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Monday, July 22, 2013

Depression In Second Life Part 2 - Interview with Lanai Jarrico - Orchids Zenovka Reporting…

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

-          “The Prophet” Kahlil Gibran

Lānaʻi  also the Pineapple Island,  is the sixth-largest Hawaiian Island and the smallest publicly accessible inhabited island. The island has historically been called Lānaʻi o Kauluāʻau, which can be rendered in English as "day of the conquest of Kauluāʻau." According to Hawaiian legends, man-eating spirits occupied the island. The prophet Lanikāula is said to have driven the spirits out. ( )

Here I find another “Lanai” who has driven the “flesh-eating spirit of depression” away from her as well as others’ lives. It is not easy laying oneself so bare and I thank her for speaking so touchingly, at times humorous and yet starkly realistically.

“Lanai….  I am a human being, daughter, mother, wife, friend and student behind an avatar with a love of writing, creativity,expression and Second Life.”

Orchids: Do virtual worlds help people with depression?

Lanai: I believe virtual worlds provide a safe environment for people with troubled minds to relieve some stress. Second Life has so many things to do, it can become an outlet that can make a depressed person feel a little better. I feel that the anonymity of the virtual world makes it easier for people to express themselves and talk about things they may feel too timid to share or embarrassed about in real life. The veil that Second Life provides, takes away a lot of the feelings of being judged by others that don’t know what you are going through.

I went through deep depression in my early twenties and I turned to art. It was my therapy along with friends that never gave up on me and helped me get through it. If I would have had Second Life at that time, I have no doubt that it would have helped me overcome a lot of emotional distress and the feeling of loneliness, abandonment and despair I once felt.

My outlook on life has changed dramatically since something clicked in me and the cloud of depression passed but I have noticed that in Second Life, there are many that are suffering some form of depression. They don’t have to share their issues with me, for me to know they are dealing internally and need help. Some of the things I have come across are people that become angry at little things and are unable to cope when faced with issues. Rather than express themselves and talk it out they choose to be mean to others or run from their problems. 
I see this as depression because a person who cannot treat others right or show negativity often, have underlying issues that they are not confronting in a healthy way. Other forms of depression are hard to detect because they come in different forms; long term and short term. For example, if a friend just had an ugly break up , they may come to me to talk about it. That is a depressing time for them as they learn to deal with what happened.

 Some move on rather quickly, while others let it bother them and effect their mood and attitude towards others. In long term depression, sometimes anxiety sets in and people become paranoid, less trusting and isolated. In those cases, I think the best thing to do is talk to a therapist or a good friend that is willing to listen and let you cry it out. Second Life may not be the best place to be in long term or deep depression because sunlight and real life interaction/intervention is needed to help improve mood.

Orchids: How does one find out that one might be depressed?

Lanai: I think depression can be more easily detected in conversations over time. The reason being is that we get a feel for a person’s personality after speaking to them for a while. If you notice a change in their conversation and that upbeat person begins to speak negatively, then you know something is wrong. Another tell- tale sign is a talkative person being more isolated and using shorter responses in conversation. If I am ever feeling sad or depressed about something, I turn to my closest circle of friends and tell them what’s going on. I have a great support system and they keep me in good spirits.

Orchids: Would you be comfortable in sharing with us the story of your depression?

Lanai: Yes.  I think most of my depression as a kid, teens and twenties had to do with my mother’s drug addiction and alcoholism. It forced me to give up my childhood and take on responsibilities of raising my younger brother. By the time I was 17, I had enough of the mental abuse and neglect in that house. Even living my own life and finding my balance and happiness as an adult, I still have to deal with the effects of my mother’s problems. She still find a way to let it affect me.
Depression seems to be hereditary in my family. There are others in my family who are suffering from depression but either they choose not to recognize the symptoms and take responsibility or their pride gets in the way. My mother has been suffering from depression for years. Her medicine of choice is drugs and alcohol and no matter how many times I’ve pleaded that she needs help, it has always fell on death ears. Over my recent vacation , I was approached by my uncle who said he was going to set up an intervention for her and have all the family present. I feel a bit of anxiety about this because I;m used to her reaction of just storming off (sometimes months at a time) and running from her problems rather than taking advice from loved ones.
 It’s sad to say I’ve lost hope for her recovery because I have been let down so much by her. I don’t even know what a mother- daughter relationship is supposed to be or feel like but I am still willing to give this a shot. I’m not sure how it will turn out.  I feel I have exhausted all options for trying to help her and I will have to accept the fact that I will have to see my mother die as a result of this terrible addiction and disease if she turns down rehab.

