How do I piece things back together after recovery from deep existential depression?

Five Recommendations

First, invest in the platform for your life – your body. While your depression may never return, no one can rule out a physical component. You’re more likely to find life rewarding if you take care of yourself. Wear sunscreen. Exercise, etc.

Second, accept that most other people are practically another species. I commend (and share) your desire to embrace all the experience and emotion that life has to offer. That doesn’t transform us into “one of the gang”. Our experience remains one that other people just won’t get. Look at how many Quora questions aim to grasp the mere meaning of the word “existentialism” – what other concept has made so little sense to so many people? It will cause you heartache to deny this.

Third, find the source of your intellectual masochism. You already spent a decade in grey over a question without an answer, so why are you chasing another question that has no answer? I do that because I don’t want to accept the absurdity—the feeling that I’m being Punk'd in The Matrix, spinning invisible thread for a naked Emperor—and I don’t want to accept the freedom and responsibility that comes from having no rule book. But don’t take my reason, figure out your own.

Fourth, figure this out: do you really want to sing and dance, or do you feel like you could if you wanted to? If you just want to sing and dance, the Nike method will solve all your problems, and systematic will follow. But people that plainly want to sing and dance don’t usually worry about doing it systematically. More likely, you want to know something – to feel less unsure, more agile, more at home in your newly vibrant, but unfamiliar world. If you want something like that, or something harder to describe, try to figure out how to describe what your really want.

Fifth, and only take this recommendation if the preceding points made sense to you:

5 Replies to “How do I piece things back together after recovery from deep existential depression?”

  1. First of all, are you completely certain that you've recovered from an existential crisis? Because they come in waves & never really go away until you've completely abided in the truth. (Truth here stands for liberation)

    I've had the crisis coming in waves for me & everytime I think I've recovered, it comes again, randomly, unexpected. Even now… but with each wave I've only forged into a wiser being.

    Since they are inevitable, you need to embrace them as they come. Any attempt to dodge will only magnify them because they aren't external. You cannot fight against your own mind and win. You can just drop the resistance.

    Things I do:

    • Be in company of people who have gone through the same and can guide / help you.
    • Keep a diary and note down the main focus points of the crisis. (I've trouble following the diary schedule and write randomly whenever I want)
    • Help others, in whatever way you can. Empathy and an urge to elevate mankind (in whatever tiny level you can) is a fuel that will keep you going. For me, I wrote on Quora, makes me feel good when I've helped someone.
    • Avoid ganja (this one is hypocritic on my part but in general a thumb rule) and don't indulge in heavy psychedelics (except DMT). Stay away from acid as it could trigger the crisis randomly.
    • Adopt a pet or play with some domestic dogs / cats. Helped me a lot.
    • Try to spend more time in nature.
    • Spend more time with your lover (I don't have one so I don't know how much it would help) but that's what a lot of people coming out of the crisis claim.
    • Go visit any mosque, temple, church or monastery. Even if you're an atheist, you don't have to go there for God but just for the clean and calm vibe.
    • Write poetry, draw, paint, play an instrument, some theory.. basically any form of artistic expression. These will have a flavour of your existential experiences and a great outlet. Also they provide more clarity.

    Thats it I guess.. there's not a whole lot you can do. I would also suggest reading / following some vedic or spiritual texts but I dunno your background.

  2. I have chronic depression, which is seen, in simplistic terms, as a lack of neurotransmitters in the brain.  I take an anti depressant for it.  But beyond pharmacopoeia, and beyond exercise (which is important), there is the basic decision to do something.  Existential philosophers basically say that each of us must create or choose or own meaning for our lives.  Many people do this by choosing a pre-defined path, such as a religion, a school of thought, an art-form, or even a social group to identify with.  Meaning comes from striving to be better according to what you perceive to be the goals and standards of the path; that is, you choose a path toward a goal (preferably an unattainable perfection) which you follow.  Each improvement you make (in being a better Christian, Baha'i, painter, actor, humanist, liberal, conservative. stock-broker or whatever) is a step along the path.  Happiness comes from being thankful that you were able to advance. 
    Of course, part of one's life path is to choose a path or paths that one can value.  I suggest that the best way to do that is to TAKE ONE and start on the path. If the path you have chosen can be called "living life to its fullest measure" then continue on that path, learn from it, pay attention to what kinds of choices on that path bring satisfaction. If it satisfies your soul, if it continues to make sense and if you can choose to feel good about advancing on the path, stay with it.  Otherwise, choose another path. You might find that "living life" works better if it is part of or combined with another path, like "living a life of joy and sharing", or "living a life of joyous service".  Hey, even dancing and singing with passion can be a "joyous service" if you make it into that.
    You also might want to look at the blog "Barking up the wrong tree" for scientific answers on what makes people happy.

  3. I see people suggesting answers here with a notion that existential crisis will pass like some awkward teenage phase. The reality is,it can't be overcome.

    The reason why I say this, existential crisis stems from an idea. An idea that questions the notion of being. This idea made you think why you exist, why anything exist! Why has things ever existed… I'm pretty sure these questions have never been answered.

    So how can you claim to have gotten out of an existential crisis without an answer? People try to convince themselves, deflect, try to say to themselves that they are over the crisis. But what they don't realise is that they underestimate themselves, they underestimate the inquisitive nature of their mind.

    People who went through existential crisis, in my opinion, are those who actually know how to think. Their mind made them think of things a vast majority of humanity never knew existed. Do you think these minds will just let the idea of questioning the existence just go past without an answer?

    Existential crisis comes like waves in the ocean. It hits you, you fumble, you suffer, you question everything when a wave hits you… then it might go silent for a while. But it's never over, it comes back again, most probably stronger.

    Does that mean you have to endure the suffering? Do you have to agonise yourself over the vast number of unanswerable questions? No. The only way to deal with an existential crisis is to accept that it's never going to leave you. Just enjoy the process of pondering over uncertainty. Don't be afraid of it, learn to live with it, love the unfathomable complexity of your existence. Realise how gifted you are to have a mind that made you question the deepest substratum. Your life will become peaceful, soon you will wait for the next wave to hit you and when it hits you, when you let go, when you let it carry you, you won't find any answer, you'll love the question.

  4. I banish depression by banishing the thoughts leading to depression. They are still banished.

    After, I simply made the arbitrary choice to value knowledge, honesty and helpfulness.

    With these axioms, I have lived the last 20y without depression.

  5. I will promote this question to many people as soon as I see how to do it ; } This is the most awesome question(because of its explanation)  i have come across in recent times. I do agree Why is late 20s so depressing?

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