30 is right around the corner and I’ve never felt more lost.
December 6, 2016 12:31 PM   Subscribe

I wake up and live every day like a zombie – miserable at work and then I go home, go to the gym, eat crappy takeout and go to sleep. It just all feels so pointless, like I’m slowly wasting away and not living the full life I’m supposed to live. I want friends, love, a family, and a job or hobby to live for. But I almost feel paralyzed – if I have no interests and don’t want to be around anyone, how do I get my life started? More details inside.

I am introverted and have some social anxiety – I’ve always been this way. I have always had issues with making friends, so it’s nothing new that I don’t have many, but as I get older it bothers me increasingly. I have 3 sisters and one that I’m very close to, but I know it’s not the same; I feel more and more that it’s important to have people in your life besides family members to support you and have fun with and to have your back. I’ve always felt like there’s something really wrong with me that I can’t make and keep friends, and it’s been a sore subject. I’ve gotten accustomed to living my life without friends, but I feel an intense sadness/anxiety during those moments that someone would normally do something fun with a group of friends – when I’m all alone, by myself on a Friday night watching TV on the couch and realize there are no phone calls or text messages from anyone, that’s when I feel an intense sadness and anxiety. The ironic thing about this, is that at the same time I really dislike being around everyone, yet I’m almost constantly lonely and craving connections with people. Yet when I try to be around other people, I’m counting down the time until the interaction will end and I can go home and be by myself.

I have about 2 girlfriends, if you can even call them that. One I work with so I see her very frequently. We used to have a pretty close relationship. Now, our relationship has changed and seems more strained, which I believe in part is because of me pushing her away – for no reason. I don’t desire being around her or hanging out with her anymore. In fact, I almost feel repelled by her recently, which I feel terrible about because I have no idea why or how to control it. It almost seems like something changed in me to cause me to see her high energy as too much to handle. The shift I’ve gone through is scary to me, because I don’t WANT to dislike her. She is the only close girlfriend I have outside of my family, and part of me doesn’t want to lose that. I think she sees the shift too but continues to try to invite me to things and keep me in her life.

The other girl I rarely see and also kind of avoid hanging out with because she’s kind of a nutcase and she’s done shady things in the past which have kept me from trusting her. I try to bring her back into my life every year or so, and each interaction reminds me of why I left her out of my life in the first place.

Every male “friend” in my life has left, I believe because they were never a friend in the first place and just wanted to stick around to end up dating or sleeping with me.

My love life isn’t much better than the friend situation – there have always been prospects but nobody who feels serious about me or that I feel serious about. The guys in my life typically come and go and I feel end up hurting me in some way or another. I’ve been casually dating/sleeping with one person on and off for about a year – he doesn’t want to make it official and we’ve had struggles because of that, yet he’s always around and seems to have feelings for me. I’m realistic about the situation and know it’s not leading to anywhere, and have tried cutting it off several times to just go back to him, because he’s literally the ONE person I WANT to be around right now and who I have fun with – and even with all the annoyances I have with him, we have a great chemistry and sex and it’s hard to walk away from those things when I feel they are literally the only things to look forward to.

All of these things wear on me but in general it’s how lost and purposeless I feel. I wake up, go to an entry level job I dislike, come home and sleep, wake up and do the same thing. Like I have no purpose. I don’t know what to do, career wise. I’ve had a decent paying job in the pharmaceutical industry ever since college. I have zero passion for it and not a strong interest in moving up, although I dislike the entry level work I’ve been doing and know that I have potential for more than that. I don’t have passions in anything else either, so if I wanted to leave this job I wouldn’t know what to switch to. I have no hobbies – or at least nothing that can be made into a career. I’ve tried lots of different things – volunteered at ASPCA, flying lesson, exercise classes, etc. and nothing has struck my interest strongly enough. I’m not particularly good at anything. All I want is something that I’m excited about that I want to wake up for. I feel like I keep looking for it but haven’t found my niche. I feel like – I’m almost 30...it’s about time for me to get my shit together.

