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museumgirl

life philosophy for the depressed?

21 posts in this topic

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I struggle too much with the meaninglessness of life. I think it's called "existential intelligence". I am cynical and I hate that about myself. Also highly sensitive, which is onoe of the worst combinations ever, because I feel the pain too deeply.

I don't know what I'm alive for. I don't understand what life is about. I feel detached from the world around me and disconnected from people. Neither do I have a reason to wake up in the morning, I mean a true reason behind the banal things in life for basic survival. I need to change this.

How do you guys find meaning in your life? How do you assure yourself that life matters and you are valuable and deserving when, in the grand scheme of things, we are tiny spectacles in a floating rock?

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Hello Musseumgirl,

I'm sorry but I don't know either. I feel exactly the same as you about this. I want to change this, I want there to be meaning, and to a certain extent I do find a bit of meaning in life for myself by helping others. It makes me feel like I at least matter for a tiny bit. I am trying to learn though to accept this: Yes, in the very end of time nothing will matter. But for the present day it DOES matter what you do, and it does not have to be a grand thing that changes the world. But rather something really small. Just helping someone else as example. Just getting that thank you from another being. Because of you do, you will have just changed something in as grand as a thing as the universe. It's so small in comparison. But you did change something inside the universe. And somehow, I think that means you mattered. (No pun)

I'm learning to accept this myself, and maybe it can help you as well. 

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We have to give our lives meaning. Which is a pretty stressful thing to deal with, honestly. However, that's how it works. Even though it seems like someone was meant to do things, there is no proof that is true. They chose to do it and stuck with it and made it their life. 

For some, their family gives them meaning. Having kids and being a mother/father. For some, it's saving animals. For some, maybe painting for an hour a day makes them happy that day. And when you think about it, those things do matter. Yes, we all die one day. Do we matter to people on the other side of the world? Not really. But, you CAN matter and have VALUE on a daily basis. Having kids, you raise them to hopefully be respectable people who go on to be good people, that matters. Helping animals find loving homes, that matters or just visiting a shelter and taking them on walks, that matters in the moment too. Saying hi to someone you walk by, that matters, because they might have needed that. 

Things do matter on a daily basis. Sometimes they matter greatly. Picking up the phone and calling your family or friend, and just saying hey. Picking up trash at a park. You can find meaning in the littlest things. 

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What gives my life meaning is trying to help others.  When I walk, I try to walk carefully so as not to crush little creatures like ants and other insects.  Although I am not rich, I try to help people in need even if it is just putting coins in various charity boxes I see in stores and gas stations.  Things like that give tremendous meaning to my life and make me feel part of life.

  I was once quarantined to my house because of illness.  I found I was still able to go outside to give breadcrumbs to hungry ants and leave bits of food for birds and squirrels.  I could still help even in the midst of my illness.  Sometimes I would see a little bug drowning in a puddle and I would help him or her to get back to dry land.   When I was stuck in bed I would use my computer to reach out to people.   People sometimes post things on social media sites and I would be able to give them a "like" or whatever seemed helpful. 

These Forums enable me to listen to others and sometimes share a little understanding or compassion, encouragement or consolation.  All of these things give my life a tremendous amount of meaning.  I can only speak for myself here.  We are all different.

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There's no grand meaning of life. We're all going to die and be forgotten. It's no use looking for a meaning of life like you'd look up a meaning of a word in a dictionary. Sure there are people who claim to have the answer, usually something to do with God, but even that can seem vague and unfulfilling. A hermit can be holy wandering around the desert alone. Few people would think that a life like this held more meaning than a life like Mother Teresa's. I'm not religious but I think it's the same - you won't find meaning by looking to the sky, you'll find it down here in the dirt.

What we mean by meaning is important. We look for a meaning of life which will tell us what life is for. There isn't an answer to this. We say that other things have meaning - watching a sunset, listening to music, friendship and love. On the grand scale of things none of these things matter. On a long enough timeline we're all here for just the blink of an eye. You can only find emptiness by looking for such a meaning. Life is suffering and then you die.

But just because there's no ultimate purpose to life doesn't mean that it's meaningless. Everyone here has mentioned other people. Family and friends and helping others. These are the things that make us feel like there's a point to us existing. And these are the things that depression can take away from you. When there's nothing for you down here on the ground you look to the sky, hoping to find something that will make sense of it all, but the sky is empty.

Feeling detached and disconnected is something I've experienced a lot. And without any meaningful attachments it's just me and the universe, and the universe doesn't give a crap. There's a poem by Walt Whitman which I think sums it up nicely.

