Why can't I do anything?
February 18, 2017 2:48 PM   Subscribe

I don't think I'm depressed because I've felt depressed before but this feels different. I never want to get out of bed. I don't really want to eat and I don't have an appetite. I literally could zone out in bed for hours thinking about nothing. I feel bad about not wanting to do anything. I've always been like this but lately it's been worse.

I do have ADHD and I've been taking vyvanse, but it stopped working. I've taken adderall and that makes me even more spacey and agitated after the effect is finished. I have one semester left of school and I need to get it together to graduate. My GPA is terrible, I don't really have any friends, and I've spent most of my life on my bed doing nothing. If I spend too much time in my bedroom, I have a hard time leaving. I have high anxiety and I'm very easily overwhelmed.
I have posted a question like this before but I'm struggling to understand why the smallest task feels impossible.
I want to move out but I'm terrified I won't be able to handle it because I'm incapable of doing anything. My whole family is pressuring me to stay and to live at home until I get married to someone they find acceptable. If I don't and I move out I'm not sure what their reaction will be like. I grew up in a very conservative, religious, and traditional household. I have very liberal and non religious views and I do not see myself following the path that my parents have set up for me. During college I was restricted from doing a lot, however I did get some freedoms like leaving for Spring Break for a volunteer project. Because of all the restrictions I never got to grow up as a person. I feel like there is a lot of emotional blackmail and guilt tripping.
I'm just exhausted from thinking about it all the time. I just don't want to deal with any of it anymore and I feel like I'm completely powerless. I've even had thoughts that maybe I should just accept whatever my family wants for me because it's obvious I'm not capable of living life by my own terms.

I'm tired of being me. I just want to be capable and have my life together but it seems like I'm always falling behind. I don't know where to even start because every single time I try to make my life better, I feel like something always sets me back.
posted by sheepishchiffon to Human Relations (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like you're dealing with a great deal of stress around major life issues. Can you see a therapist through your college's counseling center? It might be helpful to talk to someone in person.
posted by lazuli at 3:04 PM on February 18, 2017

Depression can manifest in many different ways. Just because this isn't how depression has felt to you in the past doesn't mean you're not experiencing depression now.
Can you find the energy to contact your physician or your school's health clinic and/or counseling center? It's so hard and exhausting to try to deal with what you're describing on your own. Please try to reach out for help. Perhaps a friend or roommate can call to make an appointment for you if that seems too daunting right now. It's ok to ask for help to get help.
posted by bookmammal at 3:15 PM on February 18, 2017 [13 favorites]

I have anxiety and when it isn't managed, it manifests exactly like you're describing. (My PCP and therapist each screened me for both anxiety and depression - I don't have depression.)

I started taking an SSRI for my anxiety last year and it has made a world of difference. Even if depression isn't a part of this equation, an SSRI could still help you! Also, last year my Vitamin D and B were a little low; I started supplementing and my fatigue is worlds better now.

Good luck.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:20 PM on February 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

This is a classic form of depression. Please seek diagnosis and treatment.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:20 PM on February 18, 2017 [15 favorites]

I want to move out but I'm terrified I won't be able to handle it because I'm incapable of doing anything.

Maybe it's depression, maybe it's the ADHD (I have both and can commiserate), but either way, this stuck out to me.

It sounds clear that you're ready to move on from your life under your conservative, restrictive family's control. At this point, being in young adulthood, you sound 100% burnt out by it.

It is amazing what changing this one thing - moving out to your own place, or just a place that isn't your family's house - can do not only for one's motivation, but also one's capabilities. Right now you fear you're not capable of living on your own. I can almost guarantee that line of thinking is the direct result of the situational depression you're dealing with by still being stuck under your parents' roof. It's counterintuitive, but getting out on your own will open the way to feeling and being capable.

Take the first step by moving out. Do whatever it takes. Check out your campus's community board to see if anyone is searching for a roommate. Ask around.