I wake up every day like a zombie – miserable at work and then I go home, go to the gym/occasional exercise class, eat crappy takeout and go to sleep. It just all feels so pointless, like I’m slowly wasting away and not living the full life I’m supposed to live. I should be going out and having fun or at least developing a life for myself. I want friends, love, a husband, a family, and a job or hobby to live for. But I almost feel paralyzed – if I have no interests and don’t want to be around anyone, how do I get my life started?

I just want to know if anyone is going through a similar thing or did at this age and if so, how did it work out for you? How do I find my direction/purpose and finally get out of this rut?
posted by koolaidnovel to Grab Bag (25 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
You sound depressed. I'd talk to a psychiatrist and see whether they can help you break the pointless/empty feeling right now, and then you can deal with your existential crisis about turning 30 (which may seem much less dire in the improved light). Seriously.
posted by acm at 12:37 PM on December 6, 2016 [25 favorites]


I just want to know if anyone is going through a similar thing or did at this age and if so, how did it work out for you?

Yes. So many of us did, or do, and the answer started with medication for depression. Once that gets started you find you have a little bit, if not a lot, of motivation to get out of bed every day and start getting your life together. Things become more fun and the things that aren't fun are more easily dealt with.

Shit like exercise and nutrition will help to some degree but it sounds like you are going through some depression, something MANY OTHER PEOPLE, IF NOT THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE, go through and for many of those people medication really, really helps.

Good luck.
posted by bondcliff at 12:40 PM on December 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


Yeah, this sounds like depression to me. You mention social anxiety in your first line below the fold; is this a label you've applied to what you're feeling, or is that a diagnosis from a medical professional? I second acm's recommendation of talking to a psychiatrist, since it sounds like you need to address what may be at the root of all of this (mental health) before worrying about a specific symptom (e.g. the deterioration of the relationship with your coworker).
posted by craven_morhead at 12:41 PM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Does your employer offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)? If so, call the number and ask for a session or two with a therapist. Then print out your post and bring it with you. It is okay - more than okay - to ask for help, and they will help you.
posted by dywypi at 12:43 PM on December 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


I am introverted and have some social anxiety – I’ve always been this way.

But you don't have to keep being this way. Being introverted does not mean you have to have social anxiety! It just means you need no-people time in order to recharge from being with people.

Anxiety and depression are often co-morbid. You should talk to someone about getting treated for both - it can be meds, meds +talk, or it may be that just talk might work. You are me through much of my 20s. It sucked. Getting my depression under control made it stop sucking.
posted by rtha at 12:52 PM on December 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


nthing that you need to have a conversation with a mental health professional. You don't have to feel this way!
posted by mr_roboto at 12:54 PM on December 6, 2016


Oh man, you sound like me 4 years ago. You need an antidepressant, plus a Goal. People get hung up on this, I think you included, because they think goal=passion. This doesn't have to be the case! Here's what worked for me:
1. Pick a place you'd like to go. Someplace warm and beautiful. You don't have to have a ~passion~ for it. For me it was Bali, solely because it looked nice.
2. Buy a plane ticket.
3. Get a second job and work your tail off for however long it takes to not go into debt over this. For me it was waiting tables after my nursing job for about 6 months.
4. Go on the trip and revel in your competence and self-reliance.

Based on the high from that trip, I decided to pursue another technical degree, researched programs and moved to the city with the cheapest program to establish residency. Now I have friends and I'm married and I bought a house. I still have some social anxiety but it is nowhere near what it used to be. You should shake things up. Get out of your stagnant state. The first step is talking to your PCP.
posted by pintapicasso at 1:17 PM on December 6, 2016 [26 favorites]


By the time I'd read your "above the fold" paragraph, I knew I'd be commenting to say: I am not a doctor. I am not your doctor. But boy howdy, do you sound like me from a few years ago. Meds (SNRI: Venlafaxine) did the trick for me. It was like someone flipped the "actual living person" switch from off to on. (Over the course of weeks, not overnight.)

