A sad, sad life
July 27, 2014 11:12 PM   Subscribe

I have been isolated and depressed for 10 years. I need help.

I've lurked on here for a number of years now, and I've read all the threads about depression that I could find. My question is maybe not that different but I need help and I have to ask.

I see a therapist and a psychiatrist. I'm diagnosed with major depressive disorder. We have been aggressively trying new meds over the last year. I also have pretty intense and debilitating social anxiety.

I don't think the details of my life over the last ten years matter all that much for the purposes of this. Basically I have just been very isolated and depressed for the last ten years. I'm 29 years and a guy and I live in DC. Growing up I was told I was kind, intelligent, funny and sensitive. I seemed to be very well-liked. I graduated from a very good college and majored in psychology. I was mostly alone and only knew a small handful of people there. Since then, for the last 7 years, I have had no friends and no social life of any kind. I have never had a girlfriend or had sex. I lived with my parents after college for 4 years. I have had low-paying non-professional jobs. The longest I've ever stayed in a job is 9 months. I am currently working a long-term temp job, which I was very lucky to get. My resume is pathetic and embarrassing. I have had stints of applying for professional jobs but I have only gotten 2 interviews. I deal with my depression usually by sleeping. I am deeply humiliated, ashamed and embarrassed of my life and how utterly I've failed. Occasionally, when I think about my life, it feels almost surreal that this is how it's turned out. It seems impossible. It feels like an awful never-ending dream.

The real issue I need help with here is my inability to find and persevere in ways of meeting people, making friends, etc. I've searched for things to do on meetup, craigslist, volunteer websites, etc. I have found only a few things that interested me but I have never seriously pursued anything. It does not help that I have no passions and few interests. I know no one here. I have no connections. I've never given things a real honest shot. I wish so bad that I could. For starters, I have intense and debilitating social anxiety. These days, I am often unable even to speak smoothly. I mispronounce words, my speech staggers and stutters, and my throat seizes up. I am unable to think on my feet. My mind goes blank and I truly cannot speak extemporaneously or explain anything half-way complex to someone.

It is hard even for healthy, competent people to make friends after college, and it gets harder and harder as you get older. So that is one more thing I'm fighting. I am unable to describe how discouraged and hopeless I feel when I try to go out and confront the world and try to get things going. I am unable to get any sort of momentum. It seems insurmountable. I can't do things like watch movies because seeing people living regular lives, even if they're complicated and unhappy, is too painful for me. I'm starting from absolutely nothing and I have been unable to bear how long it will take to make some things happen. I have been unable to stick it out and push myself through the despair and sadness. I have no support except for my brother and my parents, but they have not been able to make a difference. I am completely alone in this. I am sincerely hopeless that I will ever be able to change things. I am not suicidal, though I do have passive thoughts about it. I am certain that I will never kill myself. I don't want to die. Which actually contributes to the hopelessness, because it makes me feel trapped in this.

I am so hopeless and I need help. Please give me some ideas of how I can stop living like this. Thank you everyone.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (32 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
The secret is little tiny baby steps. I don't know you well enough to know exactly what would be the right goal but I would suggest you start with just doing one act of communication every day with someone outside of your family. For example, post one answer to a question on AskMefi every day. (This is just an example of something small and easy that will help the person who asked the question and give you a small experience of communicating.) Do it every day for a week. If that starts to feel to easy, add another communication task (maybe start commenting on blogs or join an on-line group that interests you.) Eventually move into settings where you are having a on-line dialog or maybe start adding goals about smiling at people you see outside. It may not seem like much but just do anything at all that moves you forward is progress so be nice to yourself. Slowly, build up and over time it will get easier.
posted by metahawk at 11:44 PM on July 27, 2014 [7 favorites]

if you memail me, i can give you my phone number, and you can call any time. i have major depressive disorder, and have been quite ioslated, so im empathic.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:46 PM on July 27, 2014 [15 favorites]

