How I feel about my atheism

I’m an atheist and even though I’m well aware of the fact that there is no afterlife and that we have to make the best of the life we have, this is how I feel anyway. Even though I’m an atheist, I truly wish I wasn’t. I’d rather be the dumbest person on Earth who believes in a God and afterlife than be a smart young man who is logical and doesn’t believe. I have chronic depression and I feel that since this is the only life of enjoyment you have and pleasure is the very reason we live, depression is what takes away this only life of enjoyment you have. Since this is the only life of enjoyment you have, I feel that this life should be fully enjoyed (perfect) in the sense of there being no depression to hold any of your pleasure back. Of course, you could ignore any problems in your life (even a problem in this case that takes away your very reason of living) and choose to focus on the bit of pleasure and other things you already have in this life.
But take, for example, someone who has severe chronic depression that lasts their entire life and they can’t hardly enjoy anything, just for this person to know that there is an afterlife in which they can experience full joy for all eternity would be of severe benefit and would severely benefit me in my case because not only would they experience full joy for all eternity, but this would also make up for everything that they lost in this life. The last thing that such a person would ever want to hear would be “make the best of this life” when they hardly even have this ability at all. Even that ability itself has been almost completely taken away by depression as well.

I can understand how one could feel as you do, however, there are other factors. While I can’t contribute huge amounts of value to the world, I can enjoy myself by being an influence, albeit tiny, by letting another driver get into the line of traffic, by smiling at a child, by returning a package when I see someone drop it., etc. I find that it’s fun to help other people even if in very minor ways, and it helps me be more positive rather than being depressed.
Almost everyone has done something negative, either on purpose or by accident during their lives. You can say, “Damn, I’m going to do something positive to compensate for that.” But the believer may suffer extreme pain “knowing” that s/he will be consigned to hell for eternity.
Besides, how can anyone relate to Mozart and not feel infused with extreme joy? :slight_smile:
Occam

I'm an atheist and even though I'm well aware of the fact that there is no afterlife and that we have to make the best of the life we have, this is how I feel anyway. Even though I'm an atheist, I truly wish I wasn't. I'd rather be the dumbest person on Earth who believes in a God and afterlife than be a smart young man who is logical and doesn't believe. I have chronic depression and I feel that since this is the only life of enjoyment you have and pleasure is the very reason we live, depression is what takes away this only life of enjoyment you have. Since this is the only life of enjoyment you have, I feel that this life should be fully enjoyed (perfect) in the sense of there being no depression to hold any of your pleasure back. Of course, you could ignore any problems in your life (even a problem in this case that takes away your very reason of living) and choose to focus on the bit of pleasure and other things you already have in this life. But take, for example, someone who has severe chronic depression that lasts their entire life and they can't hardly enjoy anything, just for this person to know that there is an afterlife in which they can experience full joy for all eternity would be of severe benefit and would severely benefit me in my case because not only would they experience full joy for all eternity, but this would also make up for everything that they lost in this life. The last thing that such a person would ever want to hear would be "make the best of this life" when they hardly even have this ability at all. Even that ability itself has been almost completely taken away by depression as well.
You make it sound as if you think that belief in an afterlife and eternity keeps people from suffering from depression. That is a very simplistic idea. Since most people in the United States (in the world, actually) are religious and depression is a universal ailment, there must be plenty of people who are religious and believe in an afterlife who are also depressed. Don't you see that there is no connection between depression and being religious and believing in eternity? Depression attacks people across groups, no group is immune. There has never been a scientific survey that indicated that religious people suffer depression any less than atheists do or that one kind of belief system has less depressed people than another. Believing in eternity doesn't make up for what people have missed in life. It's a fairy tale. At least some of those people may be helped by a good dose of reality instead of make believe. Believing in fairy tales can actually lead people to depression or deeper depression because they often have a suspicion that the fairy tale is not true, but have never learned to understand it, which would mean they have wasted their lives believing in it and at the same time never learned how to live in the real world. I have known people who learned to handle their depression only after they gave up religion. Lois

Yes exactly what these guys said above. There are plenty of religious people with depression.
Depression is an actual illness. It isn’t an aura or lack thereof.
Find a way to get rid of your depression and be a happy atheist.

What’s with all these depressed people coming here lately? Find out who you are, and then learn to like yourself.
If there are some things you don’t like about yourself, can you change them? Yes, No?
If not, don’t sweat it. Find out who you really are and like yourself first.
Everybody struggles sometimes with knowing who they are. It’s ok.