Orchids: Have you felt overwhelmed anytime?

Lanai: Oh Yes of course. I have gone through ups and downs and anxiety throughout my life and have felt overwhelmed by many things that life threw my way. A teen pregnancy, being emancipated at 17, being in a coma and all the aftermath, dealing with deep depression, anxiety,  planning a wedding, buying a home, going to college and running a virtual newspaper. These are just some highlights in my life and I think when my daughter goes off to college next year, it will challenge me emotionally.
The overwhelming feelings come in stages. The first stage is the OMG Factor- where do I begin sorting out what I’m going to do?
The next step is meditating and thinking of  my options, followed by weighing them out and create a timeline and goal.
Work on the issues one at a time and surround yourself with positive people. Not everything goes smoothly but by taking these steps, you are one step closer to getting out from under those heavy overwhelming feeling that can lead to depression.
Another very important thing to do is, remove the negativity from your life. Cut off the people that are bad influences or else it will be difficult to move forward. You also have to be willing to make changes and sacrifices in your life. Step away from your comfort zone and make wiser choices. That is the key to keeping a balance in life.

Orchids: Have you encountered anyone with suicidal tendencies? What did you do?

Lanai: Yes, I have; Myself. I was in my own situation when I was 20 where I thought the best option  for me was to extinguish my existence. It was at a time where I felt the most hopeless and alone. When you are in that frame of mind it is very dangerous and if you do not seek or accept that you need help, it could end in a very tragic way. I was suffering from situational depression as well as a chemical imbalance after going through a coma, speech and physical therapy. It was like two bad storms colliding and I had lost control of myself.  I suffered from anxiety, had a phobia of being around people and all I wanted to do was stay locked in a room and sleep. I was starving myself and being completely isolated and turned off from the world. During a follow up visit with my doctor stemming from my coma and therapy, I told him that I wanted to swan dive off of a bridge. That one sentence changed my life.

Next thing I know I was committed to a Psychiatric ward on 15 minute suicide watch. I was stripped of my belonging and put into blue hospital garment and being medicated. I spent almost 2 weeks in a place I felt I did not belong. I was forced to sit in sessions and talk about my problems and had to continue therapy and anger management after my release. I went three times a week for a year and continued on medications that did not seem to work. I swallowed my pride and went through it all. I took my therapists advice and  relocated and did a clean sweep of all the negative people in my life.  

Once I did that, the clouds started to recede and I was able to think more clearly. Life had new meaning. I realized I had so much to live for and people who truly loved me. Had I continued on my suicidal path, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I finally found myself and am happy in my own skin.  I am not ashamed to share my own story if it helps another person. It has been over 15 years since my intense depression and therapy and I’m proud to say, today I have the tools and skills to manage my life and keep it balanced and fulfilled.

I think anyone who is going through depression or feel like you have lost all hope and suicide is the answer. Please take my advice and seek the help you need. It may not be an easy miracle pill to swallow but there is help available. You matter and there are people that care and love you. You may not see it now because you are not thinking with a clear mind, but please know there are options out there for you to find happiness.