You are brave to reach out, and you're not alone. This does get better for people. For many people, starting small helps - make one change, like taking a walk each evening, then after a few weeks of that, saying hello to someone you see on your walk. It will take time, but you're doing all the right things, and you have some support. One thing that has been useful for me over the years is remembering that beating myself up about whatever I'm going through doesn't actually help resolve the situation at all. Perhaps letting go of some of that might be a start.
posted by judith at 11:48 PM on July 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am so sorry that you are going through this; it sounds extremely painful. I have suffered from depression some in my life, mostly when I was a lot younger, and I know those feelings of hopelessness and isolation you are describing. I'm glad you have a therapist and a doctor and urge you to keep seeing them, or even to change and get new ones if that ever seems advisable. It isn't true, however, that it gets harder to make friends as you get older; I found it got easier. Most of my friends now are people I met after age fifty. People come and go. It is most important to be a friend to yourself. If there is a way you can make a deal with yourself that you won't worry about making friends until you find a way to be a little nicer to yourself maybe you can try out something that you might like even if you never meet any people to be close to. Go to the botanic gardens and look at all the plants to see if you think you might like to try to grow some just to see if you can. Consider helping at the animal rescue places or volunteering at a shelter. It's really strange but giving to something or someone in this way is a very healing thing. Just a suggestion.

My only other thought is to invite you to me-mail me if you'd like to have a kind of pen pal; I have time and I like people in a quiet, one-to-one way; I'm too old to matter so you can talk to me if you want to. I hope you get a lot of good suggestions; there are some really good and kind people on the green.
posted by Anitanola at 11:55 PM on July 27, 2014 [11 favorites]

You've been battling depression for ten years and you still have enough spirit left to ask for help, that shows incredible resilience. Recognise that homeostasis is a thing, our unconscious minds like and feel safe with the familiar even when the familiar is ^&*(ing awful. You value kindness, right? Start with yourself. One kind thing or thought every day, there's some homework for you. Start small, baby steps!
posted by Coaticass at 12:02 AM on July 28, 2014 [18 favorites]

If your therapist is not experienced and skilled at treating social anxiety, you might want to look for one who is, either instead of or in addition to your current therapist. A structured course of CBT geared toward social anxiety can be useful. Understanding and helping to untwist the thinking behind social anxiety is perhaps a special skill. I know that for me a lot of regular therapy (before I did CBT for social anxiety) ended up focusing on managing or discussing my depression rather than deconstructing my social anxiety--but my social anxiety was actually fueling a lot of my depression because it was stopping me from connecting with people.

I remember when I lived in Maryland I was considering going to these Social Anxiety CBT groups or doing individual therapy with the person who leads them. I ended up moving to the West Coast and doing therapy here instead, so I can't comment on that therapist's skills, but he does specialize in Social Anxiety so I figured I'd throw it out there.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:07 AM on July 28, 2014 [5 favorites]

Do you know for sure that you have not got a physical (chemical) deficiency or excess? I found completely by accident that a magnesium supplement for muscle cramping also chased off my depression. Description is here: http://ask.metafilter.com/257504/Is-reality-really-this-malleable

The same thing helped my sister. She knows for sure that for the last ten years her serum Mg level was high normal and now it is plain ol' high because of the supplements - but her anxiety is much less a factor in how she goes about living now.

I am not saying go get some magnesium supplements. I am saying depression can have chemical roots and apparently those roots can be similar in siblings.
posted by jet_silver at 12:18 AM on July 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

Hi anon, I'm sorry to hear how much you are suffering and would like to offer you an e-hug if you would like one, first of all!

I suffer from MDD, too, (it sucks!) and your level of social anxiety sounds really similar to what I've felt at times. It's debilitating. I've been trying different meds for the past year, too...it can take a frustratingly long time to find the right combo for some of us, it seems. I made progress on the therapy side with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. It teaches you distress tolerance, how to work on cognitive distortions, how to practice self-care, how to deal with emotions like shame and anger, stuff like that. Do you feel like your therapist is helping you? Have you also been seeing them for the past year, or is this more recent?

