Depression Part 2: Musings About Existence

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It’s no secret that INFPs are the type most prone to suicide. I’m not trying to attribute suicide ideation to only a particular set of personality factors or state that people of other personalities never feel inclined to end their own lives. It’s just more…common among this particular personality type. My personality type.  

Now, I don’t feel suicidal. I don’t think I have ever truly felt suicidal because the thought of terminating my own life is just too frightening. We all want to live, every bit of living matter of this earth, from humans down to wriggling amoebas.

But I have felt times when I just wished I could stop existing. Just, phase out of this world. It would be like I never existed. Never conceived.

And I enter into these melancholy moods, where I’m too scared of pain and oblivion when conscious of the fact that I’m ending my life and simply want a great big Nothingness to settle over the places and spots in the Universe where my life has touched, not because my life is terrible.

On the surface, it isn’t. Hey, maybe some people would think I have it tough. Dire financial straits. Daughter of a stressed single mother. No career plan in sight. Sickened by society. Worries. Anxiety, in its multifarious forms. But none of those physical, or should I say sublunary difficulties, truly send me into a spiral of despair.

It’s thinking that makes me depressed and not want to exist. To be specific, over-thinking. And, plot twist: I’m still depressed. I rather think of it as a natural reaction to reality for me. Unless I can blur the edges with drugs or alcohol (and I don’t do that because I’m not that kind of person and maybe it’s because some part of me still wants to live and be healthy and hopes for a better future), reality hurts. ‘No artist tolerates reality’ – Nietzsche. I don’t know if I deserve the appellation of ‘artist’, seeing as my output has been negligible lately, but I truly detest reality.

Reality is a bad dream. I only live when I read books or write or dream about other worlds. Better worlds. Magical worlds.

Basically, I get depressed when I contemplate the meaning of existence.

I often have trouble in believing in my writing capabilities. This results in the following thought pattern:

If you can’t create a bloody good piece of art that can live on long after you have died, there’s no point in living. You might as well die, for all the impact you are going to have on the world. You’re just a useless baggage of flesh and bone, lugging yourself around and being a parasite on Mother Earth.

Obviously, not a sunny view. Please, don’t adopt it. But, it’s just the way my thoughts are aligned at the moment.

But here’s where it gets into the dark stuff. The stuff that not many people ponder because it’s useless to do so or they can’t or they don’t feel like it.

I wonder if there is any meaning to existence if we’re all just a collation of atoms working together to create a larger system. As an atom consists of 99% empty space, we are therefore basically 99% empty space, only our brains perceive ourselves to be solid and hefty and chockfull of substance. Most of what we call me, the body, the mind, the consciousness, is EMPTY SPACE. We’re like these holograms, these ghosts, wafting among other atoms in the environment, only we see it from so great a distance that it looks like we are made up of something.

All of life is an illusion. Mouth drops. Whoosh. Down the chute of existential depression I go.

And then I start thinking about the universe and how we are basically nothing and that we’ll just return to the earth and decay and our body will break down into atoms that will return to the universe.

And how nothing really exists outside the realm of human perception. Not books. Not words. Not language. Not philosophy.

And how one day the sun will swallow us up and maybe that will be the end of humanity, if we haven’t migrated to other planets and ravaged them.

And then I come across a video that has puts into words what has discomforted me for a long time:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeJoVeKSsyA

In it, Neil DeGrassy, a physicist, poses the question as to how life forms of a greater intelligence than us view us. Our DNA is remarkably similar to apes and yet that fractional DNA difference manifests as a tremendous gap in intelligence. If an alien life form is of different DNA to us, as it most likely will be, how much more intelligent will they be? Perhaps they view us they way we view ants skittering on the ground. Would you try to talk to an ant? It’s impossible, right? This is frightening. It’s hard to say why. I suppose it makes me feel both awestruck and sad and insignificant at the same time. If I think about it long enough, I feel like I will go mad.

So, there you. I’ve spread out some of my nihilistic thoughts before you. These are the kinds of weird, outlandish contemplations that instigate my depressive states. A by-product of existence.

I hope you don’t think I’m too crazy, after reading this, whether you are a reader of my blog or only just stumbled across it.

Sometimes, I feel crazy. Sometimes, thinking about these things for too long can make you crazy.

And, yet, I can’t seem to stop.