In my case, and maybe in yours, the problem was malfunctioning wetware. I had too much or not enough of certain chemicals in my brain. That's got nothing to do with who I am as a person, and is something science can help fix.

If you have depression, then you have a disease that changes your perception. When people say "depression lies", this is what they mean. The disease creates false inputs that make things seem worse than they are, and which create problems dealing with other people. Treat the disease, fix the perceptual problems, and lots of stuff gets better.

Call your primary care physician's office today -- like, right now, not in an hour or tomorrow -- and make an appointment.
posted by sourcequench at 1:55 PM on December 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


I could have written this myself five years ago. Looked successful from the outside, dying of loneliness and lack of purpose and high-functioning depression on the inside. It does and did get better. For me, I finally hit a point where I felt like I couldn't keep living like I was, so I made an appointment with a therapist. Therapy was really effective for me, but/and if my brain chemistry had been different I would have taken medication, too, so don't write that off as being a useful tool as well.

As for action steps: go to your insurance website, find an in-network provider (therapist or counselor), call and ask for an initial consultation to make sure you are a good fit, and then print this out and show it to them. Even if they are not a psychiatrist it is my understanding that if they think you would benefit from medication at that point they can refer you to a prescribing doctor; I didn't really trust myself to start the conversation with my PCP.

You don't have to live like this. You can find your inner purpose, you are deserving and worthy of love, and it does get better.
posted by stellaluna at 2:01 PM on December 6, 2016


Social Anxiety is a treatable/manageable condition at least 90% of the time. Do not let it be the 'but' of your entire life. Nobody (except maybe very rich, not-very-bright people) is out in the world feeling no discomfort, everyone's just managing it. Do not wait for the magical day that everything feels fantastic to start doing things, because that's not a thing. Do not wait for someone else to fix it for you, because they can't.

Go to the doctor. Then go volunteer somewhere on Friday nights. That'll give you something to do and people who are happy to see you.

Take a class in something you find mildly interesting. No great life passion, no commitment beyond 2-8 weeks, just something you don't know much about that might be okay to do for a month or two. Somewhere in your town, and improv class lurks. There's an adult education center or library with a watercolor class. The Red Cross does first aid classes all the time.

This stuff snowballs: the more you do, the more you engage your brain with the world and people around you and new information, the more you feel like doing it. That's also how you meet people, and the more you meet people the more you meet interesting people and then you yourself are also interesting because you are doing things and meeting people. That's how you make great friendships and relationships, and that's most of the time how you stumble across the things that turn out to be your actual life's passion.

If you don't have a doctor, go to urgent care or a walk-in clinic or Planned Parenthood, they can write you a prescription just as well as anybody. Get started on something and then do the workbook and find a doctor/gyn and get a physical with bloodwork like you should be doing every 1-3 years at your age and maybe try a few months of CBT or DBT with a therapist.

Six months from now, everything could be different for you. But you will have to do a little bit of work.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:01 PM on December 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


I agree with pintapicasso. Yes, get the depression checked out with your doc. But man, you gotta find something just for you. I went through the same thing at 28. I felt like I was on a treadmill and all I could think was, Is this it? I'm pretty shy and had no friends so I worked a second job, a shitty job stocking in a store, to save money to go live in Japan. I was teaching in the US and took any teaching job I could find to live there for 2 years. I traveled the hell out of that country. Loved every minute of it. I'm over 50 now and that experience gave me the courage to change course when my life stalled later on.
You don't have to do that. Just do the vacation thing. Go live on a farm in Romania for 2 weeks. Go volunteer at an orphange in Vietnam for 2 weeks. Anything.
(After you see your doctor, please.)
posted by It'sANewDawn at 3:17 PM on December 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


Find new interests that will give you reason to get up every day. Make an effort to try new things, and if you don't like them, keep looking. If you're watching TV and see something that sparks your interest, try it for yourself instead of just watching other people do it.

