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IlliniHusker15

Suffering Severely From Existential Depression.

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I am new to the forum but am in need of help. About 2 1/2 years ago I had my first bout with this and could not stop the ruminating deep philosophical thoughts. I went and saw a therapist and was put on Paxil 20 mg. Everything was fine for over 2 years and I was able to finish college. 3 months ago I decided I wanted to try and get off the Paxil so I weaned off over the course of a month as Dr. prescribed. 4 weeks ago I received a death threat while at work and decided to quit my job. I dis-liked my job as it was so I thought enough was wnough. I have now been out of work for 3 weeks and the ruminating thoughts started again. First it was what if I can't find a job, and then led to deeper philosophical thoughts about life. For the last 2 weeks I have been unable to function because I have been living so deep in my head. I question everything from meaning of life, suicide, religion, reality, and etc... I spend hours of the day ruminating in my head and trying to come up with answers to these deep philosophical thoughts and come up with no answers that suit me. It is so hard to function. I have trouble putting down a little food and getting out of bed. I went back and saw a therapist and Dr. and they said to get back on the Paxil. I started back on it 3 days ago. My question is, has anyone else suffered with severe existential depression? Also, does medication and therapy help? I don't know what else to do.

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Thanks LaurynJcat, I have heard of Tolle before but never read his work. My mind continues to search for deeper answers to philosophical questions. I am now at the point where I question if joy exist, or if even depression exist. It is as if my mind thinks there is a deeper meaning to everything and nothing can be simple. I have become extremely confused as to what my reality is.

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Hi. I have this. It can be a curse, but also a blessing. I recommend doing some research on the nature of reality. Maybe this is happening to you for a reason. Deep existential crises do not come without deep emotional pain. In my view, I think you should take heart. It puts you in a special class.

Maybe you could get some comfort in reading my topic here:

http://www.depressionforums.org/forums/topic/78822-existential-ocd/?hl=%2Bexistential#entry972129

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As the years went by my depression got less existential and focused more on my loneliness, social anxiety & economic insecurity. Also my various self-medications, those changed the picture somehow or another. Not that the depression isn't just as bad, but it has changed flavor over the years. Don't really know why other than I finished all 20 odd years of my schooling and entered the godawful hell of the full time working world. Working while in school wasn't as bad because I could always lie to myself and say well once school is over I'll have a better job or at least one I like but then I realized those things weren't true either and what little dreams for the future I had died. Now I feel like a chump for ever even having even modest career related dreams and other such BS drivel.

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...I had been ruminating those kinds of thoughts as well, everyday for almost 10 years now. Mine got so bad my friends actually think I'm crazy and no longer in the reality. I question about too many things; life, the world, relationship, religion, everything really. I ruminated so much I think I got used to it and no longer become suicidal from those thoughts alone, despite of the fact that I've long reached to the conclusion that not only is life not worth living, but also that I'm much better off dead than I'm alive generally...and got another disgusting extreme answer inside me about the world and everything that made me think I should **** myself ASAP before something bad happens. Never been on any medication nor any therapy, so I don't think I'll be able to help much though. Highly not recommend how I manage to live with those ruminations though, since everyone knows, suppressing down thoughts aren't good for your health.

I do find working on some hobbies help though, like reading the books I like and such. My rumination often comes when I feel lonely, though it can come on any other occasion at random as well, even when I'm with friends (or sometimes, being with my friends make it much worse too, actually...may not happen to you though, so just give it a try :p ), but I think having myself doing something, anything, even very little and stupid things, can help me distract myself from those thoughts. I think that's probably all I can help though, since I don't know if meds or therapy will really help on anything. Sorry. ._."

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It's really hard, but I think you have to accept that the answers you're looking for just aren't there. Or, at least, they are beyond the scope of human comprehension. It's the curse of being human... we've been trying to figure this out for thousands of years; that's why there are so many different religions and philosophies. There is no one answer to the meaning of life, and what we should do with ourselves. People can convince themselves that their purpose is to follow a certain god, but someone else will be just as convinced of another god, or that there is really nothing higher than us and that we might as well just live for our own pleasures.

Humans are amazing in that, as far as we know, we are the only creatures the universe has created (by design or by pure chance) that can even come close to trying to understand the way it works. We are the universe made self-aware. Every atom inside us heavier than hydrogen or helium was manufactured inside a star. We are the earth and we are the galaxy and we are the universe. That alone, when I think of it, is enough to awe me into respect for our attempts to understand existence, however faltering they may be. Imagine a cell of your body becoming self-aware and trying to understand the infinite complexity that is you; that's basically what we are to the universe. We are not inside it, we ARE it. And perhaps that's all that matters...

But it's entirely possible that there is some alien or spiritual being who is as wise and knowing and loving compared to humans as we are compared to ants or bees. Or it might be that ants and bees understand more about the universe than we do. Who knows? If the universe's lifespan thus far were a year, human civilization arose just a few minutes ago. Cosmically, it wasn't all that long ago that we were just monkeys.

So what I mean is, as a species we have a long way to go, if we can survive that long. There are some things we just can't understand right now. Perhaps there is nothing to understand, but I think it much more likely that there is simply more to comprehend than we possibly can. I'm not saying that any of us should just give up and stop thinking about it- quite the contrary. But, don't be so frustrated when you don't find the answers. We just can't. In the end we have to cobble together the philosophies of other people and our own insight into something that fills our soul; something that seems true and right and gives us a reason to get up in the morning. But the amount of people who follow a particular philosophy of life has no bearing on its validity. We have to pass on our ideals to the next generation, and so on and so on.

