On December 11th 2016 I had the fucking privilege of meeting depression first hand. It wasn’t sudden. It was gradual. From a series of existential thoughts it began moving forward until I hit the dead end of depression.
I had terrible full on anxiety 3 years ago with intrusive thoughts and from then on everything was smooth. I had pretty much completely recovered from anxiety by mid 2014. I was enjoying life and appreciating everything. I was literally in the best part of my life for those 3 years. Every day was bliss and I mean it until December 11th 2016.
It was like any other day. I came back from my college and was changing channels sitting on the sofa. As I was changing, my eyes caught a busy street. People were walking minding their own business. Out of nowhere comes a thought “What is this all for?” I felt like I have been hit by a bullet. I had no answer and I felt empty. From then on it had been a search for an answer. Each day I’d wake up thinking about our meaningless existence trying to cover up with some band-aid fix of an answer. I tried filling the hole with meaningful relationships, family, job, action, anything that I could find but it never gave me any sense of ease. I’ll be honest here. I went through my daily life as a means to end and would think of an answer for my pathetic question. Each day grew darker and heavier. Things that gave me happiness no longer felt good. I knew anxiety was coming up. I felt everything go back to square one just like the first time I had anxiety. Everything seemed pointless. On New Year I hit depression. I couldn’t no longer hide it from my family. I broke down shaking like a leaf, tears running down my face.
My brother was the only one who seemed to understand what was wrong with me and tried to give me a different perspective. I thought this existential dilemma was something different from what I had back 3 years ago but the truth was that it was just another thought I thought was important that I sacrificed my very peaceful presence of the moment for a futile search.
Existential Anxiety is something that could be laid to rest in the spiritual context. We are not our thoughts and the mere search for an answer is another thought. We don’t need to find an answer because we are living the answer. Our very Being or existence is the answer. As Eckhart Tolle says we’re the universe becoming conscious of itself. I know it sounds very complex and cheesy but for now you’ll have to wrap your head around the fact that we are THAT which sees the thoughts.
Now this wasn’t instant salvation. Even though I was given this new found information, I couldn’t quite grasp it because I had only understood it conceptually. So I went about my days feeling slightly relieved but still off. I was still sometimes unconsciously searching but then I remember it’s not necessary so I drop it. I was becoming more and more hopeless moving towards atheism. Then one day I came across this article called Let It Be: Using mindfulness to deal with Anxiety and Depression by Lucy Roleff. I thought it was just another article on Anxiety of which I have read quite a few. But I was wrong. The article talked about existential anxiety and it was like a blessing from God disguised in the form of an article. Thousands of emotions flooded into me. I felt everything from relief to pure happiness. It wasn’t just the fact that Lucy had struggled with the same thought but also the fact that it came to me at the right time.
Lucy Roleff is a singer songwriter who is also a splendid artist. Her drawings vividly capture the essence of daily life with such realism that I felt a pleasure of peace associated with it. Her illustrations also have helped me through my depression along with her song Hotel Interstate.
In communicating with her personally, I not only got a helping hand but also a friend in her. Without Lucy, I would have never made it this far and I’m forever grateful for her and her article. The article talks about exactly the same thing I mentioned but when I read through her words they seem to be embedded with such truth that you feel instantly relieved.
Beyond all the mental chatter inside our minds there lies a silent watcher. The awareness that can see the thoughts. If we simply allow these thoughts to come and go without feeding these thoughts with answers that seem to satisfy temporarily and if we just allow them to be there without resisting then in time it’ll settle down and with it, your existential anxiety too.