I did a forum search and was surprised to not find any recent threads touching on this topic. I am new to this site, and a big part of what drove me here are my feelings of isolation and subsequent feelings of depression stemming from a lack of community and contact with fellow atheists. I imagine plenty of you have or currently feel this way, and I'd like to hear from other people about their experiences and how they cope.
I currently do not have any close friends or family members who are atheists or skeptics, and many of my friends and family are either fervently religious or have world views that center around some other form of woo. Up until about a year ago I did have a girlfriend who was an atheist / skeptic, but that relationship ended badly so I felt it necessary to cut ties completely.
So in a nutshell I find it difficult to relate to those around me, and I feel a serious void because of it. I'm going to leave it at that so this post doesn't drag on, but please do chime in if you relate or have something to share on the subject. Thanks!
For me, Internet correspondence is not enough. I need actual human contact. Also, some of my depression is external and some is internal. I've explored this for ~20 years with various therapists. I'm still depressed. I tried nearly every pill on the market. I'm still depressed. I tried ECT as a very last resort. I'm still depressed. That was 14 years ago. I've already tried the last resort. What now?
I have yet to find like-minded people. I tried the UU, but they "celebrate" religion and, alas, I am anti-religion. Even the atheists there seem to believe in belief. Also, it was reminiscent of sitting through "chapel" in school as a child. I only went to a few meetings and ended up walking out on one of them. Not my cup of tea.
I put an ad in the paper and got a special email address so they could answer me. I didn't find anyone that way.
There are no "meetups" in this area for atheists because there are only a few I know of and the few I've met either left the area within a year or they don't mesh well with my personality.
Our culture may currently hate atheists, but it hates depressed people even more, perhaps. No one likes to be around someone in pain because it excites the "empathy" pathway in the brain and makes other people hurt, too. So they push you away or spout some cliche or invalidate your experiences. ANYTHING to not feel your pain. Guess what happens to a depressed person who is shunned? They get more depressed.
So, I've learned to keep quiet most of the time and yet I'm still isolated.
BTW, I just tried a new therapist. I had to do the two-hour intake twice. Don't ask why. It's complicated. It took me closer to three hours both times. It took six months just to get an appointment. Then another six weeks for the next appointment. During the last appointment, I was thinking, "After all this, I think I got the wrong therapist."
It would take at least another six months to get another appointment with a different therapist. Rule of thumb for me: six months to a year to get any appointment or procedure. Access to medical care via Medi-Cal (state-funded health care) really, really sucks. And even if you do get an appointment, the doctor might turn out to be incompatible or incompetent or dismissive. The latter is a huge deal both for women and people on Medi-Cal.
Yes, I have to make the changes, but I am physically incapable of making many changes. I'm in constant pain. Disability doesn't even pay the bills so I have to rely on family. I hurt so badly I can't even clean my apartment, let alone move to a different town. Everything I do or don't do is dictated by chronic pain and illness. I'm sick of it.
Oh my goodness, Atheist in FundyLand, you are squandering your life for what? Do you realize that you are a scion of a long line of survivors. How many of your ancestors were born, had offspring, worked, played and died and you are now at the tip of the line. The fact that you are alive is a miracle! That you are conscious is a wonder to treasure. No one such as yourself has ever been born and never will be born. You have your brain, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, body, and emotions and they are all ready, willing and able to fill your life with joy and excitement. Just look around you! What do you see? What do you feel? What do you think? What have you got in your own being that yearns to be alive and flourishing.
You have everything you need to live a rich and fulfilling life. Why are you squandering it? How is that working for you?
There was quite a robust exchange about depression issues in the discussion about Robin Williams titled Suicide?!?
Ryan, depression is a serious condition and you need to pay attention to its symptoms. I am not prone to that malady, however, right after I was diagnosed with cancer i started into a depression that I could not stop. I am a trained therapist and know the techniques of reversing the condition, unless it is clinical depression ... that requires the help of an M.D.. As soon as I noticed the depression and my inability to stop it, I called a therapist at the cancer center and we talked for less than an hour and I have been free of it ever since.
My advice to you is to find a good therapist who is not a believer in prayer and god. They can really mess up a good opportunity for a healthy recovery. It may take some searching, but it is worth the effort. Perhaps your medical doctor is the place to start, again if he is a non-believer. There are many physicians who do not believe. Be frank in asking the question because it is vital that you know the foundation upon which they stand.
Please keep writing about what you are feeling, for yourself, if not for others. That helps to track the triggers that keep the blackness in place. Getting in touch with your feelings can be difficult for some people but it is part of the healing process.
My thoughts are with you as you struggle for flourishing. We at A/N walk with those in distress, and it helps to have shoulders to lean on.
You probably don't believe it now, but the day will come when you will feel spirited, happy to be alive and grateful for the events in your life.
But what about the fake xtian ´purposes´ in life? I was always depressed when I lived in my parents' house, because I knew that the family problems were huge and the xtian solutions didn't work. From the day I walked out I have never been depressed. I often felt maladjusted, under educated, awkward and inept, but I was so happy to be boss in my own head. There were so many purposes that I thought worth working at, but you need some time to discover them; they are not marked with angels and crosses.
Reading the comments on this string, I'm thinking that possibly this idea that life can have no meaning without god is religion's most monstrous lie. But why does it sound so convincing to people? What kind of worthwhile meaning has god ever given anyone?
Bertold, we live in a world of believers. Why does it sound so convincing to theists that life has no meaning without god? It is because they all believe that we are born with "a god-shaped hole in our hearts."
But wait! This would have to mean that we are really born atheist and the ideas of god and religious teaching would have to be added to us very early on to perpetuate the god muth. This is exactly what the believers are doing. Then they want to claim they cannot be wrong because there are so many of them.
I believe that a true atheist has weighed the options and found religion wanting. I also believe than once this has happened you can never be a theist again. There are exceptions. Some have went from theist to atheist, then back to theism again. What is going on here? Maybe 3 things:
1. A truely wishy washy person.
2. A desire to make money from your experiences.
3. A desire to be with a theist and knowing you can only do this if you also are a theist.
Animals are much more honest than this.