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When you're a not-so-happy atheist...

Amicale

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When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
« on: February 20, 2012, 03:27:02 AM »
I've wanted to post this thread for a while, but now's as good a time as any. It's just a fact of life that whether we're religious, atheist, or somewhere in between... all of us have roughly the same equal risk of being affected by depression or other mental illnesses/maladies. If we're not clinically depressed (diagnosed), it's still normal for human beings to go through periods of despair, depression, sadness, or just feeling down from time to time.

So, even when we're feeling helpless or alone and we're non-theists... we can't exactly pray and believe anyone'll hear us. We can talk to family and friends or even a counselor, but they might not understand. We can distract ourselves with entertainment or a social event, but the distraction only lasts for a while, even if it's reading something meaningful or listening to some cathartic music. We can eat or drink ourselves into oblivion to numb pain, but that's also only a bandaid solution. We can also distract ourselves by helping others, volunteering our time... and that at least is useful and gives us some meaning and a feeling of connectedness to our communities and families, so it might help our depression also maybe. This last option is the one I generally choose -- put others ahead of myself and do something meaningful for them, because it sometimes helps me to help them when and how I can. Sometimes, though, even that's not enough.

My question for you is: how do you personally as a skeptic deal with this? What do you do to feel better, that doesn't involve "spirituality"? When it comes right down to it, as comforting as it would be to believe that some magical being will take care of everything, I've simply found that's never been the case in my own experience so we're left to deal with everything the best way we know how to.

Please share your coping methods, best practices, preferred things to do etc, if you would.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2012, 03:30:16 AM by Amicale »


"Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb we are bound to others. By every crime and act of kindness we birth our future." - Cloud Atlas

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Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2012, 03:54:04 AM »
Exercise would have to be at the top. With my sort of depression, I accumulate a lot of nervous energy. Being active helps get rid of that, not to mention the endorphin rush from pushing yourself and all the other health benefits. For anyone with depression, I would recommend signing up for a program that will keep you interested, is fun, and focuses on aerobic exercise. Committing to a class gives me motivation I wouldn't otherwise have on the bad days, plus it's also a social activity (socializing with friends and acquaintances seems to help sometimes). Reading about things I find inspiring, watching shows that make me laugh, learning something new. It all sounds very cliche, but it works for me. I mean, medication is really the core for controlling it, but the other stuff matters too.

statichaos

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Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2012, 03:56:00 AM »
Meditation can be helpful as well, whether guided or not.  It can be difficult to find ones that don't descend into New Age terminology, but well worth the effort.

There's also the medication and therapy route, of course.

Ali

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Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2012, 04:01:36 AM »
Zoloft.   ;)

No, here's my thing.  Until late 2010, I had never really dealt with depression.  I've always been a pretty happy, upbeat person.  Then some bad things happened, and I had a hard time coping and got pretty overwhelmed.  Finally, this past August, I went to a doctor, got prescribed Zoloft, and also started talking to a counselor.  For me, I don't really see Zoloft as my long term answer as I am sort of returning to the person I was pre-2010, but it sort of gave me a little bit of space to deal with some of the things I needed to deal with.  Like, the chemical part of depression was only one piece of it, but being able to minimize that piece gave me some breathing room to start to deal with the other parts.  I don't know if you're on anything, I don't even know if anything like that would help you, but it did help me.

Other than that, focusing on the things that I do have (friends, family, career) helps, and trying to keep my sense of humor helps.  I love laughing, and I love anyone who can make me laugh, so surrounding myself with people who make me laugh definitely helps.  Some of the people on this board have actually been really great at that.  Pudding, Asmo, Guardian, En_Route, Tank, you, lots of people, all make me laugh on a regular basis, and that's a shot of hope and happiness right in the arm.  :)

The Magic Pudding

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Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2012, 06:43:23 AM »
No moping allowed round here sad sacks, you haf to be happy.  ;D

Asmodean

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Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2012, 06:47:25 AM »
Zoloft.   ;)
This or similar pills with a dash of professional medical help.
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Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2012, 07:06:36 AM »
It's difficult to be depressed with these two looking at you.





They work in two ways. Just being reliant on me gives me a purpose to think of somebody/something other than myself. They also get me out of the house and walking which does the exercise thing for me to. If I get anxious I will very occasionally resort to a diazapam to break a downward spiral.

