost ALL signals of pain to the point I became insensitive and numb to it in a whole. In my specific case, probably because I didn't have any selfworth or selfesteem, therefor there was no urgency to change any of that. I lead a very self-deprivating life without feeling anything with that, I never took time process it all, all that had happened. I was practically a robot, always run on rationality and dismissing my emotional side. I started to focus on how I felt, even if a little.
I also figured out that I should learn to finally love and appreciate myself, my biggest 'opponent'. Done with the self depricating humor for now (I usually was still a clown to others, very cynical and dark humor). I acted in a way as I thought would be best for other people. I stopped drinking immidiatly, I started to eat more healthy, I exercised more (rational choice actually, it would stimulate dopamine creation), andfor the first time ever I would open up toward people. My three best friends I have known since elementary school and still regularly see. "Something had to change or I might be scared to stoop living permanently." They were a big help, even if I felt pain telling them my story and how I lived in the same classes they were in. They were all pretty shocked too hear 'my version' of it. It pained me to tell the my story, but I lived by the mantra "Pain is good" now... "At least I feel SOMETHING now, more than I've felt in a while." It's the same as when I was 17, when I was happy after I realised I could still cry (therefor feel sad), but now I was 31 at this point.
I started writing in my diary on a daily basis, analising my past, writing earlier events again, but now with the pain I could feel, forcing myself to feel pain, not a single part of my brain was thinking about blocking or ignoring the pain. A lot of things came by, the bullying, the GF's I had, the missed time of basically my WHOLE 20's, especially the lost time was mourn-worthy too me. I missed so much, soo much time and so much things I could have done. Also the words of my last ex started to sting a lot, I was trying to be a good boyfriend by accepting her, but now it felt like I was being backstabbed by her mean words and actions. I acceoted all the pain and took my time to process it all, I HAD TO resolve this, noo matter the time it took. Every evening/night I would cry, mourn, this continued for several months in the five month period of stomachache.
During those months something started changing. I got a feeling I didn't experience in a long, LONG time. It was another feeling in my stomach, but this was a known and very primal feeling: hunger. For the first time since I could remember, I started to feel hungry. I was so confused by that, It's been years since I felt that, something was happening in my hormonal household apparently. Even better, a good meal made me feel good, like... Emotionally. Me... I cried over my meals, I could actually enjoy eating. I was always known by people on how little food I survived, they usually thought I was anorexic. I ate what I needed and didn't eat more because eating annoyed me as it was mundane, mandatory and I never understood why people liked eating. Now I could enjoy food, and damn, I did eat, a lot (compared to what i did before).
Also noteworthy, a little bit funny as well; if you read all of this file so far, the game I mentioned earlier from a certain series (I didnt care about it once I got it), a new entry would be released later that year (Smash bros. on Switch). The circle became round, I started crying out of happiness once I had this game and felt joy. Funny how that was a game from the same series. It made me realise I had depression, and this new game made me realise I can feel things again.
I started to have more energy, not just becauee of the food, but also the exercising started to have a result, which made me eat even more. It was a positive feedback loop. After about four months (last month of my stomachache period) I tried going out with a good friend of mine, also single, to a local bar. We started to have a beer or two (my first alcohol sincea long while) and something else changed: I looked at woman/girls. I was surprised, I never ogled or looked at woman in the open. Even my friend told me: "Whow, dude, since when are you interested in looking around you like that?" It felt so good, just looking like that. It was not because of the looking at woman that made me feel good, that was merely a result. The cause that I felt good is that I didn't "stop" myself from having small urges like that. I allowed myself to do that. Before I would think I was a disgusting pervert and human being by even just glancing at somebody. Now I accepted it and I just did it, not in a creepy way, my friend was really happy I did.
For three months after that, I was high on life, constantly. People must have thought I was on drugs, walking around really happy with a smile coonstantly. I felt high, because I felt normal/happy foor the first time in over a decade. I could practically beat the whole world at that point, "nothing can stop me!" "is this how I was supposed to feel, all that time?". I took it a step further, by completing one thing on my bucketlist, from before I was anhedonic (as far as I remember): I wanted to try shrooms/truffles with my friend. Especially since I was this high on life. I never did any kind of drugs before (alcohol excluded, also drugs, I know), but truffles and shrooms are not phisically addiciting, therefor I always had an interest in them.
It was a good trip which made me realise a lot of good things (like "I should take care of myself from now on"), but those things are NOT CHILDS TOYS and I would strongly advice AGAINST taking them without some proper preperations and knowledge about them, just saying. I am trying to convey that shroooms did help me, but they are in no way a solution to anhedonia or depression. Research tells they look promising for these states, but thats another discussion for another time. "Don't take 'em lightly" is all I wasnt to say.
And well, that is basically the gist of my story. The year that followed (up until the point of the here and now) I reflected a lot of my life, I still embrace the idea of 'embracing pain(or worries)' as a signal, instead of suppressing it. I had some ups and downs (Which I expected, it can't go away after such a long period), but in general I've changed for the better so far. In my case, I had to take a LOT of time and energy to resolve my views on the past and on myself. I have no idea if people find any help or inspiration out of this story, if you have any specific questions, by all means; ask. The involuntary lifestyle I have been through was hell, I am an atheist, but I know now that hell exists.
What caused me to finally change? It is really hard to say, and not a single day goes by without me thinking about it. I think it will take a few more years before I can say I am where I want to be, but I am sure as hell happy I can feel anything at all right now. Acting like I loved myself by taking good care of myself did certainly help in my case, because it probably started becausse of a long and severe depression and severe self-neglectance.
If you came this far in this wall of text: Thank you for reading, I really appreciate the time you took for digesting all of this! I tried to point out the most important things of my life out of my head concerning depression and anhedonia, but it's all 'just' a summary, so I hope it all makes sense what I wrote.
~ Rejuvenated Wanderer