Home » Mental Health Blog Posts » Depression » It’s Not That I Want to Die | It’s That I Don’t Want to Exist

It’s Not That I Want to Die | It’s That I Don’t Want to Exist

“I don’t want to exist,” is so much different from “I want to die,” and actually being suicidal, but normal people… well, they’ll just never get it.

Depression is a bitch, and I’ve suffered from it my whole life.

It’s hard to explain to someone who’s never suffered from it. It’s hard to explain the difference between being depressed and being suicidal.

It’s even harder to explain clinical depression (major depressive disorder) to someone who has experienced situational depression (like how you feel after losing a loved one or a job).

This can be even more difficult when you’re dealing with someone who has been depressed while drinking or getting high, only to suddenly have the depression lifted once they get sober.

There’s a huge difference between wanting to die, wanting to kill myself, and just wanting to not exist. In my experience, these are different levels of depression.

Thankfully, I’ve found freedom from depression through medication. The 12 Steps are nice and all, and they keep me sober, but I suffered from deep depression and suicidal thoughts since I was a child—this is clinical depression that only medication can address (usually).

The lowest level (which is still a completely miserable way to feel) is not wanting to exist.

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I Just Don’t Want to Exist

The first level of depression has nothing to do with actually dying. It’s not wishing for death.

It’s wishing for the pain to stop.

And every day, the pain goes away for a short amount of time—when we’re asleep.

Unconsciousness is bliss to someone who finds the waking world miserable. It’s a lack of existence, especially if you don’t dream.

Just because I don’t want to exist doesn’t mean I actually want to die. It usually means (even if I don’t know it) that I just don’t want to exist the way I’m existing right now.

For someone with clinical depression, life can look good or bad on the outside, but it doesn’t matter what life looks like—inside, we are deeply sad.

There’s no reason for it other than some dumbass neurotransmitters in our skulls doing shit they shouldn’t be doing.

This is why you see many successful people commit suicide despite having lives most of us dream of.

People like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Williams, and Chester Bennington had lives many people would literally kill for, and yet they killed themselves.

Why?

Because exterior circumstances cannot fix the little molecules in my brain that won’t act right.

To fix this, many of us will self-medicate, which rarely actually fixes the problem.

Incidentally, drinking to blackout or shooting opiates until you pass out is another form of non-existence that has nothing to do with death.

That’s one reason drugs like these can be so enticing to someone with clinical depression, though often that just makes things worse.

When you feel this way, it doesn’t matter what your life actually looks like, but death doesn’t necessarily seem like the answer, or even something you’d want.

I’ve talked to many people who just didn’t want to exist because the pain was too intense, but who would never kill themselves for a variety of reasons.

For many, they loved their family and friends, and they would never want to leave them. They would never want to actually die.

They really didn’t want to feel the way they were feeling right now. They wanted to escape existence. They wanted to feel better, and since that wasn’t happening, they wanted to escape the pain.

This is part of the reason I would sleep for 12+ hours a day in my depression. I just didn’t want to be in the world, just like someone with chronic pain only wants the pain to go away.

They might commit suicide because the pain won’t go away, but if the pain actually stopped, they’d be happy to live.

I’ve been deeply depressed in sobriety and still very much wanted to live, but I’d lose myself in activities that let me escape the world, whether that be work, hobbies, writing, TV, or videogames—all forms of escape, which is to say, forms of getting out of my head and forgetting my own existence.

What’s much different is actually wanting to die.

I Want to Die

Wanting to die is a lot different from wanting to not exist.

The difference is that I don’t care if the pain stops or not—I still don’t want to be alive.

This is a deeper level of despair where I see nothing good in my life, and I don’t see any way for things to ever get better except through death.

Now this is different from actually being suicidal. Being suicidal means I want to cause my death.

Wanting to die usually means I’m just praying for death to happen to me through no fault of my own.

Remember when I said many people who don’t want to exist still love their families and friends? This is often one of the reasons people who want to die haven’t gotten to the stage of being suicidal yet.

When I wanted to die but wasn’t yet suicidal, I would pray for things like plane crashes that happened to hit my house. I would hope a drunk driver would hit me. I would wish for death to come to me somehow so that I could leave this world without hurting those I love.