And yes, as others have stated (on preview), seeing a therapist will only serve to benefit you.
posted by nightrecordings at 3:21 PM on February 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

I am not a doctor but what you describe does sound like major depression and anhedonia to me. Have you talked to your psych about the fact that your ADHD meds aren't working, or your depressive symptoms (lack of interest in activities, loss of energy, difficulty making decisions, hopelessness)?

I would suggest that buying into the idea that you're not capable of living life on your own terms, that you are powerless, is feeding right into your controlling family's plans, and is possibly an idea that they've helped nurture in you. They sound like they have some pretty serious dysfunction of their own, and you should work with a therapist (if possible) to develop a plan of escape.

You need to figure out what you want, which can be difficult if your wants and needs were ignored or brushed aside by overly-controlling parents growing up. Does anything make you happy, even if it's not sustained? Going out in nature has always been a balm for me, and distance helps me gain some perspective about my problems, if you can find something like that which gives you a little bit of strength, you can use it to help you. Good luck!
posted by Feyala at 3:21 PM on February 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

Along with therapy and addressing mental health stuff and working with a neutral, third party professional to make a plan, consider what you can do to get into an environment (mental or physical) that will help your mindset be more what you want it to be. You don't have to force the mindset or be sad that it's not where you'd like it to be -- but think about how you can encourage the conditions where the mindset you want is more likely to take root, be nourished, and grow.

Once I stayed for a month in a restrictive, very religious household, where I was expected to stay in the house--mostly in one room--and leaving on my own was discouraged because it wasn't perceived to be safe or appropriate for me to walk around in public as a woman.

The household was polite to me, I had internet access, I was able to go out if I planned it and advocated for myself and brought a man, but I still found myself lethargic, unmotivated, foggy, and, in retrospect, depressed. The situation did this, with possible support from my biology -- I mean that for someone who wasn't predisposed to get depressed or be easily demotivated, that environment might not have had the same impact. But it did for me.

Whatever small step you can take to get out of the environments and conversations that make you feel "blah" and "I can't do it" and "I'm incapable," I think that could help. And, separately but simultaneously, whatever you can do to give yourself more access to those activities, people, places, books, etc that make you have thoughts like, "I'm having fun," "This isn't bad," "I am competent," do that. Do it in small ways and don't get down on yourself for how long it takes. But do it, and then build on it. It is like pulling yourself out of a pool of molasses.

My mood didn't change until I got out of that household. If I had lived there long-term, I'd have been obligated to try to do my best to keep my energy up. But the biggest and most effective thing I could do was get out.

By the way, I can hear there is a courageous spirit in you -- a part of you that knows you are A Person and you have your own identity, which deserves to be honored and accepted. I don't hear someone who has given up. I hear someone whose personhood is so certain and so strong that the current situation is unacceptable. Kudos for having a sense of self that leads you to recognize when your boundaries are being pushed against. Your response to a bad situation is to feel bad. That's such a healthy response, actually, and a sign of strong self image.
posted by ramenopres at 3:40 PM on February 18, 2017 [36 favorites]

See a doctor for fatigue, they will check you for anemia, thyroid etc.
posted by serena15221 at 3:42 PM on February 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

I'm just exhausted from thinking about it all the time. I just don't want to deal with any of it anymore and I feel like I'm completely powerless.

I know you alluded to a lot more than just being a student, but I remember feeling like this a lot when I was in school, particularly towards the end. You mentioned having only one more semester to go before graduation. Wow, that was like, HIGH ANXIETY for me at the time. I felt like I was going to melt into a puddle. In fact, I remember calling my mother, out-of-state, and telling her that I was thinking about dropping out (in my LAST semester) because I couldn't handle the stress. I was a total wreck.

I agree with the other posters. Depression isn't really a feeling. It's an illness, characterized by certain symptoms, not the least of which includes lack of interest in your life's activities and lack of motivation to participate in these activities.

It sounds like you really have a lot on your plate right now. Seeking extra help from your doctor and/or a therapist will really benefit you right now and help you to stay focused on your studies. This sounds like a really tough situation. I wish you the best!
posted by strelitzia at 3:46 PM on February 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Please make appointments with your primary care doc and/or whomever is writing your prescriptions for vyvanse, etc. Tell them what you told us about how you're feeling lately. I'm not qualified to diagnose you with depression - over the internet or in person - but what you say does resemble other descriptions of depression I've seen.