-Dreamerrambling

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10 thoughts on “Depression Part 2: Musings About Existence

  1. The fact that you are posting is a sign that you aren’t depressed in the sense of a “diagnosis”. I do think though we idealists get the blues a lot. I am an INFJ, my husband an INFP and we contemplate a lot of stuff like this and other philosophies, ideas…. that we can’t talk about with most people. Our world has been shaped by lunatics and those like us feel like we are just on the fringe of society, the odd balls, but we have an important purpose… to sound the alarm and keep talking about these things. Keep posting, we are here listening. Maybe the rest of the world will get it one day?

    • Yes, at the moment I don’t believe I’m clinically depressed. Just, very melancholic. But I feel so much more cheerful after reading the comments on my blog. Thank you. And yes, I think idealists are more prone to the blues or the ‘mean reds’ probably because reality never lives up to our fantasies and we undergo periods of excessive introspection. I’m feeling better about being an oddball as the days go by – I mean, I still feel invisible in the eyes of many but a flame has been stoked within me that whispers that I’m not nothing. A large part of its ignition was due to people like you, who have reached out to me through this blog. So, thank you and everyone for caring and listening. You can’t imagine how much it has helped me.

  2. It’s interesting that depression fits into this. Because I am looking at this from a very different angle. After watching that video, I feel like considering the idea that maybe 0.2% greater than what we view the vast majority of humans today are the INFPs in the world. He says it in the video too, he speaks of these more intelligent beings as ones who more intuitively understand things that are complex to the standard human – essentially it is part of their psyche to think in this different manner that makes them superior. In the same way, isn’t that exactly what INFPs are and have? INFPs have brains that are extraordinarily perceptive to their surroundings. They are naturally inclined to question the untouched pieces of life – searching more fiercely and often finding far more deep answers than most people ever can discover by the time they die.
    So I’m making this connection – that maybe INFPs are more intelligent by a small percentage over the majority of human beings today (which makes sense as INFPs make up less than 5% of the world) and in that way INFPs have more intuitive powers that a normal person could only reach on their best day. You see it in your life – the rare times when extraverts or friends of yours feel very briefly a sense of true understanding. Often movies elicit this glimpse into the fabric of reality for most people. But INFPs will watch those movies and see things so perfectly explained, and it’s basically a continuation of how their mindset exists throughout their life. Most people, however, after that movie, will resort back to their natural tendencies and mindsets.

    The point I’m making is that maybe the INFP is far more powerful than we think, maybe he is a lesser version of the alien intelligent being that is talked about in the video. You say it makes you feel sad and insignificant – if makes me feel extraordinarily filled with a sense of gratitude, appreciation, and significance that I may be one of the small handful of humans so evolved and more advanced. In no way is this to seem egotistical, but it showcases that I may be the intelligent being viewing other human beings like how humans view ants on the ground. That I am lucky enough to be in those shoes. That I am so thankful to be not an ant but a human in comparison to ants – but in relation to humanity.

    I value these extraordinary thoughts that I have. This isn’t nihilistic in the way I view it, it’s empowering. I feel that we have fuller access to our potential. We are more deprogrammed, less conditioned, more free, more creative, and the individuals who will move this world forward with our ideas.

    Maybe to be an INFP and embrace what your true nature leads us to madness, leads us to Oz, our deprogrammed and therefore different true selves, and return to the real realm only to bring a piece of what we learned back with us. But this is empowering to be in these shoes, gratifying to know that you are the hero of the story.

    Feel the power, feel the rarity within you and embrace it.
    Don’t stop thinking, because who your true self is, radiates brilliance.

    • Hello,

      Thank you. I don’t think I could craft an adequate response in reply to your comment. It’s given me a new perspective, which I know sounds horribly cliché, but it’s true. I suppose I do I have greater intuitive powers than the average person. I hate sounding egotistical and superior as well, because I know there are probably thousands of people more intelligent in terms of IQ or logic but I believe that I think and feel on a different realm to others. I probe the dark corners of our consciousness and existence on a daily basis and I know, I just know, that most people let life wash over them and don’t really ‘see’, maybe not even until their deaths.
      Have you ever had those moments where people are shocked at the powers of your intuition? I find it easy to understand and grasp the essence of a person almost instantaneously. Sometimes, my insights scare people because I’ve seen things inside them that they thought they kept buried. I also have an aptitude for slipping into characters, even though acting has never been a hobby for me.
      These abilities must be worth something, don’t they? They must be. I know they must.

  3. Hi,

    I would not have responded to this were it not the case that what you have identified here is pretty much the problem that I have been grappling with since before the wheel was invented. Okay, slight exaggeration on the time it has taken me. I actually have a book called “The Universe: At Home In The Cosmos”, which is co authored by Neil de Grasse Tyson. (That is a name to conjure with. I’m pretty confident that Evander Holyfield would still have his ear intact, had his opponent been called ‘Mike de Grasse Tyson’. It is not half so threatening. Mike could have lived down to his name.)

