I'm boring, depressed, lonely and extremly pessimistic
April 12, 2009 6:51 AM   Subscribe

I have no interests at all. Nothing appeals to me. I don't know if it's cause I'm depressed or boring. What's the difference????

Is there really even a difference???

If someone is chronically depressed, most people don't care. To them, they're just boring. Nobody cares about why they are boring, they're just boring.

I know I'm depressed. I been since I was 21.. but now I'm stuck in this position.. I'm older.. in my 30's.. have NO friends, and no real interests.

I try, but everything feels so, like I'm forcing it. I took up photography. But it feels forced. I took up art.. again it feels forced. I take classes because that's the only way I will actually do anything. I have no desire to do it if I'm just sitting at home..

When I'm home, like right now, it feels too lonely to do anything. I think the problem is all these things I'm doing are solitary and I can't figure out what the hell to do that involves people--yet I actually enjoy. And how do I experiment with this?? Everything feels so committed. Like if you want to join something that involves people, there is no 1 hour trial. You gotta buy equipment, you gotta train, you gotta be all serious about it. How can I just go out, one Saturday afternoon, and try some stuff. Not commit, not be too involved, in fact, not even be seen. I don't want to interact with people while I'm figuring this stuff out. Cause I'm way too freaking depressed. I'll be moody and grumpy and won't have that "positive attitude".

But if I can find something I truly enjoy, involve with people.. I might be able to be positive. But what??
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Do you live in a city or town where there's live theatre?
You're going to have to been seen to do the following:
Contact them, if you're not too shy, and volunteer to usher. Or, volunteer to help paint sets. No equipment to buy, no training needed. And they'll be so grateful to have you, that they'll fall all over themselves.
Forget about this:
"You gotta buy equipment, you gotta train, you gotta be all serious about it." Where did you pick up this notion? That's how anal, competitive people approach new experiences. That mind-set is guaranteed to take the potential fun or relaxation out of anything!
It sounds like there's quite a bit of shyness in play here; is that correct?
posted by BostonTerrier at 7:04 AM on April 12, 2009

You should try taking up jogging. All you would need to start are sneakers if you don't already have some, and you can get decent sneakers at places like Marshall's for cheap. You can google a program to get you started, such as the Couch to 5K Running Program. You can start working on it on your own, and when you feel comfortable maybe joining a training group for a bigger run.

Even if you always end up a solitary runner, regular exercise will benefit you immensely. Depression is a neurodegenerative disease of the hippocampus - the longer it remains untreated the greater the hippocampal loss. Anti-depressants indirectly address this problem, but exercise also induces the growth of new neurons there. Aside from just the scientific reasoning, it will get you outside, out of your comfort zone, maybe noticing new things about the world as you do it. Who knows where that might lead?
posted by sickinthehead at 7:12 AM on April 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

You're experiencing depression. If you can afford to get help, go get counseling. A local church may offer free counseling.

Dog walking at the animal shelter or pulling out invasive species at your local park are two activities with a low barrier to entry.

Hang in there.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:26 AM on April 12, 2009

I think you would be a fool not to see a therapist or doctor, as soon as possible. You aren't a victim. You have choices. You're seeking help from us and this shows your are trying to help yourself and feel better. Don't stop here. See someone. I've done it and it's not difficult to make an appointment and talk to a professional.

I'll second jogging or some kind of wellness program that integrates moderate exercise and stress-management. Every day make a point of taking a three mile walk or jog and do things you enjoy even if they don't fit the mold of "cool hobby". Even if you like reruns of a particular sitcom or reading B-grade Sci-Fi or romance novels, that's still an interest.

Follow a program as sickinthehead has suggested. I've done a program like this and it is extremely rewarding to go from not being able to jog for two minutes to running three or five miles without stopping.

Also, don't force it. I find that going out to a bookstore, minor league baseball game, or movies serves the purpose. You're surrounded by people and you're being entertained, but you're not forced to interact.

