Skip to main content

Existential depression in gifted individuals

Social and Emotional Resources
This article by James Webb discusses existential depression among gifted young people. He examines what it is, how it may manifest in a gifted child, and what a parent can do to help their child through these difficult feelings. He points out that gifted young people are more likely to have this type of depression because of their more highly developed sensitivities.

Author: Webb, J.
Publisher: Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG)

It has been my experience that gifted and talented persons are more likely to experience a type of depression referred to as existential depression. Although an episode of existential depression may be precipitated in anyone by a major loss or the threat of a loss which highlights the transient nature of life, persons of higher intellectual ability are more prone to experience existential depression spontaneously. Sometimes this existential depression is tied into the positive disintegration experience referred to by Dabrowski (1996).

Existential depression is a depression that arises when an individual confronts certain basic issues of existence. Yalom (1980) describes four such issues (or “ultimate concerns”)–death, freedom, isolation and meaninglessness. Death is an inevitable occurrence. Freedom, in an existential sense, refers to the absence of external structure. That is, humans do not enter a world which is inherently structured. We must give the world a structure which we ourselves create. Isolation recognizes that no matter how close we become to another person, a gap always remains, and we are nonetheless alone. Meaninglessness stems from the first three. If we must die, if we construct our own world, and if each of us is ultimately alone, then what meaning does life have?

Why should such existential concerns occur disproportionately among gifted persons? Partially, it is because substantial thought and reflection must occur to even consider such notions, rather than simply focusing on superficial day-to-day aspects of life. Other more specific characteristics of gifted children are important predisposers as well.

Because gifted children are able to consider the possibilities of how things might be, they tend to be idealists. However, they are simultaneously able to see that the world is falling short of how it might be. Because they are intense, gifted children feel keenly the disappointment and frustration which occurs when ideals are not reached. Similarly, these youngsters quickly spot the inconsistencies, arbitrariness and absurdities in society and in the behaviors of those around them. Traditions are questioned or challenged. For example, why do we put such tight sex-role or age-role restrictions on people? Why do people engage in hypocritical behaviors in which they say one thing and then do another? Why do people say things they really do not mean at all? Why are so many people so unthinking and uncaring in their dealings with others? How much difference in the world can one person’s life make?

When gifted children try to share these concerns with others, they are usually met with reactions ranging from puzzlement to hostility. They discover that others, particularly of their age, clearly do not share these concerns, but instead are focused on more concrete issues and on fitting in with others’ expectations. Often by even first grade, these youngsters, particularly the more highly gifted ones, feel isolated from their peers and perhaps from their families as they find that others are not prepared to discuss such weighty concerns.

When their intensity is combined with multi-potentiality, these youngsters become particularly frustrated with the existential limitations of space and time. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to develop all of the talents that many of these children have. Making choices among the possibilities is indeed arbitrary; there is no “ultimately right” choice. Even choosing a vocation can be difficult if one is trying to make a career decision between essentially equal passion, talents and potential in violin, neurology, theoretical mathematics and international relations.

The reaction of gifted youngsters (again with intensity) to these frustrations is often one of anger. But they quickly discover that their anger is futile, for it is really directed at “fate” or at other matters which they are not able to control. Anger that is powerless evolves quickly into depression.

In such depression, gifted children typically try to find some sense of meaning, some anchor point which they can grasp to pull themselves out of the mire of “unfairness.” Often, though, the more they try to pull themselves out, the more they become acutely aware that their life is finite and brief, that they are alone and are only one very small organism in a quite large world, and that there is a frightening freedom regarding how one chooses to live one’s life. It is at this point that they question life’s meaning and ask, “Is this all there is to life? Is there not ultimate meaning? Does life only have meaning if I give it meaning? I am a small, insignificant organism who is alone in an absurd, arbitrary and capricious world where my life can have little impact, and then I die. Is this all there is?”

Such concerns are not too surprising in thoughtful adults who are going through mid-life crises. However, it is a matter of great concern when these existential questions are foremost in the mind of a twelve or fifteen year old. Such existential depressions deserve careful attention, since they can be precursors to suicide.

