Scatterbrained sadness. How to feel better about myself?
November 15, 2013 9:44 AM   Subscribe

I've been having a hard time for the past few months. With what? Just being me!

There's nothing specifically wrong, so it's hard to pinpoint why I am feeling bad about myself. It's a toxic downward spiral though: Most of my day is spent berating myself for worrying that I'm not good enough. Then I worry more. Then I'm annoyed for worrying. Etc. I'm exhausted and unsure about things. I keep hoping that I'll snap out of it, and sometimes I do for different parts of the day. But, worry has become the fabric of my being.

Indirectly, the most pressing cause of this sadness is work. I'm in accounting/finance, and a few months ago I was given the opportunity to work in a different state. The company I work for is great, unique and laidback, sharing similar values . Overall, it had been a nice breather after working corporate New York jobs.

However, last month I was given a new position in my company's factory. I find the position pretty challenging because the environment is so new - I'm in (what should be) a very hands on role in the plant with highly knowledgeable people in engineering, operations, planning and management. I'm learning a lot everyday, but there is no hand holding in this role and sometimes... I feel like people are speaking Greek. Because of this, I'm getting easily intimidated and not asking questions, or being proactive or really owning things.

Also, I haven't made friends in this new area since I've moved here, and spend much of my time alone at home. Being introverted by nature, I'm not lonely, exactly. But feel I should be exploring or doing other things. I'm really conscious of how much time I'm spending by myself not doing anything constructive. I hold my co-workers at armslength too, because I feel like there's nothing interesting to share about myself. I know this makes me come off as an overly serious person.

I am missing New York, too.

The past couple of years themselves have been hard. In summary, I went through a crappy break up with someone who I thought I had a future with, and haven't dated since then. And, my parents have had major drama, which spilled over onto my sister and me. I traveled a lot for work and didn't see my friends often enough.

I can still function ok, and still laugh sometimes, and still care for people. So it's not an all consuming situation like a depression, I think. But meh, I'm starting to feel like a shell of myself. I'd like to get out of this rut, be a confident, self sufficient person. But as you can see, I have a lot of scatterbrained self-esteem issues. ( Last year I did see a therapist for awhile, but she wasn't very helpful. I might consider it again, but I don't know if it would help. )

Any words of wisdom for getting out of this rut? How do I overcome my worries and just focus on being?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Certainly severe depression is all-consuming but low-level depression leaves you functional and able to laugh sometimes and still connected to people, just feeling like sad-to-indifferent crap. I would see your GP to be screened for depression and then make choices about what to do dependent on that outcome.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:49 AM on November 15, 2013 [8 favorites]

You have a lot going on, and it sounds like you're really struggling. Frankly (not to internet diagnose) you are describing a lot of what I feel when my depression is getting bad again. You can still laugh sometimes, still care for people, when you're depressed. So yes, go see a doctor.

In the meantime:
1. make sure you are getting a healthy/normal amount of sleep, and that you are keeping a regular sleep schedule (even on weekends). Sleep matters.
2. get regular exercise. It helps a lot of people get their mood up.
3. eat healthy foods and take care of your body. It can be so easy to be self destruction in terms of eating (too much or not enough or eating all junk) when you're under a lot of stress. Try not to do that to yourself.
4. do some things for YOU. Get a massage. Have a bubble bath. Spend a day watching every episode of Grey's Anatomy. make a really involved, complicated, but delicious and special meal for yourself.
5. mindful meditation
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:50 AM on November 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

Find a new therapist. It's not your fault that you didn't "click" with the other one.

In the meantime: run. Or walk, or whatever exercise you can do. When you get home at the end of the day, change out of your work clothes and put on some sweats and just take a few trips around the block, for like half an hour. Can't run for half an hour? Walk (faster than a stroll, but not like POWERWALKING fast) for ten minutes, jog (just a little faster than walking speed) for fifteen seconds or so, then walk for a minute (repeat the run-walk sequence eight times), then walk for ten minutes to cool off. And then, tomorrow, do it again. Then take a day off -- rest days are important -- and fill that time with a book. Just read something you want to but don't think you have the time for, or something incredibly stupidly entertaining (Lee Child's Reacher books are great for this). Repeat every three days: run, run, read. Run, run, read. You'll feel better, you'll sleep better, your clothes will fit better.