New hobbies won't show up at your doorstep. If you make an effort to seek out and try things, you are bound to find something that gives you joy or meaning or a sense of pride, or just a fun way to pass your free time.

Taking a free online class is an easy way to get started and you might find something you're genuinely interested in and not just a topic to learn about.

Also, if you spend a lot of time watching TV, turn it off. Make watching TV not an option anymore. See what you come up with to do with your time instead.
posted by atinna at 3:55 PM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


It seems like all of these issues are sort of interconnected - if you feel terrible about your job and life and uninterested in everything, that's going to make hanging out with people seem annoying and stale. If you feel left out and lonely and "not good enough," you may be discounting the very real talents that you could bring to your life project. It sounds like you need to get in touch with your strengths and passion in life. Pronto.

IDK how - here is a list of things to try?

1) Get on Tinder or OkCupid and go on some dates - ditch the guy who's going nowhere!
2) Try to find an amusing new hobby.
3) Travel...?
4) Start a new business? Is there anything you could be doing on the side that could turn into an alternative career?
5) Medical help, it sounds like you're depressed.

Better yet, why not try to reframe this period in your life as the beginning of the movie - you know, where the hero or heroine is kind of listless, and on the verge of something big happening, but they don't know what it is yet? You know the kind of thing I'm talking about. Right before the big twist in the plot!
posted by benadryl at 4:01 PM on December 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


I agree with what others have said about getting some kind of professional help, but I have a couple of small bits of advice that might help:

1. Check out a site like meetup.com for events related to something you like (or something you might grow to like). It's not easy to make yourself go and hang out with a bunch of strangers, but if you can make yourself do it, it will probably feel like an accomplishment.

2. Ditch the crappy takeout. Meal planning and grocery shopping may feel like extra chores you'd rather not bother with, but they're a net savings in time and effort compared to takeout; nothing is more convenient than the food you already have at home! You also get access to a wider variety of potentially healthy food, and you save money.
posted by shponglespore at 5:57 PM on December 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am a bit older than you, and I am here to say you are doing ok! You have a job, you have a place to live, you have your health, you have friends. These are all important things. They might not seem like the parts of your life that are going well at this instant, but hear me out!

1. Job. Ok, yeah, you say you have no passion for it. Please stop using the word passion when it comes to work. Work is work. I doubt your company is filled with people who are passionate about the pharma industry. The passion lie pisses me off to no end. You have a job, find something in it that satisfies you. I don't have a great job right now, but I do things during the day that give me satisfaction, such as making a pile of packages ready to be mailed. Find something that makes you say, I do good work here. Even if it's small. Look for other jobs. That will help you feel as if you are doing something toward a better employment situation. When you are work, be professional. Be on time, dress nicely, say hello to your co-workers.

2. Home. I assume you have a place to live. This is your refuge. Decorate it to your liking. Do something completely new. Cook something that makes you use up every dish in the kitchen. Take a hot bath. Turn all the lights on. Paint the bathroom your favorite color. Get a cat, so you have a critter to come home to. (Sure, it could be a dog, but I'm a cat person, so: cat.)

3. Health. Your depression sounds like the most serious thing you have going on with your health, and you should definitely get help for that. But other than that? Appreciate the good health that you have while you're young. Go for a long walk in the morning in the bright sun before you go to work. Take deep breaths. Stride purposely. Take a long stretch on the floor. Practice healthy sleep habits.

4. Friends. It's ok to want to get away from people and recharge. You can dictate how much time you want to be around others. However, when you are going to be in extrovert mode, you should commit to being a person who interacts with the world. Smile, make eye contact, ask questions, listen. Those actions, done sincerely, will pay off, even in small quantities. It's a constant challenge, trying to get out of my self-involved head. Sometimes I even succeed.