If you don't have a therapist or counselor, please look for someone you can talk to. If you're in a conservative community, look for the non-conservative group. Sometimes they fly under the radar and can be hard to locate, but there's almost certainly some kind of group of people who would be able to identify with you and be supportive. Maybe an atheist group or an "ex-[specific religion]" group.

I could have written a lot of this when I was your age. I grew up in a very strict, conservative, religious home and as a young adult became a liberal atheist. I also had zero confidence in my ability to "make it" in the "real world."

If it's possible for you to move out, I suggest giving it a shot. If you hate it, you can move back in with your parents.
posted by bunderful at 4:16 PM on February 18, 2017

Thank you for reaching out - this is certainly something more difficult than "the smallest task" so you have demonstrated that you can do so much more than 'the smallest task.'

I'm unclear as to what academic level you're at; highschool/community college/university (and if so, undergrad/grad/postgrad).

Absolutely agree that you need to move out. But you need to be financially self sufficient in order to do so. There are very different pros/cons to living with roomates (and either joining an existing group or acquiring a space and soliciting roomies and other permutations) or living on your own (even easier to just stay in bed the entire day).

Making friends is so not something I do well, but I've joined a few local Meetups.com and stayed with one. People made friends (or at least, sympathists) with me who's opinions (within certain domains) that I respect. Other people are seeking friends too! The increased diversity of viewpoints that I have access to has really helped me view myself in a more "realistic" external way (and much much more positive than I have of myself) than I had in-my-head/forced-on-me by the people that I had around me beforehand.

You sound like that you could really benefit from a in-real-life sympathetic person who is competent and willing to help you do a reality check and provide suggestions on how to move forward.
posted by porpoise at 5:34 PM on February 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am not a doctor but I work with people who have serious mental health issues. This sounds like classic major depression with vegetative symptoms and anhedonia. Getting this treated will help you make the changes you need to make to move out and make your own life.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:58 PM on February 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have anxiety and depression disorders, and I've gone through long periods like what you describe. I also went through long periods in my younger days when my family was as unhelpful as yours, always fighting any kind of attempt I did try to make to improve my life. My family situation didn't cause my illness, but the two of them fed on each other to drag me down further than either one of them could have done on their own. As tough as it was, just keeping on plugging away to find the right doctor and the right medication and that gave me enough energy to break the cycle did happen.

My life is far from perfect now, and I may never stop regretting all the years I lost to that phase of my illness but things are better. And, although in no way at all am I trying to say this happens for everybody, one of my family members who gave me the hardest time now says she respects me for being tough and doing what I needed to do to help myself.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:24 PM on February 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

My experience is exactly the same as schroedingersgirl. You should look into anxiety as the underlying problem and discuss it with your doctor.

It's very difficult to start/continue/finish important things when you're wrapped up in anxiety. And that leads to procrastination.
posted by duoshao at 3:18 AM on February 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

In addition to all the great advice above, consider telling a professor (I'm assuming you're a college student) about what's going on. I'm a prof and would help you get help from our Student Services if you were my student; I do it regularly for my students in similar situations. You are not alone. Best of luck.
posted by sockermom at 4:15 AM on February 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

The advice above is great. Here's one small concrete thing you can do right now: Go for a walk. I'm stuck at home for reasons and a few weeks ago a friend suggested I just go for a walk. And I've been doing that nearly every day and feel much better.

Don't be me and walk too far the first two days and then stop walking for awhile. It's okay if it's a short walk. Just leave your house. Short walk, long walk, doesn't matter. If you can walk near or in nature (park, for example), that's great but not required. We are built to move our bodies and doing that helps our mood, even if it's only a 10-minute walk.

It was hard for me to start so I put my sneakers in front of the door so I would see them in the morning and remember to walk. One other thing: You can't fix everything all at once. So love yourself, be kind to yourself, and remember that you eat an elephant one bite at a time. We are rooting for you. Good luck!
posted by Bella Donna at 12:17 PM on February 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

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