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Existential depression.

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Skankboy

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Hey guys!

I'm not actually feeling at all depressed right now, but I've faced a few issues in the past week which saw me firing up this website and reading up on some stuff.

I have however in the past suffered bouts of depression, in my most serious depression I became extremely focussed on existentialism - I'd wrack my brain for answers to questions that are impossible and try to find meaning of things which simply didn't seem to have any. I read up on the subject, and I think i eventually made peace with not having the answers i felt i had needed so badly. Recently I've seen articles about 'existential depression', which seems like an apt name and a name i have kinda toyed with for my experience.

I think some form of existential musing is necessary for every being at some point, I think i learnt some stuff about myself and the relationship i have to the futility of life. One concept that I always had trouble with was quite simple; I'd be walking down the street, on the way home from a shop, or from work or something like that and my mind would be racing, I'd hit the point of everything feeling futile and meaningless - I'd realise I had just walked past the homes of 100s of people, all with their own stories, their own catastrophe, heartache and joy - yet it was all irrelevant, walking down the street past their homes their stories made no difference to me or mine, nor is it likely their story will be remembered any more than my own.

Anyhow, i was just wondering whether existentialism or existential questions make up a part of other peoples experiences of depression? How do you deal with that and has it taught you anything?
 
S

SadRainbow

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Yup. A lot of my current depression is thanks to existential distress. It's better than it was a few weeks ago, thankfully, but it's definitely still there.

For me, I keep getting "triggered" by things to do with the past - derelict buildings, walking past places I used to spend time in, photos... It can be my past, anyone's or anything's past. It really hurts me somehow that everything gets swallowed up into the past and forgotten. One day the sun will explode and destroy the earth. Eventually the universe will slow down and die... I've said all this before a few times on this forum so I'll shut up now.

It is still disturbing me but it has helped me clarify my priorities, and reassured me that I've always been right in my approaches and attitudes in life - those priorities have always been just about in good order.

Reading articles about physics and philosophy has helped a little.
 
S

Skankboy

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Location
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Yup. A lot of my current depression is thanks to existential distress. It's better than it was a few weeks ago, thankfully, but it's definitely still there.

For me, I keep getting "triggered" by things to do with the past - derelict buildings, walking past places I used to spend time in, photos... It can be my past, anyone's or anything's past. It really hurts me somehow that everything gets swallowed up into the past and forgotten. One day the sun will explode and destroy the earth. Eventually the universe will slow down and die... I've said all this before a few times on this forum so I'll shut up now.

It is still disturbing me but it has helped me clarify my priorities, and reassured me that I've always been right in my approaches and attitudes in life - those priorities have always been just about in good order.

Reading articles about physics and philosophy has helped a little.
Hey, sorry to hear you're still going through it a bit, and i hope i didn't trigger any uncomfortable feelings.

Walking past buildings and places lost to the past is also something i've struggled with - Buildings and places always seemed so permanent in my youth - they'd been there as long as i can remember and things have a habit of not changing for a good while. They always seemed to provide an anchor for the memories, good or bad, it doesn't matter - the point is, the building, the place - it still exists and thus the memory too. It's like you could almost picture certain moments in your life just through these buildings, at least to me. Anyway, the point is, the human part was meant to be the transient bit, the people change the places stay the same - I think for many simply accepting that we'll all die is enough, but aren't there sadder things than that? What if some of my favourite memories of, or with other people are some of their worst? What if they've long forgotten a moment i hold dear? So much left, so much to be wash away and a decade, two or three from now, will anybody even know i was there?

I guess my main hang up has always been that we're a story telling breed, yet the individual story becomes less and less important, less and less unique I believe there's a part of the human experience that we simply don't get anymore, and even never having had it, or knowing exactly what it is, i kinda lament the void it leaves behind.
 
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SadRainbow

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It's okay - it anything I appreciate it whenever someone is willing to talk about this stuff. I get worried about messing with people's heads. A lot of people really just don't get it.

