But how far do you take it?You're here, you percieve things, it may not mean anything but so what? Go for the ride.
This is some advice which you can either take or discard.I've been depressed for about three years and have regularly contemplated suicide. Sometimes I wish I could just be ignorant and pay attention to the "superficial."
Yes. I would like to stop thinking too much. Because then I sometimes get existential, which is far too familiar to the depression I went thorugh last year.Stop thinking for a moment,
I have mixed feelings about this.1. Stop contemplating suicide.I know this sounds a bit too obvious, but having worked with suicidal people and also people with chronic pain, one of the worst things is entertaining the thoughts. It is addictive. There are two cognitive techniques which you can practice (operative word: PRACTICE) One is thought-stopping where you simple say ''stop" to the thoughts until they do stop. And the other is to notice them, label them and then let them float away. If you do this consistently you will find an improvement after a month. But you must commit yourself to doing it or it won't work.
Sort of like how words stop making sense if you really pay attention to the sounds you are making or writing? I've had that weird feeling before. It's like I just see the lines or hear the sounds but no longer attach the meaning.I have gone through this over the past year or so and come to the conclusion that the scariest thing about observation is that the more you grow detached from what you are observing, the more disturbing it appears.
I know what you're saying and I don't disagree - but while it is very hard if not impossible to control feelings like sadness it is actually remarkably easy to control your thoughts if you do the work.I have mixed feelings about this.
In some ways it makes sense. In other ways, it has been about as useful as having someone tell me, "Just don't feel sad."
I don't really want to call it bad advice, because if it works it is good advice. I just don't think it is effective for every situation -- if you can't eventually find a positive reason to live, you're going to keep coming back to this.
You could try drawing up a list of possible things you could do - don't stop till you get to 100. Starting withLately, circumstances are putting my back up against the wall and I'm either going to explode or implode.
From the right perspective suicide seems like a great way to have fun, however after a few minutes happily contemplating the hilarious theatrics someone could get up to when they don't fear death, the will to actually do it has been lost.It is perfectly possible to feel sad, despairing, stressed, grief, existential angst - whatever - and not entertain ideas of suicide.
At 12? ImpressiveAt least that is the conclusion I'm sitting on in the midst of a cyclical existential crisis that has gone on since I was 12 years old or so.
Does this work for you? (below)I'm definitly going through an existential crisis, and have been for a long time now. I wonder if it will end in a new and improved outlook on life, or a bullet through the brain.
When you become detached enough, everything becomes beautiful. For me, the lack of purpose or meaning is the most beautiful thing of all. There's no reason life needs to exist, but it does anyways - I find that amazing, inspiring, and beautiful.
Have you ever fantasised (no Noddy, not that way) about going to see a shrink (excuse my slang) and being asked the seemingly obligatory "Now why do you think you've come here today?" question and replying in a deadpan-cynical voice "To be objectified, verbally deconstructed and ultimately fixed" just for the shock value.In some ways it makes sense. In other ways, it has been about as useful as having someone tell me, "Just don't feel sad."
I was lucky(?) enough to have my pastor destroy the little faith I had in Christianity, as well as most of the respect I had for authority, around that time... if somebody else hadn't already killed him I probably would. At least I got anarchism out of my system at a young age.At 12? Impressive
It's treating me pretty well right now.. I'm actually starting to feel like I'm part of something big, not a single human fumbling through the world, but part of a continuum of life that started billions of years ago. Yeah, none of it matters, but why should that stop me from doing anything? It results in a feeling of total freedom.. I make choices in order to mesh with society, but it's me making that choice and no one else. I sometimes feel like an alien, and have developed a somewhat misanthropic view of humanity (though not from hate, just disappointment). We have the potential do a lot of amazing things, including create new life, mechanical and/or biological, and spread it throughout the universe (eventually.. if we survive that long). We have the potential to become god-like. There is of course a mental disconnect from this line of thinking.. I'm always aware that it is theoretically pointless. Theoretically though - I don't know for sure that my actions don't matter in some way I can't perceive.. and joining in the suffering isn't very fun, so why not rise above it? I live with the hope that humanity is not the end, but the beginning.Does this work for you? (below)
The emotion I feel most often and most strongly is self-pity.i've contemplated suicide quite a bit, and then i began thinking "wouldn't it be wonderful if i got a brain tumor?" i could just imagine myself cracking jokes about it (of course my tumor is always on my mind) and making other people uncomfortable about it. thats when i realized, for me at least, that the thoughts of suicide are nothing but self indulgence. i've always imagined what everyone would think when they heard i was dead, and the idea of people feeling sorry for me was comforting.
Spot on, but don't stop there.Saying life is meaningless doesn't make any sense.
