Existential Depression



I am laughing at my own melancholy. I really don’t want to start this blog on so ‘gloomy’ or ‘negative’ a note. However, the more I think about it, the more I realized that this topic is only considered macabre because other people think it to be. And, seeing as death and oblivion are all inevitable, shouldn’t we be treating it as something that should be logically and clearly thought over, rather than avoided?

Though I know that it would take a great deal for a paradigm shift in society’s thinking to occur. Every time I venture the slightest bit near the topic, it is as if I create my own force field that magnetically repels people. Okay. Perhaps that is an exaggeration. But I have received the gamut of human expression whenever I have tried to talk about something existentialist, from confusion to disapproval to plain and utter indifference. And I remember feeling so different and out of place, as if everyone else’s minds had gone to heaven and were having a blast while mine still toiled away on Earth, wondering how they could go up into that golden world when there was still so much work to do, so much thinking to do, the clock forever ticking towards a nothingness we label Death.

Let’s get down into the nitty-gritty. I have been sufferer of existential depression for as long as I can remember. Well, perhaps it only evolved into despair and depression in my teen years. Existential depression is basically when you start thinking about the meaning of your own life and existence and slowly fall into this vortex of agony when you can’t find an answer. It started when I was around six or seven. I remember lying down in my bed and thinking about death. People are strangely freaked out when children think about these things. I found that out when I asked a ‘trusted adult’ and she tried to soothe me by stuffing my head with banalities like ‘you’re still so young, you shouldn’t think about these things’, ‘the meaning of life is to be happy’ etc. Excuse my language, but that is complete and utter bullshit. More on that later, perhaps in another post.

Anyways, I was lying in bed and thinking about death. And at the time, I simply couldn’t wrap my head around the thought of their being nothing once I died (now that I think about, it is hilarious, I was born an atheist). Because my own thoughts and my own sights and my own feelings and my own experiences, my own consciousness, was all I had ever known, I couldn’t imagine there being just nothing. How could there be? And because the fear began creeping in, I comforted myself with a future in which I had all the toys and books I ever wished for and rolled over and went to sleep.

Now that I think about it, that concept involving the toys is often the way adults try to avoid thoughts of their own existence and death, by using material goods to fill the vacuity that comes with the human experience. Interesting. But it all went downhill once I hit my teen years.

Let me tell you something. When I look at surreal art during the day, I often have trippy dreams that night, as if the strangeness of the artworks have spilled from my own subconscious and stained the paper of my nightmares. When it came to existential depression, once I started thinking deeply (note: I was fifteen years old. There aren’t many fifteen year olds you can talk about this kind of thing with, especially when relationships and school and societal expectations are on the agenda of most people’s minds) about existence and life and how small we really were and how arbitrary my life truly was, the reverse happened and I began to live in a surreal daydream.

Here’s a rough example of the kind of monologue in my head during that time:

My hands. Look at them. One day, the flesh will melt off the bones of my fingers. One day I will be a skeleton, buried somewhere. That is everyone’s fate, to become worm food. What is language? What is writing? I love writing. I love language. I love communication. But it is simply meaningless scratches upon paper, arbitrary sounds issuing from our mouths. Is it worth anything? What is consciousness? My eyeballs are cradled in their sockets at the moment and seeing out of my skull, telling me about the world. Is it my brain that is me? Is it my heart? Is it my soul? Who is me? We are so selfish, so unaware. Right now, somebody could be dying of AIDS, their mind embroiled in agony. Right now, a woman might be getting married, her heart brimming with joy. But we never know those experiences. We are only aware of our own. Are our lives worth anything? Earth is miniscule, absolutely nothing compared to the immense size of the universe. If that’s the case, how small are we? Humans have only been around for a blink of an eye in the full age of the universe. Are we nothing? Are we an accident? Does some greater being watch us as we watch the ants on the ground? Am I just a random organism that will fall over and die and add to the circle of life? Help.

Obviously these aren’t the most cheerful thoughts. During those dark days, I found myself sometimes just staring at my own hands, frozen, heart empty.