Depression is an illness, not a circumstance of atheism or religious belief. Both are equally susceptible to depression. Overcoming depression is not easier or harder for either point of view.
There are some good books that describe the emotional journey from faith to atheism and they address a point in the process that can be quite emotionally devastating. However, most people are only in that phase of the transition for a short period. If you find yourself stuck there, you may need some help. I highly recommend the book, “Who are you without God?” By Christopher Krzeminski. It gives many reasons to be joyous in full blown atheism. Depression is absolutely not the product of leaving false promises behind for a better grounded understanding the meaning of your life.

What's with all these depressed people coming here lately? Find out who you are, and then learn to like yourself. If there are some things you don't like about yourself, can you change them? Yes, No? If not, don't sweat it. Find out who you really are and like yourself first. Everybody struggles sometimes with knowing who they are. It's ok.
Real depression (not just feeling blue) cannot be cured or even handled intellectually. It has nothing to do wth not not "knowing who you are" or liking yourself. It is a disease that can be very hard to treat and sometimes defies treatment. It has nothing to do with a person's attitude about himself or wanting to change. Imagine having a chronic disease such as multiple sclerosis or a brain tumor and being told, "If there are some things you don't like about yourself, can you change them? Yes, No? If not, don't sweat it. Find out who you really are and like yourself first. Everybody struggles sometimes with knowing who they are. It's ok." Read up on real clinical depression. You are apparently one of those fortunate people who has never experienced it or you wouldn't talk about it so cavalierly. Lois
It has nothing to do with a person's attitude about himself or wanting to change. Imagine having a chronic disease such as multiple sclerosis or a brain tumor and being told, "If there are some things you don't like about yourself, can you change them? Yes, No? If not, don't sweat it. Find out who you really are and like yourself first. Everybody struggles sometimes with knowing who they are. It's ok." Read up on real clinical depression. You are apparently one of those fortunate people who has never experienced it or you wouldn't talk about it so cavalierly. Lois
Hey I'm just offering encouragement. That's all. And yes it can be about a person's attitude about themselves or wanting to change. It surely can. In many cases. Someone close to me suffers from this. This person has doubts about treatment working. In many cases people doubt treatment will work. It takes dialog just like this to sometimes make the person get help. Let's skip your hyperbolic, non-representational analogies concerning tumors or sclerosis. Then we'll add that not everyone suffers from crippling, heavy duty depression either. I'm hoping this is the case with Mozart here.
It has nothing to do with a person's attitude about himself or wanting to change. Imagine having a chronic disease such as multiple sclerosis or a brain tumor and being told, "If there are some things you don't like about yourself, can you change them? Yes, No? If not, don't sweat it. Find out who you really are and like yourself first. Everybody struggles sometimes with knowing who they are. It's ok." Read up on real clinical depression. You are apparently one of those fortunate people who has never experienced it or you wouldn't talk about it so cavalierly. Lois
Hey I'm just offering encouragement. That's all. And yes it can be about a person's attitude about themselves or wanting to change. It surely can. In many cases. Someone close to me suffers from this. This person has doubts about treatment working. In many cases people doubt treatment will work. It takes dialog just like this to sometimes make the person get help. Let's skip your hyperbolic, non-representational analogies concerning tumors or sclerosis. Then we'll add that not everyone suffers from crippling, heavy duty depression either. I'm hoping this is the case with Mozart here. Nothing wrong with encouragement, and it might help, but it isn't likely to help someone with clinical depression. What exactly are you hoping for Mozart Link? Lois
What's with all these depressed people coming here lately? Find out who you are, and then learn to like yourself. If there are some things you don't like about yourself, can you change them? Yes, No? If not, don't sweat it. Find out who you really are and like yourself first. Everybody struggles sometimes with knowing who they are. It's ok.
You might want to Google "depression", or "things not to say to someone who is clinically depressed". I'm pretty sure "don't sweat it" and "change" are high on that list.

Unfortunately, once you know something, it’s hard to unknow it. Sometimes the truth sucks. I don’t agree however, that ignorance is bliss.
A few months after declaring my atheism, the Fall colors came out and I had an experience that was just as “spiritual” as any experience I ever had in church. I’m no doctor, but maybe a walk in the woods would help. Church is also an automatic support group, except of course you have to put up with being told to believe in God, so building a new support group is also a possible goal to consider. I know that’s not easy. Maybe the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Even just one person that you can check in with now and then makes a huge difference. And, there are some very open churches out there that might have something like a weekday breakfast meeting where they don’t even pray. Shop around and if you go to something that doesn’t suit you, just say “thanks” and try another.