How can we help our bright youngsters cope with these questions? We cannot do much about the finiteness of our existence. However, we can help youngsters learn to feel that they are understood and not so alone and that there are ways to manage their freedom and their sense of isolation.

The isolation is helped to a degree by simply communicating to the youngster that someone else understands the issues that he/she is grappling with. Even though your experience is not exactly the same as mine, I feel far less alone if I know that you have had experiences that are reasonably similar. This is why relationships are so extremely important in the long-term adjustment of gifted children (Webb, Meckstroth and Tolan, 1982).

A particular way of breaking through the sense of isolation is through touch. In the same way that infants need to be held and touched, so do persons who are experiencing existential aloneness. Touch seems to be a fundamental and instinctual aspect of existence, as evidenced by mother-infant bonding or “failure to thrive” syndrome. Often, I have “prescribed” daily hugs for a youngster suffering existential depression and have advised parents of reluctant teenagers to say, “I know that you may not want a hug, but I need a hug.” A hug, a touch on the arm, playful jostling, or even a “high five” can be very important to such a youngster, because it establishes at least some physical connection.

The issues and choices involved in managing one’s freedom are more intellectual, as opposed to the reassuring aspects of touch as a sensory solution to an emotional crisis. Gifted children who feel overwhelmed by the myriad choices of an unstructured world can find a great deal of comfort in studying and exploring alternate ways in which other people have structured their lives. Through reading about people who have chosen specific paths to greatness and fulfillment, these youngsters can begin to use bibliotherapy as a method of understanding that choices are merely forks in the road of life, each of which can lead them to their own sense of fulfillment and accomplishment (Halsted, 1994). We all need to build our own personal philosophy of beliefs and values which will form meaningful frameworks for our lives.

It is such existential issues that lead many of our gifted individuals to bury themselves so intensively in “causes” (whether these causes are academics, political or social causes, or cults). Unfortunately, these existential issues can also prompt periods of depression, often mixed with desperate, thrashing attempts to “belong.” Helping these individuals to recognize the basic existential issues may help, but only if done in a kind and accepting way. In addition, these youngsters will need to understand that existential issues are not ones that can be dealt with only once, but rather ones that will need frequent revisiting and reconsideration.

In essence, then, we can help many persons with existential depressions if we can get them to realize that they are not so alone and if we can encourage them to adopt the message of hope written by the African-American poet, Langston Hughes:

Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams.
For if dreams go,
Life is a barren field
Covered with snow.

Langston Hughes

References

Dabrowski, K. (1966). The Theory of Positive Disintegration. International Journal of Psychiatry, 2(2), 229-244.

Halsted, J. (1994). Some of My Best Friends Are Books: Guiding Gifted Readers from Pre-School through High School. Scottsdale, AZ: Gifted Psychology Press, Inc. (Formerly Ohio Psychology Press).

Webb, J. T., Meckstroth, E. A. and Tolan, S. S. (1982). Guiding the Gifted Child: A Practical Source for Parents and Teachers. Scottsdale, AZ: Gifted Psychology Press, Inc. (formerly Ohio Psychology Press).

Yalom, I. D. (1980). Existential Psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.

Disclaimer: The appearance of any information in the Davidson Institute’s Resource Library does not imply an endorsement by, or any affiliation with, the Davidson Institute. All information presented is for informational and archival purposes only. The Davidson Institute bears no responsibility for the content of republished material. Please note the date, author, and publisher information available if you wish to make further inquiries about any republished materials in our Resource Library.

Permission Statement

Comments

Sabrina Hoeks

Thank you for this article/essay. I've had no explanation for these thoughts my entire life.
I am 34 yo and have just now began therapy for traumas that resulted in resurfacing this "existential" problem. As I have always kept these thoughts to myself due to negative reactions from others. I would find something to distract me and let life go on, only changing course if a tree fell in my path, or a better one magically opened.