    Simply put, Science is no assistance whatsoever when it comes to trying to comprehend what might constitute a meaningful life. It provides us with ‘facts’ about consciousness, life and the universe and leaves it up to the individual to try and make sense of it in terms of what life is then ‘all about’ , given these facts. Science walks away from the metaphysical problems they create, through the acquisition of knowledge, because that is outside of the scientific remit.

    This is seriously deficient, because it has negative consequences, as you so correctly assert. We are informed that we are ‘99% empty space’ or ‘98% chimpanzee’ or ‘30% banana’, or ‘merely vehciles for self-replicating DNA’, in a Universe that is ‘fundamentally lacking in purpose’. That is the scientific world-view and the one we are encouraged to adopt, because the facts tell us that this is the case. And then the additional absurdity is that people in the medical profession then start scratching their heads wondering why there is a lot of depression around. What’s not to be depressed about it?!!! Religion isn’t any help, because it has lost all credibility, except for those who, somehow, manage to persuade themselves that the ancient myths are still worth subscribing to. I don’t know how they do it, because ‘the answers’ are not answers, as they just lead to a whole load more questions re injustice, suffering, tragedy, etc.

    So, we are faced with a serious challenge of arriving at a valid and worthwhile philosophy of life (or worldview) that remains ‘meaningful’ in the face of the facts. It is not easy. More accurately, it is hellish difficult and has stretched me further than I really wanted to be stretched. I have, however, arrived at an answer that satisifes me. The challlenge then becomes one of reification – the turning of ‘theory’ into ‘practice’. And that is difficult as well. I’m not in the business of proseletizing, firstly, because that is a futile endeavour and, secondly, because in building my argument I try and take scientific facts, as they currently stand, but then move on to speculation, or conjecture. This was the only means possible, because I cannot factually prove what I conclude. it becomes a metaphysic and Science hates metaphysics, even though, as Nicholas Maxwell, a philosopher of science points out, Science itself is built upon a metaphysical assumption about the ultimate comprehensibility of the Universe, Life, Consciousness, etc. Karl Popper called it ;promissory materialism’. That is, it is an unproved and unprovable assumption, that Science will ultimately be able to deliver what it asserts it can deliver. Complete and fully verifiable explanations in accordance with a materialistic view of the Universe. This, in itself, is speculative.

    I cannot do justice to my explanations here, because it would take me too long. A shorter version wouldn’t be very persuasive. Even then, I don’t know if you would find that I have built a compelling enough case for you. Even then, there is the matter of putting theory into practice, given your own life circumstances. It depends upon what you are looking for. How deeply you want to go into these issues. What I would argue is that I can’t now see a metaphysical reason for being existentially pessimistic. One might be pessimistic for a whole host of other reasons, but once one grasps the fact that ‘evolution’ simply means ‘change over time’ and consciousness, of some degree, permits comprehension of the blind, purposeless, mechanisms of our origins then, in theory, there is no reason why we cannot use this understanding to build, in my words, ‘a just (fair), safe, stable, sustainable, ecologically sound civilisation, in which individuals are able to flourish in accordance with their own capabilities’ by virtue of the application of consciousness towards this endeavour. Consciousness can control our actions, rather than the genes controlling our actions, although you wouldn’t think so, at times.

    Of course, practice is differnt from theory. It requires political will, which is currently absent. It requires the will of commercial organisations, which is currently absent. It requires individual will, which is currently absent, generally speaking. This is, fundamentally, one of the challenges of our era, as I see it. There is a necessity for some general consensus as to what the hell might constitute a meaningful life, given the science-based facts of our condition. Of course, we don’t HAVE to lead a meaningful life. It isn’t compulsory and, if we are being brutally honest here, most people do not. They live what they consider to be a ‘purposeful life’, which is different. They set themselves certain goals in life, which they then try and reach. These goals could be the most trivial thinbgs imaginable, but providing the individual doesn’t see them as trivial, we are all accorded a degree of freedom to pursue them if we so wish. The pastimes that some people have are unbelievably trivial but the consensus opinion is that we should be allowed the freedom, outside of work, to do what the heck we want with our spare time, providing that it doesn’t interfere with other peoples’ freedoms. (That is problematic, but is not part of this argument.) Thus we end up with a trivial culture and that is, basically, where we are right now. It is, in may respects, superficail, banal and, fundamentally, meaningless.

