Dissecting The Big Sad

The following is a breakdown of my viral vide titled: Autistic Person Trying to Explain “The Big Sad” to Their Neurotypical Therapist

In November of 2023 I posted the video Autistic Person Trying To Explain The Big Sad to Their Neurotypical Therapist on my personal Instagram.  As of February 2024 that video has been viewed 330,000 times and continues to garner views, shares, and comments as it is spread around online. Today I want to take the time to dissect some of the very relatable challenges that I bring up in this video and attempt to evaluate why this video has resonated with so many people.

Why Did I Make This Video?

To be completely transparent this video was created spontaneously because I was working through some existential realizations that have been getting heavier and darker ever since I discovered that I have autism. I have always been an incredibly deep thinker but my existential crisis and spiritual have been elevated during the last 2 years, since I closed my marketing agency and took some downtime to recover from the burnout I was experiencing. During the first year of my burnout recovery, i focused on trauma healing and nervous system reset, hoping that would help me get back to “feeling like myself” again. What ended up happening instead was a complete dismantling of my self-identity and beliefs as I began to realize all of the injustices of our current reality.

In addition to this I also have a long history of therapy trauma. I broke my experience down here in another Instagram post. Further context about me and my history can be read about here on my story page.

Obviously, this negative experience has created some personal biases about being in Therapy. I also acknowledge that “not all therapists” and “not all autistic people” would agree with me on this and wouldn’t imagine that I could speak to all the variables and diversity of experiences here. That said, I think that the viral success of the video speaks for itself. Clearly many people feel as if they are not being supported by their mental health practitioners when it comes to the topic of existential grief and “the big sad”.

Main Theme of the Video: Existential Realizations and Sharing Them With A Mental Health Professional

The main idea that I wanted to express in this video is how frustrating it can be to have existential realizations about the unfair, hypocritical, and unjust nature of our current western society and how it seems to go against how we are naturally meant to exist. I wanted to show what happens when you bring these up and try to discuss them with your therapist, counselor, or coach who is not on the same page as you and how they tend to be dismissive without anything comforting to say.  The therapy experience is one of the easiest to illustrate in this video , but this can actually occur with any “close minded” indvidual whom you try to have these existential conversations with. When pointing these confusing, yet very real and genuinely concerning things out you are often left feeling as if “you are the crazy one”. Often times, the suggestion is that if you are questioning these things then you are suffering from anxiety and depression, with medication for these conditions being quickly offered up as a solution. Obviously to express this scenerio in an Instagram reel that is only allowed to be1 minute and 30 seconds long required some generalizations. The intention was also to make the video as entertaining as possible to express this idea clearly but also keep it broad and relatable to anyone who has shared a similar experience.

Specific Points Made in The Video

The video brings up 3 main existential points that can be expanded on and discussed in further depth. With the first being noticing how everyone seems to just go along with some unfair program without asking questions

The exact quote from the video is:

“I feel like we live in a world right, where everyone just goes along with some program, and it doesn’t feel congruent to the human spirit, yet we kinda all just agree to do it”

This is sincerely the most common existential realization that we as people can experience. Once you have this thought , you become suddenly aware of how much of our systems, values, and beliefs have been pressed upon us by external influence. When you tap into your intuition ( and the innate human spirit ) it doesn’t feel as if things have been set up in a way that is natural. For instance, the very concept of unfulfilling jobs and requiring money is not something that we have “agreed” to participate in, but rather are forced to participate in because someone else has decided this for us. And although, you may recognize the need for having a way to track exchanges and trade of value, it feels that those who do not have a supply of money are being forced to submit themselves to meaningless jobs that do not give them the opportunity to get ahead and created a surplus so that they can leave them. This is how the typical middle and lower class people live, in a state of modern slavery, where they did not choose to exist with basic needs, did not choose to need currency to meet those needs, do not have hope for the future because they cannot in the occupations they have submitted to make enough money to escape this.