However, I've never been an angry person, the trauma has caused this, and the 'useless anger' comment was also a hard hitting point, as my depression begins with these episodes.
I do want to say that God has filled the answer of 'purpose' in my life though. Truly knowing who Jesus is and what He has done for us. It took many years for me to grasp this unearthly amount of Love one can have, and that life here is not the end. There was a day I truly felt His love, His compassion, physically, and I knew in my hear and my gut that He was real. I could finally look back on my life and understand why He took me to certain places. Still He brings me awareness every day. the Bible was confusing at first, until reading the New Testament, and asking for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Churches tend to simplify and water down the Christian belief, which I believe is why so many 'gifted' people see it as a farce, and why so many others follow blindly nonsensical and hurtful teachings misconstrued by a well-spoken narcissist on a stage. My mother raised me to be confident in asking questions, and I am glad she did, as I too would have fallen for the lies about God from the other side. They made more sense until I asked enough questions, read the Bible myself, and found the Truth. I see the Bible as a kaleidoscope, always connected to one circle/design, but if you simplify it too much, and only trace it's outline, you miss the beauty of the perfectly formulated chaos and the connections it makes. You cannot take one line out without it collapsing the whole image.

But many other questions, specifically the unfairness and hypocrisy of those in leadership, and the blind following of their orders, way me down on a daily; not to mention the lack of transparency in communication between knowledgable adults, everyone assuming the other is not apt enough to understand.

Why does this exist and why do they not feel the need to do right by someone, treat people equally and not equitably.

Varshita Yadav

Is there any solution to this?
Reaching out for help. Please.

Max Gerber

Hi there. I’ve never quite been able to pin down my feelings before, but this article sort of gets it exactly right.

Max Gerber

I never do this. I don’t respond to articles or anything, but I’ve never felt heard really. I’m 16 and I can’t quite pin how I first started to feel meaningless. I remember being very young and I would start thinking about the nature of well, everything. I would get goosebumps as a physical reaction (still do) and become queasy. As time has passed I continue to wonder if I’m depressed. I once mentioned to my father that everything was meaningless and I’m no different from anyone else. He didn’t take it well, really. He handed me “the stranger” by camus and told me I was nihilistic. I feel detached from people because no one truly knows me. Idk. I just seem to feel kinda lost, particularly at night. I often find myself staring at the ceiling in thought about everything. I don’t really know if there’s a point to me writing this but then again what’s the point in anything so lol. I guess I’m wondering if because I’m existential, am I depressed? In my normal life I’m pretty happy. I have friends, make jokes, do well in school. However I also listen to sad music and question everything so… unlike a lot of the other comments I’ve never been to therapy. My parents don’t really know me so how would they no to send me to counseling or anything and I’ve never asked. Well if you’re still here after my rambling I guess it just feels good to finally put my feelings out there. Sorry for the word vomit, but thanks for finally listening. No one else has.

Herbert A Perkins

Max, Thank you. You are not alone! You gift me and others by giving witness to reflections, feelings, experiences that many of us have but have not named or shared with others. I am 87 years old. I experience existential sadness often in the period of my morning meditation -- as I did this morning. In the past few minutes I decided to see if there were some writing on "existential sadness." I have long known know of the name, though had not applied it to any self-understanding. Because I pastor a UCC church for which I write a monthly newsletter and need now to find something to write about I went to the website.... Here I am. As I believe that many others like you and me contend with existential sadness -- have the experience but not the name or understanding of it, I plan to describe and talk about it in the May newsletter. Max, as we humans are interconnected, forming one web of existence, as others have said, and you may well know, I as a fellow human want you to know that you are SEEN and appreciated. Others have said and I support the understanding that we humans MAKE meaning, create projects that give meaning, meaning is not given. Meaning is created. I trust that your existential sadness, a way of being in the world, is a blessing to you, a door that leads and facilitates compassion for others -- other suffering humans.

Aoulin Doulin

I personally do not think it is the fear of being alone or death. Both of these are experiences shared or will be shared by any living creature ever existed. The truth is, the feelings you experienced are most likely experienced by someone else. Therefore I do not feel alone. It is the same with death, everyone will experience it one day and there is no point focusing on something everyone will eventually experience, especially since we do not even know if it will be a good thing or bad thing.

