Not Dead Yet!

YouAreHere

Active member
Thinking of you, Opal... hoping that as the situational stuff changes, things get better. I can sympathize.
 

lunabunny

New member
Ugh, I'm falling into depression.

TinyDog is howling whenever I leave the apartment. I'm so worried about my neighbor's reactions.

Might be hormonal. My period is getting more erratic as I get closer to fifty.

I haven't had sex in a few months and touch has been really lacking in my life.

Oh, Opalescent, I really feel for you. I am there too, with all of the above. Been battling depression for the past year or more, due to relationship issues and the LD thing/lack of touch. Just turned 50 and definitely starting to go into menopause.

I feel like I need to have a purpose for my life on earth. I do not know why I am here.

Having ASD and anxiety/social phobia, I long ago came to some sort of peace regarding not having "achieved" my potential, career wise. These days, I content myself with simple goals: being kind to people and animals; trying to make even one other being's life a little easier in whatever way I can; endeavouring to maintain some form of creativity, even if nobody else ever sees what I write, make etc.

Not everybody was cut out for "great" things... but I believe the small acts of kindness and caring add up. Find what you love and what's important to you and work with that.
 

Tinwen

Active member
Part of it is existential. I feel like I need to have a purpose for my life on earth. I do not know why I am here. This has been a long term problem for me for many years. I have no idea how to resolve it.
I'm not sure if you will take advice, particularly from someone much younger who certainly hasn't resolved the issue themselves ;) , but I actually did some work on it over the past year or so, and I've got resources, I wonder if you might be interested?

There are very different takes on the issue. I actually really bought a life-purpose-course. I don't think that is what you need, because it's more career-focused. But it was kind of useful, although I got stuck about two thirds into it. It gets one to contemplate and align values, think about what you're good at and choose the positive impact you want to have on the world. How do you want to contribute? (Well that's where I got stuck ;))

Anyway, there's more

  • The kinda intellectual blog of Mark Manson is the least out there resource I'll recommend ;)
  • Here's an exercise you can try.They promise success in 20 mins which probably won't happen - but I got it recommended from a person on another forum who actually got a huge insight from it. He said it took him two one-hour sessions. I also got some minor insights.
  • Here's a bold video by Teal Swan who clearly believes that there is an intrinsic purpose to life.
If you think that stuff is shallow, pretty much all religions around the globe recommend contemplating death. (Well I wouldn't necessarily do that when sliding into depression.. hope you get well soon.)

I guess the point is, all meaning and purpose might be man made and arbitrary (yeah, that guy again), but if you're struggling with the feeling of lacking purpose, doing some contemplation may actually help.
 
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MeeraReed

Member
Hi Opal,

Best wishes for you to defeat/ride out/manage your depression. Perhaps it's just the accumulated stress of moving plus the emotional lull of being finally done moving?

If you are truly entering a depression, I would not worry about your "life purpose" until after you have obtained appropriate treatment. Feeling upset about lacking a life purpose could simply be your depression brain chemistry talking at you.

If you want my thoughts on "life purpose" stuff, I have a different perspective from Tinwen (although I appreciated her links).

I don't think everyone needs to have a "life purpose" or even a life passion or a life goal. I think it's a myth (and a harmful one) that everyone needs to find one thing to dedicate themselves to.

From the age of seven, I wanted to be a writer. I had imaginary stories in my head, and I had a natural talent for words/writing. I wrote constantly and won writing awards at school. As as teenager, I couldn't imagine any other career besides novelist. I believed I had been born to be a writer, that it was my purpose on earth, and that I would rather go blind or be paralyzed than lose my writing ability. I felt smug that I had a "purpose," compared to other people who didn't.

Well, those other people turned out just fine. They either developed interests later in life, or found a career path they liked, or experimented with various things until they found a way to support themselves, or got a steady day job that supported their other passions.

