Loneliness/Depression/Unmotivated (college, on my own)
November 19, 2010 8:15 AM   Subscribe

How do you break out of a depressed/unmotivated/lonely funk? (see: in college and on your own for more details..)

I'm not sure where to start with this question, I could fill up pages and pages describing everything, but I'll try to keep this to the Cliff Notes version until further replies, lol. Highlights include: loneliness, depression, academic struggles, zombie like state more than half the time, and an unwillingness/no motivation to do school work while questioning how I will complete school for future semesters.

I'm 24 and this is my 2nd semester up here Sam Houston (first on my own as well) in a different town. Granted, it's not THAT far from Houston (hometown) but it still feels like the furthest place on earth sometimes when I need some comfort.

Anyways. I live up here and I do have my dog with me which is nice, but I find myself missing something when I'm at my apartment after class. It's just so lonely/quiet in here. When I try to do my work, I find myself distracted and wanting to do basically anything else other than my work. This semester (my 2nd semester here overall) I wanted my own place and didn't want a roommate of any kind, so that choice was actively mine.

Yet, I feel like something is missing. Having a dog up here is nice and it helps to take him out and get me out of the house occasionally, but I need something more. I'm part of one club that meets on Friday's and that seems to be ok with getting out and socializing and not feeling so lonely/depressed, but it's not cutting it overall either. At this point in the semester, what do I do? It's a little on the late side (at least I think it is) to be actively searching for more clubs to join since most of their meetings are probably just one more or two more times before finals. In addition, any sort of intramural/rec sports are closed (in terms of new people being able to sign up or join any current teams) and I'd have to wait until next semester for those.

The long paragraph above is to illustrate my next point about depression/being very unmotivated with school & life throughout the semester. I've always had a history of depression (maybe 6 or 7 years now) and it runs in my family to a degree. It was pretty good up until about this past Spring semester. I'm currently on anti-depressants and I do try to engage in talk therapy once a week or once every two weeks with a counselor on campus as an outlet. So I think I'm doing the right things with regards to that. Although I'm not really exercising much. I've almost given up on that these days. It seems like too much effort (like many things).

There are a lot of times where I come home from school and just do nothing with the rest of the day. Whenever I start on my homework, it feels like someone is sucking the life out of me or maybe my apartment is sucking the life out of me -- I don't really know. Yet, I become so immersed in the doing nothing feeling that I don't even feel like changing scenery and going on campus or going to a park to try and get any work done that way either.

This of course is affecting my semester quite dramatically. I've dropped 2 classes and am hanging in there for my other 3 I have. Yet, taking just 7 hours right now is a tremendous disappointment from the respectable 13 hours I started with. I'm 24 and just want to ****ing graduate already. I've already got either 1.5 or 2 years left at this point, I didn't really want 40 years more if I keep dropping classes at the rate I have this semester. I don't even have the full confidence in my major (of computer science) at this point, so that's also in question right now lol .

Ok. If you've made it to this point of the post, then congratulations. You've successfully waded through all the above crap. Any suggestions or tips from some of you that have been there would help me a lot. This site has always been helpful in the past and so I hope to gain some of your wisdom once again.

Thanks for reading...

posted by isoman2kx to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure where to start with this question, I could fill up pages and pages describing everything...

Funny you should phrase it in that manner. For certain people, keeping a diary of all the shitty things they go through helps. When you put it down on paper, you take away that overbearing hovering your negative feelings have and trap it inside words on a page.

I wanted my own place and didn't want a roommate of any kind, so that choice was actively mine.

Parties! Whether keggers or quiet dinner parties, having people over may help. If it is the kind of club that doesn't easily turn dramatic, invite a couple of people you're particularly close with over for drinking or dinner (you can order out if you don't like cooking) and some board games or watching a movie. Then they'll invite you and suddenly you're not alone nearly as often.

I'm currently on anti-depressants...

But clearly they're not working as well as they should. Talk to your psychiatrist or prescribing doctor about what you're going through. Hell, print out what you just wrote and stick it in their hand. They'll figure out if what you're going through is a dosage issue.

You've successfully waded through all the above crap.

It's not crap. It is your life and it is important and the problems in it are important and so is resolving them, or at least working on them. You are a human being and what you feel is just as valid as any other human being. Always keep that in mind.

Good luck.
posted by griphus at 8:24 AM on November 19, 2010

You should try going to the library to study and do homework - being around people, but in an environment where everyone is working does help. Libraries also often have notice boards with activities posted and rooms where social clubs meet.

Another activity you could join is training your dog - there are clubs, areas, free classes at pet stores etc in most areas.

Some of your classes might also have study groups that you can attend.

I think you sound very lonely and just being around people in general might help a bit.
posted by meepmeow at 9:33 AM on November 19, 2010

Best answer: If the library is too active and distracting for studying, perhaps turning on music or TV might provide enough ambient noise to help you feel like you aren't in a void. Or try study groups. They'll help you keep on task, you can talk about the work at hand, and see how other people feel about it. If they're excited about this work or what it could lead to, maybe you'll get energized, or realize it's not for you. There is no shame in not knowing what you want to do with the rest of your life at age 24.

If you're really doubting your major, talk to your professors, class mates who are at the same level as you, or people ahead of you. Maybe even find some recent grads, to see what the future holds for you.

Anecdote: I work better under a heavy lode than light - the stress keeps me on task, so my light quarters were worse than my heavy quarters. I know that's not how it is for everyone, but it might be your situation, too.