You say you are not good at anything. Most of us are not good at an activity until we do it a lot. I crochet. I'm not very good at it, but it's relaxing and I like to make potholders and give them to people and they seem to appreciate it, so there's that. Go for a hike in the woods. Take a hot yoga class. It's ok to be bad at something for the first time. For the first ten or twenty times, even for the first fifty times! You are allowed to be bad at stuff. Not everything is a competition.

As far as the romantic partners thing, dump your boyfriend. It's not working, and it's causing you pain. Use Miko's breakup script. Going forward use the time you have on yourself. Take a year for you, then if you feel like a better person, then start dating again.

Best of luck to you. You are always welcome to MeMail me.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:01 PM on December 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


I’ve gotten accustomed to living my life without friends, but I feel an intense sadness/anxiety during those moments that someone would normally do something fun with a group of friends – when I’m all alone, by myself on a Friday night watching TV on the couch and realize there are no phone calls or text messages from anyone, that’s when I feel an intense sadness and anxiety. The ironic thing about this, is that at the same time I really dislike being around everyone, yet I’m almost constantly lonely and craving connections with people. Yet when I try to be around other people, I’m counting down the time until the interaction will end and I can go home and be by myself.

all right, I'm going to do the thing, I'm really going to do it, here goes: try a therapist. WAIT let me explain why. it is because: if you find one you like, and who works this way, they will allow you (indeed, force you) to control the content of the interaction and introduce all topics of discussion yourself. what this does is to clarify for you what it is you don't tolerate well about other people: like for example, is it what they choose to talk about, they're boring? they talk too much and you feel ignored, or they listen but it's impersonal, you feel like you could be anybody, so it's alienating? or alternately, is it just the pure sensation of being physically close to someone and having them pay attention to you, so that you can't relax? you can eliminate the first two factors in therapy and the third, if it is an issue, will be intensified so that if that's what bothers you, you'll know. & perhaps through exposure come to tolerate it better.

my personal opinion is that depression and anxiety may result from these personality traits and may intensify them, but they don't cause them if you've consistently been like this. this is not at all to say you can't both feel better about it and change it, but although drugs may improve your mood and motivation and be helpful in that way, therapy is more likely to be helpful in the realm of learning to find pleasure in the company of others.

the alternative to drugs and talk therapy is brute forcing it, just treating social interaction and making friends the way you treat exercise and work. tell yourself pain is just weakness leaving the body, or some garbage like that, and do it in spite of hating it. I am not recommending this, just noting it. being around people is somewhat like exercise in that the longer you don't do it, the more unpleasant it is when you do.

The shift I’ve gone through is scary to me, because I don’t WANT to dislike her. She is the only close girlfriend I have outside of my family, and part of me doesn’t want to lose that

yeah, you need to have more than one and a half friends so that you can feel able to maintain friendships because you want and value them and not because they're all you've got. see above about just brutally forcing yourself to interact with people until eventually you have a few who know you and will ask you to do things on Friday nights.

some of the advice I am giving you here, I have never taken myself and probably never will take. in spite of that it is good advice.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:25 PM on December 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


First off, friends and having them is way overrated. Yeah it is good to have friends et al, but believe me it is not the end all if you don't have them. Some of us are loners, which is NOT a bad thing. We like it that way. Do you enjoy your own company? Good. Take it from there, add and subtract as needed. Build yourself up and build yourself strong. Stop worrying about friends and doing what you think is expected of you. Next, go back to your childhood. Think about what made you happy, the classes you took and the ones you got the most pleasure/fun out of. How did you spend your time when you were by yourself? Start from there. As for purpose, what purpose are you looking for? You want to save the world? End climate change? The reality is that most of us can barely tie our shoes correctly everyday. And that is fine. Take joy in the life you live-it is a gift. You are only 30, life begins everyday. Stop worrying start living (not my saying but someone had to say it).
posted by metajim at 10:58 PM on December 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Nthing all of those who suggest a trip to your doctor and a course of antidepressants. This won't solve all of your problems in one magical moment, but it will give you the kick-start you need to start making changes.