My brother, for example, never had a particular drive to do one thing or a talent for one thing. But in high school he figured out that he liked math & engineering, got into an engineering school, figured out he wanted a career as an engineer and worked had at it, and is now a civil engineer. Very straightforward life path. But he doesn't consider his job to be his life purpose--it's just work he likes and it earns his living and gives him a good work-life balance. His "purpose," if you ask him, is to spend time with his family, raise his daughters, and have cool experiences traveling, camping, rock climbing, beer brewing, etc. So he has a career, but his life passions are his family & his hobbies.

I, meanwhile, floundered through my whole 20s trying to figure out how to become a novelist (since artistic career paths are not straightforward). I dropped out of one college, worked in an office, went back to school, majored in two different humanities subjects that don't translate directly into jobs, graduated with honors but almost no work experience, worked part-time jobs for minimum wage, lived at home, attended a prestigious writing workshop, had several small publications/awards, worked more part-time jobs, struggled to write while being broke, still lived at home, tried freelance work-for-hire writing and hated it, earned an MFA in creative writing [don't do this], turned 30, got a a few more little publications and was still broke. And then discovered that I really didn't feel like writing any more.

So I got a full-time job in a totally unrelated field (admin at a college) to pay off my grad school loans and not be broke. I was too exhausted to write, and then later I still didn't want to write at all, but I kept telling myself I should be writing, that I'd get back to writing, because it was after all my purpose on earth. I felt bad and depressed.

Yet, I also really liked having a day job and a steady income. I decided I wanted to stay in the field of college admin, especially after I transferred to a better job in the same college system. So now I have a "career," or at least a steady living, that I did not at all expect but that I quite enjoy.

The next step was figuring out that I don't actually WANT to be a novelist. I have friends who are published novelists--and I wouldn't actually like all the deadlines and the stressing about sales. Although my writing is at a professional level, I don't want it to be my profession.

This realization was very freeing. Instead of feeling despair at abandoning my "purpose," I felt liberated. Now I write only for fun, when I feel like it. I occasionally submit pieces of writing if I want to (one was published last year), but to make a living writing is no longer my goal. It's for fun.

I also now have a ton of energy to devote to other things--other hobbies, other interests. I met a partner whose life philosophy is "do what makes you happy," and he's really inspired me to live my life to the fullest, and to not feel guilty that there is some writing project that I "should" be doing. My life is much richer and happier since I "gave up" my purpose.

Hope this helps. I think it's perfectly fine to live one's life by enjoying little things, like cups of tea and crossword puzzles, rather than being driven toward one passion or goal. My only big goal is to be as happy as possible within the limitations of my health/finances/geography, etc.

If I feel lost or directionless, I set myself small, practical goals that improve my life and my connections with others. Last year I did a big scrapbooking-photo-album project for my grandmother (she turned 100). This year I took a course in Italian and planned a trip to Italy with a friend (leaving next week!). I could not have done either of these things if I was trying to finish a novel for a publisher's deadline.

And, without one main passion, I have time for many more little passions!
 

opalescent

Active member
Oh, Opalescent, I really feel for you. I am there too, with all of the above. Been battling depression for the past year or more, due to relationship issues and the LD thing/lack of touch. Just turned 50 and definitely starting to go into menopause.

Having ASD and anxiety/social phobia, I long ago came to some sort of peace regarding not having "achieved" my potential, career wise. These days, I content myself with simple goals: being kind to people and animals; trying to make even one other being's life a little easier in whatever way I can; endeavouring to maintain some form of creativity, even if nobody else ever sees what I write, make etc.

Not everybody was cut out for "great" things... but I believe the small acts of kindness and caring add up. Find what you love and what's important to you and work with that.

Thank you lunabunny! I've been trying to do the 'simple' smaller scale things and I am proud of those. I am proud of the friendships I've developed. I have many friends - people who have proven themselves to be willing to do things when I need help (of course, I try to be that kind of friend too). Two of my friends call me their poly/kink 'fairy godmother'. I think they are giving me too much credit - they've done the work on themselves and on their relationship - but I do appreciate they feel that way. I'm proud of my pets, even when they are driving me crazy.