There's a long, old road my partner, daughter and I spend a lot of time walking up and down. Our house on our little street turns off it and I can't imagine how many times I've walked up and down it... It was made by the Romans and used for hundreds of years as a main route in and out of the city. It's already changed a lot in the years I've lived here. It used to be full of warehouses and mechanics. Now there are lots of new builds. There are still quite a few really old buildings too - one is about 500 years old. We've been spending more time along it recently as it's the way to my daughter's school (she's just started) and sometimes we explore some of the alleys and little roads that turn off it. There's a nightclub my partner and I used to go to twenty years ago.

There is an old factory site that was turned into new flats a few a years ago. My partner and I went and watched them demolish some of the old buildings with a wrecking ball. I told my daughter about that and showed her how some old steps had been worn away by goodness knows how many people walking up and down them. There's a playground with a small bit of a ruined church in it. I showed her an old photo of it online and a few weeks later I actually heard her telling another child about how it used to look different. I tell her stories of our history and the street's history... Sometimes I wonder why because she's only four - she won't remember or care.

I don't know... So many lives, so many stories and they will all eventually disappear. All we have is the here and now. I wish I could make the most of it.
 
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Skankboy

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I don't know... So many lives, so many stories and they will all eventually disappear. All we have is the here and now. I wish I could make the most of it.
Read the anecdote you told back to yourself, and tell me that in its own way, that isn't making the most of the present. I enjoyed that anecdote, the picture of you with your daughter - if she cared enough to repeat the things you told her about the place i guess it highlights there's still a point, if only small. In either case, you're all set for another 50 years until those buildings change again, then you can mourn the loss of this memory with your daughter, probably paying no mind to the memories that one helped erase, or perhaps your time will be up by then and indeed, it will be her to ponder these very same questions

But yeah, the subject can get pretty deep and i don't think everyone has the inclination to dive headfirst into it, some of us do and often get stuck there for some time.

The conclusion i reached when bringing the existential depression to an end was somewhat like your last sentence, these things WILL happen, it does us no good to dwell on it. It helps put stuff into perspective though.

There's a certain comfort in knowing nothing you do, know, or are a part of will transcend through time infinitely, I still can't convince myself it outweighs the sadness of knowing I'm just a speck of a speck, on a speck in a giant universe though.
 
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SadRainbow

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My problem is that as part of my depression is anhedonia - I can't really make the most of the here and now if I can't enjoy anything. Life feels pretty pointless with no pleasure. My only real purpose now is doing the best I can to give my daughter a good start in her life. So I try to get better and maybe one day I will be able to enjoy things again.

We are all tiny specks, it's true, but we are also all part of something bigger. I'm okay with being just a speck, but I do miss feeling like I am connected, that I am part of the universe. My depression makes me feel separate somehow. Like I feel down a crack, into a weird, dead-end where everything feels wrong and hopeless. I see everything differently with my depression-tinted spectacles. I miss my old perspective.

Also, we have a very limited perspective of time. I suspect time is really quite different from how we think/feel it is. Perhaps the past isn't really "gone"... And I don't mean that in a desperate, hopeful way. Not that I could really explain what I do mean though either. Heh. Just... We understand so little. Who knows? Maybe everything is actually really quite wonderful but we mere humans just don't get it.
 
Quietman5

Quietman5

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We are all widgets in the mach8ne. Each one of us is replaceable ar any time. This w9rld is filled with narcissism that perverse the good. Why are we here? What is our purpose in life. I’m lost . . Can anyone help me before it’s too late
 
Shenon

Shenon

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Some of the things in this thread very much resonate with me. I too have found some relief in reading on physics, and I agree that we understand very little about time. A while ago, I read a pop science book that explained that in modern physics, most equations can be written without a time variable. It seems that once you've piled up all the evidence, all the unsolved mysteries about time end up being at some level about human cognition.

So no matter the truth about the universe, and the fundamental principles that makes it possible for trees, buildings and memories to exist, we may have a very warped perception of all of them. This may sound discouraging, but actually, it mostly makes me feel better. It may mean that the things we get so upset about are simply not the whole story, and that the universe is tying things up in beautiful ways that we are just not able to see. At least I hope so!
 
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