Now what if the depression were lifted? Would I still want to die? The answer is probably yes—life was shitty for me for a long time, and I didn’t see any point in trying to stay alive.

I was convinced by 25 that my life was permanently ruined. It wouldn’t matter if I was happy because I had no job, lots of legal issues, lived with my parents, and generally had a life that looked permanently bad.

Did I want to actually take my own life? Not at that time.

But I did a year before that.

I Want to Kill Myself

This is what most people think of as depression—they think the person wants to kill themself, and that’s rarely the case.

However, this is (obviously) common. Around 40,000 people kill themselves each year in the US alone.

When I was 24, I had just gotten raided by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, I had gotten a DUI a month or two before, and life not only seemed hopeless, but it seemed like something I needed to get out of ASAP.

I was suicidal, which means I was actively seeking ways to kill myself.

I’m a coward, which means I was trying to find the easiest way out that I could. I figured I could overdose on opiates and benzodiazepines and then shoot myself in the head to ensure it was painless.

At the last minute I decided not to go through with it, mostly because my girlfriend at the time knew what I was up to and wouldn’t leave until all the drugs were gone because she knew I wouldn’t just shoot myself.

I was too scared of surviving and having an even worse life than I thought I already had.

I still loved my parents at this time. I loved my friends. I loved my girlfriend probably more than anyone because I had become so codependent on her.

But none of this mattered because the mental anguish of depression had combined with circumstance to become overwhelming. I was beyond wishing for death—I was seeking it.

On my second suicide attempt, I ate a handful of oxy that I knew would be enough to kill me. At this point, I didn’t even care if I failed—It was time to go.

Fortunately I failed. I’ve always wondered if there’s a version of me in a parallel universe who succeeded. It makes me hope that theory is wrong.

The difference between the time when I just wanted to die and my two suicide attempts is that I had a plan for the attempts.

I knew how I was going to do it, when I was going to do it, and where I was going to do it.

That’s the big difference between wanting to die and being suicidal—the plan.

It Gets Better

I’m so glad I failed because life eventually did get better, but only through therapy, medication, and not giving up on treatment.

With therapy and treatment, depression can be lifted, but there are definitely people for whom it takes significant work. Treatment-resistant depression is very much a thing, so you shouldn’t feel bad about yourself if you’ve tried a bunch of antidepressants, and they haven’t worked.

It took me 20 years to find the right medication for me. The fact that I survived that long is a miracle. Not everyone makes it.

It’s worth sticking it out though. I’m sure you can remember a time when life was good, when you were happy. I always wanted to return to my childhood, even though I was rarely happy then, there were moments where things were good.

Remember those moments. You can get there again.

I know it sounds exhausting. I know it sounds awful and impossible.

I know it hurts.

Keep trying. Change medications. Change doses. Change doctors. Try whatever it takes to get back to those times.

Because life can feel like that again.

I promise.

It’s worth it.

Here’s what I do every week to survive. It helps me stay sane and not want to kill myself.

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Monica
Monica
10 months ago

Wow, this describes exactly what I’m going through right now (not wanting to exist/wanting to die). I just reached out to my doctor today for antidepressant therapy. Thanks for making me not feel so alone with these thoughts/feelings.

Percy
Percy
9 months ago

hi so i think about wanting to not exist everyday but i cant talk to anyone about it and my counselor will tell my mom about my suicidal thoughts and it will be a mess. how do i get help without my mom knowing?

Ndella
Ndella
8 months ago

Thank you for writing this. I’m clumsy with my words, but you aptly described the range of thoughts I’ve been thinking. I just wanted to express my gratitude for this piece, because it soothed some of the shame I feel about these thoughts.

Philippa
Philippa
8 months ago

Hi. I have no one to tell this to. And I don’t know how to get help. But this is now even affecting my focus on my studies and I have exams next week.

Val
Val
8 months ago

I have never been to therapy so idk whether im depressed but as far as i know i’ve felt like idw to exist every single day and it sucks.

Alexandra
Alexandra
7 months ago

Hi!

My name is Alexandra and I have truly loved your post. There is so many people who cannot understand what am I going through. I don’t want to die, I just don’t want to exist.