Have you ever read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? One of my favorite books. Douglas Adams looks at it in a humorous way; a hyperintelligent group of aliens builds a supercomputer to come up with the answer to "Life, the Universe, and Everything." After many years, the computer reveals its answer: 42. And the race realizes it never really knew what the question was in the first place. So they have to build another computer to find the question, but just before it can finish running its program, it's destroyed in a terrible stupid mistake. But mostly what I got out of those books is that life is pretty absurd, but as a human you were blessed with something amazing; the ability to laugh. So make use of it as often as you can :)

So, I recommend that book for laughter... I was also in a play recently that really helped me re-evaluate life and consider the worth of humans trying to create and discover and understand, and build on each other throughout the generations, even if an individual never quite finds what he or she is looking for (or at least, it is never recognized during their lifetime). It's called Arcadia, by Tom Stoppard. I recommend finding it and reading it and digesting it. It also happens to be really funny in parts too. :)

Gradually we build on each other to find the answers. I think, my friend, you ought to realize that you can't do it alone. You mustn't get so far stuck in your own head that you forget to live, for how can you even start to know the meaning of life if you aren't living? Don't beat yourself up for getting caught up in these fascinating but tormenting questions thus far, but there's no use running in circles. Get out there and fill yourself with experiences, and who knows what you'll begin to understand, or to feel.

Personally I do not believe medication will be a miracle cure for your problems, but since you are already starting it, see if it helps.

Love and best wishes! Keep us posted.

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Altermentality, thank you for the insightful post. I just can't shake this feeling that no matter what I do, it is meaningless. People say to create your own meaning, but how? All I can think about is creating my own meaning would still be meaningless. I am trying very hard to stop this way of thinking but something in my mind keeps asking questions everytime I try to do something to take my mind off it.

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It's hard, I know. Because objectively, if there's no purpose to anything, and we humans are just going to live and die until one day we make ourselves extinct or the sun explodes or the universe ends cataclysmically and maybe starts over and maybe not (we have no idea, really, what will happen)... then why do we even bother with anything? And won't any "meaning" we create for ourselves be just as delusional as worshipping a golden idol?

But the truth is we simply can't live as if there's no purpose to life. It drives us mad. The human mind is constructed to find patterns and tie things together. It helps us survive. Ages ago, our purpose was just to survive, to eat and breed and find shelter, and that was hard enough without needing anything else. But then we became more intelligent and those nagging questions started to bother us. In school, I was always told that ancient cultures came up with religions to explain how humans and nature came to be. And yes, that is true, but as I got older I realized what was more important to them was doubtless not how, but why. Religion can give a simple explanation to why we exist and why we are flawed. Even now we can answer so much of the how, but the why still bothers us. Even now we yearn for those spiritual answers- and that yearning may in itself be a delusion of a still-evolving brain. Some people say the same thing about love, about anguish. Mere chemical reactions, electrical signals. But not even science can adequately explain consciousness, and I think it more likely that instead of us being "it," there are so many mysteries and levels of understanding that we cannot sense or access yet. And even if all our vast emotions are just chemical reactions, we still get to feel them, and we are very lucky.

I recommend you look into eastern philosophies, like Buddhism or Taoism. I know it's kind of a new-age thing to do, but there is so much wisdom there, and if you take out any dogma that may have gotten attached later (like the Buddha being a god, or whatever), it is perfectly compatible with science and can even help you reconcile the physical and spiritual worlds. It's a long journey and I'm really just starting it myself, but it's given me both comfort and wonder. And not in a bad way. I think that's important: Approach life's mysteries not as a tormenting problem, but a fascinating puzzle. Let life and consciousness and love and the human spirit amaze you, let the universe and the stars and black holes and volcanoes and gravity and the unchanging speed of light amaze you. Appreciate the things you don't and even can't understand, rather than letting them gnaw at you, because you live in a universe so complex, so full of surprises. Appreciate that you can learn something new about the world and about other people every day for the rest of your life.

Taoism is all about paradoxes and contradictions and accepting the things we can't understand. It's also all about "going with the flow." Being like water. Just existing, and letting life carry you like a leaf on a river. That's one way to live, just letting the universe be, and realizing that you are an inalienable part of it, and doing what comes naturally, without trying to ferret out some grand purpose for your life.

That's the background to my world, knowing that no matter what happens, everything will be alright eventually because the universe just IS. But also, I do try to create my own meaning. Because I believe we are all called upon to do great things. Each of us, according to our natures and our upbringing and life experience, has a perspective on the world that is totally, absolutely, 100% unique. No one absolutely like us has ever existed before, nor will again. We are all different windows into the great consciousness, influencing each other, and our purpose is to make the world just a little bit better of a place in any way we can. That may not be a purpose ordained by some god, but it's the purpose of being a human. All species want their genes and DNA to survive, and if we want the human species in general to survive, and to avoid ******* off each other and our family in nature, each of us has to contribute something that helps society be a bit kinder, gentler, more understanding and caretaking of other people and of the Earth. Even if it's just a smile that brightens someone's day. It could be a book that spreads hope and love, or a hug. It could be anything, but you can do it every day.

Because humanity drives me crazy with how cruel and thoughtless and destructive we are, but I think we can improve. I think we need to survive because the universe needs a species that can appreciate its beauty and complexity. But we need to earn our survival by becoming a more kind, thoughtful, loving race. And that takes everyone's effort. So that is the meaning I have created for myself.

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I think that mindfulness is the answer here. I recently went through a spell when my thoughts ran away with me and took over my life. Then my counsellor suggested that each time a thought intruded I noticed it but crucially did not judge it - in other words I didn't say things like 'oh no, here comes that thought again'. I acknowledged it and simply let it go. It helped me hugely.

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