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An Existential Crisis?

Thanks to Dan for providing this message board as a means to share one's experiences with Existential Depression. I don't have the financial means to seek out a therapist who specializes in this arena.

This is very new territory to me, and existential depression is a self-diagnosis on my end. I didn't even realize how existential my perspectives on life were until I started exploring philosophy several years ago and stumbled upon existentialism. I read about it, and it clicked. I haven't done anything to expand my knowledge until just recently when I finally decided to go for a physical exam after 9 years and have a battery of tests done. This of course has forced me once again to face the dreaded reality of my own mortality. My biggest concern when I went to the doctor was occasional spotting between periods (TMI perhaps, but it is what it is). I went for an ultrasound on Thursday and should be getting the results today.

I have taken anti-depressants since I was a teenager (I'm 42 now). My most recent experience was with Lexapro, which worked successfully for me. Unfortunately it became cost-prohibitive prior to becoming available in generic form, and since my overall quality of life has improved over the past couple of years I stopped taking it. I probably started weaning myself off around January of this year and completely stopped in mid-April. Although I seem to be holding my own without it, it's apparent to me that after awaiting results of all these tests that it wouldn't take much of a crisis to bottom out again (including an existential crisis).

I have considered myself agnostic for most of my adult life (at least during emotionally lucid periods). I'm finding that it's a terrible waste of mental energy as I feel intellectually and psychologically harassed with the potentially false hope that my soul will be "rescued" when I die. I'm in the process of crossing over to atheism so I can finally find some acceptance that life and the world in its physical form is pretty much meaningless, that what meaning I give it is simply phenomenal in nature, and that I'm responsible for my incongruous existence. I've always felt responsible for my choices, and while I'm completely comfortable with that, one would expect to experience a sense of relief to not be bogged down with feeling accountable to religion or spirituality (especially in the guilt sense).

Needless to say, the process of "crossing over" to atheism has not afforded me any sense of relief. My rational and intellectual self wins with the realization that the probability of an afterlife is next to zero, but the agnostic in me cannot bear the thought of all the suffering we endure as human beings as being in vain. I question how an earth that will one day become extinct and forgotten has been inexplicably situated with a mankind burdened with the profundity of experiencing life and building wisdom and knowledge at the cost of huge emotional investment. So this makes for an uncomfortable stage of accepting that the universe is ultimately meaningless, and it's depressing. Quite simply, if the universe has no meaning, then human experience isn't really profound at all. Since existentialism comes in all flavors, it's just a matter of individual perception and belief (at the end of the day, I think that a complex universe as a whole – specifically its meaninglessness – is profound in and of itself [WTF?!]). And where it gets even more confusing and depressing for me is that even as an atheist, I will be no more reliant on science for answers than I have ever been on any god. So basically I'm left with the responsibility of my own choices (including the choice to exist) and applying phenomenological meaning to the absurdity of my life in an effort to justify my continued existence (the latter of which I find shocking, disturbing, and even nonsensical – but how else to go on?).

Thoughts are welcome (but please, NO religious proselytizing).
Autumn1969 Autumn1969 41-45 1 Response Aug 6, 2012

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I'm curious about your views on your mortality. Are you afraid of dying? Or being dead? Or both?

Personally I'm afraid of dying because it's an unknown. I don't know how I'll die or when it will happen, and that part scares me, but I'm not afraid of being dead. Every living thing dies, so why should I be afraid of the inevitable. My depression has helped this too, because it's hard to be afraid of something I once yearned for.