I’m cursing a Psychology degree. This is my first year and I am so, so sleepy and without any motivation, I cannot concentrate nor stop crying.

I called my doctor and I am taking medication. I have started 2 days ago.

I don’t know if I should quit and wait for the treatment to do its job or keep on going even though I’d probably fail the exams.

Aaron H
Aaron H
7 months ago

Sad, I’m just a kid. I’m experiencing emotional abuse/neglect. I’ve been reading suicidal books to find a peaceful way out. The problem is, I still want to live. I hate my life.

E B
E B
7 months ago

I played the medication game for 25 years – on one med, adding another, switching to something brand new, adding a combo med…and on and on and on. I actually believed in the possibility that someday, I’ll find the right medication(s) and will TRULY (sans the placebo effect that our minds produce out of desperation, hope & blind belief) feel better as a result. That never really happened and the meds often made things even worse. I’ve sworn off ALL head meds for the last four years. I still probably spend more of my breathing moments in a general state of depression – often to the point of unending and unrelenting thoughts of suicide, like I am having at this very moment.

But that’s just my life, which is mostly joyless, with an occasional glimmer of true positive energy (rather than me just faking it as I do so well – I’m one of those “smiling depressives” that preaches the power of positive thinking) Head meds don’t work. They’re nothing more than the result of creative marketing schemes between head doctors and greedy pharmaceutical companies. Aside from that placebo effect, which is a wave of relief that you may be able to ride for a while, head meds are useless. There’s no effective cure or treatment for chronic depression. About all that I’ve found that’s useful in pushing away the dark moods is change of habit. And that only lasts for so long…before that dark cloud comes seeping in again. Effective treatment for this condition is hopelessly absent.

Last edited 7 months ago by E B
Paige
Paige
6 months ago

I don’t know if it’s necessarily, that I don’t want to exist, it’s more like I just don’t care if I were to die tomorrow??

shannon
shannon
4 months ago

wow this shows how i really feel like i dont want to die but i dont want to exist but i don’t want help i have tried many times it doesn’t work becauase i will not talk to them what do i do

aimee
aimee
4 months ago

I am a black teenager who comes from a place where mental health is basically non-existent, I have always not wanted to exist not wanting to take decisions not wanting to be good or bad I just don’t want to be here but some dude made that decision for me and I feel like a selfish bitch because there is a lot of people who would kill to be in my position. Honestly, I am tired of thinking and feeling.

Hemanshi Parmar
Hemanshi Parmar
3 months ago

I know you will think that I’m stupid and silly, but I think I don’t want to exist sometimes, I want to kill myself sometimes and I want to die sometimes

Last edited 3 months ago by Hemanshi Parmar
Ashlynn
Ashlynn
3 months ago

Thank you so much for this you have put my feelings into words

Jewels
Jewels
3 months ago

Again another amazing post. There is that huge difference and a lot of times some therapist mistaken it. Then they shove you into 24 hour surveillance and this and that. Just makes it worse. Wanting to disappear is absolutely diff than being suicidal. I feel what you wrote here needs to be seen by everyone. To mix those two up is deadly literally. I’ve also been in both and unsuccessful in the latter. I don’t think it pills etc is being a coward. That’s what I attempted. It’s knowing that it prob won’t kill you but you still attempted it. I remember shooting up just non stop and hoping i’ll pass out. When I did and woke up I almost laughed. I mean it’s not funny but I really didn’t want to leave what I have. Even if it’s horrible. There’s still things keeping me here. Then there’s being scared of the unknown. What happens when you die. Does it feel like a deep sleep.
I think finding the right psychiatrist etc is important too. Right now the health care system here really limits me. To the point where I just don’t even want to try to find one. I know I’m not going to ask for help from my parents because I just can’t. I’m 34 years old. The medications I’m on are the same ones I’ve been on since I was 15… a lil higher dosage. I have tried others but this combo seems to keep me sane and numb. So then I supplement what’s missing with drugs. It’s an endless deadly cycle. Do you mind if I share this link around. I feel more people need to read this

Adrian
Adrian
3 months ago

I’ve tried medication but the side effects are brutal for me. It was strange – I was on lexapro (various doses) and it only worked for a short period. It was like – the wishing for death was temporarily replaced with dealing with the physical symptoms of the meds, and once I adjusted all the negative thinking came back.