If you accept that life is meaningless, then by extension everything you do and say is meaningless. So saying life is meaningless doesn't mean anything at all.
So you're saying that all depression results from a chemical imbalance as the base cause? Depression can be a result of many factors, biological, sociological, and psychological. Yes, depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance, but I don't think that's what was being discussed.. existential crises/depression most often have much different causes from my experience, though they certainly can be influenced by (and influence) the chemicals in your brain.It seems obvious to me, but your feeling toward life has nothing to do with faux-philosophical ideas. Your attitude toward life has a physical basis in your brain.
I liked the philosophical debate on meaningless in your post, but I have to take a stance on this ^If you want to know more, there is a biologist named Lewis Wolpert that wrote a really good book on depression titled "Malignant Sadness." In my opinion, it is one of the better accounts of what depression really is. Unless you have really felt what it is like to be clinically depressed, I don't think you are really in any position to counsel people that are harboring suicidal thoughts because of it.
The emotion I feel most often and most strongly is self-pity.
thats basically what i'm saying. self pity is self indulgent, and it becomes habit.Depression or depressive thoughts are addictive. They're like a shell you get into to avoid action or responsibility. The shell, though painful, is comfortable and hence easy to get into.
you seem to be mistaking 'meaningless' with 'nonsense'. i think when people talk about meaninglessness, its more like purposeless and/or insignificance. these aren't necessarily rational thoughts, as even people that believe in a higher meaning can feel a sense of meaninglessness.what i say and do means something in that it affects those around me, but ultimately it has no purpose and its leading up to nothing.If you accept that life is meaningless, then by extension everything you do and say is meaningless. So saying life is meaningless doesn't mean anything at all.
It is the equivalent of saying "Periwinkle jump Sasquatch backward me swami refrigerator." Not much to kill yourself over or feel any emotion over, really.
aren't depression medications used to correct (or patch, i suppose) the underlying neural problems of depression? i guess the real question though, is: does brain chemistry cause depression or does depression change our brain chemistry? i guess i just find it strange that, despite being able to rationalize my own depression, to know that theres no reason for it, it doesn't go away. i don't think theres anything a psychiatrist could tell me that i haven't told myself in my own head. it seems deeper then simply just feeling a little blue.While neuroscience is a very useful addition to our understanding of depression and other mental phenomena, brain chemistry is most certainly not the only reason for depression and it is by no means certain that it is implicated as a cause.
Yes, get in touch with the inner monkey.2. Meaninglessness is a somewhat recursive idea. You exist. Hence you cannot be meaningless. You've got hormones, and you've got glands. That is meaning in itself. Go get sexy. Build your physique.
I can't remember ever being out of shape in my life, hence, my physical fitness doesn't seem to be linked to my existential stability. I'm not saying that it can't be a benefit, but I don't really know. I ride the STP (seattle to portland bike ride) every year and often go camping and hiking, I lift weights regularly, and most of the work I do is very physical. By not being "out of shape" I mean that my physical fitness has never stopped me from doing anything I want to do, even if that is climbing a mountain.2. Meaninglessness is a somewhat recursive idea. You exist. Hence you cannot be meaningless. You've got hormones, and you've got glands. That is meaning in itself. Go get sexy. Build your physique.
3. I for one know that regular exercise and physical fitness is very essential for your stability. If nothing, begin with Yoga. It's brilliant, and involves all aspects of the mind. You'll have to devote yourself completely to do it right. It automatically draws you out of your shell.
This is why I think care is so important. If you care about something, you give it meaning in the sense you describe, in the sense that you are a sentient being with interests and motivations. But you can't choose to care about something, imo, it's an unconscious process, however you might be able to convince yourself not to care (then again, pushing my body to its limits in the form of exercise does force me to care because it gets me in touch with my body. I feel more alive in these moments - maybe it's just masochism ha)The problem of an existentialist crisis is that one seeks a meaning for one's life, for a meaning for existence, any existence. There is none, but there is an aspect of being human which is overlooked. We are sentient beings and one quality of being a sentient being is that one can create order out of chaos, can create meaning, reason and purpose out of nothing. Sentient beings impose an order on chaos, whether it be the movements of planets, suns and galaxies or the planting of a garden - an order is imposed.
Sentient beings are the imposers of order, reason and purpose into, and onto, the natural state of chaos existence is. Sentient beings are the antithesis of existence which arises from existence. Sentient beings are the paradox of existence. Sentience is the antithesis of existence.