You're so anxious that your fight-or-flight response is kicking in, because on some level, you see everyone else as a threat. (You should've seen me try to give presentations in college! I shook all over and I could barely speak. It wasn't pretty.) There are a number of points in your description that leap out at me as being possible symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome. It's really common for people in our general age group (I'm 35) to have not gotten diagnosed in middle and high school, especially if we tended to keep our heads down and not cause trouble. A lot of Aspies get misdiagnosed with ADHD, bipolar, MDD, stuff like that. I wasn't diagnosed until I had a full panel of psychological testing through Occupational & Vocational Rehab and followed up with the results myself. Has anyone ever suggested this to you? I don't want to armchair-diagnose, here, but like, I could have written this myself, so I just wanted to throw it out there. My mind blanks out and I stumble over words, too...it has to do with mental processing. I felt like a defective freak my whole life and couldn't understand why dealing with people was so danged hard for me. It really helped to find out that there was a reason for my problems.

Adding my name to the list, for you or anyone else reading this, please MeMail me if you would like to talk sometime or have questions. I've been pretty isolated myself this past year and it helps to talk to people who understand where you're coming from.
posted by cardinality at 12:19 AM on July 28, 2014 [5 favorites]

I would start exercising daily if you aren't already doing it. If you can find a way to walk for 20 minutes or half an hour and build up from there it will boost your mood, make you feel better, and give you something goal-directed to work toward that doesn't depend on other people and is pretty much within your control. It will help with your sleep, too.

Also, can you look at this like it's something you may have to be bad at for a little while in order to get good at it later?

Like, you may have to tough out some social interactions that are distressing, but if you look at them in terms of things that you did well or didn't do well, instead of in terms of the kind of person you are, you can learn from them and do better next time.

Or you can look at it as being about the kind of person you are, but look at it as whether the other person is the kind of person who "gets" you. Can you think of anyone you feel like you "get?"

You will find that things aren't so bad as you are making them out to be, that speaking extemporaneously may not be such a big deal, for example, because you wind up talking about stuff that's stereotyped, like what you've been doing lately. Or you can ask people questions about themselves instead, which makes people feel good, makes them want to spend more time with you, and makes them think you are smart.

Or, as you learn to give yourself permission to engage and exist in social spaces, you will learn to reattribute the actions of people who reject you: "that guy was kind of an asshole." Maybe you will even see beyond it to their suffering and have some detached compassion for them.

Some people have it easy, and can conduct themselves socially with ease. But I think a lot of the time there's not mindfulness or intentionality to it, to the point where these people see the importance of putting some extra effort into relating to someone who appears a bit "off." But you have this kind of empathy already, right? If you met someone who stuttered, or who took some time to compose their thoughts, you would get what it was like for that person and be able to adjust and make them feel safe, right? I think you wind up with an empathetic advantage over people who didn't have to struggle for their social skills.

Also: have you been evaluated for ADD?
posted by alphanerd at 12:27 AM on July 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

You have no reason, no reason, to feel ashamed. None. It happened, so unfortunately, that you came of age at a time when the larger economic environment is actively hostile to sensitive young people -- and you're still young, believe me. There are huge numbers -- smart, good, talented -- with resumes just like yours, living with families, just like you are. I wonder if communicating with a few might help you understand how ubiquitous this reality has become. The lives portrayed in films are further and further away from the experience of many. I really want you to grasp this. If there's been a failure, it's not yours to claim.

So, that is true. Even so, it's also true that the way out of it - and I can see you're inclined to take long and broad views on things, some of them, and might (understandably) be daunted by them - is to insist on the value of small things, like others have said. It's really those little, ridiculous, unimportant in the eyes of the world things that give us strength to fight. Any curiosity that tugs at you, or little pleasure, anything that makes you laugh, follow it. I agree very much that appropriate help for your social anxiety will make that feel a lot easier.

What I would hope for you is to find some corner of the world that would let you feel safe in trying something new, that would let you be proud, and let you stumble a bit too, without fear. (The thing that comes to mind is writing. I've been depressed myself, and have heard and read it described by a lot of people. I've rarely seen it articulated so sharply, or been so touched. You pulled at a bunch of us right through the screen.)