Orchids: Have you been able to help anyone personally in SL and seen a positive response ?
Lanai: I don’t want to invade their privacy to much so I won’t go into too much detail about some avies, but one dear friend is going through a real life divorce and it has left him devastated. He lost weight and has no desire to do the things he once loved. He wasn’t in Second Life and I suggested he try it out. He did and was amazed at the array of things he could get involved in. When he logs in, I like to sit with him and ask how his day is going, share funny stories and just listen to him and suggest different things to keep him upbeat. Including asking that he do 10 random jumping jacks for no apparent reason or  I ask him to go outside and pick a flower just because I said so. The interesting thing is he does it and it takes him out of his comfort zone.  I’ve noticed that just being his shoulder though this tough time has helped his mood. Some people need a friend to help lead them to a new outlook in life and challenge them a little.

Orchids: Have you had to face any negative incidents?

Lanai: There was one incident that shocked me. I had a friend here in Second Life that would share his problems with me. He would tell me about his broken marriage and divorce process and shared with me that not being able to see his children bothered him the most. He would tell me that his ex wife would use the kids to hurt him by not letting him see them and making him feel belittled. I hadn’t seen him in a few months when someone who was mutual friends, contact me. She sent me a link to a news story where I was floored by what I read. My friend was the main suspect in a Murder-Suicide. He apparently went to his ex wife’s home, shot her in front of one of his children, dropped the child off at his parent’s house and during a police pursuit on the highway, he turned the gun on himself.
 I never would have thought he would do such a thing.  It boggled my mind for a long time. Why he would just snap like that?
 The sad and scary thing about depression is you never really know a person’s breaking point and you have to be very careful in what you say if you try to give advice or an opinion. In this case, I would just listen to what he had to say, but I never said anything negatively about his wife because there are two sides to every story and I was only hearing one side.

Orchids: Have you encountered incidents where an Avi was preyed upon?

Lanai:No and if I did hear about someone being bullied or harassed because they are depressed, I would surely step up to their defensive and have a few words with the person causing more problems. Depression is a serious matter and can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, rage and even suicide if a person is provoked and not properly treated. I am not a Dr. or psychiatrist so I would never act as one or give professional advice. I can only be a friend and listen and try to be there for them the best I can. I can also share my experience with depression so they understand that I can relate.

Orchids: How do you help someone who seems depressed?
Lanai: In Second Life we lack the ability to physically see when someone is showing signs of depression. I think when a friend or even stranger is ready to talk or willing, they will come to me. I’ve spend plenty of days with friends that needed me, I have even spoken to complete strangers that have vented and poured out emotions during conversations. I’m not one to say, I have to go, let’s talk later or I don’t have time for that. When someone is in need of a friend, I am there. I can understand because I have been depressed and know what it feels like to just need someone there to listen and not judge.

Orchids: Some feel that virtual worlds can increase the sense of loneliness and worsen depression...
Lanai:I think this is true in some cases.  It depends on the person and their habits. If the person using Second Life is neglecting things and people in real life just to lead a virtual life then of course that can worsen depression because it is creating problems in real life. Perhaps a spouse and kids are being neglected, housework is not being tended to, and possibly the loss of a job or lack of motivation to do other activities factors in depression.
For others, Second Life is an escape from the daily stresses of real life and is used as a source of entertainment. As long as it is not causing negative effects in real life than I feel Second Life is a healthy recreational tool and outlet for creativity.

Orchids: What is the most common age group you have seen?

Lanai:  It is a wide range. The ages of people I’ve been in contact with over the years ranges from early twenties to late 40’s- early 50’s. I’d say mostly 30 somethings.

Orchids: Do you find gender differences ?

Lanai: I find that more woman are willing to discuss their issues while men usually seem more reserved. However, I think some men feel comfortable talking to me about their problems.

Orchids: What are your resource recommendations?

Lanai: The best resources for helping with depression is talking to your doctor, your local church or even close friends and ask for help. They will give you the best information and resources in your local area. You can even look up resources online that can explain depression and provide you with a list of symptoms if you are unsure if you are depressed or suffering from anxiety.

Orchids: You were part of  Presspass Media….

Lanai:Press Pass Media group was handed over to me by the original owner, Carmichael Couldon. I tried to keep up with it but juggling SLE and PPM has been a difficult challenge that I was unable to keep up with so Krissy Sinclair, another PPM original owner has stepped in to handle PPM operations. She is also head of (SOS) Survivors of Suicide.