The next point I made in this video is about people who are successful within these systems. Examples being people in high status positions, celebrities, successful entrepreneurs etc. These people are often presented to us as what we should be aspiring towards if we are below their level of success. Holding these people up as models of “what is possible” if we just applied ourselves. The existential realization is that this is a lie that we are told throughout our childhood and early adult life. We are encouraged to admire successful people and model ourselves towards them, however many of the things that initially allowed them to be the role models of success were circumstances and privileges that we do not have access to such as being attractive or being born with a lot of money. Realizing this, that it was never possible for you because you don’t have these things but these people are constantly displayed to you as inspiration can be quite disheartening. The exact quote from my video on this is:

“We have social systems where we are supposed to admire certain people for their accomplishments, but a lot of these accomplishments are things like having money and being attractive and we’re supposed to put those people on a pedestal”

The third point I make in my autistic person explains the big sad to their neurotypical therapist is the amount of information we are fed constantly about “the right way to live” and what a good and successful life SHOULD look like and who and how you should be to be acceptable in our society. Much of this encourages a path of going to college to get an education, working a 9 to 5 schedule, purchasing a home, etc. There are also modern cultural ideas that we are expected to subscribe to, such as being patriotic and supporting our countries involvement in wars as one example. Basically the recommended and appropriate ways to think based on what is defined to us as appropriate. The existential realization that so many people are being challenged by is that even if you follow along with this you will likely still fall short because only a small percentage actually succeeds within this system. Furthermore there is the additional challenge of realizing and questioning IF this is the right path or if this is just the most economically beneficial and compliant way that “the system designers” what people to follow. Does it always benefit us? No.

Add the additional , complex layer of knowing deep down that it is all a lie and that different governments and culture influencers determine these things and decide what to tell us to do and think. None of it is based on what is actually human nature.

I did not say this in the video for timing reasons, but most of us who tap into our intuition and who are spiritually awake realize that humans were designed to live in community and live a life of ease and simplicity. We do require to have our needs met, food, shelter, safety etc. but could do so within small co-operative groups where everyone worked together towards common comfort and had more leisure time for creative and intellectual pursuits. We are also not designed to hustle and grind endlessly only to enjoy our lives in retirement. Rather, human nature is to live in a state of enjoyment, relaxation and awe of God’s natural creations. We are meant to interact with our family and others socially and enjoy it. We are not meant to be in a hierarchal social system where other people are viewed as more valuable than others and permitted to “force” us to do their bidding and earn for them. Basically, if you ground yourself and tap in to the truth you realize we are living so far outside of how we are naturally designed to exist and this is likely the reason why so many people feel defeated by burnout, overwhelm, anxiety and are physically tired.

The exact quote from the video is this:

“And we are fed all these ideas about how we are supposed to think , but many of these ideas go against our intuitive instincts about what we feel is right and if you question it they say “oh no you’ve been manipulated” what we are telling you is correct.

Another important idea that I brought up in this video is about how the values that are promoted as important such as “being caring” and “being kind” are what we should focus on embodying because they will bring us the most success and happiness. However, it is clearly obvious that those who run the show do not subscribe to these values, rather they are ruthless, competitive, judgemental, and narrow-minded. We can see , simply by existing within this system that there is a lack of fairness in this because regular people are expected to be submissive, easy going, pleasant and not to stir the pot. While those who are financially benefiting from most people being complacent and easy-natured ( wanting to be liked ) are not so. These people ( many are shielded as corporations and politicians ) do not live this way themselves rather looking at it as being about profits, business and indvidual success. It is incredibly hard to reconcile this and continue to exist and function once you see how unfair this is. Basically regular people are being encouraged to be people pleasing to make it easier for corporations and governments to manage them. They use these positive ideas like “kindness” to train us not to fight back or advocate for ourselves. Deep down , we cannot advocate for ourselves because if we did not partake in their systems we would be unable to meet our basic needs and have to live in a state of poverty.