Therapy is ‘helpful’ – it’s strange but I literally cannot imagine what I meant when I thought that, as I went through it. I’m pretty depressed at the moment, and anything ‘good’ is just an abstraction that’s out of reach for my mind.

It’s a trip – but I literally cannot imagine anything positive.

I’m afraid to try meds again. I’m alone, basically isolated for months and months, and I don’t think I can go through that right now. I know I can’t – I wouldn’t be able to stick with the constant discomfort.

I also spent all my money on therapy, which is so absurdly expensive – it feels less like treatment and more like the coup de grace.

I honestly regret having gone to therapy to aggressively – my depression has a lot of underlying traumatic causes and the therapy just let me know how/why I’m doomed, didn’t actually do anything constructive for me.

I don’t know where I’m going with all this…I should be working but I can’t focus on anything. Ughhhhh…

Sarah
Sarah
2 months ago

This explains exactly how I feel everyday. Thanks for helping me not feel so alone.

Kiara Colon
Kiara Colon
2 months ago

I needed this right now, thank you.

Zilct
Zilct
2 months ago

This is exactly how I feel, and I can’t explain it to those close to me because they’d freak out and think I’m suicidal. I don’t want to kill myself. I simply want to cease to exist. If I would die tomorrow in an accident, or from sickness, I’d be okay with that. My family would miss me, but they’d be able to go on eventually. Ceasing to exist would feel comforting and warm to me. I’ve shared this with my therapist and we’re watching it, and he believes me when I say there’s no way I’m taking my own life. Life is draining and unfulfilled. Thanks for making me feel not so crazy.

Dorita A Reyen
Dorita A Reyen
2 months ago

This is a great post. You really nailed what it’s like to live with different levels of depression.
I am 70 years old. I have been dealing with depression and bipolar disorder since my early 30s. I’ve been on various medications with various levels of success, different forms of therapies with various levels of success, and both support and scorn from family and friends. It hasn’t been easy. But, after 40 years, I would say that I’ve successfully managing it.
I have learned that, even with all the medications, therapies, and support you have under your belt, you are never really “cured” of depression. It’s always lurking, waiting for you to have a bad day when it can come sneaking back. The right medications and therapy can, however, give you ammunition and strategies to fight back against it.
That I’m here on this site illustrates what I mean. This morning I’ve been depressed, crying, and feeling like a worthless sack of sh** that doesn’t deserve to live. So I did what I always do when I feel like this – I start looking for websites, blogs, and posts written by people who also feel this way from time to time. And here I am!
I find it encouraging that there are so many others that struggle with depression and successfully make it through another day, another week, another year.
Keep up the good work!
Peace

Mehjii
Mehjii
2 months ago

Hi uhm so uhh sorry for bothering. It’s just that I’ve used multiple suicide attempts and I just won’t die. I don’t know what to do anymore. Even dying isn’t even a choice. And everytime I have the courage to seek for help from my fam and friends, my brain would tell me that I’m just doing it for attention. Add the fact that I’ve been using comedy as a coping mechanism even though this makes nobody take me seriously and that everything is just fine when my life is actually an emotional shitstorm. Or that maybe it’s all just a phase and part of teen angst (I’m 15 btw). I just wanna say that reading this makes me feel a little bit better. Thank you for making me feel less alone. I hope you’re doing great.

Eve
Eve
2 months ago

Thanks for this article. I am 26 now. Never thought I’d make it past 18. I was suicidal ever since I was a child. And still am. As it says I don’t want to exist. I wish I was never born. I still do. And I went through actively wanting to die to wishing for death. And still do to this very day. Everyday. I haven’t seek medical help. It is not a matter of pride.This might off as obnoxious but now more than ever I feel like I lived it’s enough and just stay here because I don’t want the people who care about me getting sad. I have accepted that the emptiness I feel cannot be filled. It’s not even about being sad or in despair at this point. Can’t kind of explain the difference from what I feel to what you write but yeah I’d be lying if I were to say that even for a while this article did not make me kinda less alone only because someone by his own means is going through a similar thing. I m glad it got better for you. And I know it can for many out there. And that’s good enough.