But I have been unable to refocus on smaller, less grand scale things. While I'm proud of the work I've done to develop friendships and keep my pets happy and healthy as best I can, that's just not a sufficient reason or purpose for life. But I have no idea how to address this lack either. I've struggled with this for a long time and I cannot figure out how to set it down and walk away or develop some sort of purpose(s). It's maddening and I am quite stuck.
 

opalescent

Active member
Sounds like it's a combination of things. Some of them will probably improve over time. TinyDog might just need to get used to the new place, also he might be barking only for a few minutes (well we can always hope). I figure once he knows you're gone, there's no need to bark anymore, right?

As for your purpose in life, I would say look for what brings you joy, and that's probably it. I think you're already doing at least part of it by loving your two pets (and taking care of them). It might not be anything big or spectacular ...

Just some thoughts, I could be way off.

Thinking of you, Opal... hoping that as the situational stuff changes, things get better. I can sympathize.

Kevin, YouAreHere,

Than you for the kind words. My theory is that as I as get less anxious (I am not normally particularly anxious), I will also get less depressed. We will see. I'm on a pure anti-anxiety medication. It's hard to know if it is helping yet but it is not hurting me. I really did not want to go on an SSRI again, had a miserable time getting off Paxil decades ago. If the depression does not lift, I will have to rethink this.

TinyDog is getting better - I'm pretty sure. I've been too overwhelmed to deal with looking at the video of him alone in the house (except for TinyCat, of course). Someone suggested I try CBD oil for anxiety. There is nothing in CBD oil that causes a high so it's legal and in health type stores. It doesn't seem to hurt and I have been sleeping better with it.

Anyway, I tried it on TinyDog too - he's anxious as well! - and it seems to be really helping a lot. The xanax didn't help - it caused him to stagger occasionally but he would still bark. The CBD oil does seem to mellow him out. He is still eating and sleeping as normal and has usual levels of energy. I need to confirm this with the video but he is at least a little better. The vet confirmed that this is ok to use. (The vet can't prescribe it because DEA dumbassery.) Also it's been almost two months at the new place. I'm hoping time and CBD oil is helping ease TinyDog's stress. We've been stuck in this loop where I'm stressed, so TinyDog responds to that and is more stressed, and then I get more stressed because he's stressed (and barking and unhappy) and so on. I'm hoping that loop is ending, or at least dialing down.

I'm more settled into my place so that helps. The unpacking continues but the kitchen is set up and I've made progress elsewhere. Unpacking is also fucking tedious. We have a routine and that helps both of us.

TinyCat is good. She is having hairballs about once a week, which is unusual for her. At the old place, she would have one every few months. I think it is mostly more carpet in the new place, plus she was stuck alone with a barking dog for a while. I think I need to vacuum way more than I'm used to! I hope that, and a calmer TinyDog, will solve the hairball issue.
 

opalescent

Active member
I'm not sure if you will take advice, particularly from someone much younger who certainly hasn't resolved the issue themselves ;) , but I actually did some work on it over the past year or so, and I've got resources, I wonder if you might be interested?

There are very different takes on the issue. I actually really bought a life-purpose-course. I don't think that is what you need, because it's more career-focused. But it was kind of useful, although I got stuck about two thirds into it. It gets one to contemplate and align values, think about what you're good at and choose the positive impact you want to have on the world. How do you want to contribute? (Well that's where I got stuck ;))

Anyway, there's more

  • The kinda intellectual blog of Mark Manson is the least out there resource I'll recommend ;)
  • Here's an exercise you can try.They promise success in 20 mins which probably won't happen - but I got it recommended from a person on another forum who actually got a huge insight from it. He said it took him two one-hour sessions. I also got some minor insights.
  • Here's a bold video by Teal Swan who clearly believes that there is an intrinsic purpose to life.
If you think that stuff is shallow, pretty much all religions around the globe recommend contemplating death. (Well I wouldn't necessarily do that when sliding into depression.. hope you get well soon.)