Alongside the antidepressants, I suggest you start to change the story that you tell yourself about yourself. Without changing any of the facts that you've written above, it is possible to write a completely different story of your life. Here's an example:

koolaidnovel has loving friends and family. Despite feeling introverted and unsocial, koolaidnovel has made such a wonderful connection with her friend Julie that Julie will continue to call her up and include her even when things are tough. This shows that koolaidnovel is very special to Julie; and if koolaidnovel can make one good friend like Julie she can make three or four.

Even through all her pain and sadness, koolaidnovel continues to turn up to work every day. This shows she has the basic discipline required to make changes in her life.

When creepy guys try to get close to koolaidnovel just because they want sex from her, she doesn't give in. She knows that she deserves respect from men, and when disrespectful men get the message that she won't just sleep with anyone to get affection, they vanish. Koolaidnovel is basically the secret sixth Spice Girl.

Koolaidnovel wakes up every day feeling like a zombie - but only on the outside. Inside she still has a beating human heart, a heart that wants something better for herself, a heart that motivates her to sit down at a computer and reach out for help, because she has a strong drive to live and be happy. How funny that people see koolaidnovel walking around and think she's a zombie when really she is a human being who wants to grow and become better, and is just looking for a way to do that. Those people are going to be so surprised and amazed when koolaidzombie comes out of her cocoon as koolaidbutterfly!

***
I suggest reaching out to the friend you mentioned with a very simple gesture: an email or a note or a card to say thank you for sticking by you. Something like this:
Hi Julie,
I've been thinking a lot about our friendship lately, and I feel like I've been pushing you away. I'm not sure if you've noticed this, but I want you to know that this isn't anything to do with you, it's just that I've felt so incredibly sad these last few months. Even though I've been distant, you have continued to try to include me, to reach out to me, and those little gestures have meant more to me than you could ever know. Thank you for being a wonderful friend.

Showing gratitude to others is one of the most therapeutic things we can do, and I guarantee that one simple note like that will get your friend fired up and ready to fight for you. Your two friends and your sister are the generals in the army that will help you win this battle - use them!

***

That word 'lost' is so one I really identify with. All the advice in the world is great, and it's wonderful to know where you *should* be, but what if you don't have a map? What if you don't know where to start? So here are some basics you can do to start - and I mean BASIC basics, the very first steps you can take to change your mind set:
1. Stand up
2. Stretch. Put your hands in the air above you - this is a universal pose that decreases stress and prepares us for action (go on Youtube and watch the Ted Talk 'Your body language shapes who you are by Amy Cuddy'). Your brain will take the message from your body that it is time to move.
3. Drink a glass of water. If you're even a little dehydrated, your mood will be lowered. You might still be depressed after your water, but you'll be slightly less depressed, I guarantee it.
4. Walk. Walk briskly and with purpose, with your head held high. Look up - look at the patterns that the trees make against the sky, at the tops of the buildings.
5. Think about the universe, it's incredible size and infiniteness. Think about the sun, moving through its little corner of the milky way, hugging its planets close. Think about the milky way in its neighbourhood of galaxies, and the stars that are a million times the size of the sun. Think about the endless, silent turning of these awesome bodies, with their rings and storms and moons. Think about the comets and the asteroids moving through the vast emptiness, totally lost and yet absolutely certain that they will keep going. You are a part of all of this, a unique configuration of space dust that has come together for one special, fleeting moment. This little ball of space dust deserves to be loved and treasured.

***

Lately I've been watching motivational videos by Tony Robbins on Youtube. They might not all be entirely to your taste, but they will give you little nuggets you can use. Maybe watch with a notepad and a pen so that you can jot down anything that sounds useful.