I cannot answer the question of appearances, or that of identity beyond the grave;  
But I walk or sit indifferent—I am satisfied,  
He ahold of my hand has completely satisfied me.

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I wish I could help, but I gave up a long time ago . I've been dealing with it for decades without any relief so my feelings and beliefs are pretty pessimistic. I really don't think there's a reason for me here having dealing with all this. The only thing that really keeps me holding on is my family, that's about it. But perhaps you can find meaning and hopefulness in other things you enjoy in your life that you are passionate about (it used to help me in the past, not anymore).

Good luck

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Absolutely beautiful expressions in this thread. We evolved to try to find explanations for events in the world - it's what kept us alive, and likely why religion formed. This byproduct, religion, is an attempt to find answers to questions that have none. So we seek a way to "be", to live. And it feels like I'm trying to fool myself seeking meaning (and  who is the "I" and the "myself"?). So we're here, on this planet, with these brains.
We might as well do something until we die. So helping others make it through this existence and seeking pleasure (that doesn't hurt others or ourselves) is as good a purpose as any. But, I'm probably completely wrong...

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I've always had a mind that probed for these things, these deeper things, what's it all about and and is there a grand purpose to all of this. Many of us more instilled with a mythology that tried to explain it, but like many, when you called out for help within your belief system, no help was sent. Disappoint and disillusionment then follow and one is dumbfounded when that mythology crumbles and you then feel very alone. I still believe in a god, but my faith is hanging by thread right now as life for me has never been more difficult and my state of mind never more disturbed. I have piles and piles of religious and metaphysical books all around me that I've read that used to really inspire me, now they just gather dust. Then family becomes very important, but once you start losing them, well, then finding a purpose becomes even more difficult. I think now , trying to turn off the mind off through sleep and meditation is the best I can do. A meditation practice can be very helpful for those who are suffering, I recommend it highly.

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?

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This is a struggle that seems to get worse with age.  I have found that working with my hands is rewarding and alleviates a little bit of the angst that festers relentlessly in my gut.  Nevertheless; its really a temporary fix before my mind turns back to the freight train coming my way.  Every day passes a little bit faster than the last; weeks go by like days and because I have no family of my own all I do is existentialize and flog myself for not accomplishing more with my life.  Any passion or sense of wonder have dissipated over the last few years and I feel as if Ive failed at everything I have attempted.  At 39 years old Im terrified of the future and constantly dwell on the fact that I will likely die penniless and alone.  I dont believe that its a negative perspective at all, life experience has taught this to me.    It’s a very complicated problem; one where all the “be positive” memes in the world have no dominion.  The only advice Ive ever received that almost helps is to just take things one day at a time.  Try and enjoy the moment youre in as it will never happen again.  Much easier said than done and it takes a concerted effort to execute, but if you can retrain your brain to turn on a dime when it starts to go down the dark road I believe it may be a way out of the abyss.  At least I hope so...this is a horrible way to go through life

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@Zanmorian @plastics @Epictetus @Nisemono@ladysmurf @uncertain @indigoblue @rainingviolets @Otres 1

Thank you everyone for responding to this thread. I've been having very rough days and have hardly managed to keep up with basic responsibilities. I'll try to reply as soon as possible. Thanks once again, sending love your way xx

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This thread has really moved me because I think that this search for something is at the heart of what has plagued me for more than 20 years.  "What is the point?"  I ponder that easily ten times per day.  Each day I wake up. I eat. I bathe. Get dressed. Drive to work. Work all day. I drive home. I eat dinner. Spend time with my family. Go to sleep.  Then repeat. No matter what memorable or proud-producing moments might have occurred that day, in the end those were just solitary moments within the lengthy, mundane, ongoing cycle.

I drive into work very early in the morning and on most days I see the sunrise. I have seen many beautiful sunrises where the first rays of light peak over the mountains as if they were veins of molten gold and solitary clouds high up in the sky are slowly lit by that magical reddish hue.  Simply beautiful to me.  But as amazing as sights like that are and as I tell myself how lucky I am to experience moments like that, I cannot remove the awareness that I'm sitting enclosed in a car stuck in illogical traffic on my way to sit at a desk and stare at a computer screen all day doing things for the sole purpose of putting money in my pocket.  How can I live a respectful life knowing what I know?  Why can't I just be content being like everyone else?