This sounds corny and cliche but you should aim for more balance in your life. It sounds like you don't have balance. A wellness program (healthy foods, exercise, sleep, sunshine), talking with and seeing people that do care about you on a regular basis (a parent, sibling, or other relative), work, and doing something you enjoy every day should be your goal. Also, get to know your coworkers if you don't already.

Good luck.
posted by Fairchild at 7:38 AM on April 12, 2009

From my own experience I would argue that the difference between being bored and being depressed is that when you are depressed, you suffer. And you clearly seem to suffer from the state you're in. Furthermore, your points about having no real friends, no real interests (beside my work) and fear of commitment sound very familiar to me.

So what can you do? I can only second the advice that has already been given to you: see a therapist or a doctor. For some basic information you can check out The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression or The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness. However, this won't replace a proper theraphy or medication. You have suffered for over ten years now and I really believe you should get professional help now.
posted by jfricke at 7:48 AM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

You don't have to live like this. Only you can make the decision to change the way you are living. Therapy, medication and lifestyle changes can make you feel like a new person. Let yourself get obsessed with a hobby or interest, whether it is training for a marathon, making a quilt, refinishing furniture or gardening. Get out of the house and spend some time in the sunshine every day.
posted by pluckysparrow at 8:01 AM on April 12, 2009

Yes, there is a difference between being boring and being depressed. Boring people will DO boring things -- and like it. Depressed people will do nothing.

Do you like music? Maybe your town or a town close by has a decent indie local music scene. Here's what you do: get there late, after the band starts. Make your way to the bar and order a drink, then stand or sit close-ish to the door like you're waiting for someone. Watch the band and see if you like the music. Get another drink. Do some people-watching. Go back the next weekend, see another band.

In a lot of local music scenes, the venues are smaller and full of people closer to your age who are there to listen to the music rather than get trashed and laid. If you like a certain style or band, you'll eventually see the same people showing up to the same bands, and maybe strike up conversations about music at least, or other interests you will find that you have and share with other people.

Also....do you happen to play computer games or spend a lot of pointless time on the internet? If so, lay off it for a week or two, and then see how you feel about doing something.
posted by motsque at 8:26 AM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

by the words of your question, you do have an interest: not being lonely; doing things with people.
posted by rhizome at 10:22 AM on April 12, 2009

Putting aside the get therapy thought process for a moment, I recommend doing something that is both solitary and can be done in groups. For example, bike riding or join a gun club. You can shoot at targets alone or as part of a group. Try to take a class at a local community college that teaches a hobby. You might meet someone there and you might find you have common interests. There is always the volunteer route too. Serve meals at a soup kitchen or bring meals to the elderly or along those lines. They will yield human interaction but without any long term commitment to friendship if you don't want. Join the local volunteer ambulance unit.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:28 AM on April 12, 2009

And please do not rule out medication. Being so depressed that you are incapable of feeling pleasure-- anhedonia is the technical word for it-- in my experience rarely responds to exercise or counseling or being with friends or any of those non-drug things, even in combination.

For one, most people who are anhedonic can't get out of bed to make themselves exercise or if they try to socialize, they are overcome by dread and fear. Secondly, in my experience, when you are anhedonic, the pleasure of being with friends or other things that usually make you happy doesn't "stick"-- you feel good briefly then fall right back into the dullness and pain.

When you don't have the brain chemicals needed to feel pleasure, everything seems dull and you have no motivation. after all, nothing is going to make you feel better. everything you try either feels boring or unpleasant.

Meds can make a huge difference with this if you find the right one (and there are so many out there that even if the first few don't work, keep trying-- it's a pain to wait the 2-3 weeks to see what's going to happen with each med, but it's better than doing nothing).
posted by Maias at 10:39 AM on April 12, 2009 [3 favorites]

But what do you like to do when you're sitting at home? Do you listen to music? Do you watch TV? Watch movies? Read? The things that you willingly do are your interests.