The one thing I fear however, is the fact that sure, you might be talented in something, but there is always someone (or ai) who can do it faster and better than you. I know it sounds cliche and people will ignore this and say, "oh don't compare yourself to others." But if we don't, what is the point of doing anything if we are not the best? To simply be the better version of yourself than you were yesterday? That is absolute garbage. You only have around 80 years to live and no point of being such a great person then dying.

For a while my solution was to simply provide joy to others. But ultimately, this led to me absolutely tired and burnt out. I am now just tired of everyday grind and sleep is my only relief. Even then, I still consider sleep as a waste of time because we only have a short life to live.

After a few years of going through a storm, my final conclusion is that I am simply a slave to endorphins, a stupid chemical to the brain (very similar to the reward system of ai scarily). This world is broken, bad people will always exist and hurt others, and the only relief comes from sleep and video games.

The only hope I have is that I am still 15 and have ton of time to train in some kind of skill and perhaps earn enough money to indulge in endorphins (no drugs tho I dislike diminutive reward). Even now, this hope is dwindling as ai is coming out and all the skills I am learning are becoming obsolete :(

sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad sad

Callie

I am this child. Thank you for making me feel understood.

Anonymous

2e tween and have found a strategy to deal with the finiteness of life. I remind myself that time is infinite and one day we will all be immortal because with enough time anything is possible. This helps me through that part.

Kol Jiolep

I’d like to know who wrote this article. Such beautiful writing & everyone in the comments section is very well spoken as well. As someone with ADHD, ami & major depression in his 40s, the line that struck me upside the head was “ Anger that is powerless evolves quickly into depression.”

Wow! And then I kept reading & the whole thing was great. 👏

Everybody’s doing great.

Dan Jay

Like mostly everyone who commented I am insurmountably aghast at how these words pinned me down to an outline of my life. I have been emotionally and mentally agile enough to evade, manipulate and fool pretty much everyone in my life - and always keeping this dread of existentialim to myself. I remember my mom explained to me - a few days after I'd turned 8 - that she didn't want to live anymore. What shocked her was that I had a vocabulary to mitigate her intentions by relating to her. I haven't ever been allowed to express that side of me growing up and I really wish I had. I am 25, have no job. Started and stopped degrees to please people, never actually knowing what I want to do and I haven't got the faintest clue. I finished a degree in copywriting last year and during that time I managed to pick up enough graphic design and coding skills to actually get work. However, I have a tendancy to rip, quite skillfully, opportunity like a table-cloth under a vase, only to push it over and shatter the ceramics myself - just after everyone has faced the other way.

I'm sorry if you've read this far and think there is a greater point here - there isn't. Thanks for reading and I hope you can find solace in the fact that if you're reading this comment, your mind is beyond brilliant and brimming with ideas - far too developed for the world to understand but dream on. It's hope which sings me awake each morning and I hope it does with you too.

Grace T

Hi Dan, I read your words and heard my own voice. I mean that quite literally. I sense from the way that you write that you are someone, like me, who benefits from verbal release. I’ve recently started writing my thoughts in a journal. Mostly about existence etc. I don’t feel cured, but it stops me from sinking into insanity. At least when words are written on paper we don’t have to look despairingly into the empty gaze of those who don’t and won’t understand.