It matters not whether an order imposed by a sentient being is 'right' or 'wrong' or whether an order is 'good' or 'bad', because these qualities of judgment do not exist in the universe and are, as well, subjectively created and imposed by sentient beings. It matters not whether an imposed order is fleeting or not; that an order has been imposed, even for a split second, is an acknowledgement by the sentient being of its own existence. The reason or purpose for imposing an order upon existence matters not, except to the one imposing the order, for imposing this order is to attempt to communicate to one's self, and subsequently to others, one's individual sense of order - one's individual perception of existence.
The ultimate expression of sentience is art. Art is the individual free imposition of order upon existence with the only purpose being the expressing an individual perception of order out of chaos and into chaos. Art does not seek to explain, only to communicate. Music is the ordering of noise. Sculpture is the ordering of space and material. Dance is the ordering of movement.
I'm much the same way. If I have to die, I want to do so in the manner of my own choosing. It probably stems from a desire for freedom and control over one's own fate. We have no power over the circumstances we are born into and we have limited control over our own lives. Death itself is inevitable; but perhaps by choosing it ourselves it gives us some sad illusion of choice.In fact I've already pretty much decided that I won't let anyone or anything take my life other than me. I guess I have that much of an ego
Agreed. Mastery over oneself is a trait few can honestly claim. It's so easy for humans to lose sight of their identities and ambitions in favor of consumerism, religion, societal acceptance and even self-pity. I cannot claim this trait; but I'm trying to move toward it. I want to overcome my baser natures and free myself from petty distractions and unwarranted fears.This just popped into my head.. but couldn't most existential crises be defined along the lines of a conflict with the Will to Power? In a realization that extrinsic power is meaningless, life loses it's shine. I think my solution has been to project that will inward in an attempt to be a master of myself. Power over oneself, at least to me, seems like a worthy goal even under the blank stare of an unknowing universe. Power over oneself to me means power over one's subconscious/unconscious mind as well, and freedom from species-centric strains of thought, etc.
I think this all the time. We all have such limited perspectives; how can we assess the viability our own if we can't access from an unbiased viewpoint? That is why the idea of reincarnation always bugged me. If I went through all the trouble to live as someone else shouldn't I at least be able to learn and build upon that experience?i often find it strange that i will never experience anything from any other point of view besides my own.
Yes - I often ask evangelists why God is so weak he can't cope with people not worshipping him. My other question is 'so God is just a big accountant then?'Now to actually address the OP. I actually went though an existentialist crisis while I was still a devoted Christian. I was always told that 'God had a special plan and purpose for me.' When I tried to evaluate that purpose it was very disturbing to me. The only purposes that God could have possibly had for me was either to attract more followers or to glorify him. My only reason for existence was to sooth the ego of some cosmic jerk. Soon after I began to doubt the morality and rationality of Christianity and the Bible. I've been a Atheist ever since.
I agree. There are plenty of ways to find meaning in this world - there is so much that needs to be done - protecting the environment, feeding everyone, getting clean water to everyone, peacemaking, helping poor, sick and needy people etc etc. Anyone who wonders whether life can be meaningful should go and join a volunteer program. Thinking life cannot be meaningful shows a ridiculous lack of imagination.This forum has actually helped me regard life in a far more positive view than before. Life is inherently meaningless. Our lives will end (extended or not) and we will be forgotten. Though somewhat depressing; it's a far better fate than being the bitch to some God(or devil) for all eternity imo. However we also have the freedom to choose our own purpose and to be our own masters. To me thats invaluable.
Wow, thats pretty much me, but expressed much more coherently than I could ever achieve.When you become detached enough, everything becomes beautiful. For me, the lack of purpose or meaning is the most beautiful thing of all. There's no reason life needs to exist, but it does anyways - I find that amazing, inspiring, and beautiful. At least that is the conclusion I'm sitting on in the midst of a cyclical existential crisis that has gone on since I was 12 years old or so.
The play was made into a movie of the same name awhile back (early 90s).. Tim Roth and Gary Oldman are great in it. One of my favorites.I just remembered a good line from the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, we read it in high school and I'd recommend it for anyone with existential questions. The line was from the Player and it stuck with me, he says it in response to the existentially angsty Rosencrantz and Guildenstern:
Relax. Respond. That's what people do.
Sounds like heaven to me.. as long as there aren't many people. Nature always helps ground me.. especially after long spells of wandering identical sidewalks. I'm actually going to be on a hunting trip in eastern Oregon in a month or so.. about 30 miles from the nearest town (if you want to call it a town) and a day+ walk to the nearest house.. alone, and completely reliant on me. Experiences like that are what I look forward to more than anything.A few weeks ago I was dragged to a wilderness program in Northern California. The experience was really annoying and I tried several times to get kicked out. Somewhere in the middle of the wilderness, carrying a thirty pound backpack helped me realize I just have to get through it. A mere eighteen days ended/perspectivized a crisis that has plagued me since the 7th grade.