I recall being dragged to a talk at UCLA by my girlfriend in the early fifties. The speaker was a renouned psychiatrist, and I was surprised at one thing he said. Approximately this: “I’ve found that therapy can usually cure depression in about two years, but if the person doesn’t get therapy it takes about one hundred and four weeks to get over the depression.”
Occam

I recall being dragged to a talk at UCLA by my girlfriend in the early fifties. The speaker was a renouned psychiatrist, and I was surprised at one thing he said. Approximately this: "I've found that therapy can usually cure depression in about two years, but if the person doesn't get therapy it takes about one hundred and four weeks to get over the depression." Occam
Possibly true, but the process is probably a little easier for one who receives therapy. Today we have pharmaceuticals that ease the way. They do work wonders for a lot of people. Lois
I'm an atheist and even though I'm well aware of the fact that there is no afterlife and that we have to make the best of the life we have, this is how I feel anyway. Even though I'm an atheist, I truly wish I wasn't. I'd rather be the dumbest person on Earth who believes in a God and afterlife than be a smart young man who is logical and doesn't believe. I have chronic depression and I feel that since this is the only life of enjoyment you have and pleasure is the very reason we live, depression is what takes away this only life of enjoyment you have. Since this is the only life of enjoyment you have, I feel that this life should be fully enjoyed (perfect) in the sense of there being no depression to hold any of your pleasure back. Of course, you could ignore any problems in your life (even a problem in this case that takes away your very reason of living) and choose to focus on the bit of pleasure and other things you already have in this life. But take, for example, someone who has severe chronic depression that lasts their entire life and they can't hardly enjoy anything, just for this person to know that there is an afterlife in which they can experience full joy for all eternity would be of severe benefit and would severely benefit me in my case because not only would they experience full joy for all eternity, but this would also make up for everything that they lost in this life. The last thing that such a person would ever want to hear would be "make the best of this life" when they hardly even have this ability at all. Even that ability itself has been almost completely taken away by depression as well.
That sounds terrible. The only advice I've got is to seek medical treatment. To be clear, not treatment from a counselor or therapist, but a physician.
I have chronic depression and I feel that since this is the only life of enjoyment you have and pleasure is the very reason we live, depression is what takes away this only life of enjoyment you have. Since this is the only life of enjoyment you have, I feel that this life should be fully enjoyed (perfect) in the sense of there being no depression to hold any of your pleasure back. Of course, you could ignore any problems in your life (even a problem in this case that takes away your very reason of living) and choose to focus on the bit of pleasure and other things you already have in this life.
I sympathize with you, Mozart. I've had to deal with depression most of my life, too. A lot of times it takes an effort of will to ignore the things that depress me and focus on the things that give me pleasure.
But take, for example, someone who has severe chronic depression that lasts their entire life and they can't hardly enjoy anything, just for this person to know that there is an afterlife in which they can experience full joy for all eternity would be of severe benefit and would severely benefit me in my case because not only would they experience full joy for all eternity, but this would also make up for everything that they lost in this life.
Excuse me, though, but just HOW would this be a benefit? I assume we're agreeing that there really is NO afterlife. If you're talking about a clinical imbalance that prevents a person from enjoying anything at all, how could just believing in an afterlife magically make it go away? If believing in a non-existant afterlife could make you feel better, couldn't believiing in something real make you feel just as good? I also have trouble with this "Joy for all eternity" concept. When I'm in a depressed mood, I have trouble even imagining feeling happy again, let alone a proposition like "all eternity"! So if somebody told be to suck it up because it will be better in the afterlife, I would just look at him as if he had lost his mind. :)
Depression is an illness, not a circumstance of atheism or religious belief. Both are equally susceptible to depression. Overcoming depression is not easier or harder for either point of view. There are some good books that describe the emotional journey from faith to atheism and they address a point in the process that can be quite emotionally devastating. However, most people are only in that phase of the transition for a short period. If you find yourself stuck there, you may need some help. I highly recommend the book, "Who are you without God?" By Christopher Krzeminski. It gives many reasons to be joyous in full blown atheism. Depression is absolutely not the product of leaving false promises behind for a better grounded understanding the meaning of your life.
"Depression is an illness, not a circumstance of atheism or religious belief. Both are equally susceptible to depression. Overcoming depression is not easier or harder for either point of view." I'm not sure this is entirely true. There have been several studies that show depressed people are less prone to self-deception than the general population. For instance, I heard a story on NPR the other day about a study showing that the most successful athletes are rate very high in self-deception. There is evidence that highly successful people in other areas also rate very high in self-deception. I know there was a study showing that Republicans are significantly happier than Democrats and I think there have been studies showing that theists are significantly happier than atheists. This doesn't surprise me at all. Ignorance is bliss, as they say. As the great philosopher George Michael sang: "To the heart and mind; ignorance is kind; There's no comfort in the truth; pain is all you'll find". :-(
Real depression (not just feeling blue) cannot be cured or even handled intellectually. It has nothing to do wth not not "knowing who you are" or liking yourself. It is a disease that can be very hard to treat and sometimes defies treatment. It has nothing to do with a person's attitude about himself or wanting to change. Imagine having a chronic disease such as multiple sclerosis or a brain tumor and being told, "If there are some things you don't like about yourself, can you change them? Yes, No? If not, don't sweat it. Find out who you really are and like yourself first. Everybody struggles sometimes with knowing who they are. It's ok." Read up on real clinical depression. You are apparently one of those fortunate people who has never experienced it or you wouldn't talk about it so cavalierly. Lois
Thank you for saying that. As someone who has suffered a considerable amount of clinical depression, I can tell you that one of the worst things about it is that people can't seem to wrap their brains around the fact that it is no more your fault than any other disease--perhaps less so. People just don't get it. They think depression is just being sad about something. They all think they've been depressed but pulled themselves out of it by their bootstraps, and they don't understand why you don't do the same. Depression isn't sadness, it's emptiness and the inability to experience joy. It hell. Depression is not an attitude problem. It's not something caused by thinking errors and it's certainly not "anger turned inward" (although I suppose it can be, and some therapists seem to heavily promote these concepts). I believe in most cases depression is a mental illness cause by trying to fit a square peg into a round hole--the peg being certain types of people and the hole being society. Just watch certain animals in a zoo. They display human-type of mental illness behaviors that they never display in the wild. Society is like that zoo--an unnatural environment. Some of us are innately more adapted to it than others. But those who aren't are not the ones at fault. IMHO.