I'm optimistic for you, because I can see that you're searching. The time and thought that you've put into writing this question shows that you're ready to change things, and that's *so* exciting! And look at all the comments you've had from people who have taken the time to talk to you, because you're a MeFite, and that means that by definition you are curious, resourceful and optimistic. You are a part of a community here, and this community can provide all the maps and compasses and trail mix you need for your journey.

Good luck. You're still young. You've got this.
posted by matthew.alexander at 2:18 AM on December 7, 2016 [24 favorites]


Well, this question has been answered to death, but I just want to weigh in on this part:
My love life isn’t much better than the friend situation – there have always been prospects but nobody who feels serious about me or that I feel serious about. The guys in my life typically come and go and I feel end up hurting me in some way or another. I’ve been casually dating/sleeping with one person on and off for about a year – he doesn’t want to make it official and we’ve had struggles because of that, yet he’s always around and seems to have feelings for me. I’m realistic about the situation and know it’s not leading to anywhere, and have tried cutting it off several times to just go back to him, because he’s literally the ONE person I WANT to be around right now and who I have fun with – and even with all the annoyances I have with him, we have a great chemistry and sex and it’s hard to walk away from those things when I feel they are literally the only things to look forward to.
I see this pattern a lot. Person A is kind of with Person B, they're been together on and off for a while. Person B doesn't do partner-y things but enjoys all the benefits of a partner (sex, sleepovers, etc) and seems to not care about having a partner. Person A is unhappy with this but kind of goes along with it because they're getting some of the benefits of a partner until they find a real partner.

Sounds okay on paper. The problem is, if you're looking for a new guy who is going to be more relationship-oriented, you have a big wall between you and other guys. Anyone who wants a relationship is going to read you as "taken" and move on to someone else.
posted by deathpanels at 5:42 AM on December 7, 2016


Thank you so much EVERYONE for all of your thoughtful responses. I'm so grateful to be a part of this awesome online community. I'm going to call and make an appointment with a psychologist today and start to take action with my life. Thanks again! :-)
posted by koolaidnovel at 7:27 AM on December 7, 2016 [13 favorites]


An antidepressant helped me tremendously. For me, it was as simple as calling a doctor's office and saying "I would like to speak to someone about depression." One phone call and saying that one sentence out loud was all the initiative I had to take, after that it was just doing what they told me by showing up to appointments and answering questions honestly and taking my pills on time, until after a few weeks I started to feel better.

And kick that guy to the curb! Semi-dating someone who doesn't want to make it official can be shredding to your self-esteem. You deserve better, and although it may take some time to find the right person, it doesn't sound like this guy is very good for you.

Pintapicasso's idea is awesome. Your Goal could also be to develop a skill, or to create something. Maybe take a woodworking class with the eventual goal of building yourself a coffee table. Or take a knitting class, and knit the Perfect Hat. Or piano lessons. Or karate (after watching the video in this recent post, I wish I had taken more self defense classes when I had the free time because that stuff is so freakin cool!) It doesn't have to be something you feel passionate about; a mild curiosity is enough to get started.
posted by beandip at 7:32 AM on December 7, 2016


I think you need to stop seeing the guy. I think he's causing a lot of the sadness that you might be able to deal with otherwise.

I don't know how long things have been this bad for you, but it sounds like some of the extremes are somewhat recent, such as not wanting to be around your closest girlfriend. If I had to guess I'd say you're usually pretty good at being isolated but it's gotten unbearable, even though you feel like you're doing things to cause the isolation. You mention not wanting to see anyone but feeling sad about not having any texts/messages when you're alone on Friday nights. And you recognize that the only person you want to be around and have fun with is this guy.