Orchids: How do you distinguish the one genuinely depressed and the one who is just seeking validation or self pity?

Lanai: This is a good question. It can be hard to determine what emotionally affects a person because we are all different and we deal with things differently. It takes patience and understanding to really determine if a person is suffering from depression. You can help them by listening to them and directing them to resources that can help.
 A person that is just attention seeking or looking for self pity is someone that does not take sound advice and continues to complain about things. It is hard to help those kind of people and it can take a toll on you if you allow them to continue to use you for their selfish complaining. The best way to help them is by suggesting they seek counseling by a professional.

Orchids: How would you deal with the above situation?

Lanai: For those with validated depression, I can only offer my attention and listen. I can share my own experiences and give them options and resources for seeking the help they need. Attention seekers will usually leave you alone once you have told them that they should seek professional help because there is nothing more you can offer to help them. We can only do so much in Second Life. It is largely up to the individual to decide on taking the steps necessary to help their own situation.

Orchids: What is your message for the fighters and the helpers out there?

Lanai: Please read my story above and take my advice.

Orchids: How do you create a bridge between RL and SL ?

Lanai: To create a bridge between RL and SL, I am willing to talk to them on Skype. This will help them put a face to the avatar, but most people don’t ask to take things out of Second Life because it takes them out of their comfort zone and they are less willing to use voice or webcam to let down their guard and show their emotions. Since I am not a professional that can administer the best help that is needed, I would suggest that they seek help from their doctor or local church. The most I can do is lead them to websites that contain information and help services for depression.

This website offers help to those that need it. They also offer a free phone call from a professional counselor.

Orchids says:

I hope you find your own rainbow after every rain…

Depression- Part 3 coming soon.

Depression Part 1

*Please note that the information shared on the SL Enquirer and in this article are thoughts and opinions of Second Life residents and do not claim to be nor should be taken as professional help. If you think that you may be depressed or feeling suicidal, professional help is need. You can reach out to your doctor or local church for resources that can help in your recovery process.


  1. Thanks very much to the SLEnquirer for publishing this interesting article, and to Lanai Jarrico for sharing her information and insight. You echo something that I've always believed, that a determined person willing to use willpower can overcome anything, even depression. Others "let it bother them" and rearrange their entire lives to make friends with and live with something that they should be trying to get rid of. As for the attention seekers, I have heard them called "emotional vampires," who look for anyone who will listen to them, but won't try to get better. They will drag you down with them if you allow it. Finally, with regard to emotional abuse by mothers, a good friend of mine was amazed to discover the term "Narcissistic Mother," and she suddenly realized that she always had been the victim of her mother's Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The realization changed her entire life and freed her from years of guilt.

  2. Hi Hal, thank you very much for your comment and insight. I also know the term emotional vampire. You are right. These type of people suck the energy from others. About the term narcissistic personality disorder, I can certainly agree that is is what my own mother has. At some point, we have to take ownership of our own lives and not allow people, even family members to take advantage of us and continue to make us deal with their problems. It took me years to realize that I am control and can take my life in any direction I choose. When I did, life became so much better. Not everyone is ready to take the reins of life but at some point they need to or else they will look back at years gone by and realize they wasted so much of it on being a sponge and absorbing bad energies. Speaking about my own experiences rather than bottle things up feeling angry or bitter, talking about it continues to help me. Especially when I know it is helping others overcome things in their own lives.


  3. Orchid, I think this is a wonderful article. I'm glad that there is a network of people that have been through this that are able to help others. I don't wish it on anyone, but it is hard feeling like you are all alone and even harder being all alone in this.

  4. @anonymous.. thank you so much for the compliment. It encourages me to write more. Lanai standing up and overcoming this condition which makes you less than the person you are meant to be, encourages others to come out too.I commend you on the astute observation that forced loneliness is devastating sometimes to deal with.This is not a stigma and I hope more people come out to take a stand. Thank you again!



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