Written by Amanda Averbeck, MS, LMFT Associate on 7/17/2021
Trigger Warning: Depression, Despair, and Suicide
Are you unhappy with your life right now?
Do you wish you could travel back in time to make different choices? Do you wonder if you had just chosen something different your problems would disappear?
I like to call this “if only” syndrome. For example:
“If only I had married so and so I wouldn’t be lonely/single/in an unhappy relationship right now….”
“If only I had stayed in theatre, I would be a famous actress and not have the dull job I have today....”
Often, we binge on these thoughts when we feel unhappy. It’s a free and quick way to escape the unpleasant present. (Which is the only point in time where change can happen.) The downfall of this thinking is getting lured into ruminations of the past or fantasies about the future, which can lead to depression and anxiety. So be careful!
Nora, the protagonist in “The Midnight Library” fell into these thinking traps too. She was also depressed and ultimately decided the best way forward was to die. She was convinced she had single handedly ruined her life and the lives of those closest to her because of all the “mistakes” she had made.
Whimsical and thought provoking, this quirky science fiction read explores what it means to become your own choice maker and accept full responsibility for your happiness without the preachiness of a self-help book. With each page turn, the story unfolds into exponential parallel universes which reveal the faulty logic associated with “if only” syndrome. In each world, Nora explores what her life would have been like had she made different choices. She is told if she finds a life that makes her perfectly happy, she will remain in it forever. Read the book to find out where she ends up.
Please Note: While the overall message of the book is hopeful, some of the content (especially at the beginning) may be triggering for those struggling with depression, despair, and suicidal ideation. If you or someone you love struggles with these things please reach out for therapy, seek help at a local behavioral health hospital, or call this hotline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/