You’re overcome with total and utter nihilism. The world could crumble to dust around you and you wouldn’t blink. Nothing matters, and you drag yourself from place to place not knowing why you’re doing anything. Sometimes a part you that still cares about something will still hang around, being really paranoid or worried or something. That can be bad. But eventually I think it goes away.
Then a part of you starts to realize what’s going on. You see how the depression is affecting you and you’re mad that it feels like you can’t overcome it. You want to feel joy and passion and happiness but you can’t and you feel mad and powerless. Then, it starts to slip away. Maybe you realize that you can feel happiness, out of sheer will. If nothing matters then nothing can hold you back. Or something like that… The meaninglessness almost becomes empowering. This phase is still a little foggy since I think it’s only a very short transitional phase and it’s hard to notice what’s going on.
Then all of a sudden you’re filled with joy. You remember how you were hopeless and powerless before and now you’re just happy that you’re not, you’re happy you can do things, you’re happy you can eat food and watch TV without being reminded of the meaningless of everything because fuck that, you can choose to do whatever.
Then the joy begins to wan. Yeah ok, you can eat and watch TV, but so what? Ultimately everything is still meaningless and ultimately you’re reminded that any attempt at achieving sustained ambition or passion or joy from anything but the simplest and most mundane things is doomed to be crushed by depression again. This is a gradual realization. For a while you ignore the nasty thought that just popped into your head.You remind yourself that a little bit ago you were completely unable to do anything. You keep yourself distracted and entertained by structure. You do things you’re told to do. You go to class, you do homework, you sleep - you try to avoid doing anything ambitious at all because you know once you do it’ll all crumble, and you want to avoid that as long as possible.
This stage lasts the longest. It’s the closest you ever get to contentment. As long as you keep your head down and stroll through life, everything will be fine. Maybe nothing will be particularly great, but you’ll find some joy in the little things. You’ll learn something in class that really sparks your interest. For a second, you’ll see yourself standing in a lounge, drinking some coffee, playing around on your laptop, watching everyone else live out their lives, and it’s all very comforting. Small little things like that.
But this can only last so long. Eventually you’ll want more. You’ll get tired of doing nothing and going nowhere and you feel you want to do something bigger, something great. You want to take up something more ambitious. You want to push ahead, you want to make yourself known. You’e tired of being in the shadows, of feeling like you’ve got this potential but that you’re just wasting it. And what’s stopping you? A second ago I was happy just from standing around in a lounge and drinking coffee! Life’s great! So you start something.
And then you’re down the same slope again. The joy fades like the color washing away from someone’s face. Things aren’t as exciting, and you’re reminded that ultimately nothing matters. You stop working on whatever you were doing, hoping to feel the joy again. But it’s gone, it’s been replaced by your frustration. Why can’t you stay focused? Why is this keeping me from doing what I want to do? All you can think of is how as soon as you tried, your depression beat you back down. It turns out these mundane little things only ever brought you joy because you thought they were part of something more. You were looking toward the horizon, how tomorrow you were going to start being awesome, and that made everything seem great right now, even stupid little things.
But now tomorrow’s here and nothing is different. You can’t find joy in the little things again, because you realize now the only reason there was any joy in them was a lie. The meaninglessness becomes apparent again. Nothing matters and any attempt to give meaning to anything is futile, or at best temporary. You slip into nihilism again. You’re no longer happy, but maybe you’re just blue, at least for a while. You can fight it for a bit. But eventually you’ll be dragged down further and further into nothingness, until you hit rock bottom again and are completely unable to function. And then it all starts again.
Wow, I think that’s the best job I’ve ever done at trying to explain how my mind works, and what I mean when I say I’m depressed. It’s a hard thing to fix, because you spend the most time in one of the weird phases where things aren’t great but things are starting to slip. You see the problems but you can’t bring yourself to do much about them because it isn’t a big enough deal. It’s only around the really bad phases where you realize how serious of an issue this really is, and that you really need to go see someone or talk to someone. But that’s hard because the depression is kind of keeping you from doing anything at all. Right as you’re coming out of the nihilism, you’ve got a bit of a chance to do something. Today when it happened I made an appointment to talk to a social worker (apparently they’re booked until after Thanksgiving….) The lady there suggested that I also try the counseling center, since they can get you same-day appointments. “Of course”, I said to myself, ”I’ll definitely do that.” But now, a few hours later, it just doesn’t seem like as big of a deal anymore. I know I should call them in the morning to set up an appointment (I would have gone today but apparently they get booked really soon after they open up their phones for appointments). I know I should call, I know I should talk to them, but I can feel that I probably won’t, because it’s not bothering me much anymore, and I’ve got other things to do. Even if I did go, I don’t even know what I’d tell them.Tweet
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