Alan Threatt

I am writing today to encourage and give hope to anyone with extraordinary talent. I am 46 years of age. I am latent in the discovery of my purpose, my existence and the purpose of life. I have always had a keen since of being different in the quality of my thought. I suppressed my natural self to live in an unnatural environment. As a result I never developed a connection with my soul. I couldn’t feel anything, my heart was like a hollow shell void of life and feeling. I couldn’t see color and I couldn’t smell the scent of life or the goodness and beauty that can only come from the breath of life. I was keenly aware that something wasn’t right with me. I could feel emotional, but it was not connected to a power supply. I could feel deep emotion. However, I lacked the ability to harness the emotion and connect it to a greater purpose. After 46 years of searching for the greater meaning of life. Through self-knowledge,I discovered intent. Which lead to the purpose of my existence. With true knowledge of self. Life become my personal field to dream. The ability to create gave my life new meaning. I turned my life into a consent vibe. I became my favorite character In the movie. I recreated my thought and changed my form to match my vibe. I filled my thoughts with all the things I wanted to be associated with. Firm in stance, strong in character. I like to wear elegance. My behavior became the foundation of my power and greatest attribute. I like to think of myself as water. I live in a world with limitless possibilities.
I seem to always know what to say, how to say it and what to do…… my journey has just begun and I am excited by each passing day as I continue through unfoldment. This is going to be an amazing year. Thank you for listening. I hope this lends inspiration to anyone lost in perpetual cycle of darkness.

Mark

This article completely describes my 16 year old daughter. Are there resources available for teenagers suffering in this way? Are there resources available for parents of such teens?

Lady Riot

This describes my 12 year old as well. I am currently looking for what will be her 3rd therapist. I wish there was more information like this to help us understand and help our kids.

macks

i am coming to this article incredibly late, but i just wanted to let you know how much this resonated with me. i had my first existential crisis at around 4 or 5 and for years tried to verbalize it to my peers and parents to no avail. i still laugh remembering how my dad's best attempt at a response was, "don't worry, there are probably scientists working on that." all this to say that i'm 2o now, and, after going through a zillion therapists, i think this article may yet be the closest to really grasping the core of my depressive episodes i experienced through childhood. so, thanks for that! community is such a cathartic thing, i think.

Todd

Would having this acknowledgement when I was 16 have made a difference? Yes.

Ironically, having someone identify it in me would not in itself have been a revelation. I fully knew that in all likelihood I suffered this because I looked deeper into the rabbit hole of existence but, having a another with credentials state this was common would have given one leg to stand on. Knowing that internally others suffered the same for the same reason would have left me feeling just that tiny bit less alone.
Funny thing is, 40 years later and I am still trying to find that one leg, that one person that can comprehend the Namaste

Eva Perak

I had my first crisis when I was 4/5 where I cried every night because I knew everyone would die someday (including my loved ones). Soon after, my little sister got cancer and I became focused on more materialistic things. I continued to have these crisis’s throughout the ages 11-13, and I still continue to have them at the young age of 13. Your article describes my coping mechanisms of trying to fit in perfectly. I am either focused on the littlest things or zoomed out way to much causing me to sob over the lack of purpose in my life. I really need someone to help me understand why I have these emotions when no one else does.

stowe dinenberg

Eva,
I have experienced extremely similar cycles in my own life where I find myself consumed by my the feeling of meaninglessness. It occurred during my freshman year of high school (so I was probably 14-15) where I felt extremely depressed and distant, totally consumed by noxious fumes of uselessness; wherefrom, I would emerge obsessed with some materialistic fantasy of wealth or luxury or fame -- just superficial nonsense. I'm 19 now and in University, and I can tell you that it will get better and that in life you will find things or subjects or (and most likely) people who will ground you. Reach out to those you know best and try to talk about these feelings, and if they do not listen, do not give up. Be persistent and seek out others who feel this same way, you will find others who feel this way, and I can tell you that once you do things will get better. Keep your head up, being any age from 13-19 really sucks, but it does get better and you will come out a stronger and more empathic person.

-Stowe D

haadyah

I'm almost 15 and this article perfectly describes me. It's honestly scary how accurate this is.
Going through an existential crisis is honestly making me depressed. These days, whenever I do a certain activity, I think to myself - "Why am I doing it? It doesn't matter in the end." I often find myself pondering about the meaning of life and what happens after. Is it pointless? Is it actually meaningful or have we just put meaning to it? What is the point of doing it all if one day we cease to exist, in a state of eternal nothingness? I don't know how to cope with these intrusive thoughts. I could be doing anything unrelated and suddenly, the thought of existentialism pops up in my mind.