I need to find some compromising middle ground.  I have a family that I love which I need to support. That is honestly the only thing that keeps me alive. So I obviously can't quit my job and wander the world. But I also can't go on living as this man that I am because that man is devoid of life, of passion, of purpose. It's as if the purpose that I am required to carry has zero alignment with the purpose that I know my true life is about. I just wish I could find a way for both purposes to coexist.

I apologize for getting heavy and sappy. Those are just the thoughts that occupy my day and their constant presence makes me feel ashamed and embarrassed of who I am.  What gets me more is that my choices, and many times lack of choices, has led me to where I am.  And those thoughts bring me great regret.

I do know that the few moments I spend trying to talk to whomever listens on these forums brings me a few moments of escape and reprieve. And maybe even a little hope. As pessimistic as my daily thoughts are, I am actually an extremely optimistic person, believe it or not.  So I always have a small spark of hope that one day I will discover some small but miraculous pearl of wisdom which will help me to live a life of balance and compromise.

I thank you for sharing a moment with me.

 

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On 9/23/2017 at 8:27 PM, museumgirl said:
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I struggle too much with the meaninglessness of life. I think it's called "existential intelligence". I am cynical and I hate that about myself. Also highly sensitive, which is onoe of the worst combinations ever, because I feel the pain too deeply.

I don't know what I'm alive for. I don't understand what life is about. I feel detached from the world around me and disconnected from people. Neither do I have a reason to wake up in the morning, I mean a true reason behind the banal things in life for basic survival. I need to change this.

How do you guys find meaning in your life? How do you assure yourself that life matters and you are valuable and deserving when, in the grand scheme of things, we are tiny spectacles in a floating rock?

Honestly i have given up on the bigger questions in life, it just causes me too much pain to think about. My philosophy now is "one day at a time." I just try to make it through each day and be the best person I can be.

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"To leave the world a better place - whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or an improved social condition- that is to have succeeded. That only one life breathed easier because you lived, that is success." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I shall pass this way but once

Therefore, any good that I can do or any kindness I can show

Let me do it now for I shall not pass this way again. 
 

"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature." -Anne Frank

Start where you are.
Use what you have.
Do what you can.
Arthur Ashe

 

 “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”   -John Wesley

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There was an Austrian psychiatrist named Viktor Frankl who also a Nazi holocaust survivor and that developed something called Logotherapy.

I think it's an interesting subject to read about for anyone with existential tendencies, not saying that it's going to be a massive epiphany or something but at least for me it certainly made me think about certain aspects of life and my own perception of it.

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@museumgirl Meaning of life is to enjoy it. To enjoy every little thing. Going shopping and watch a movie makes a day beautiful. BUT NOT FOR ME AND YOU AND MANY OTHERS HERE. We have no happiness in anything and nothing matters to us, nothing makes us happy so I don't know what am I living for.

@Epictetus I agree and disagree with you. You sound as a really kind man. I also look not to hurt a fly, feed rabbits that are running around the street, try to calm others when they are distressed either online or in real life. BUT I still get no joy for my day. There is no endorphin and dopamine in my brain. I don't feel things.  I had one day where i felt good for a few hours so I said to myself Im going to get a leather jacket and some more new clothes but soon after I lost interest and wouldn't/couldn't go if it was for free. Sux

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@Zagor Sorry that my post was incomplete and overly-simplistic!  Medical depression can rob one of the very ability to experience joy or meaning or peace.  I've been in severe medical depressions when all I could see and feel was darkness and cold.  No philosophy could help me [for medical reasons.]  And in fact, under the influence of the terrible depression I adopted a very dark philosophy because all I saw was darkness.  Now that I am in a less severe depression, light and color and warmth have become visible to me again and feel-able.   To reach that point I required medical assistance. 

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When my daughter was born, it blew my mind that it was possible to love someone so much. It is indescribable. Of course, I knew I would love my kid, but this depth of positive emotion was something I had never experienced. This baby was nothing but pure sweet innocence, wrapped up as a little bundle of goodness and love. 

I had a sh*tty childhood. I honestly have no happy memories of being a kid. Childhood was endured, that's all. I grieve for my unachieved potential, the joy I didn't get to experience (and still am unable to feel, even now), and all the things I've had to scratch, claw, struggle and fight for, that no child should have to go through.

*My* reason for living is to give my daughter a childhood she enjoys and remembers fondly, not just endures. I don't mean that she's spoiled, or never has moments of unhappiness or disappointment. I just mean a normal, healthy childhood. One in which her "hardships" and worries are age-appropriate and she has loving guidance. One in which she never feels alone in the world, or emotionally abandoned, and knows she is deeply loved, unconditionally.