Interesting subject and something I rarely thought about. I have a few friends with chronic depression but they were able to function fairly normally throughout their lives. I can only empathize as I’ve never been depressed. At least I don’t think I fit any of the symptoms. I do know that there are several reasons for depression and they are listed here in the reference. Actually, just after my heart surgery the nurses kept asking me if I was depressed. I had no idea that after a major surgery people often have the symptoms of clinical depression, but it seems to fade with time. I even had to see a counselor at the rehab center and she asked me several questions about my behavior. While there is no overarching answer to a depressive state some symptoms can be controlled with medication. And a religious belief won’t curtail depression. There’s thousands of depressed xtians who live out their lives sitting on oak benches listening to exorters who pander false hope on Sunday.
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/causes/con-20032977
Cap’t Jack

Interesting subject and something I rarely thought about. I have a few friends with chronic depression but they were able to function fairly normally throughout their lives. I can only empathize as I've never been depressed. At least I don't think I fit any of the symptoms. I do know that there are several reasons for depression and they are listed here in the reference. Actually, just after my heart surgery the nurses kept asking me if I was depressed. I had no idea that after a major surgery people often have the symptoms of clinical depression, but it seems to fade with time. I even had to see a counselor at the rehab center and she asked me several questions about my behavior. While there is no overarching answer to a depressive state some symptoms can be controlled with medication. And a religious belief won't curtail depression. There's thousands of depressed xtians who live out their lives sitting on oak benches listening to exorters who pander false hope on Sunday. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/causes/con-20032977 Cap't Jack
You would know it if you had ever been clinically depressed. You would feel low, hopeless and that you have no control nearly all the the time over at least several weeks and you can't shake it no matter what you do. Everything upsets you more than it does when you're not depressed. You lose the ability to put disturbing things out of your mind--even the things you hear on the news. You blame yourself for everything and sometimes you blame others. You lose the ability to look forward to upcoming events. Some people don't feel despondent but become angry and argumentative and sometimes violent. You are lucky if you never experienced it. It may have a genetic factor. Lois
You would know it if you had ever been clinically depressed. You would feel low, hopeless and that you have no control nearly all the the time over at least several weeks and you can’t shake it no matter what you do. Everything upsets you more than it does when you’re not depressed. You lose the ability to put disturbing things out of your mind—even the things you hear on the news. You blame yourself for everything and sometimes you blame others. You lose the ability to look forward to upcoming events. Some people don’t feel despondent but become angry and argumentative and sometimes violent. You are lucky if you never experienced it. It may have a genetic factor.
No, I've never experienced these symptoms long term. Yes I've been upset at people and situations but I'm proactive and work them out one way or another by changing what I can and not sweating what I can't. I agree that genes do play a role. More studies need to be done to determine how big a role they play. Cap't Jack