Lea
Lea
1 month ago

Hi thanks for your post. I have been feeling this way since my earliest memories. I don’t want to be here. I had no choice to be here. I don’t want to kill myself as I don’t want to hurt the people who love me, it never stops. It never goes away. I now 47 years old, this is the first time I have ever spoken out about my mental state. I have never spoken with professional people, doctor or therapist or psychological professional. I have never felt happiness or even have any emotions at all. It just a black hole that I cannot escape from. The only thing that keeps me going is knowing that one day I will get my wish and I will no longer be here. I don’t want to get involved in the monotony of everyday life. I don’t want to take medication. As I fear this will just prolong the agony of being here. I just want it all to go away now. I have read the comments to your post and seems there are many if us the same. But they talk about wanting a normal life. I personally don’t want to live. Like I said I had no choice about being here, I never asked to be here, and it’s not a new feeling I have felt this way since I was a small child maybe three years old. If I ask for help the will mask the problem with medication and therapy, to make me forget .I just want to share with you thanks for reading

Mary CK
Mary CK
1 month ago

I found your article when I was googling for “ how to die peacefully “. Your article describes how I feel currently-not wanting to exist. I’m emotionally exhausted. Very very very tired and alone . Just want to sleep and not wake up tomorrow. Glad that you find your way out depression.

Sal
Sal
1 month ago

I dont want to go into medication realm.. its gonna be a fucked up new journey and i just cant deal with new levels of complexity in my life…. I cant even tell if i dont want to exist or if i want to die.. i just dont want myself….

Jon
Jon
1 month ago

I am just lost. Which ended my marriage and now my relationship with my girlfriend. I just had a baby girl and this deep depression keeps rearing it’s ugly head. My girlfriend doesn’t know how bad it is. Often she uses things that I have told her in confidence against me. I don’t think I want to continue this road.

Defoe
Defoe
1 month ago

It’s bemusing to me the arrogance of man that not wanting to exist MUST be something wrong with your brain chemistry…because obviously being human in this horrendous train crash of a world is the.best.thing.ever. Didn’t ask to be here, don’t want to be here, can’t get out of here.🙄

Mr. J
Mr. J
1 month ago

I’ve been feeling so awful since August of 2020. I’ve always had depressive symptoms and really bad anxiety but a combination of events that made me feel like I ruined different aspects of my life have really been making it hard lately. I’m 25 and still live with a parent and the other parent’s spouse has issues with my sibling and myself. Life seems awful and my virtual college experience has definitely added a level to the dissassociating. I have legitimately cried myself to sleep countless times these past 10 months and its honestly just so much to unpack but I wish there was a permanent solution to fix me and either make me go away or make me happy again. -_______________________-

Felicia King
Felicia King
1 month ago

What if you radically accept that you have pain and that’s okay but still really don’t want to exist. I have a really good life now. Amazing friends and family a good job, no stressor. I’m just ready to go.

Harley
Harley
29 days ago

I told my mom that I didn’t want to exist and she thought that I was suicidal. She told my therapist and I had a whole lesson on why I shouldn’t, and they didn’t believe me that I wouldn’t k*ll myself. It felt very condescending because it made me feel like they were talking down to me. I love my family and would never k*ll myself because of them, so it hurt when they just assumed I would. Thank you for writing this and showing me that there are other people who feel the way I do.

dallek
dallek
17 days ago

Unconsciousness is bliss? What a joke. Leaving here brings me to a place where things are even worse. I was at a point where after months of crying the pain in my brain was so severe I could not cry anymore, then I started crying in my sleep. All the same things are there except that even though I am fully aware of my actions it is as if I am in a place where reality does not work, the rules are different, like I am disabled by my environment. There is no sleep just an extended hell.

sir isO
sir isO
15 days ago

I’m gonna be blunt here…if someone for instance drinks alcohol to cope, it is often even less damaging than someone using pharmaceutical medications to cope.