I think the thing to do is take what you actually like doing and try to include people activities with them. If you read, join different book clubs. Or if you like watching movies, join film clubs.

Good luck.
posted by gt2 at 10:59 AM on April 12, 2009

Also, keep trying different things. Don't give up. Take a cooking class, a surfing class, a wind surfing class, swimming, glass blowing, whatever, until something clicks for you.
posted by gt2 at 11:02 AM on April 12, 2009

Get therapy. Now. That said:

Here's what I do that involves no commitment in advance.

I play softball in a local league.
I sing in a community choir.
I do some gardening and go to clubs and informal gatherings. When I lived in the city I used to go to classes at the local tilth.
I have, in the past (and when fighting depression), taught ESL to immigrants.
I used to volunteer in classrooms and now I teach for a living.

Now, I can hear your objections to every one of the above. You don't even have to say them. I can also hear the underlying pattern of shooting down every good possibility. A member of my extended family does this relentlessly. He's perfectly skilled at hating every possibility because that is the only skill he has practiced.

You have to force it. No one at any of these events cares whether you act sullen or not. Frankly, no one is watching you that closely because they don't care. Use that anonymity that is natural to social life and practice, practice. Get counseling of some kind to walk you through how to do this. If you need medicine to bootstrap yourself, get meds.

Your goal: In a year, someone needs you. Preferably a group of people needs you. And they need you not just as a formality but because of your gifts, your willingness, your contributions. When you are useful to other people, you tend to be happy. I know you don't have this now, and I know it's sad. There's no way to change this but to get started.
posted by argybarg at 11:06 AM on April 12, 2009 [4 favorites]

Turn off the computer, buy a well fitted bike and get outside.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 11:13 AM on April 12, 2009

I won't comment on the depression part, but as a mid-20s something guy I also have a hard time finding social activities that don't involve buying lots of stuff or dealing with the super-competitive angle. When I was a kid I dropped out of sports pretty young because I just wanted to have fun and everyone else took it so seriously. I am just not a competitive or super-active person and most people who get involved in some sort of league or team are.

I feel like most activities you can get involved in are like this. I played on a friends work softball team that was great - no one particularly cared about the game, it was an excuse to hang out, everyone on our team just wanted to have fun, etc. but the teams we played were very gung-ho winwinwinwinwinwinwin and at a party last night the guy who organizes the team was talking about setting up lots of practices and "no more just hanging out, let's play for real this time".

I already have hobbies and get plenty of exercise. I don't want to do something that costs a lot of money. I just want to be social, have fun, and drink beers at a place that isn't a bar, not become a mini-Lance Armstrong or whatever on the weekends. I live in a big city so I know there have to be groups of people like me, where do they go?
posted by bradbane at 11:37 AM on April 12, 2009

Putting aside the get therapy thought process for a moment, I recommend doing something that is both solitary and can be done in groups.

Consider spinning classes.

"It's not a magic bullet, but increasing physical activity is a positive and active strategy to help manage depression and anxiety," says Kristin Vickers-Douglas, Ph.D., a psychologist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. (...) Research suggests that it may take at least 30 minutes of exercise a day for at least three to five days a week to significantly improve depression symptoms. But smaller amounts of activity — as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time — can improve mood in the short term. "Small bouts of exercise may be a great way to get started if it's initially too hard to do more," Dr. Vickers-Douglas says."
posted by iviken at 12:03 PM on April 12, 2009

I have been through this most of my life and thought that I was diseased. Then I started actually talking to people about this and guess what I found..the VAST majority of people that I thought of as normal had a "Fake It Till You Make It" attitude about everything. Which is, EVERYTHING is work and feels forced at first. The people who are successful at the 'making it' part are the ones who don't let the 'fakin it' part get to them. Faking it is critical to figuring out how to get to feeling natural. It's sort of like learning any new skill... you don't wake up one day and say "I like Photography" and then you are Ansel Adams. As an adult, you have to force your way through the kindergarten stage where you feel awkward and stupid and your results are crap. This is called learning. It is not always comfortable, but:

posted by spicynuts at 12:25 PM on April 12, 2009 [7 favorites]

