Severe Depression- What Is This Life?

I have battled depression, severe anxiety and paranoia since I was a small child. Way too young to know what existentialism or cognitive dissonance meant, but old and intelligent enough to know that I was very uncomfortable here on this earth and inside this body. I didn't get it. "what is this place?" I would often think. Explaining these feelings and thoughts to my family was frustrating because it seemed they had absolutely no clue what I was feeling. They couldn't comprehend the depth of my fear and hopelessness. Every time I would share my feelings or succumb to the tears that were ever waiting to flow, i would withdraw because of their assumptions that I was "weak, spoiled, lazy, or attention starved". So, I would isolate myself for hours at a time and as I grew up and was able to allocate my own time, I would spend days on end absolutely alone, sometimes in the dark, pondering solutions to take control of this game.

Over the years I have had many episodes of clinical depression leading to twice a week therapy sessions, medication (including self medication with drugs and alcohol) and eventually a hospitalization. After the hospitalization, I vowed again to make my life better. I participated in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, stopped drinking heavily, weaned myself off of most of the drugs that i was abusing and for a while, I felt like i was learning to cope. But around when I turned 30, a couple of devastating and painful medical diagnoses, a few crushingly painful relationships, job loss and financial ruin came in quick succession and I found myself overwhelmed with thoughts again. "why am I going through this?" "what is the point?", "Why don't I just end this pain?". The news media and social networking made things even worse. Every day there was something terrible, more pain, more suffering, more evil, less love, less compassion. I expressed to my therapist that I did not see a point to the pain in life and that if I was not able to reconcile this existence by age 40, then I was going to commit suicide. We worked for a few sessions on this and to avoid being committed to the mental ward again, I had to agree that I would not take those measures or that I would call her before attempting such a thing.

So, after feeling particularly distraught for a few months I sought the Baptist Church, which I had been separated from since the suicide of my best friend 10 years prior. But I had to try something. I joined a church, got baptized, joined ministries and for a while things became brighter. I expected God to move and he did. I was able to mobilize myself and began living some of my dreams; singing and acting professionally, and working on my writings that I want to have published. Still, I was making barely any money, my physical pain from my illnesses was sometimes unbearable and my emotional and mental well being slowly declined again as I began to question the God that I thought was supposed to save me. But through church I learned that suffering on earth would continue and that the promise of eternal life was supposed to carry me through this earthly one. The only problem is that I'm a doubter. So I have inner turmoil, wanting to believe in a Creator and an afterlife but still secretly wondering if man created God to make ourselves feel better about our random, painful hamster wheel existence.

The tipping point toward my full on existential crises came from a surprising source. I may seem silly for this but when the "face eating" incident in Miami happened I felt as if my soul had been fractured. Here I was, trying to develop a relationship with my loving, merciful God. Meanwhile, just 1000 miles away, a fully conscious man was having his face chewed off for 18 minutes by another human being. I was so hurt for this man and so disillusioned with God. What kind of mercy was that man shown? I came to the conclusion that I was being deceived and that while we may have a Creator, it certainly wasn't a Creator that loved us.

I began to distance myself from church again, this time emotionally, feeling like a hypocrite as I stood in the choir loft singing hymns that I wasn't quite sure I believed anymore. I sought spiritual advice from my leaders and still came away empty with responses that I considered superficial. I continued to hold on to God though, because i knew that fully accepting that we are out here in this universe alone would bring thoughts and feelings that I was not prepared to handle.

Two recent incidents have left me reeling and I worry that I may not recover.  Both times, I was sitting in my car, staring at the night sky when I had the most evil feeling come over me. It was as if Satan himself had climbed in my car. The first time I was able to take a xanax that i keep in my purse for panic attacks, go home and go to bed, but the second time was much more difficult. In fact it has been the most terrifying experience of my life so far. Staring into that dark night sky into a cold universe made of energy and matter, feeling that evil presence beside me telling me that all I was was energy and matter too. That I was alone, insignificant, that there was nothing here or in the afterlife for me, that all that awaited me for the rest of my days was physical pain, mental anguish and despair. I rummaged in my purse for a xanax and found only 1/2. I took it and felt no relief.

I became despondent and started to drive, contemplating ways to end my life in the car then and there. I was crying uncontrollably and had no idea where I had driven but I decided that my best bet was to run my car into a tree on the two lane road that I was on. Usually when I think of committing suicide I think of my family, especially of my oldest niece who is similar in temperament to me, and it gives me some self control.  But this time, I felt an URGENT need to end my life that night, despite the pain it would cause my loved ones and my calculated way of looking for the right patch of woods to drive my car into, frightened me like never before. I called out loud to Jesus for the first time in my life, screaming.  I begged him that if he was real and that if he loved me, then he would help me right then and there because I wasn't going to make it past that night if he didn't. When Jesus didn't respond in a flash of light as I fully hoped he would, i gave in. I thought of my best friend who had succumbed to her pain with a bullet to her head 11 years earlier and wondered if she had felt this same type of hopelessness. I mourned her again, so sad that she had experienced this...so sad that ANYONE had to experience this. Just as I sped up the car to be sure that the deed was properly done, i became aware of something telling me that I was not alone. I'm not sure if my self preservation reflex kicked in or whether Jesus answered me but I'd like to think that it was Jesus because it cut straight through the foggy delirium that I was feeling. The something told me to call someone. There were two people that I thought of who would be awake and that I felt could say the right things to me at that moment and the first didn't answer. The second, my best friend, has a knack for bringing me out of my extreme lows but she had just delivered a baby and had barely been able to keep track of her phone since the pregnancy and birth. But this night, she answered. Sobbing, I told her that I needed to be with her, that I needed her to help me because I wasn't going to make it. She told me to come over but my urge to commit suicide was so strong that I didn't think that I coud get to her house without hurting myself. I asked her to come and get me but by then, the 1/2 xanax had done enough to make me realize that I was being selfish by asking her to come out at that time of night when she had a crying newborn. I still had no idea where I was but she stayed on the phone and guided me to familiarity and to her home.  I believe it is by the Grace of God that I made it to her house that night and just being there with her, her husband and her children and being able to hug them tight made me realize that even if this life is just a game and I am a mere pawn, that i want to play it. Even if this life is an entrophic accident, that I want to live it. There are people here that I love and they love me. The joy of loving is worth the pain of losing.