I guess the point is, all meaning and purpose might be man made and arbitrary (yeah, that guy again), but if you're struggling with the feeling of lacking purpose, doing some contemplation may actually help.

Thank you very much Tinwen. I've at least opened the links and took a quick look. I'm going to examine all of them more closely.

I feel somewhat skeptical that a short exercise will help but on the other hand, I am utterly stuck so what do I know? It will likely help because I feel terror at the thought of trying the exercise. That's a good sign for me. Terror highlights the things I most do not want to look at.
 

opalescent

Active member
Hi Opal,

Best wishes for you to defeat/ride out/manage your depression. Perhaps it's just the accumulated stress of moving plus the emotional lull of being finally done moving?

If you are truly entering a depression, I would not worry about your "life purpose" until after you have obtained appropriate treatment. Feeling upset about lacking a life purpose could simply be your depression brain chemistry talking at you.

If you want my thoughts on "life purpose" stuff, I have a different perspective from Tinwen (although I appreciated her links).

I don't think everyone needs to have a "life purpose" or even a life passion or a life goal. I think it's a myth (and a harmful one) that everyone needs to find one thing to dedicate themselves to.

From the age of seven, I wanted to be a writer. I had imaginary stories in my head, and I had a natural talent for words/writing. I wrote constantly and won writing awards at school. As as teenager, I couldn't imagine any other career besides novelist. I believed I had been born to be a writer, that it was my purpose on earth, and that I would rather go blind or be paralyzed than lose my writing ability. I felt smug that I had a "purpose," compared to other people who didn't.

Well, those other people turned out just fine. They either developed interests later in life, or found a career path they liked, or experimented with various things until they found a way to support themselves, or got a steady day job that supported their other passions.

My brother, for example, never had a particular drive to do one thing or a talent for one thing. But in high school he figured out that he liked math & engineering, got into an engineering school, figured out he wanted a career as an engineer and worked had at it, and is now a civil engineer. Very straightforward life path. But he doesn't consider his job to be his life purpose--it's just work he likes and it earns his living and gives him a good work-life balance. His "purpose," if you ask him, is to spend time with his family, raise his daughters, and have cool experiences traveling, camping, rock climbing, beer brewing, etc. So he has a career, but his life passions are his family & his hobbies.

I, meanwhile, floundered through my whole 20s trying to figure out how to become a novelist (since artistic career paths are not straightforward). I dropped out of one college, worked in an office, went back to school, majored in two different humanities subjects that don't translate directly into jobs, graduated with honors but almost no work experience, worked part-time jobs for minimum wage, lived at home, attended a prestigious writing workshop, had several small publications/awards, worked more part-time jobs, struggled to write while being broke, still lived at home, tried freelance work-for-hire writing and hated it, earned an MFA in creative writing [don't do this], turned 30, got a a few more little publications and was still broke. And then discovered that I really didn't feel like writing any more.

So I got a full-time job in a totally unrelated field (admin at a college) to pay off my grad school loans and not be broke. I was too exhausted to write, and then later I still didn't want to write at all, but I kept telling myself I should be writing, that I'd get back to writing, because it was after all my purpose on earth. I felt bad and depressed.

Yet, I also really liked having a day job and a steady income. I decided I wanted to stay in the field of college admin, especially after I transferred to a better job in the same college system. So now I have a "career," or at least a steady living, that I did not at all expect but that I quite enjoy.

The next step was figuring out that I don't actually WANT to be a novelist. I have friends who are published novelists--and I wouldn't actually like all the deadlines and the stressing about sales. Although my writing is at a professional level, I don't want it to be my profession.

This realization was very freeing. Instead of feeling despair at abandoning my "purpose," I felt liberated. Now I write only for fun, when I feel like it. I occasionally submit pieces of writing if I want to (one was published last year), but to make a living writing is no longer my goal. It's for fun.