There is a chapter on this very question in Barbara Sher's book I Could Do Anything if only I Knew What it Was... whether you are depressed or not, you at least seem chronically negative. Might be worth reading how others got through this. Good luck.
posted by Weng at 1:26 PM on April 12, 2009

Best advice ever for this came from Cary Tennis.
posted by lalochezia at 5:04 PM on April 12, 2009

Seconding spicynuts' "fake it till you make it." Remember that when you are depressed, *everything* seems boring and terrible and un-fun. In fact, even when you actually manage to get yourself out of the house to try something, it will STILL not be any fun, at least not right away. It takes time to break the cycle of demotivation and negativity. Give yourself that time by committing to an activity for a good solid trial period -- say, a month -- before deciding how you feel about it. And remember also that if there's someone who knows you well, they may see the sparks of something working before your depressed brain is able to admit it -- if they think you seem happier when you're doing something, keep going, and welcome the fun that follows!
posted by TheLittlestRobot at 1:30 AM on April 13, 2009

You want to have a no-commitment Saturday to try on a bunch of interests and see which one clicks for you but I think that is the wrong way to approach this. The first time you try something either you get it immediately or you don't. If you get it immediately (say, bowling) it won't be a challenge (what feeling of accomplishment would you get from knocking all the pins down in one roll, turn after turn?) so you would stop that activity from boredom. But if you try something else, (say, knitting) and you keep dropping stitches that first Saturday you get frustrated and give up. But if you stuck with the knitting through the steep learning curve, really working on it, and finally knit that awesome Magma sweater you have always wanted you feel great about yourself and your abilities and have something to show off at the stitch and bitch. And then you learn to cable stitch and more nuanced aspects of the hobby so you are always feeling challenged.

Maybe I am off-base but I wonder if you have a job that does not interact with many other people, especially of the gender you are attracted to, and does not produce a tangible item every day that you can hold up and have admired. Instead of looking for a hobby why don't you look into getting a second job that is more social, with different people than your current work-mates? If you are sitting at a desk, working at a computer then a part-time job where you are up and moving about would be the best contrast for you. If you don't need it, put the money you earn each week to a charity or spend it on other people anonymously (paying for the next coffee at the drive through etc).

This feeling of isolation and loneliness seems really endemic in our society now, and I feel for you. I think there are a lot of people out there you would have a great time connecting with but everyone is staying home feeling lonely instead.

Some non-solitary pursuits I can think of are:
cooking class
hiking group
dancing class
book club
Wwoofing part-time
martial arts
church (UU if you aren't religious)
packaged group tours

If you were in the Toronto area I could come up with more suggestions that are local, however, this being the internet, you are probably elsewhere in another awesome place that also has cool things going on you just don't know about. You can go out there and find them - what an adventure to look forward to!
posted by saucysault at 10:26 AM on April 14, 2009

This is a great question and I think millions of people are in your boat.

What's worth doing? Why should I do it?

Isn't it great technology has gotten us this far that we have the luxury to ask this? Doesn't it also suck?

I second saucysalt about another job. It may feel counter-intuitive, but maybe you can pick up part time work as a busboy/girl or retail person. Something that requires very little training but will put you "in the thick of human life." It is important that you are forced to interact with many and different kinds of people in this job, IMHO. You might possibly end up hating your job and quitting, but sometimes hatred of work is what lifetime friendships are built upon. Think of it as an interesting experiment in expanding your horizons and finding out what you are really good at, and what you really like and dislike.

Not only will you be earning some spare cash, but you will be meeting lots of different people, and working on what seems to be the most underdeveloped side of you: your social side.

I was in a similar position years ago, and learning how to socialize has transformed how I feel about the world and its people. Yeah, I don't think I've answered any huge existential questions about my life, but I also feel like my current problems are at least more interesting than the ones I've had before.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 5:21 PM on April 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

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