    That is a real problem for people living within this culture who aspire to lead a meaningful lfe. What is it and how the hell can it be accomplished in the face of widespread indifference to the challenge? Not easy. It places demands upon us, as individuals, because the culture in which we live is, fundamentally, unsupportive. It takes real courage to seek out one’s own path and stick with it. And even then, who is the authority to say that the path we have chosen is as ‘meaningful’ as we think it is? What makes us any different from those who lead purposeful, but meaningless, lives?

    That is what I have tried to address and answer as best I can. As I have written, the theory, after years of agonising, I think, is achievable. The practice is a different matter and is my current work-in-progress. I don’t know how interested you are, obviously, in my ideas and I can’t say that they would necessarily be what you are looking for. What I would say is that you do not have to take the ‘cold, hard facts’ of science as forming a significant part of your worldview and then despair. There is not a sound metaphysical reason for doing so, from my perspective.

    All the best,

    Clive

    .

    • You and yz83 have truly peeled back a corner of reality for me and allowed me to glimpse something ethereal, something more, underneath. Idealistic and dreamy and crazy and imaginative as I am, being an atheist, I still have a strong belief in science and I think it has hindered me from seeing the big picture. You’re both right – science is almost obsessive-compulsive – it reduces the world to all the infinitesimal, tiny details, how many atoms, how much gas, composition, that it really doesn’t encompass the full enormity of existence.
      I like the idea you proposed, that we don’t have to be governed by our genes and instead can build our own destiny, so to speak. I just think that, as a group of sentient beings, we could make it so much better for ourselves and everyone around us. We have the resources to create a utopia, or close to one. A fraction of the population grows our food. The rest are often engaged in menial tasks which bring in this abstract thing called ‘money’ when we could truly amplify their output by letting them engage in their passions. We don’t need all these office workers to help man businesses that sell trinkets to people who don’t need them who in turn work in offices to afford them. It just doesn’t make sense. And people are scared of workforce shortages but I feel that, as long as we require people to have a job, and that they have to have the talent and capabilities to carry out that job, there are bound to be people who want to become lawyers, doctors and engineers. Besides, the people who are forced to become doctors or lawyers or other necessary occupational positions often don’t do a good job, anyway. They do it for the money and that just results in shoddy doctors, lawyers and engineers, because there is no passion, no drive. Sorry if I kind of went off on a tangent here.

      If only people like us were in power. Then again, the political environment would be just too toxic for me. We could all band together and go off the grid, becoming a tiny, interdependent society of our own. A little hippy village. Ha. With libraries and gardens. Spend our days tending to plants and reading and writing and helping each other. I hope ideas such as these aren’t just daydreams. I want to make them happen. But how?

      Ah, fear and uncertainty sure do slave human beings.

  4. No, you are not crazy at all. If you are, then I am, and a good many of those reading your blog also are. I understood young that everything is “futile” relative to what we know. That we sail on a boat, likely against our will, in uncharted waters, with no way to ever lay hands on the full map. The boat is pushed by an unknown force and goes towards more unknown, with no evidence that there is even a destination. It’s scary to think about that. Paralyzing. What’s the point of doing anything, then? It’s up to us to find our own answer in due time.

    Accepting the ephemerality of life does help. It’s not easy, but it’s a big milestone. From there on, an answer that suits you will come in its time. As ephemeral our actual lives may be, a part of us still remains forever, though. I find amazement in the idea that we return to the universe when we die. It means that the universe is in us when we live. There are atoms from dinosaurs, mountains, rivers, people, meteorites and stars in each of us. Neil DeGrasse Tyson scratches that in the link you provided. We can even imagine some even more amazing things. Perhaps the stars that gave birth to our own had planets. Perhaps that on one of them, there was a civilisation that had mastered arts like no other ever have in the universe. Their paintings were so carefully crafted that they were themselves sentient. Their words were so powerful that the stories written would actually unfold before the eyes of the reader. Perhaps that planet was eaten by its star as it evolved into a supernova. There may be atoms of these beings in us. They would be dead, gone, forgotten, but still a part of what we are. There’s obviously no evidence of such a thing, this is straight from my imagination, but to understand that it is not impossible is fascinating. The history of the universe lives in each of us. We are it’s present. And we’ll always be a part of its future. Such thoughts grounded my existance within space and time. It does not make the reality of life on Earth in this day and age, in this social context any more fun, to be honest. I dislike the “short-scale” reality too. It does not give my life any meaning. It does not give it any purpose either. But it’s one part of the existential unknown that has come to make sense to me.