I also now have a ton of energy to devote to other things--other hobbies, other interests. I met a partner whose life philosophy is "do what makes you happy," and he's really inspired me to live my life to the fullest, and to not feel guilty that there is some writing project that I "should" be doing. My life is much richer and happier since I "gave up" my purpose.

Hope this helps. I think it's perfectly fine to live one's life by enjoying little things, like cups of tea and crossword puzzles, rather than being driven toward one passion or goal. My only big goal is to be as happy as possible within the limitations of my health/finances/geography, etc.

If I feel lost or directionless, I set myself small, practical goals that improve my life and my connections with others. Last year I did a big scrapbooking-photo-album project for my grandmother (she turned 100). This year I took a course in Italian and planned a trip to Italy with a friend (leaving next week!). I could not have done either of these things if I was trying to finish a novel for a publisher's deadline.

And, without one main passion, I have time for many more little passions!

MeeraReed, thank you for this thoughtful response! I've tried to have less emphasis on having a life purpose, or focusing on smaller, less grand things (like pets, friendships, caring for people). I'm glad I tried that and it has helped me be grateful for all the good things I have in my life. Which is a lot. I'm super lucky, honestly.

But focusing on just enjoying life or less intense, smaller purposes just isn't working for me. I don't know how to fix that. I have been unable to refocus my thoughts and feelings on this issue. I need something to focus my life energies on. Now I have come to the conclusion that this something doesn't have to be the same thing throughout my life. It might shift every few years, or be a broad outline and I wander filling in the details as I go. But I need something...

No idea how to figure that out, or even if mental work is the way to figure that out. Mental/intercultural work hasn't sorted this out for me yet. Maybe I need to not think about it. Or think differently? I dunno...
 

River

New member
But I have been unable to refocus on smaller, less grand scale things. While I'm proud of the work I've done to develop friendships and keep my pets happy and healthy as best I can, that's just not a sufficient reason or purpose for life. But I have no idea how to address this lack either. I've struggled with this for a long time and I cannot figure out how to set it down and walk away or develop some sort of purpose(s). It's maddening and I am quite stuck.

This reminds me of a quote from Joseph Campbell in conversation with Bill Moyers.:

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

― Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

If you haven't watched the t.v. series, The Power of Myth, I highly recommend it. And if you did watch it long ago, check it out again. It's even more powerful -- for me -- than it was one I was a twenty-something.

I don't think you should adopt a belief which accords with what Campbell said in that quote. But it's certainly worth wondering about... the notion that sometimes folks are really simply, most fundamentally, needing an "experience of being alive" more than a meaning or purpose in life.

On the other hand, such a feeling of being alive can emerge out of a sense of purpose and meaning. Or it can come about the other way around, with a feeling of aliveness delivering up a very personal sense of having meaning and purpose.

I would encourage you to explore what makes you feel most alive. Maybe make a list of things which bring about this feeling of aliveness. Take this list and consider whether there is a pattern which connects these thing together, somehow. I believe that if you are to discover a pattern which connects these that it is here, in this pattern, that you will find the key to what you are wanting.

If you would like additional help in exploring in this way I'm willing to discuss it with you in private, by private messaging or by email. Or telephone.
 
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Magdlyn

Well-known member
Oh how I loved that Bill Moyers/Joseph Campbell series, the Power of Myth. I went on to read many of Campbell's books and lectures. But of course, I love myth and reading.

I think that's a good idea and theory, to fully experience being alive, rather than seek A Purpose to One's Life. NRE will give you that feeling. It's a lovely intense high. But any practice in which you lose yourself will do that. Lose track of time, flow and enjoy. I have had that experience as a mother, as a La Leche League Leader, as an artist, at certain social events, while swimming, during mushroom trips, during really good sex/kink, even watching certain movies, reading certain books.

Anything that gives you that endorphin high can help you to feel connected and fully alive, or so I have found. From socializing, to cooking and eating, to certain drugs, to spiritual practices, sex, breastfeeding, volunteer work doing something rewarding that you love, etc. etc.