Mohamed

If you guys have any socials we could talk about this, I suffer too.

Gina

I hope you're doing better.

People have all sorts of intrusive thoughts going through their minds, we just need to be able to be mindful of them when they chance to occur. The more you think about it, the more you're imprinting these thoughts into your mind and it may develop into a bad habit rewired into your brain. Exercising more positive thoughts will definitely make your well-being much happier.

I'm 15 as well, and the topic of existentialism was something I discovered through literature and the internet instead of something felt for myself. I think it would benefit you greatly to get into bibliotherapy, or maybe read something that will enrich your knowledge on these delicate topics, that is to say, philosophy.

If we are as worthless and as puny compared to the grandiosity and infinity of the universe as we think we are, all the more reason to believe that we should be present and consumed in this life that was given to us. If life is so empty and meaningless, then all the more reason to fill your life with great experiences. If life is worthless, then go live your life however you want. Because you're here, now, and and because there may be nothing to do on the other side, or because existence, even as harrowing or idle as it may be, is better than being nothing at all. And: why not? Why not live, if life is, as you say, so pointless anyway? Why should you concern yourself of something so far away from you when you are here and now, by pure coincidence and miracle in equal measure, and there is nothing to be expected of you and your existence other than to live in whatever way that satisfies you?

Ajay

Same here bro..

vatsalay khobragade

I am 21 years old male and I am doing quite good in my career but from time to time I suffer from existential crysis. I feel like what's the point of all these at the end of the day ? What is important at the end ? Am I doing right things or not ? Will I regret ? All these questions arrives in my mind and then It just demotivates me to do things that I really love Bc what's the point ?

Matt

The point is that you have to find something within your self that gives you enough meaning to have to share it with others. Your gifted because you ask these questions. Know this. You should make a career out of your gift because that is what will satisfy you the most. You have a career and dont know the point. But trust me theres information in you that world needs hear. At the end of the day, the point is changing peoples lives for the better.

rohini

really thank you for posting this...it's sort of a relief. Atleast reading it aloud for what's happening for years reduced some anxiety

Lindsey Jane Sinclair

Have any of the commenters here noticed most comments are by those of us in our 30's?

haadyah

I seem to be the only teenager around, ha.

Tara James

Thank you for posting this article. I have felt like this since I was a child and still struggle with it today as a 34yr old. Glad to know I’m not the only one.

Barbara Ramirez

It is so important that our classrooms are a safe place of learning for our students. We can set them up for success through classrooms that have: structure, safe learning environments, freedom to make choices and environments that celebrate differences!

Jennifer San Diego

I can relate to this article, even at 53 y/o. Success at the "tipping point" is a delusion if we believe that 10,000 hours of specialization is an assurance of success. Besides, the definition of success is relative. More than just a peak to climb, I consider it more now as an inner stability to acknowledge realities in life and an openness to learn from it and through it. I'm still on this journey, trying to find the right fit on the bike pedal.
The pandemic aggravated my health conditions, particularly the bones, nerves and muscles. I need a reinvention from my past design work lifestyle which demanded several sedentary seated hours. I may not be the High School basketball star whose bike accident crushed his dreams of going pro on court. If his passion led him to be a great sports commentator, I, too, continue to search for the bread and butter that can fill not just the stomachs but especially the mind, the heart and the soul. It's a real uphill climb in a poor but developing country, and much more now with the pandemic.
Praying to God who transcends this world helps me to acknowledge that He is bigger than anything we experience in this world. Having discovered this article on helping gifted children in their existential journey felt like a healing balm to address also my needs. As I take my own steps to therapy, I hope to help other parents as well.