In this day and age where expectations of life are so high I think most people end up judging themselves against unachievable media hyped goals. Fractured families and 'tribes' leave people unsupported in ways we simply did not evolve to cope with. Things like being a single mum living in isolation from a family were virtually unheard of. Practical problems like illness and food supply were more of an issue. But as a social animal we have evolved to support others and be supported by others. I think that's why a lot of the things americal mentioned bring one out of depression because they stimulate our social side which probably gets rewarded by a positive brain chemistry.
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Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2012, 07:28:53 AM »
Those dogs are so cute, even if the terrier does have an underbite like a werewolf.

I definitely get the blues from time to time, esp. if I let myself brood about the past, but I deal with it by reminding myself that it's a temporary state.  It'll change soon enough, and it always does.
Sandy

  

"Life is short, and it is up to you to make it sweet."  Sarah Louise Delany

Asmodean

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Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2012, 11:09:31 AM »
Yes, small furry objects work too.
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DeterminedJuliet

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Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2012, 11:55:43 AM »
I take St.John's wort and mega-doses of Vitamin D
It might totally be the "placebo" effect, but there have been some studies that show they help with mild-moderate depression. And it seems to work for me!
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En_Route

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Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2012, 12:01:12 PM »
I've suffered intermittently from depression over my life and for most of that time accepted it as an occupational hazard of being me.  It's only recently that I've taken active steps to deal with it. I do find the practice of mindfulness has been very helpful.I probably would have dismissed it as into-the-mystic new-agery but for the fact that it has been integrated into CBT and its benefits are backed by neuroscience. My experience of mindfulness has led me to explore Buddhism which seems to me to contain a lot of worthwhile and elevating insights and some of whose tenets I'd more-or-less already arrived at independently.I don't buy into it completely and certainly not the supernatural trappings, but these are not integral to it central propositions.  Indeed Buddha cautioned anyone against taking any teachings on trust,including his own. Itself a refreshing change from the arm-twisting certitudes of other spiritual frontmen.
Some ideas are so stupid only an intellectual could believe them (Orwell).

Asmodean

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Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2012, 12:19:45 PM »
It's not unimportant to note that depression and depression are two different things. If the kind one has is due to chemical imbalance, wishing or placeboing it away probably won't do shit.

If, on the other hand, one is just generally down because of the weather, economy, love life and/or you-name-it, then happy pills may be too much.
In Asmo's grey lump,
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En_Route

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Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2012, 01:22:13 PM »
It's not unimportant to note that depression and depression are two different things. If the kind one has is due to chemical imbalance, wishing or placeboing it away probably won't do shit.

If, on the other hand, one is just generally down because of the weather, economy, love life and/or you-name-it, then happy pills may be too much.

I think the idea that you may be condemned to depression by your genes and that the only way of mitigating this is through (presumably lifelong) medication is not accurate.
Some ideas are so stupid only an intellectual could believe them (Orwell).

Asmodean

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Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2012, 01:26:42 PM »
It's not unimportant to note that depression and depression are two different things. If the kind one has is due to chemical imbalance, wishing or placeboing it away probably won't do shit.

If, on the other hand, one is just generally down because of the weather, economy, love life and/or you-name-it, then happy pills may be too much.

I think the idea that you may be condemned to depression by your genes and that the only way of mitigating this is through (presumably lifelong) medication is not accurate.
No more condemned than to having the eye color you do. A persistent chemical imbalance is... A persistent chemical imbalance.
In Asmo's grey lump,
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Luxembourg trembles.

En_Route

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Re: When you're a not-so-happy atheist...
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2012, 02:20:56 PM »
It's not unimportant to note that depression and depression are two different things. If the kind one has is due to chemical imbalance, wishing or placeboing it away probably won't do shit.

If, on the other hand, one is just generally down because of the weather, economy, love life and/or you-name-it, then happy pills may be too much.

I think the idea that you may be condemned to depression by your genes and that the only way of mitigating this is through (presumably lifelong) medication is not accurate.
No more condemned than to having the eye color you do. A persistent chemical imbalance is... A persistent chemical imbalance.

A persistent chemical imbalance is...something for which there is no conclusive evidence. Nor any reason to suppose that if it did exist that either it would prove to be the sole cause of endogenous depression nor that the only way to treat it would be medication on a lifelong basis.
Some ideas are so stupid only an intellectual could believe them (Orwell).