I have managed to screw up my life repeatedly for years and officially hit bottom recently. How do I escape this descent into nihilism and find meaning and success?
posted by anonymous to human relations (24 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Hello MeFi. Long time visitor, first time poster, and anonymously at that. Apologies in advance for the length, I'll try and keep it concise.
I'm almost 25, male, living in a big city, by all superficial measures should have a good life, but I'm finding myself slowly sliding into some sort of nihilistic state. I wrote up a long backstory, but to make it a bit easier to follow here it is in a more PowerPointy fashion:
College: spent the first couple years reaching new depths of depression and loneliness, struggling to figure myself out. This was mainly due to emotional/social immaturity, some passive aggressive behavior, and never finding a group of friends I felt like a real part of. After hitting rock bottom, slowly channeled that depressive energy into work, classes, working out - basically trying to stay resilient, angry, and to improve myself. This was perversely a good thing, because it gave me something to work for.
Post-college: started work, life slowed down, settling into a rut. I think without the variety of demands and social opportunities (few that they were) that college offered, I started losing motivation. It wasn't emotionally terrible, but I knew I didn't love the way my life was going.
This year: job got particularly frustrating and stressful, started playing (read: gambling) in the stock market several months ago, lost almost everything in my brokerage account (half my total savings). I kept hitting new lows (financially and emotionally), kept making bigger bets to try and make it back, and plumbed new depths of self-loathing, depression, and anger. Much of this has faded away with time, but the effects are there.
Upshot: social relations severely dysfunctional. No close friends, not emotionally close to anyone, very untrusting of everyone and strongly hesitant to reveal too much about myself. Significant loss of self-confidence and frequent feelings of shame. No motivation to do things, can't over my defeatist side to even try, and enjoy virtually nothing in life. Can't concentrate at work, can't clear my mind to sleep well. Occasional feelings of noticeable but not overwhelming anxiety about nothing in particular. I have no perspective on what's "normal" in any element of modern life. Not that it matters, because life is meaningless for me.
Strangely I'm not depressed, but sort of in a stoic despair. I'm basically running on innate survival instincts now. I used to be able to justify and rationalize my mistakes, but this one is eluding me. I want to say to myself that I'll rise from these depths and become wildly successful, but this time I don't think I believe it anymore. I want a break, something amazing to happen to me. But I can't rely on that kind of thinking anymore.
I've always been very stubborn, but now I'm asking for help, some real-world advice. What sorts of things can I do to feel that fire I felt back in college that kept me going? I know I want to be successful, and I continue to call myself very ambitious, but how do I prove it to myself? Are there things I can do to change my thinking so I can try and create something of value in my life? Can I ever achieve anything socially given how much "baggage" I have in my past? How do I figure out "who I am" so I can change for the better without feeling like I'm lying to myself?
I'm not expecting a magic solution here, but there's still a glimmer of hope inside me that's keeping me going, and if I can truly convince myself that I can achieve my ambitions if I just invest myself in moving forward, I think I can make it. To pre-empt some comments, I am actually looking for a therapist after all these years, but until I find someone I can connect and make progress with, I appreciate any real-world advice anyone can offer.