I’m not going to end this on a cheerful note. After all, my existential depression will always be there, because it isn’t so much as a depressive state as an inevitable state. There is no going back once you reach awareness. There are no answers to my questions. I believe my existence, your existence, everyone’s existence is meaningless. After all, we don’t even understand what life, and by that, I mean biological life, truly is. What makes creatures move and reproduce and eat and walk and live? But I know a few things. I know that I love being able to see the beauty of this world, a ray of sunlight, single flower. I know that I love being able to write, to pour my soul out onto paper. I know I love the warmth of human companionship and love, no matter how misanthropic I may be. I know that I love being able to read, to be whisked away into another world without paying a penny. Maybe that isn’t worth much. But I have hope that someday I will give something back to humanity after I have died and my body has rotted. Perhaps that is too idealistic.  Perhaps that will never happen. And if it never happens, it doesn’t mean anything after all.

But I shall try anyway.

Have any of you experienced existential depression or an existential crisis?


13 thoughts on “Existential Depression

  1. I’m in the exact same boat. Isn’t existing such hard work? I sometimes I hope I am reincarnated as a cat so I’ll never have to worry about this stuff…that is if there is a next life…

    • Yes, existence is the greatest burden of life. I think I just contradicted myself or something or other there? Anyways, thanks for commenting! I adore cats, I share a particular affinity with them as an introvert!

    • Hi rustingxrose,

      I completely respect your viewpoint. I believe everyone should be allowed to stand by their own beliefs. However, I believe there are many sides to one story and, as an INFP, I hold great faith in my own belief. I wish you a wonderful day. Thank you so much for commenting!

  2. Pingback: Why Do I Procrastinate? | dreamerrambling

  3. I am noticing a kindred spirit here. I started on this at about 6 to 8 as well and then covered it over with a few years of heroin addiction, only to come out the other side and back to it again. I don’t know how other people deal with it; it either doesn’t occur to them for some weird reason, or they drink. Fortunately I’ve never been a drinker. My partner as well suffers the same thing, but it feels less lonely when there’s two of you. We both think that slightly stupid people, in general, have a lot of an easier time in life. A lot of people, like animals, just aren’t acutely aware of their own existence perhaps. I loved reading your blog, it made me smile in the middle of a 5am ‘what’s it all about?’ time.

  4. I’m totally in awe coming across this! I don’t want to say I’m glad I found this- but… kind of. I made a post titled existential depression not more than a few days ago. You more eloquently worded the experience, but so spot on how I feel. I think I was born an atheist too (into a religious family) born asking deep questions. My mom says when I was four I asked if we were in the middle of outerspace, and she said she never thought about that before! I try to put a positive spin on existence because I’m an idealist and it’s healthier, but my natural leanings are quite dark. I’m glad you write.

    • thank you! So sorry for the two-year-late reply, your comment slipped through the cracks!I am so sorry. I am glad you liked my post on existential depression, and, since i have become Christian, and now believe in God, who speaks to me inside my heart, soothing me, I no loner feel that way; and I hope the same has happened to you, that you are no longer existentially depressed, and can find some meaning in this world. xx Take care.

  5. Hey. I know you haven’t been on this blog in a while, and this was posted some time ago, but I felt the need to comment. Something you wrote here scared me a bit; when you talked about your hands. It’s not that I feel bothered by it, but I’m ‘scared’ (it’s not the right word, I know) because I have those same thoughts. I don’t know. It’s something I do. I tend to gaze at my hands sometimes and just move my fingers and think about how my skin has yet to be covered in veins and wrinkles…how my palms are still young and smooth…and then I start crying. It’s strange that you do the same thing. It’s like my hands are a symbol of youth. That I am still young enough, capable enough, to create things, to make a difference. Yet I am doing nothing. And so my hands are useless. Like I am wasting my hands (youth). I don’t know.

    • I felt exactly the same way! Please read my next post, which will detail exactly what went on in my life while I took such a long break from blogging. Thank you for your comment—it made me feel far less alone.

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