I feel like this is not only my responsibility as a parent, but also a way of 'balancing' out the world from my existence.

I have a lot to be thankful for. I know there are people who would gladly trade their problems for mine. I'm not miserable. But I have no vitality for life. I'm not interested in much. Nothing gets me excited, or "happy," whatever that is. My pdoc noted my "blunted affect,"  and I'd say that is an understatement! But that's OK with me. I'm satisfied with just being *not deeply depressed.* I think this is as good as it's gonna get for me. If I contemplate the meaning of life overall, the big picture, I'm even more convinced that it's futile for me to try to reach anything more than *not deeply depressed.* 

If I have to be here, I may as well do what I can to improve something for someone, to help others maybe feel all these positive emotions that supposedly exist and are elusive to me. I don't know why we're all here, but if nothing else, I will be satisfied to know that I at least didn't leave anything or *anyone* in any worse condition. I think integrity is what keeps me keepin' on.

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@GingerM I'm happy for you. While you may have not found the solution for happiness you do sound like you have come to terms with what life has to offer and you're no longer letting it bog you down into disturbing levels.  Maybe that is momentum in the positive direction.  Or maybe that is as good as it's going to get.  Either way, I'd take it.  It's a heck of a lot better than living each day with constant dread and regret.  Take good care.

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We are either just ants to a higher being/creature or we are simply the product of coincidence. Can't really think of anything else.

And going to heaven/hell, paradise or being 're-born' when you die seems like one of those nonsense religion beliefs that make no sense to me. 

If there's a heaven, don't you think living there eternally would become very boring? So you don't have to eat and drink in heaven? Well that takes away the joy of eating a pizza when hungry. 

And if you're reborn, imagine the earth is ultimately destroyed, what happens then? You spawn in space where earth used to be? lol.

All this religion stuff never made any sense to me.

Regarding purpose.. as long as we can't think of any, there is none. So I guess we've got to create our own. And if you know that, mankind has tried to find the answer to the meaning of life for as long as we exist, and still have not found an answer, you and I probably won't come up with that answer either. So I personally wouldn't focus on that, but rather what makes life enjoyable. Well, as much as that is possible with depression.

Sometimes I also feel some of us (no offense to anyone) and I include myself here have too much time to think. If I was struggling to survive day by day, literally trying to survive, I wouldn't have time to think about that. So all this stuff is kindoff a bit luxury time. A byproduct of our wealthy lives.

Not saying we need to go back being a bum living off the streets though, but you get my point.

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As I get older, I suppose I am getting better at figuring out what I actually have control over in my life, and what I don't. When I think about my ancestors (parents, grandparents, great-grandparents) I come to see that they didn't have much control over their life circumstances and events either, they just did the best they could with what they were given. My mom's dad and two of his brothers never lived anywhere except the small farms that they inherited from their father, which were divided up out of his estate. Likewise, my great-grandfather inherited his farm from his parents, and so on back to the late 1700's. It is a good thing, and a blessing I am thankful for.

At the same time, I am not sure how successful any of those people would have been if they were not born into farming. None of them ever had much of a career outside of the farm. My grandfather did not find a decent job until he was late in his 40's, prior to that he just farmed and did low paying/no benefits construction work. His brother, who suffered from a terrible stutter, never held a job outside the farm and died in the same house he was born in. My parents are divorced, and my dad is living in his parents' house. He does have some money saved, and he bought a farm near my home which he and I will work.

Farming is a great opportunity and I look forward to it. At the same time, I don't have much of a choice outside of it. I have an M.A. and am fortunate enough to actually have a job in my field of study. I make more than the average person with my job, however my gross income is still a bit less than 30k a year. If I had to live on only the fruits of my own labor without the family farming legacy, I would probably not own my own home and maybe have to work a second job to help care for my daughter. I don't have much business sense (other than farming) or people skills, nor am I good at making life changing decisions. In other words, left to my own devices I think my life would be much worse.

I guess the point I am trying to make is, I have been given certain advantages and disadvantages in life and there is no realistic way I could change them for the better. I have to make the best possible outcome with them. Someone or something, be it God, fate, a butterfly in China flapping it's wings, or The Twilight Zone, has dealt me a particular hand of cards. I can make certain plays and try to exchange a few unneeded cards for new ones (which turn out to be better or worse) but I can't throw them down and demand a redeal. I also have no control over the hands of cards other people receive or how they play them. I can only do the best I can with the cards I have been given, and nothing more.

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