Here is the exact quote.

“They say things to you like love yourself, love your neighbour and be kind. But for some reason the people running the show do not live according to these values.”

I conclude the video by having the therapist character offer pharmaceutical medication as the solution because, in my own experience this is exactly what happens. One of the greatest challenges with finding support for these existential realizations is that most of the support resources that are available specifically therapy are part of the damaging system. The pharmaceutical companies benefit massively from people who are in a state of existential suffering because they produce chemical products that can reduce the overthinking ( or thinking period ) and make you more easy-going and compliant to participating within the system again, basically getting you back in the program.

I like to think about this as the greatest blindspot that we have here because most people encourage others to go to a professional for help when they are struggling with existential depression because we believe that this is good advice and that a caring psychotherapist will try to alleviate some of their suffering. Obviously, this advice is well-intended but unfortunately, it also creates a paradox as psychotherapists are also trained within the systems and their education is designed to get patients into a state of functional participation in the world as it is currently designed.

Why did I include being autistic and neurodivergent in this video?

It is very likely that this experience of “the big sad” and all of these above described existential realizations are not limited to just autistic or neurodivergent people. It is also quite likely that there are psychotherapists and other mental health practitioners who understand these issues. However, my reason for making this video about an autistic person discussing these realizations with a neurotypical therapist is simply because in my own experience as an autistic person, I have found these discussions to be incompatible with neurotypical thinking. It tends to be that the autism , allows for more in depth consideration of these ideas where as non autistic people tend to not think so critically or deeply about how our society is organized operated. However, this is just my perception. I willingly admit that I only discovered I was autistic in the previous year or so, and have always struggled with in-depth thinking and questioning like this and I am constantly trying to understand the world around me. Before I discovered that this “over analytical thinking” is a symptom of autism, so I guess one could say “what comes first the chicken or the egg” here.

I do not wish to exclude anyone from these important conversations. You do not need to be autistic or neurodivergent to experience an existential crisis. Additionally, it isn’t only neurotypical people who fail to comprehend these ideas. Honestly was simply a strong, relatable and algorithm categorizing strategy to get this video out to people who I knew would understand what I was trying to express. So to brief my explanation, I knew with a caption like that it would fly far on Instagram.

Concluding Thoughts

I wanted to write an in-depth breakdown of this popular Instagram reel and the thinking behind it because I believe that this is an important conversation to continue to move forward. Clearly based on the number of views, shares and comments that this video got I hit on something that is incredibly timely and resonating. Globally, many people are having these same realizations as the world awakens and people begin to question if the status quo is the best way to proceed forward. Those that have the most to gain will try with all of their resources to limit conversations like the ones this video expresses and that is why I feel it is important to elaborate.

In conclusion, I hope that this breakdown of the ideas expressed in this video makes it even more palatable and easy to understand. I am not here trying to convince people who do not understand these dilemmas and debate them. Rather, i want to further explain to help those who are do feel these ideas to be resonating but struggle to articulate or express them.

Are You Looking for Someone to Talk to About The Big Sad and Your Existential Realizations?

I am offering complimentary first introduction sessions for people who are interested in my new peer support program. This is a 1:1 conversation where I help you find clarity and set goals to shift your life towards a more desirable reality. This offering is designed to be affordable, centered on your long-term success and about giving you a support buddy who truly understand what you are being challenged by and is eager to help you make improvements through strategic planning, accountability and ongoing encouragement.

Resources for Your Existential Crisis Experience

Are you going through an existential crisis and looking for support? I have created a resource page full of websites, podcasts, influencers, apps and products that I have found useful for helping me as I navigate the experience of an existential questioning and the accompanying revelations.

Not sure if you are going through an existential crisis because you don’t know what that is? Click here for an explaination on existential crisis

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There are a few things that I am offering that relate to existential crisis and spiritual awakening. These include Ceremonial Cacao, Tarot Card Readings and my Peer Support sessions.