How to stop feeling like I'm not good enough?
August 12, 2011 7:11 PM   Subscribe

In my work, with my family, and my friends, I suddenly feel like a child, or that I am inferior to them. I'm not!, So why am I jobless and friendless? BTW: I don't feel this way in other areas of my life, only when it comes to work and friend-making.

Alright, I know the answer might be therapy, but I can't afford it.
There is a TL;DR.

Since a young child, I was always pretty confident in myself. Not shy, not cocky, just confident of myself and my abilities. I loved to work, I loved being useful. I loved opportunities to work with others, and I often went out of my way to do so. And I was happy.

Five years ago, I started having so much anxiety at work, which turned into crying fits, vomiting, panic attacks; eventually I quit. Since then I've tried to work, but it never lasted long. My personality and abilities changed so much; family and friends no longer recognized me. Too many things happened, I don't really want to get into it (or explain), so I'll just give some examples: can no longer do simple math (2 digit sum/subtraction), cannot learn anything new, forgot most things, such as foreign languages, can't play any musical instruments, not even beginner-style, can't speak coherently most of the time, Had trouble with coordination, often dropped cups, plates, and objects, even though I was trying to grip them hard.

Keep in mind, math, foreign languages, and music were my biggest passions. I kept practicing and practicing, because I liked it, and I didn't want to forget. So why did it happen? I found out that this sort of thing can happen with severe untreated hyperthyroidism, which I did have, but couldn't afford to take care of. OOPSY.

I finally accepted that I'm not going to be like before, and the fact that I can't does not make me a bad person. (And yes, I keep trying anyway) Oh, and yes, I'm managing the thyroid issue now, I'm loads, loads better, like night and day! But I still can't seem to learn anything. Oh well.

ANYWAY. My question is:
I feel childish, or that I'm not good enough, compared to other adults. I KNOW that I am not. I know I'm just as good as anyone else.
I can't go and make friends, because I feel I would be unworthy of their friendship (I can't even hold down a job! I can't even do basic math anymore! I dropped out of college because I slept 13 hours a day, and I still fell asleep whenever I sat down! I have school-debt I'm still trying to pay off, since I have barely been able to bring money in! Shame on me! ) I'm sure truth is, many other people are in a similar situation than mine: people don't have perfect lives!
I do have 2 close friends, besides the boyfriend, but we live far away from each other now, so I should be making friends around here.

But as soon as I speak with other adults, in friend-making or work situations, I start mumbling, and trembling,
I try to do Web-design from home, and I am good at it; quite good specially compared to the area I live at. But I do such little work, because more often than not, I can't phone or email someone who is looking for my services. I feel so little, so childish, so "how dare you offer your services to This Important Business/Person!". Even when it's just a random volunteer thing. Even if I want to do it for free. Ugh.
It's so laughable.

For example, this week I had to tell someone that some fees are going up (which is something beyond my control). It isn't even expensive, but I can't make myself do it. I put it off until now, even though I've been trying since Monday. Practically spending every waking moment typing random words in the email box.
They'll probably just shrug it off, and say "oh, okay, thanks for letting me know." And these people are really happy with my work, and I admit, they should be! ;-D So why do I feel so small?!

What can I do? Grr!

(Sorry for the long-windedness)
posted by midnightmoonlight to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I consider myself, on a purely intellectual level, pretty good at what I do; and I have the impression that my peers generally respect my skills (not bragging, I just honestly like what I do enough to take pride in it), enough that they frequently ask me for assistance with their own tasks.

And yet, almost on a daily basis, I'll have a coworker chatting with me about their current project, and I feel like "WTF? I can't understand a word of this, have I completely lost it? Did I ever have it? Do I actually count as some sort of retard and everyone just patronizes me, and I lack even the skills to detect it?".

Basically, I feel hopelessly lost in the most mundane day-to-day work-related activities. What a fraud! Can't everyone else tell?

But at the end of the day, at the end of the project, at the end of the yearly review, I've done an exemplary job and gotten done what needed doing. And the paychecks keep coming.

I think everyone secretly feels that way, to some degree.

As for only having a few friends - Some of us just do that; appreciate the quality and don't sweat the quantity. I have perhaps two people in the world I'd call "close" friends, and under ten to which I'd apply the word "friend" at all. On the flip side of that, someone once gave me a piece of advice that blew me away both in its wisdom and its superficiality - Paraphrased, he told me "Call everyone your friend, until circumstances prove otherwise". And that has helped me, at least with casual acquaintances such as at-work "friends".
posted by pla at 7:39 PM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]

It seems there are many possible factors going into the way you feel right now, both physiological and psychological. To address part of what I think I see coming from the psychological perspective, I hope you're aware of imposter's syndrome, or phenomenon, or whichever you'd like to call it.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 9:11 PM on August 12, 2011

Best answer: I had severe hyperthyroidism as well, and can totally sympathize with the sleeping all day and brain fog issues. It takes a while to settle down, but the cognitive functioning returns, and - unless your doctors are telling you otherwise - you should be back to full capacity at some point.

As you said, people don't have perfect lives. You're imperfect like the rest of us, and you'll work through this stuff. You know that it's not real, for the most part, that this negative voice is in your head. Lots of people on Metafilter suggest CBT for this sort of thing, and that may be a good fit here - you'll get some tools for shutting down the voice that says you're not good enough, and that will help you move forward. Good luck.
posted by judith at 9:35 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another two-birds-with-one-stone thing to try: find a (non-competitive) physical activity where you can build some mastery, even on the most basic amateur level (rock climbing, a hiking goal, couch to 5K, cycling up to x miles per trip, etc.). Physical exercise can get you out of a mild depression and extinguish some anxiety, plus building competency always is a boost. Plus, now you have something new to chit chat about with new folks....voila.
posted by availablelight at 5:15 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh yeah, I definably am the kind of person who likes to have few great friends than lots of just-ok friends. But my 2 friends live far away because I moved, so I'd like to make some friends around here. Even if we don't become BFF, it would still be nice to have someone who lives 10 minutes away than 2 or 3 hours away.

I know that me being inferior to others is not real, but the other stuff really is real.
I am back to normal with the hyperthyroid thing, I don't have any symptoms whatsoever anymore. It wasn't just medication, most of it was lifestyle changes. However some things didn't come back to me; from my research there can be some... mental impairment... that won't be reversed if the hyperthyroidism was severely out of control. I finally accept that, even though I will keep trying anyway. (the doctor doesn't know anything at all, really, she's clueless. Probably specializes more with diabetes than thyroid)

As for exercise I'm doing lots and lots of fast paced walking, and racquetball in the basement. I'm not really depressed, I guess you could say this is post-depression, which can come as a shock after you've been in pretty deep. C25K didn't work for me, for some reason, I couldn't get past the first week even though I did it for months. I look forward to hiking if I make some friends who would enjoy it as well :-)

As for CBT, I've read the Feeling Good book, it was pretty good and it worked in other areas of my life, but apparently not with the work thing ;P
posted by midnightmoonlight at 8:53 AM on August 13, 2011

Response by poster: People with a career / professional work:
would you be embarrassed, or would you not consider being friends with someone like me? I
posted by midnightmoonlight at 3:30 PM on August 13, 2011

« Older dog bites dog   |   Can we skip the renewal in Utah and register it in... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.