I wish you all the luck in the world, and continued strength.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:39 AM on July 28, 2014 [20 favorites]

Don't be ashamed. I think you are remarkable. Lots of us deal with these issues, myself included. If you need someone to sit quietly with at a coffee shop, I live in Northern Virginia and I am pulling for you.
posted by Pardon Our Dust at 2:57 AM on July 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

Re: the stammering and such-- I think most people don't speak as well as you think they do, and you probably don't speak as badly. People tend to autocorrect for others poor phrasing, while focusing on their own.
posted by empath at 6:01 AM on July 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

don't feel bad for asking. some kind words have been said above me so I won't reiterate but what I can offer is this:

I know quite a bit about navigating depression both in myself and in other people. I'm kind and ultra-forgiving and can make a conversation out of anything. I also live in DC and would be happy to grab a cup of tea with you sometime if you'd like to try to make a new friend. we don't even have to talk. and even if you don't really want to be friends, that's cool - you can still just practice on me. memail me, ok? my entire august is SO FREE right now.
posted by kerning at 6:43 AM on July 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

The secret is little tiny baby steps is very good advice. Do not remonstrate with yourself when you take a tiny step and nothing comes of it, or, you take a tiny step and find it's actually the wrong step and you go backwards -- the important thing is to stay the course and keep yourself oriented in the right general direction with the little steps going forward.

"It does not help that I have no passions and few interests" -- yes, that's common when depressed. It is not that things are boring and little of life is actually interesting; there's lots of great stuff going on in the world. Part of depression is that it works hard as hell to convince you otherwise (unless it sees an opportunity to show you something interesting only to then remind you that you could, realistically or not, never be involved with it).

So my advice is to forget, for now, about trying to amuse yourself, forget about trying to find things you enjoy. Your depression is getting in the way and it will frustrate you to feel that you should have interesting hobbies, etc.

But there is a nice way out here, and it is: modest acts of service to others. Find people in need and help them. You don't have to like it and it doesn't have to make you feel good, just -- if you are miserable and doing nothing, you might as well be miserable while making other people less miserable. Perhaps you will need to start with solitary work. Picking up trash at a park, sweeping out a soup kitchen after closing, something like that.

Doing good for the larger world is a very good balm for one's misery, and while it is not any magical depression cure, it has many side effects that align with curative activities. You will go out of your home. You will observe others who are also badly off, in different ways. You will have a routine and a purpose to it. Keep on long enough and you will acclimatise to this new role: you are not (the bad things depression tells you you are), but a useful and valued member of your community.

In re. "I can't do things like watch movies because seeing people living regular lives, even if they're complicated and unhappy, is too painful for me" -- I promise that many reading this question are pained to read it because they have seen themselves in parts of it. Movies do not normally depict regular lives. You might enjoy some of Lillian B. Rubin's writing -- the titles of "Worlds of Pain" and "Families on the Fault Line" tell you nearly all you need to know about the people described therein.
posted by kmennie at 7:05 AM on July 28, 2014 [5 favorites]

I would strongly recommend joining a therapy group or even a day treatment program in a psychiatric hospital or center. Either of these functions as a kind of halfway station between isolation and the kind of socialization you may not be able to do effectively at this time. Group therapy can be incredibly powerful, because you are in a room with people who are experiencing similar problems as yours, and therefore you don't have to feel (as) ashamed about yourself. There can be enormous bonding in these groups and many people feel as if they are "re-joining the human race" under compassionate conditions.

You may not want to go to either of these, for a variety of reasons, including anxiety, but it's important to recognize that everybody who attends groups like these are there for similar reasons to yours. That's why these groups and programs exist.

I'd start out, if you're interested, by discussing this with both your psychiatrist and your therapist to see if they think it's a good idea for you and, if they do, if they can recommend a group or program for you. If they can't, and you have the energy, you can call around to psychiatric departments of your local hospital and mental health clinics to see what's available.