Go for walks with your dog, with the idea that you owe it to him/her. If that's not enough, try sprinting races with your dog, as long as you can maintain some control over your dog. And who knows, you might find people who walk their dogs at the same time as you do, and you could have some dog walking friends.

And seconding parties at your place, but emphasizing dinner parties. I lived with some friends in college, and we'd host a weekly party for a couple different groups of friends, so there would be people meeting for the first time. We'd hang out, eat a bit, drink a bit, and play board games. It was a lot of fun, and none of the stress about keeping the order during drinking-only parties. If you're not comfortable with your cooking skills, call it a potluck and provide the dishes and silverware.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:54 AM on November 19, 2010

I think you need to see things as smaller steps, rather than worrying that you're not completing these huge goals on time. Get through the day, then you get through the week, then the semester, and so on. That's my strategy for now.

I go through periods where I don't socialize, or do anything at all. Mostly I'm too broke and busy to socialize right now (yay school). One thing that does help me feel connected to people is to walk around my neighborhood. This gets my mind off of things, and gets me out of my cave. Doing a bit of talk therapy now too, and the counselor told me that if I feel I need a break, just take it. Staring at my computer for an hour isn't healthy or productive - a walk is a better use of my time, and helps me focus a bit more.

Otherwise, volunteering for the holidays may be a good short term socializing thing.
posted by shinyshiny at 11:46 AM on November 19, 2010

If it helps to know you're not alone - you're not alone. I too am suffering from being alone and slightly depressed in a lonely town. Your college probably has a ton of clubs you can join. Don't worry about it being too late in the semester - they'll let you hang out for the rest of this semester to see if you like it and then join next semester. I've finally broken out of my shell and joined two this year, and I've been here for two years!

I was beginning to think that there's nothing to do in this town but drink (which I don't do) or go somewhere else (which I can't afford) but I finally opened my eyes and looked around and there really are a ton of clubs in this college. Of course, I'm older than most of the kids here, but you don't have that problem.

Also check out your college's calendar and see what's going on. Most universities have free events happening all over the place - I just attended a jazz concert, a symphony, a play, and two international events (with free food!) all in the last week, and all for free! Stuff like that is a great way to get out and meet people. A lot of that stuff isn't advertised, but it's usually posted either on the calendar or posted on billboards. Check them out - free food and they're usually fun. ^_^
posted by patheral at 12:28 PM on November 19, 2010

Seconding study groups. With finals around the corner, there must be at least a couple of people in each class looking for study buddies. If you're uncomfortable randomly asking the person sitting next to you, you could try doing a mass email. It looks like Sam Houston uses the BlackBoard software to manage courses. Even if your classes don't use it, they should be setup in the system by default. You can email all or selective classmates (be sure to leave your professor/ta off the list).

Do you have programming assignments? You could try doing those in the lab. Heck, hang out there and do work for your other classes. It's an easy way to meet others in your major. I would never have made it through my computer science major without my classmates and friends. No really, I almost failed out of my first semester intro class. The next semester I made comp sci friends. Some I met in class after trading notes and asking if they want to study for an exam together. Others I met in the lab while programming. There's a great sense of camaraderie when racing away through lines of code to meet a deadline. Eventually a group of us became good friends and we took classes together. It really made a difference in my college experience.

How heavy do you feel your workload is? Do you think you have time for volunteering or a part time job? This may seem counter intuitive but again, it will allow you to interact with people. My friends didn't like their jobs at the coffee shop, bookstore etc. but they loved their student coworkers. They joke around at work, trade war stories after work and hang out on the weekends.
posted by vilandra at 12:36 PM on November 19, 2010

Best answer: You know what's funny? When I was in school and lived in the dorms I still felt lonely. I mean I had 3 roommates and 100 other guys on my hall. I was constantly surrounded by people and I was still lonely. I had a lot of friends and still felt lonely. I could spend every night with a different set of friends and still feel lonely. Having people in your life will not make you un-lonely. And I don't suggest going to places like the library to study. That's when I felt loneliest. All these people and no one to talk too!

Some suggestions: You didn't mention anything about exercise, but you better be doing it. It will make you feel so much better. Walking will even do the trick. Get that body moving. Intense exercise is even better. Exercise is worth the effort.

Cook. Cook cheaply. People love food and love to be around food. I don't know what friends you have but have somebody over. Anybody.

To get through my bouts of loneliness I would just drive places. Anywhere. I would get in my car and just drive. I love driving. You may not. But it would do the trick.

I feel like these suggestions don't help much. You can memail me if you want to talk more.
posted by bobber at 12:40 PM on November 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Volunteering in some sort of social service or other helping organization is a great way to get out of your house/head, meet new people, make new friends, put your own problems in perspective, help you feel needed and appreciated, raise your self esteem because you're tangibly making the world a better place, etc.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:10 PM on November 19, 2010

Hey - lots of college students get depressed. You get thrown into an environment where, outside of class, you often have to create a structure for yourself. And this is very hard for depressed people. Whereas, working at a 9-5 job, you are in an environment (generally) where you have to get out of the house and be around people and do work at the workplace. It's better having that kind of structure. So don't beat yourself up if you have days where you don't do anything once you're home. Just focus on doing the best you can with those 3 classes. LOTS of college students are on the 5-year plan or longer, they don't graduate in 4.
posted by citron at 9:48 PM on November 20, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for everyone's replies so far. I know I'm a little late in getting back to this thread. Will update with some comments soon.
posted by isoman2kx at 11:48 AM on November 23, 2010

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