Anonymous

I am incredibly thankful to the writer of this article as it really saved me, I was feeling so down, thinking of some unsolvable issues and how I'd rather not exist cause I don't fit anywhere due to how people's opinion vary so much from mine, and thinking how no one would understand how I'm feeling, but stumbling upon this article helped me realize I'm not alone and there are people who understand what I may be feeling, so wholeheartedly thanks to James Webb for putting together this spectacular piece of writing! Love this💛

Henry

I'm 34 currently, and from a young age to now I have felt this way. I've had moments of glossing over these thoughts, and you could call me successful in life as I am an engineer (not degreed) and make a good amount of money. As much as I have this "success", I feel it's wasted on me. I wish this success would have happened to my Dad, as I feel he is more deserving of it.

One thing about me is, I am a Christian. One line in this article stuck out and it is what I tried to put into words, but couldn't. That even as close as we can get to people, we are in fact ultimately alone. The only thing that can be closer, is having The Holy Spirit dwelling inside of you. Having that personal relationship can fill that void. Even knowing and experiencing that, I still fall short, and fall back into that existential depression.

If anyone reads this article and feels the way I do, like the type of people in this article. You are not alone, but life is difficult to grasp. I can't guarantee you won't ever feel this depression, but know you aren't the only one. As they say misery loves company, and you're in good company.

Ajay

Everything is meaningless brother.. different societies have different beliefs..so it's upto you if u want to endure them..the way we are all made to believe in something called god from our childhood ..makes many of us difficult to question it's existence as we deeply hallucinate it's existence..but truth is it is all made up by ancestors to have some order in the society ..and by some people to control the masses

Aislyn

I am 31 and have struggled with existential depression, bipolar 2 and ptsd since childhood. I am also transgender and sometimes it all just feels like such a heavy load.

It was somehow very validating to read this and touch in again to the fact that I am not the only one out here with the odd juxtaposition of a high functioning brain and so much inner turmoil

Kristaps Muravjovs

Hey man, I'm 32, fairly successful (with bouts of being hell-bent on destroying that success and myself, haha, but that's a topic for another day) and I gotta say - boy, was it a relief to read this article and your comment. Found it by googling "why does existential dread feel connected to the universe" (yeah, the choice of words may be lacking as English ain't my first language, but it really feels like it correlates to my curiosity and grasp on both, the sheer vastness of spacetime *and* it's inevitable end).
The article resonated with me intensely - it's like a confirmation that this does happen to people and I'm not going insane, as so far whenever I mention this to anyone - you guessed it - puzzlement , hostility or distancing. This article speaks about gifted kids - I'm far from being a child - but even at this age, this is the first time I get a confirmation that my sadness and frustration for people acting like thoughtless, arrogant a**holes to each other, as well as for me lacking kindness and love directed, (selfish, I know, lol) towards me, as I am willing (needing even?) to give love to others, to life itself as it really is a miracle. God, this has turned into chaos, haha. Sorry if this only confuses you, it's a little hard to stick to being coherent with this topic.
Lastly though - I've thought about spirituality in this context too. I don't believe in god - I do believe there's a lot I/we don't know though. And it's starting to feel almost necessary to make myself believe in some form of religion as otherwise it's getting dangerously close to an existential crisis for me. Idk, writing this drained me a little, so I don't have the energy to revise it to be more coherent - it's cool though, no need to reply (obviously) if you don't feel like it.
Thank you for the comment though, it really feels like it helped a little.

Add a comment

Please note, the Davidson Institute is a non-profit serving families with highly gifted children. We will not post comments that are considered soliciting, mention illicit topics, or share highly personal information.

Related Articles

Gifted Resources

What Your Therapist Needs to Know About Giftedness

Dr. Gail Post, a Clinical Psychologist with over 35 years of experience, discusses the cognitive, social and emotional impact of…

Highlights from Expert Series

Tips for Students: Coping with Existential Anxiety with Leon Garber

The following article expands on highlights and insights from one of our Expert Series events, which are exclusive for Young Scholars and…

Social and Emotional Resources

Gifted Homeschooling and Socializing

This article offers insights into the various ways parents can help their gifted children build social skills and meaningful relationships…

Social and Emotional Resources

Personality, Gender, and School Behaviors

The following article written by Deborah L. Ruf, Ph.D. highlights the education struggles gifted youth have according to personality type…