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What Does an Existential Crisis Feel Like?

If you’re struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Many of us who struggle with addiction and mental health issues find ourselves facing what is often described as an existential crisis. More than just an ordinary crisis where we’re dealing with difficult life circumstances, complex situations and tough emotions, an existential crisis forces us to question everything about ourselves – our identity, our sense of self, our purpose and our worth. When we’re experiencing an existential crisis, we start to doubt who we are and why we’re alive. We feel we’re not living up to our purpose or finding fulfillment in our lives. Many of us aren’t sure what our purpose in life even is. We start to believe that we have no worth, nothing to offer other people, no way to be of service, nothing to contribute to the world. We grow increasingly depressed, anxious and panicked. We might experience suicidal thoughts, assuming we’re a burden on the people we love, believing we’re taking up precious space and not giving anything in return. We start to believe that we’re a total waste of potential, promise and possibility.

When we’re in the middle of an existential crisis, we can feel levels of confusion, overwhelm, stress and fear that we may never have experienced before. We can feel as though we’re in a constant state of panic that we can’t come down from. We might feel terrified but not know why – there isn’t any immediate threat or danger to be afraid of, but we feel a pervasive, strong sense of fear no matter what we do. We can find it impossible to relax, quiet our minds, meditate, or gain control of our thoughts and feelings. We might lose our appetite and our ability to sleep. We might suffer from eating disorders, for example not eating out of sheer stress and emotional pain, and our anorexia can exacerbate our other existing mental health issues such as our depression and anxiety. We might suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders, which can greatly worsen the mental and emotional pain we’re already experiencing.

When in the midst of an existential crisis, our pain is not limited to our thoughts and feelings. We might feel the crisis physically, with discomfort, restlessness and chronic pain affecting our entire bodies. We might feel the crisis spiritually as well, feeling completely disconnected from our inner selves, our truth, and our higher power. We might experience total breakdowns in our health, feeling unable to function, feeling as though we’re dying or losing our minds. Having a better understanding of how an existential crisis can feel can help us to support our loved ones as they’re coping with one, and it can help us as we ourselves are working to recover.

The caring, compassionate staff of The Guest House is here to support you as you start your journey to recovery and healing. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.