However, since that night last week, I have slipped in and out of depression and in and out of faith again. That night I was so sure that Jesus had saved me but my old doubts are returning. I am terrified again. But I know that in order to reconcile this crisis, I must make a choice. Believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and live my life by faith, accept my purposeless life as it is and live it as a game, or end my life. I really don't want to end my life as I am more fearful of the hell I have imagined for myself and I don't want to consider myself purposeless so I'm choosing to believe in God and strengthen my faith. I pray that I am strong enough to win over this and that I'll be alive and kicking post 40. And if by chance this life is a game, I'm just as qualified to play it as anyone else, right?

kizzyrenee kizzyrenee
31-35, F
6 Responses Sep 13, 2012

As a non-believer I always thought that believers had it easier with existential depression. I guess I'm wrong. I hope your faith is giving you some consolation Ms. Kizzy. As someone without any faith I find existential depression a real challenge.

Your struggles sound very much like mine, except I experience this existential struggle and pain through different circumstances. I, like you, still doubt God even though at times I was sure that He is the reason why we are here. At the end, love triumphs evil. But at times I feel so heartbroken by being aware that sooo much pain exist to the point when I couldn't bear it that I started to question about life again and what is the point of all this that is the universe. But I'm still here and I believe there is a reason for everything. I too, choose to keep my faith in God because after all that I've been through, I believe our existence is not meaningless. There is a purpose. And love is all that matters.

This resonates very much with me.. especially about how important those same questions were to you as a child. My questions about deep issues as a kid caused me to be erroneously diagnosed with a few psychiatric conditions I don't have, medicated, hospitalized, and I was of course unable to find the answers I so desperately needed.

I found this site because I am researching existential depression, which is what I think I had as a kid. I explored many things as an adult, but finally found relief and happiness after thoroughly studying existential philosophy in college. There was a painful deconstruction process for me, but found the kernel upon which I could build meaning and purpose. Along with a sort of camaraderie. So many amazing people over time have felt the same way and channeled it into something wonderful. Philosophers, musicians, artists, revolutionaries, religious leaders... we are not alone. We're in very, very good company.

I would not recommend philosophy for everyone, I can only say what has helped me. It is really wonderful you have your faith. I have a friend who studied existentialism at a Christian college, and she said the way it dovetailed with her religious studies strengthened her faith. I wish I could explain how.

One of the things I hang my hat on is that people who are smart, who have any interest in asking these questions, whose heart breaks when we look at cruelty and pain--- we have to stay. Someone who doesn't care won't try to change it. The horror makes me pissed off... I won't let apathy and cruelty win. To me, this life is all there is. So what we do here is beyond important.

In short, you are MORE THAN QUALIFIED. I hope you stay, and I hope you come out the other side of this. My depression and the things I went through were the absolute worst things I ever dealt with- but without them I would not have experienced any kind of post-traumatic growth, I would not be able to understand people who hurt, and I certainly would not have been able to help my friends. All because one tiny thing stopped me from leaving.

Please forgive the way I phrase everything, I only write in my diary primarily. I have just so badly always wanted to help people who feel like I did. I had no one to talk to, I imploded.

I got a lot of strengthening out of reading what you wrote. It sounded so much like things I have grappled with through the years; what is the point of life, why is there so so so so much pain in the world, how can it be that G-d cares about us if the world if filled with so much suffering, why is it worthwhile to keep on going on with this life of inescapable pain. I have grappled a lot with suicide though I never came as close to it as you apparently did. I never got the sense that anyone I spoke to could really understand or relate to what I was grappling with and it was really comforting and strengthening to read that you are going through similar things. Thank you very much for sharing your struggle.

you're welcome and thank you for letting me know that my story touched you. I really appreciate this site for this reason.

"I must make a choice. Believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and live my life by faith, "
....yes. i must make a choice. thanks for the reminder!

"accept my purposeless life as it is and live it as a game, or end my life."
....God has a purpose for your life though. He says so. your purpose tonight was to speak to me, increase my faith. thank you! the purposeless life lived as a game vs. death are not the only choices. though i understand how you come to that belief (my thoughts go much the same way and, I'm sure the devil is on both our heels and flees at the name of Jesus too), i hope you open up your options. ...me too.

I think for any intelligent person, religion is a choice. Once you become aware, growing up in the church is not enough. Thank you for reading my story and I'm glad I could speak to you. I'm still struggling but it gives me strength to know that I'm not alone.

Thanks for sharing. I wish you the best.