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Dealing with Depression/Depressed at the idea the universe might be all in my head


Hi. I'm twenty years old (living at college), and since I was about thirteen, I've been having on-and-off paranoia that the universe doesn't actually exist and that I'm basically dreaming everything—that I'm the only real person anywhere. For the first few years, it would be an intensely depressing couple of weeks, and then it would go away for a year or two and come back again for another couple weeks. But in January of this year, it came back and has stayed back ever since. However, while it made me pretty depressed for the first couple months, I honestly feel much better about it now. But I can't tell if this means I'm getting better, or if it just means that I'm getting used to this mindset. While I feel better, I still don't feel great by any means. Often, when I'm having fun with friends, doing something selfless, or feeling proud about an accomplishment, I catch myself thinking, "Well, none of this matters if the only person who exists is me." If you were to ask me right now what the odds are that my whole life is a dream, I'd probably say 10–15%. (Pretty low right now. Last week it was around 30%, and it's been well above 50% in the past.)

The most invasive thoughts I have aren't this idea specifically, but a phobia that's developed as an indirect result of them. For the longest time, I've been terrified of coincidences—even extremely minor ones. Even though I keep telling myself how irrational it is, a part of my brain always thinks that any time some super-minor (or super-major) coincidence happens, that it's some sort of "sign" that everything is in my imagination. These thoughts are most prevalent when I'm listening to my iPod on shuffle—every time the song changes, my mind will unconsciously "guess" what the next song will be, and I'll be scared for a few seconds that my guess will have been improbably correct. It's gotten to the point where I don't listen to my iPod on shuffle anymore. Similarly, I don't participate in raffles and stuff like that. I could go on and on in listing all the stuff I've avoided because I'm scared it'll result in a coincidence. (Seriously, if I were to flip a coin right now, and I guessed "heads," and it landed on heads, I'd probably worry about that "coincidence" for a moment. It's absurd.)

I probably sound psychotic, don't I? But it's strange, I just don't feel psychotic at all. My fears honestly seem sort of rational to me. I've tried diagnosing myself, but it doesn't look like I have any of the common symptoms for OCD or GAD. I hardly have any other "symptoms" besides the ones I described above—I get very stressed, and I have a lot of trouble concentrating, but you could say the same things about any college student anywhere. I certainly don't have social anxiety; my friends say I'm one of the most outgoing people they know. That said, I have a feeling that if my friends found out I had some kind of mental disorder, they wouldn't be surprised in the slightest. I guess I've always had a bit of a "weird" personality. (But not THIS weird! I'm pretty damn normal, for the most part!) Do you have any ideas or guesses as to what the heck is wrong with me? (Maybe nothing! Maybe it's just an overactive imagination! Who knows?) Any suggestions? Should I see a therapist? (That's a last resort, but I will if I really have to.) Super-huge thank you.

P.S. It's probably worth noting that this isn't the only existential crisis I've had recently. I had a pretty depressing fear of death for a couple months this year, as well as a general "my life is pointless" phase, both of which I'm more or less over with now. I don't wanna get too much into detail; this post is long enough as it is!

What's really wrong here is that you think too much. Your imagination is so far your biggest enemy. You need to try to learn to stop thinking- it's much harder and complex than it sounds- and live in the moment.
So what if it's all a dream? Shouldn't you then try to have the best dream you can have?
So what if it's all in your head? Shouldn't you than be the master of it all and not the slave?
The secret of the universe, the meaning of life, none of it really matter if you are not living every minute to the fullest- and if you are worrying about these things, you are not living it to the fullest.
I'd say the only thing really wrong in this case is an overly active brain and nothing else.
Start thinking/using this two words more often and you'll find that things look a lot better... The two words are "so what?"

Dealing with Depression

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Johnny St. Tai


It is okay to feel down and out once every so often, as long as you know to reach out for the hands that will pull you back up. I can answer questions about self esteem improvement, relationship with others, depression, and sexuality. I will/cannot give medical advice without an actual examination of the person and his/her medical history, so for those issues, best to find a local specialist/doctor to be safe.


Ten years of professional and volunteer counseling, and volunteering for the Crisis Center. Born of a conflict-laiden family, I've walked through violance, addiction, abuse, and more. I survived, scarred but still strong, and I will do my best to help others do the same.

Richmond Chimo Crisis Center

Interpersonal/Social Relation Specialist, University of British Colombia Socialwork, 2005.

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