I've never felt a need to have a meaning to my life. My meaning has just sort of found me. But I do take risks, embrace change. I am willing to experience some discomfort or disadvantage to have new and challenging experiences. This was always apparent to me, but was even more emphasized when I was ill from chemo and housebound for such a fuck of a long time. Now I'm just raring to go! Get in the car and go to a new area. Join the gym, go out of my comfort zone. Date. Meet new people.

That's just what works for me. YMMV.
 

opalescent

Active member
Brief non-poly or existential angst update:

Finally got a decent offer on my old place! We should close sometime next month. I feel much better - some of the stress on my shoulders will be gone once the old place is on to its next owner.
 

River

New member
Yay!
 

JaneQSmythe

Active member
Brief non-poly or existential angst update:

Finally got a decent offer on my old place! We should close sometime next month. I feel much better - some of the stress on my shoulders will be gone once the old place is on to its next owner.

Yes!! The albatross has taken flight! We closed on our old place 7/27 - the joy is immeasurable!

Congrats!!!
 

opalescent

Active member
Closing is coming up soon - next few weeks. Looks like there will be no obstacles. I went with SW to go get the very last furniture out of the old place. We took it to Goodwill. And I said goodbye to the place. I did a witchy thing when I was there, thanking the spirit of the place and being grateful for it. I didn't like the neighborhood ultimately but I always liked the house itself. I felt better for doing that.

I'm thinking about taking classes in my witch tradition again. Get back into that. I think I will do some solitary stuff even if I don't go the class route.

TinyDog is still barking more than I want. I guess we are making progress but it is hard to see sometimes.

My mood goes up and down. Sometimes I am ok, feeling more like old self. Sometimes I am just angry for days. Sometimes I am sad and depressed. I am better than I was. Anxiety pills seem to help some, closing on the old place is helping. It is still frustrating to not feel right.

I am trying to walk more, even beyond walking TinyDog. That's been hard since it's been so freakin' hot here.

Dating continues to frustrate me. I am getting nothing except dumbass messages on OKC. Really, I do wonder why people write what they write to complete strangers.

So yeah, that's life now.
 

Tinwen

Active member
Hi are you, Opalescent?

I just remembered you and your search for purpose, so I checked the blog for updates.
 

opalescent

Active member
Thanks for checking in Tinwen! I'm still - and probably forever, - working my way through.

I've generally been on the upswing. I've thought so before but this feels more solid, not so based in circumstances. And I'm on antidepressants so I'm hopeful that will help level things out.

TinyDog is barking less, finally. I think we finally found a combination of a routine and medication that seems to work fairly well. So that's good and really lowers my stress levels immensely. I feel like I can finally settle into my condo - I was really quite worried I'd have to move because of TinyDog's barking. I'm going to put out my art, arrange my closet, stuff like that. That feels good.

On the other hand, TinyDog is acting like an older dog. I suspect he has for a while but I was in denial. He's ok, just a bit slower, he shakes more than I like (going to the vet to see what's up with that and if anything can be done). He's fussier about things. But he still loves to lay on his back next to me in the chair and get his belly rubbed. He's still eating and enjoying life. He's just aging and I've had to come to terms with that.

TinyCat is just fine. She coped with my condo redoing some concrete outside like a champ. Didn't seem to bother her in any lasting way I could tell.
 

MeeraReed

Member
Glad to hear TinyDog is doing better, Opal!

Here is an article that describes what I was trying to say about "finding a passion," in case this is helpful to you: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/life-advice-dont-find-your-passion/

The premise is that people who are open to more options are often happier than people who believe they have one true passion--which has certainly been my experience.
 

opalescent

Active member

River

New member
Glad to hear TinyDog is doing better, Opal!

Here is an article that describes what I was trying to say about "finding a passion," in case this is helpful to you: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/life-advice-dont-find-your-passion/

The premise is that people who are open to more options are often happier than people who believe they have one true passion--which has certainly been my experience.

Similarly ...

https://www.ted.com/talks/emilie_wapnick_why_some_of_us_don_t_have_one_true_calling
 
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