A good thing about these programs is that insurance often covers them, at least to a certain extent (in the case of day programs), and/or group therapy is generally a lot cheaper than individual therapy.

I am not your therapist, but I am a therapist who is also a graduate of a group therapy program and also a 14-year veteran of a therapy group herself. I have seen the lives of many people like you change dramatically through both the groups I've been in and the groups I've led.
posted by DMelanogaster at 7:29 AM on July 28, 2014 [7 favorites]

I am deeply humiliated, ashamed and embarrassed of my life and how utterly I've failed. Occasionally, when I think about my life, it feels almost surreal that this is how it's turned out. It seems impossible. It feels like an awful never-ending dream.

This is me. Except you're fourteen years younger, and straight.

I don’t have any answers. There are all sorts of suggestions on how to make friends, but very few on how to deal with profound isolation when that doesn’t work. The loneliness eats away at you, like a constant gnawing. Maybe it’s supposed to.
posted by beigeness at 7:53 AM on July 28, 2014

Check out the IRL section on this website. People from here meet up all the time and I can guarantee you that it's not just the confident ones. It's a start. You have an inbuilt topic of discussion, for one thing.

When you say you can't believe how things have turned out, just try to remember that what you are experiencing now is not the end of things. There is room to move forward. You have not 'turned out' yet. You're still living and life does change, even if it doesn't happen in one giant burst of wonderfulness. Start with something like just going to a local flea market and striking up a conversation with the local bookseller about an author whose book they have for sale. Doesn't have to be a long one, you don't even have to be particularly clever or witty. Just for yourself, for the pleasure of hearing your voice out loud in concert with someone elses, even if just lasts for a minute or two.

29 is young. There's so much out there for you to do and that in itself can seem daunting, I know. Think short-term, local, just doing something for someone else when you can is enough to make a bad day good. Start with just one happy thing a day, seeing something that strikes you as good and remembering it enough to talk about later, even if it's just a passing comment to someone at the shop. Small connections, grab them when you can. It all helps and it all adds up.

Good thoughts from me to you. I know exactly how you feel.
posted by h00py at 7:59 AM on July 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding what others have said above about finding somewhere to volunteer. Tthis could remind you that you do have useful skills. Even if those skills start out as moving boxes or taking inventory, I bet there is a shelter or something near you that depends on volunteer labor and would find your efforts valuable. The biggest thing you can offer is showing up and asking what you can do.

Maybe you would start with moving boxes and then move on to more complex tasks. Maybe not, but those boxes gotta get moved, and you could be the guy. You might need to hop from organization to organization until you find the right fit. However it went, I think you could look forward to a day when you are contributing something useful to a cause you care about, and to people who badly need it. That day might even be the first day you volunteer.

I am so sorry, always, to read a post from someone who sounds like he's in pain like this. (I think a lot of people here, and everywhere, have been through dark times, and there are a lot of people who understand at least a fraction of what you're going through. Really.) But please consider that this pain might be something you could turn into empathy.

I'm not suggesting you go volunteer at a suicide prevention hotline today. But if you did that, or something similar, sometime in your life, I imagine it might feel pretty damn fulfilling to help people out of their lowest points. Because, although you are not suicidal (I'm very glad), you understand real pain and isolation. You already have an understanding of some intense human stuff, and imagine how valuable that could be in the right context. You don't need an advanced degree or a hefty resume to profoundly change someone's life for the better, just by being present and empathizing, and doing what you can to help.

Again, I am awfully sorry it's been this hard for you, for this long. It sounds intense. I promise that change is possible. Good luck, keep us posted, and know that there are people here (and out in the world) who would gladly be your friend.
posted by jessicapierce at 8:23 AM on July 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have found only a few things that interested me but I have never seriously pursued anything. It does not help that I have no passions and few interests. I know no one here. I have no connections. I've never given things a real honest shot. I wish so bad that I could.