But see a therapist or your doctor. They can help.
posted by Etrigan at 9:56 AM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Take yourself on a date.
posted by No Robots at 10:04 AM on November 15, 2013

Aw, it sounds like you're having a rough time. Try to be kind to yourself. I think you're right that being isolated socially probably exacerbates the stress of a new job situation. If I didn't have people to vent to about my job worries, I think the anxiety could magnify in the way you describe. This is why I think talking to a counselor could help.

I felt similarly overwhelmed and isolated once during undergrad and I got myself a counselor who helped me identify negative thoughts and combat them with more realistic ones. This helped a lot with the spiral of anxiety related to not being competent at what I'm doing.

so even if it didn't work out the first time, maybe try it again with a different counselor? I say counselor because I don't think medical intervention is needed.
posted by winterportage at 10:18 AM on November 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd like to share something life-changing I learned just a week ago from my therapist in the hopes you will find it useful.

I started the session telling Dr. SuperSmart that on days that I feel pretty good about myself I tend to take better care of myself. I then had several questions about the mystery of self worth: where does it come from, how can I get it as an adult?

Said she, "When you take care of yourself even when you don't feel like it, that's how you prove your own worth to yourself."

Holy shit.

She added that this idea includes doing things to enjoy life, like going to a movie or concert or visiting with friends. "These things have nutrients to them, they aren't just empty calories," she said. I can't tell you how many times I have talked myself out of doing fun things because I felt I didn't deserve them. No more of that shit.

From that point on I would think of something I needed to do for myself, say floss my teeth, and I would say to myself, "I'm worth flossing my teeth." Then I would be sure to do it right then even though I didn't really believe I was worth it. This was therapy.

A funny thing started happening. I started to believe it, and I mean within two days. I think it is because the "affirmation" is followed up immediately with objective proof. I say I'm worth doing [x], then I do [x], so clearly I am worth [x], and the mind begins to generalize that belief into other areas.

If I have to do this the rest of my life, I am so OK with that. The results are beyond anything I could have imagined and it is so simple and easy to do.

Doing this little thing has caused the biggest life-changing shift in my life, affecting every aspect. People are noticing and commenting on the improvement even though is has been only a few days.

Good luck to you on your journey.
posted by trinity8-director at 10:33 AM on November 15, 2013 [46 favorites]

I don't know if it helps, but the Bloggess wrote about feeling this way, the apathy, feeling like you're not good enough for your job, and just feeling lost. (There are also a ton of comments from people feeling the same way.)

I think moving and starting new jobs are incredibly difficult, and you not only moved, you started two new jobs. It seems like a doctor could probably help with this stress. Also ease up on yourself -- you're doing fabulously, and if it takes a year to get social, find other things to make you happy and take care of yourself. Find little things to celebrate (link to more Bloggess) so you notice all the things you are doing instead of a few things that you aren't.
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:51 PM on November 15, 2013

I feel for you. My impression from what you write (as well as what Bloggess wrote) is that you are self-judging in a harsh way. In our society, it is sometimes easy to see our worth in terms of what we do rather than what we are. trinity8-director's method addresses this. You are something essential aside from your job and your relationships. At work can you fake it till you make it like many/most of us do at some time? And make it a point of honour to ask one question or do one proactive thing every day? If you miss a day or more in doing so, don't berate yourself just get back on the horse. Have you tried Mindfulness meditation? There is so much to help there. I have known people to stop the internal monologues we all have going on (I am scatter-brained, I am not good enough, I am lost, my poor self-esteem, I am a shell of myself, my crappy break-up, my parents' problems affected me etc. in your case) in order to increase their awareness of the precious present moment that will never come again. It does work but in helping others, I have always found the hardest part is to convince them to help themselves directly and not rely on something/someone outside themselves to do the work for them (although guidance is valuable and not the same thing). There are quite a few things you could be doing to increase your social exposure or to be useful. You don't need to wait to feel well enough. You mainly need to have good intentions towards yourself-not judging yourself. Please memail me if you want more info on this. Good luck.
posted by claptrap at 11:06 AM on November 16, 2013

« Older Anyone know anything about buying a stair lift?   |   What jobs were unique to the Renaissance era? And... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.