Personally I’ve suffered from “not wanting to exist syndrome” for quite some time, there isn’t anything that helps, but I do know medications ALWAYS make things worse.

People need to understand, medications are functionally always toxic, often quite specifically designed for certain kinds of toxic effects (there’s a reason so many “medicines” contain ABSOLUTELY NON-BENEFICIAL/NON-ESSENTIAL fluorine, and chlorine, for instance…just like there’s a reason why it’s so enormously prevalent in society, in spite of iodine…despite massive iodine deficiencies and no biological benefit for that extra fluorine and chlorine).

I mean, I don’t use opium. But I’d honestly rather use opium (that I prepare) rather than ANY pharma.

sir isO
sir isO
15 days ago
Reply to  sir isO

I mean, I have zero faith, belief in society, “people” or this world. Nil. I know that can’t be regained, so.

Personally, I’m thinking of NO..

Randall
Randall
11 days ago

I believe that Jesus is god and throughout the pain I’ve dealt with in life spiritually wanting to not exist in my life or let alone wanting to die Is only because this demonically possessed realm of earth governments bombards our own hidden shakras body mind and souls protection from the forces of darkness upon the world in order to stay alive and safe we must constantly battle the pricapalitys of darkness them constellations are evil

John Spells
John Spells
7 days ago

I just want to fade. Just gone without everything else. I have been showed that I don’t matter. People ask but don’t care. Parents ask but don’t care. I just exist. Just take up space. No one will actually care. They will make it about them. How if I just would have SPELLED IT OUT FOR THEM EXPLICITLY THEY WOULD HAVE DONE FUCKING SOMETHING!! No they wouldn’t have. They would have just ignored it because it didn’t “fit” with their concept of reality. What do you do when you don’t want to exist but you don’t just end it? Better yet you have a partner who would rather see you burn than see you better.

Nicole
Nicole
5 days ago

Emotional scale is a good way to put it.
Not wanting to exist causes high emotions, pain, regret, shame and a deep empty feeling.
Wanting to die is like, I don’t care, curious, numb and from what I’ve seen in a lot of people – pure anger.
Though I didn’t have anger. I had peace. I had a choice and I chose to stay. Contemplated running my car into a wall or off a bridge but didn’t. Those little tiny glimpse of happiness that occurred after was worth it. 🤷🏻‍♀️
I didn’t mess up anyone’s life I guess.
I hope anyone reading this chooses to keep trying too. That’s the hardest part right? Tired. In your chest, body and spirit. Emotions and exhaustion pass and one day we wake up and it’s not as bad as the last somehow – we just keep going from there. All the hurt, pain, baggage, negative life experiences make us stronger, sweeter and more gentle. We notice the small things in life like a rain drop or sun setting. The breeze in the trees or how amazing flowers smell. We recognize pain in others, we help or hold a hand when needed – not because our life is perfect but because we’ve been there and somehow most of us get through it. Thanks for being a hand that held on to me tonight when I was feeling so empty. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

John L Willis
John L Willis
12 hours ago

I am not suicidal. People do not understand that. I will never commit suicide because of my convictions. I ruined my life and the abuse and pain I suffered as a kid has made life unbearable. I just feel like I’ve done everything in my life that I was supposed to. I’ve fulfilled my destiny of being a failure and I’m done. I pray every night for God to take me. My health isnt good, I have no family, I’ve never been married or had children. I’m a 51 year old virgin. I’m fat and I cant stand up or walk much. I will never kill myself but yes, I want to die. I no longer have purpose in this life except for becoming a bigger failure. No one can give me a reason to stay alive except to say they would miss me. But they dont call or come around. They dont understand what I’m going through. They have written me off as a failure and think I should have to live with that failure for the next 30 years or so. I’m done in. Finished. I’m not suicidal but I dont want to live.

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Adam Fout

Adam Fout is an addiction/recovery blogger who writes nonfiction and speculative fiction. He is a graduate of the 2020 Odyssey Writing Workshop and has been published in or has upcoming work in december, Another Chicago Magazine, The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, J Journal, Pulp Literature, and DreamForge. And he LOVES when readers reach out to him! Always feel free to send me an email at awfout at gmail dot com. I can't wait to hear from you!