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The Impact of Existence | Why is the End So Troubling?

Major Depressive Disorder

When we hurt, we want an explanation. It’s just the way we roll. So coming to understand what causes our major depressive disorder and panic attack symptoms – any mood or anxiety woe – is rich in relief and healing. Existential matters have been weighing on my mind lately, and I’d like to share with you…

“Existential matters” – gawd, I come-off so psychobabblish, don’t I?! Here, what say we simplify things by turning to merriam-webster?

Existential: of, relating to, or affirming existence
Exist: to continue to be. to have life or the function of vitality

And I think that question is especially relevant to those enduring mood or anxiety woes. In fact, I’d propose angst over “the end” may well be at the very foundation of what we experience.

How’s that?

Now about that weight on my mind, and why it’s relevant to those enduring mood and anxiety probs.

I began writing this piece about 10 days ago as I sat with my 90-year-old father, who happened to be occupying a hospital bed. Bless his heart, his cognition and gait just ran out of steam. After a five-day stay he was transitioned to a rehabilitation center, where he still resides. And it looks as though assisted living lies ahead.

Very rock-my-world times for “Pops.” I mean, he has enough trouble dealing with his mental confusion and gait issues, much less pondering his fate.

Pops and I have had several amazing chats about those “existential matters” over the past week. Being a huge The Godfather fan, I liken them to the talks between Don Corleone and his son Michael when the Don was running out of steam himself. Simple and loving.

When we talk, Pops often asks me, “What’s next?” And I know full well he isn’t referring to residency. Now, I certainly don’t have THE answer; however, my assurance that everything will be okay seems to hold him over. Thing is, though, he doesn’t have to verbally express his concern. Nah, I’ve known what’s on his mind as he stares out the window.

So what is it about “the end” that troubles us so? Is it purely a manifestation of “how we roll,” or is there more to it?

And I think that question is especially relevant to those enduring mood or anxiety woes. In fact, I’d propose angst over “the end” may well be at the very foundation of what we experience. Would it be so hard to accept that continuing thoughts of our last breath would generate buckets of depression and anxiety?

I sure don’t think so.

Hmmm, so how is it with you? Is it possible the major impediment to max-living is the dread of dying – what we know is inevitable?

If you find yourself nodding your head, I’m suggesting the fix isn’t as difficult as you may think. After all, you’ve identified a foundational cause of your misery. And so now you have many places to which you can turn for relief and healing. Perhaps spirituality fills the void. Could be a more fulfilling relationship with a spouse, partner, family member, or friend is in order. Maybe it’s that quest for the real you.

All can have amazingly positive impact.

You bet, when we hurt, we want an explanation. And I propose we just found one for major depressive disorder and panic attack symptoms – any mood or anxiety issue at play in your life.

Are you so consumed with “the end” that the present has become dreadful and meaningless? Ponder why you’d subject yourself to that, and set sail for answers. They’re out there, k? By the way, need some help with that? Start with a piece I wrote almost five years ago.

Ah, those “existential matters.” Thanks, Pops.

Hey! Chipur contains 600+ articles pertaining to all things mood and anxiety. Dive in, won’t you?

  • Beth Wilson

    Hey Bill, you gotta love those $3 words like existentialism! I’ve always been a deep thinker–drove my family crazy as a kid. School picture-taking time was usually a battle with my folks telling me to smile big for the camera! I didn’t want to because I thought the real me was best represented by a thin, lips together, small smile. Life was serious, dammit! On into the adult world and adult relationships, I LOVED to talk philosophy and what’s-the-meaning-of-life–usually encouraged by a few drinks and a couple of joints. My friends would say to me, “Why are you so serious all the time? Lighten up, for God’s sake!”

    I can’t deny that Robin Williams’ suicide hit me hard. And my partner is putting her beloved greyhound to sleep today. I’ve shed more tears this week than I have in a very long time. I guess growing older has helped me learn that while the existential questions are fun, sometimes not knowing the answer is better. So I’ve given myself permission to accept the sadness for what it is. Wow, there’s freedom in “okay, God, whatever!”

    Thanks for always making me think AND smile big!

    • Appreciate your visit and contribution, Beth. Always nice to have you here. So, yeah, how ’bout “those $3 words?” Actually kind of a shame that vital concepts and dynamics are veiled by such words. You, being a “deep thinker,” would understand.

      No doubt, Robin Williams’ suicide hit millions hard. Kind of weird timing, ’cause I had this piece on the “ready-to-go” before it all went down. And now I hear today he was in the early stages of Parkinson’s. What a load – reported compulsive behavior and mood issues, and a Parkinson’s diagnosis (if true).