He could be doing you more harm than good here. If he wanted a full-on relationship with you and committed to that, do you think a lot of your depression, loneliness and listlessness might go away? Do you think it would make you happy? It's just that, even though you aren't in a "relationship", you are stuck in a dead-end relationship with him that isn't providing you with any support or emotional fulfillment or anything. But you only have fun when you're around him, and you don't want to be around anyone but him. That sounds to me more like you're stuck on him and so you're depressed, not that you're depressed and he's the only fun thing in your life.

I think if you cut off contact with him completely and started meeting people on a dating app, chatting to people online, distracting yourself and finding other people to be interested in and spend time on, just do anything other than think about him, you might be able to start turning things around. Right now you can't because he's the only thing that's fun and you have no other distractions. You need something that isn't him to be interested in.
posted by Polychrome at 7:32 AM on December 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nth ing what everyone else has said - mental health professionals can seriously help! Go to one, you won't regret it. Evrybody needs some help sometimes. Also, though: change your diet immediately and start exercising immediately, even if it is something super simple like yoga with youtube in your living room or taking a walk. Check out the Whole 30 book for a few good recipes (i don't recommend doing the full diet in one go right now bc it is kind of tough, maybe later when you are feeling better). Diet and exercise are not panaceas, but you will be amazed how much it helps to eat well and exercise. And when you're depressed, these are just things you have to force yourself to do. Start with easy recipes (how about a caprese salad? Super easy. No cooking involved) and pack up your exercise clothing and put them on your passenger seat to make it easier to go after work.
posted by dubhemerak3000 at 9:12 AM on December 7, 2016


Yay for starting treatment for your depression! I hope it helps quickly, because that’s pretty clearly your biggest challenge.

Focusing on just one part of your question: it sounds like you may have part of the problem I had up until my late thirties, in that I didn’t really care about having a lot of acquaintances/ going out every weekend/ etc., but NOT having that made me feel like an unlikable loser that no one cared about. (This was especially hard around the holidays, when everyone is all “Oh it’s such a busy season with so many social events I don’t even know how to fit them all in!” when I was invited to my parents’ for Christmas and that was it.) Recognizing that for me, having people to “hang out with” was only important because it made me feel popular rather than because I actually enjoyed it, helped me to let it go. It’s not actually something I value in itself; I only valued it because it demonstrated that I was worthwhile. Realizing this helped me to look for OTHER things to remind me of that, including my relationships with family, my dog, my few close friends, etc.
posted by metasarah at 9:26 AM on December 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


Nthing the many, many suggestions of therapy + possibly meds. I've been on Lexapro for many years now and it's a big help for me in that it calms my mind down enough that I can actually DO the cool things I want to spend my time on, rather than just obsess about how I'm not doing them. It is quite literally life-changing.

You mentioned various activities you've tried, and one thing I notice is that none of them seem to have much of a sense of progression. For me, I find I need that, even if it's in a really small way, in order to stick with an activity enough to really like it. For instance, I've been running now for about two years and started with a Couch to 5K app. Compared to basically every other runner I know, I am SLOW AS HELL (like it's been a big deal to start consistently run miles in less than 15 minutes), but it's an activity that I can do and REALLY see changes in myself and my abilities as I've progressed. It's been a huge confidence-builder, too, and has helped me work through some perfectionist tendencies because the ONLY way to get better is to just go out and do it, no matter how imperfectly. I'm not suggesting that you have to try running, but for me it really does help with the "lost" feeling that you're describing. As a bonus, running events are kind of a level of social interaction I really like - I tend to sign up for and do races on my own, so I get to be out in this crowd of friendly, happy, supportive people, but I can really set the level of interaction I'm feeling that day. If I'm feeling more withdrawn I just do the race and head home, and if I'm feeling a little more social I might high-five or chat with people as I go. Again, I'm not suggesting running as any kind of cure-all here but as an early-30s woman with some of the same issues you describe, I have found it a really valuable addition to my life in the past couple years.
posted by augustimagination at 12:57 PM on December 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


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