    I like to compare science to senses. Science provides invaluable information about our surroundings, about where and what we are, about the materialistic functioning of things. But it fails, as Clive said, to assess metaphysical questions, for instance. That’s beyond its scope. Imagine awakening alone in an unknown place, blindfolded, with your arms and legs tied, your skin fully covered, your nostrils filled with cotton and your head kept straight so that it cannot come in contact with anything. All you have is your hearing (and brain, of course) to figure out where you are, why you’re there and what happens. You’ll be able to gather many informations that will shape up your understanding. You will hear a ticking clock. Its sound will be relatively weak, so you can figure out it is on a wall a few metres away. You may hear plumbing noises, you may hear the noise of cars outside the building. You may shout and get to appreciate the size of the place you’re in in function of the echo and evaluate where the walls and ceiling are relative to you. The reverberations may give you a hint of what material they are made of. But there’s a limit to what you can figure out only with one sense, because it is meant to pick up only certain informations. That’ll never tell you why you are there. Just like our gustative papillae cannot decipher a symphony, science can’t decipher things that are not grounded in materialism. It will put many pieces of the puzzle together, but there are other pieces that will require other competences to place. Therefore, the thought that we are simply made of 99% emptiness can be scary on its own, but if we remember that it’s only one part of the picture… it’s less scary, isn’t it? One sense has provided that information. Let your others find the others.

    I enjoy reading your blog. I can relate to quite a lot of the things you write (including good chunks of the last two posts), either as present or past struggles and thoughts. It’s always great to find people we have many things in common with. Your blog has its bunch of followers and regular commenters – seems like it’s not only me. You may have yet to create the masterpiece of your life, you may have yet to leave your eternal mark, but in the meantime, you’ll have caught and retained the attention of many people around the world. That’s a good start, don’t you think?

    I hope you smile today.

    • There are some thought provoking, very articulale ideas here and in the other responses, as well. Heck, I’m feeling optimistic about the quality of my fellow travellers. Someone hit me to wake me up!

      All the best to everyone who has contributed to this. With good fortune, there will not be a Depression Part 3 for us to respond to. Turn the ship around, we are heading to Shangri-La!

      Clive

    • I feel like crying. Validation. So much validation. I think people who have read my blog have helped me more than I have helped them.

      Just, thank you? I’ve been throwing those words around like candy these days, but it’s because there are no words in the English language to express the extent of my gratitude. And I’m not just grateful for the words of people have commented on my blog. I’m grateful for your existence. The fact that people like you and KS Counselor and Clive and A Friend and so many others merely exist is enough to keep me going sometimes.

      I loved your metaphor about the limitations of science in regards to the meaning of existence. It encapsulates it perfectly. It’s. Just. Gosh. I said most of the things I wanted to say in my reply to Clive’s comment and I can’t seem to find the write words to fully describe how much your words and the words of others have affected me. So I guess I’ll describe it metaphorically. I find it easier to speak in metaphors or similes because they convey pure emotion.

      To you and all my commenters:

      Your words are like drips of gold hanging from the honeycomb of life.
      Your words are like the sudden shooting of a wellspring into the night air. It was dark and lonely before but now the moonlight glistens off the spraying water and it’s like a glittering ghost that cheers the heart.
      Your words are crystallized drops of blood, of life, and I string them as beads onto a gold chain and wear them around my neck. They tingle against my skin, reminding me that there is a Something and a Somebody.
      Your words are the cries of phantoms trailing across earth in pale wisps, whispering of hope in limbo.
      Your words are like the plush velvet folds that tuck a corpse into its coffin. The lump of dying flesh and cracking bone may feel rather morose about being condemned to an eternity of slumber, but it’s nice, at the very least, for the resting spot to be comfortable. (don’t take this metaphor literally 😉 )
      Your words are splintered dragonfly wings pressed between books, flashing a glint of rainbow at each turn of the page.
      Your words plug the hole. The great big hole. It’s a hole that everything has. It’s the cotton-candy, stretching space that yawns wider the longer it is left untended.
      Your words are the constellations that guide lost travelers home.
      So, when I look up into the night sky, the stars form your words. They are far away but they are beautiful
      And I am happy.

      PS: These metaphors were quite banal, but it was the best I could come up with at short notice. I hope they convey the gist of my gratitude.

      • Hi,

        It seems that you have exercised your metaphorical muscles, metaphorically speaking!

        There is some lovely stuff here for us to take away and chew upon. A veritable cornucopia of tasty morsels. If you had written them in Chinese my metaphor would have been complete! I’ll order a number 6, a number 11 – more sweet than sour please – together with some delicious crackers and as many good fortune cookies as you can spare!

        All the best,

        Clive

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