Anxiety and depression can really crush the ability to develop passions. You're already in a fragile state from depression, but it's working in cooperation with anxiety so they can trade off duties in beating up your self-esteem and making you unhappy. It's easy to sub-consciously, or even consciously, think "If I work hard at this and keep failing that will just make me feel worse in the end, so why bother seriously considering doing something that will make me feel worse?" Having passion just becomes another source of pain and so the passion has to go away to not feel as bad. But you're a human and with that comes some desires that won't go away, like your craving of human connection.

I mentioned self-esteem and it might help you to recontextualize what that is, because I don't think I really understood it myself for a long time. I thought it had something to do with happiness and that not having any was bad, but that's about it. Today, I think having self-esteem is having passion for yourself. It's the part of yourself that went to the doctors to get treatment and it's the part that posted to Ask Metafilter. With time you can build that up so that it can take the emotional hits necessary to take larger risks and help you push through until you find more things to be passionate about.

That's why you need to take baby steps at first. Over the last decade your self-esteem has been seriously injured. It's like you have a back injury that would heal faster if the back muscles were stronger, but pushing too hard will just reinjure your back. So you need to work carefully to build up those muscles slowly and steadily with trained supervision. Something like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy sounds like it would be a good fit for you. It's raison d'être is about trying to retrain your thought patterns gradually over time which I think could help you. I did it for only a few months I think it helped me a lot.

Beyond that I just have to say please don't give up hope. I'm only a couple years older than you now and at your age I could have said basically the exact same things about my life, right down to the never having had sex or a girlfriend. Things can get better for you and if you keep working with doctors I'm sure they will get better. Always remember that you're worth being passionate about. If you ever feel up to it, send me a MeMail. I'd be happy to listen to you if you want to talk, or talk to you if you want to listen.
posted by Green With You at 9:17 AM on July 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Hang in there, anon. I feel for you. Also definitely agreeing with the tiny baby steps chorus. Little steps are something, and a lot of those add up.

When I went through my last depression-related episode, I kept focusing on okay. I could do okay. Okay was achievable. Once I got to okay, then I might be able to figure out the rest of it. Okay often involves lots of little actions.
posted by PearlRose at 9:43 AM on July 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I suggest Feeling Good by Dr. David Burns.

Do the exercises for at least 4 months.

come to meetups in DC. We're a fun bunch.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:20 AM on July 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I just want to add myself as someone you can talk to. I know it would be scary to communicate with some internet stranger, but just know that your experiences mean something and connecting with humanity helps other people too. Feel free to memail me.
posted by FiveSecondRule at 10:31 AM on July 28, 2014

I'm battling depression, too. It's a hideous beast. Social phobias, as well, though I fake it really well and people don't believe me when I say it. Been through some bad nasty times for the last (mumble) years, and hoping the corner's been turned.

Work. Consider taking the state and federal job tests for job that pay okay and have excellent benefits. Long term project, but potentially worthwhile.

Friends. Check out meetup.com. Go on hikes, or play pool, take tennis lesson, adult ed. classed, go to a chess club, International folk dancing, most bookstores have a book group. It gets you out among humans, say Hi to people, introduce yourself, ask about people's pets, kids, etc. Start becoming a regular at a bookstore and a coffeeshop - great way to have easy, low-risk social interaction.

Depression. You need a good therapist who can act as a coach. I went off meds when I was feeling okay, then crashed badly. Getting back on meds has been so great; I'm grateful for them as much as I hate having to rely on them. Set some small goals, break them down into manageable bits, and reward yourself for every step you take. Get some exercise every day, even if it's only taking the stairs to the mailroom. Work towards real exercise every day, outside in the sun and in nature. It makes a very big difference. Watch funny movies, listen to Ted talks, and listen to music; it can really lift you up. Get adequate sleep, and good nutrition. Take help that is offered.

You've accomplished more that you realize - graduating from college, working, and surviving this serious illness. Be kind to yourself. You deserve to be happy, you especially deserve to not be miserable.