      Hmmm, that “Okay, God, whatever!” mentality may not be so bad. Whatever it takes to allow us to richly live life, not getting hung-up on the inevitable…

      Bill

  • Beth Wilson

    P.S. Your Pops sounds like quite a character, and I’m guessing you’re a “chipur” off Pops’ block! Peace to you both.

    • Thank you, Beth A character to be sure. And it ain’t over yet…

      Bill

  • I hope I don’t ever reach that point that I’m so consumed with “the end” that the present has become dreadful and meaningless. I could see how it could happen though. A person can get caught up in the cycle of gloom and not be able to find their out way out. Good piece, here Bill. You are a continual beacon of hope for those suffering with depression and panic disorders and much more. Thank you! Enjoy these moments with your dad!!

    • Hey, you’re welcome, Cathy. And thank you for visiting and commenting. It’s amazing how common existential issues are – even in those in their teens and 20s. Curious. And, of course, doesn’t take Siggie Freud to tell us tons of anxiety and depression are generated as a result. Really a shame, actually. However, “fixable.” Sure hope Chipur is a “beacon of hope” for those in the midst. I really try to cover all of the angles in terms of cause and healing.

      I will, indeed, enjoy those moments with Pops…

      Bill

      • Rich

        Hi Bill, first time visitor here. I’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety for months now, and the latest incarnation is the thought that as the universe will end one day, what is the point in even trying to get better? Any tips on how to overcome this seemingly insurmountable thought?

      • Hey, Rich. Welcome to Chipur. Glad you stopped-by and contributed.

        Well, you present an interesting point of view. I’m thinkin’ it’s your belief the end of the universe will occur in your lifetime. Shoot, why would it be a factor to you otherwise? And then I’m thinkin’ you believe if it is in your lifetime it’s imminent. I mean, if the end occurred late in your life you’d still have many years yet to enjoy. But then I don’t know how old you are.

        Ah, but all of the above is an effort to apply reason to an unreasonable/”cognitively distorted” thought. And if you’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety for months, all bets are off when it comes to reason. Actually, what you detail sounds like an intrusive thought to me. I’ve endured some nasty ones in the past and they can be baffling and scary. Here’s a link to the first in a two-part series I posted on intrusive thoughts http://chipur.com/intrusive-thoughts-my-god-how-can-i-be-thinking-these-things/

        Rich, my gut is you really don’t believe what you think you believe when it comes to the end and trying to get better. But it sure doesn’t feel that way, does it. My suggestion is to divert when the thought presents in an effort to not honor/reinforce it. The more thought you give it, the more it’ll stick around.

        Thanks for your visit and participation. And please continue to stop-by…

        Bill

  • Candace Plattor

    Hi Bill, what a great article – and I love the older one you suggested we read too – I’ll definitely share both.

    I actually love the term “existential angst” – to me, it means that anguish, anxiety, and yes even depression that all of us who ‘exist’ feel at some point(s) in our lives – it actually helps me to feel more connected to the rest of humanity in my darker moments, knowing that we all feel this from time to time.

    There was a time when I felt it almost all of the time. I’ve worked through a lot of the issues over the years that contributed to that, so I feel grateful to be able to live without worrying about the why’s of life and death, most days. And I believe that a person has the right to take his/her own life – but it’s always hard when someone we know/care about chooses to do so.

    My spiritual beliefs do help me a lot – but – what I really believe is that no one truly knows anything for sure, spiritually. There are those who will try to convince us that they do, but I don’t buy it. A belief is simply what makes sense to each of us, and I’m grateful for the ones I have. I also believe there’s plenty of room for each of us to believe what we want to, without us having to be violent with each other over this. If everyone felt this way, what a different world we’d have.

    Yes, we will all die at some point. There’s just no getting around that. As I’ve heard it said – no one gets out of this life alive. But what we do while we’re alive counts – at least I believe it does. And because I believe that, that’s the way I live – like it matters. If I find out later that it didn’t and I was wrong – oh well! But for today, I choose to live in the best way I can for myself and for everyone around me, to the best of my ability. Thanks for bringing this subject to the light, Bill – I think it’s something we all need to be talking more about instead of trying to hide from!

    Candace

    • What a wonderfully detailed and meaningful comment, Candace. Thank you for stopping-by and contributing. Comments like yours are so helpful to anyone who happens by. And they hold the potential to generate healing discussion.

      As always, glad you paid a visit…

      Bill