These things have helped me:
Monstrous Discrepancies
posted by theora55 at 10:33 AM on July 28, 2014 [7 favorites]

I have nothing to add by way of advice that hasn't already been said. Memail me if you need a harried working mom of three toddlers who will still make time to be your friend.
posted by ramix at 10:39 AM on July 28, 2014

I would recommend a pet if you are in a place that accepts one. A cat, a dog, anything. Being responsible for another's wellbeing could give you sense of purpose, which builds confidence, and bonds you. I also find that my pets (two dogs) teach me a lot about myself. If I get angry, they sort of run off and hide, and I realize I am overreacting and self correct. If I am feeling joyful and able to express that, they reflect it right back. Then maybe you could connect with other folks with similar pets. Nothing bonds people together like their shared love of animals!

I hope that reading all of these replies makes you realize that you are not alone. Many people are empathetic to your story, which means that many can relate on some level, and have wisdom about healing. You are 29. You're just a pup! Do not look at your life and judge it yet. Or ever. But especially not yet! When I was 29, I was barely an adult, emotionally. You have a lot of living left to do, and you seem to desire that, which is a good sign.

Get a dog. Or walk dogs. Look into their eyes and see that you are everything you need to be.
posted by hippychick at 2:50 PM on July 28, 2014

Feel free to MeMail me, as well. I'm well into middle age, have seen and done a lot, am generally kind, non-judgmental and happy to talk with just about anyone about just about anything. Sometimes, just expressing yourself really helps.

I might not answer the day you write (I don't check Meta every day), but I will write. Learning that just because you don't hear from someone every day does not mean they don't care is a very important step.

I definitely agree with hippychick that a pet helps, if it's at all possible. You can practice talking to a pet. It won't care if you panic and your throat seizes up. It won't care if you say the wrong thing.

But if that's not possible - and even if it is - try writing to some of us. See what happens!
posted by clarkstonian at 4:39 PM on July 28, 2014

I'm not far from DC (near Annapolis) and would also be your friend. I sincerely empathize and hope you're able to receive all the warmth that these folks and I are sending your way. Hugs, iff'n you want 'em. :)
posted by justonegirl at 5:49 PM on July 28, 2014

I also would like to become internet pen pals. MeMail me. Best wishes!
posted by toastchee at 6:20 PM on July 28, 2014

Hi Anonymous. I wanted to say that I'm sorry things have been so hard for you. That you're seeing a therapist, a psychiatrist, talking to your family about things, and posting here, all those things show a lot of courage and strength.

What nacho fries says about social anxiety is important to emphasize. With a little more courage, and a therapist with training in behavioral therapy, you have a good change against social anxiety.


>> I was told I was kind, intelligent, funny and sensitive. I seemed to be very well-liked.

> You are still that person with those wonderful qualities.

This too is important. You are this person. This person is you.
posted by MrBobinski at 7:53 PM on July 28, 2014

If your work schedule allows it, I second the idea of getting a dog. If you ever need to feel loved, a dog is always there for you. It doesn't care about your resume, whether you mispronounce words, etc. It just knows that you are awesome.

Also seconding the idea of regular exercise, if you're not already doing it. "Baby steps" is the prevailing theme throughout these suggestions, and if you do a couch-to-5K program, that's essentially what you'll be doing there. Checking off a workout for the day is incredibly satisfying, and gives you something to shoot for when you get out of bed.

Best of luck. The very nicest part of the internet is pulling for you here!
posted by dondiego87 at 8:51 PM on July 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

I dunno if it'll help but hearing James Murphy talk about failure is kind of inspiring.
posted by hellojed at 9:33 PM on July 28, 2014

Wow your situation sounds a lot like mine. I am a 29 year old male living in DC suffering from depression and social anxiety. I've been suffering from depression for about 10 years, and I see a psychologist and psychiatrist in DC. I have a few friends in DC but no close friends. However the closest friends I have I met at a Meetup.com group - it doesn't hurt to try. One thing you could try is Larry Cohen's social anxiety group in Tenleytown. I did it a few years ago and it was pretty amazing. Anyway if you want to meet up some time message me - I struggle to make friends as well so I'm always up for meeting new people.
posted by hijol at 9:40 PM on July 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

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