How to feel better until I can afford therapy?
August 20, 2017 8:40 AM   Subscribe

Lonely depressed introvert needs help staying afloat.

About a year ago I moved to a new city to be with my now ex partner. We broke up a couple of months ago. This was a person who I had planned on marrying, having children with, the works. It wasn't exactly sudden but my heart is broken and I am really depressed.

I am so lonely. I'm also an introvert and consider going out and meeting people to be necessary but unenjoyable work. I have been doing the "right things" both within the last couple months and since moving here. I have taken classes, joined meetups, asked people out for lunch at work, etc. I have really pushed myself to get out there and I have had some enjoyable experiences along the way. At this point I have a large circle of people I'm friendly with and even go out with sometimes. But I have no one I'm truly close with and to be honest there's no one I really like enough to pursue that with. I don't know why.

My family of origin is toxic, and they live on the other side of the world. I'm not close with any of them either. I don't have a support system. I do have a couple of dogs at least, I really don't know how I would survive without them. I often feel like I could just disappear and no one would really notice. (To be clear I am not suicidal, just depressed about my lack of intimate connections.)

I am torn about dating. I feel like I don't have time to waste because I want a family and time is running out biologically. I also have some fertility issues. But I also just feel so tired. And I feel like I am looking for someone mostly because I hate being alone, rather than out of a good and healthy place. I have dabbled with some online dating and its been abysmal anyway, making me more depressed. I know it can't possibly be true but I feel like I wasted my time on someone who didn't want me and now it's too late for me to find someone stable and sane and compatible.

I need to go to therapy, that's obvious. Breaking up with my ex has not left me in the best place financially and I'm trying to catch up. I won't have any money to spend for a few months at least, but I definitely want to go to therapy at that point. I just don't know how to keep on keeping on until then. Everything feels so hopeless. I need to go out and meet people and keep trying for a real connection, but I hate it and I'm tired of it. But then sitting at home alone also feels terrible! I feel like all my time is spent doing something i don't enjoy no matter what I do.

Tl:dr : I am lost and lonely and everything feels bad all the time. What do I do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I've been where you are and I know how much it hurts. I'm sorry you are going through this. A few thoughts for things that can maybe make life more pleasant for you as you work through things:

-- When the feelings become overwhelming, try to remember to stop yourself and breathe as deeply as possible. Try five or ten really good breaths that get down into the bottom of your lungs.

-- Carve out a small part of your day that can just bring you simple pleasure and commit to it. By this I mean find something you really like (simple stretching, a small food treat, a bath, music, etc.) and make a habit out of doing it every day. Perhaps right before bed. Or when you get up or home from work.

-- For me, negative self-talk was a big part of feeling bad. I noticed that I was consistantly kind and encouraging to my dog so I decided to talk to myself like I talked to my dog. It sounds silly but it has made a big difference in my life.

Take good care of yourself. I'm cheering you on!
posted by mcduff at 9:17 AM on August 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

You might try out 7 cups of tea. The listeners there provide instant support, free.
posted by sockpuppetryarts at 9:52 AM on August 20, 2017 [3 favorites]

You've got a lot going on here. New city (only lived there one year), and recent breakup. It's okay to not be bubbling with joy right now.

If you share your location, other mefites may have some ideas on free/affordable counseling options for you.

My opinions on the stuff you've mentioned:
* Take at least a year off from dating
* A lot of people find meaning in a gratitude practice. After an evening out in which you didn't really experience a meaningful connection, do you think to yourself "There was no meaningful connection, my evening was a failure" or do you frame it as "I got to see a pretty good movie with some nice people. Sally and I my not become BFFs but I can see how much she cares about her work with kids and I'm glad people like her exist in the world."
* Get plenty of cardio - it does help with depression
* Make a literal list of things that you enjoy and refer to it when you are feeling lonely and sad.
* Church/other place of worship/gathering? Works for some people.
* Draw your depression. Even if you draw it as a stick figure it can be very therapeutic.

Be patient with yourself. Two months after the end of a significant breakup is not very long at all. And a new city after one year is still a new city without the initial excitement from the move. I've been in my current city for a couple of years now and while I've met a lot of wonderful people I'm still working on developing meaningful connections, and there are still times when I feel alone and disconnected.

I started to read When Things Fall Apart during my last big depression (prompted by a breakup in a new city). I didn't finish it but it did make an impact.

I'm sorry you're having a rough time, and I hope things get better for you soon.
posted by bunderful at 10:07 AM on August 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

Google biohacking supplements. Some people report getting balance with amino acids like L-tyrosine in the morning, alternating with 5-HTP at night. Can confirm the amino acid L-Theanine (a component in tea that makes you feel good) + a high caffeine coffee or tea sometimes hits the spot.

Longterm I recommend physical exercise and breathing exercises + meditation, Hiking, Kundalini Yoga, I bet there are tons of meditation classes nearby where you are. There is an app called either "Breath As One" or "The Universal Breathing Room" that I quite like. Get thee a practice of some sort and stick with it.

Don't stop moving. Take the next breath, take the next step, put obe foot in front of the other. Take off your shoes and stand in the grass if that's all you can muster.

Baths with LOTS of epsom salts might also really really help you at this time.
posted by jbenben at 11:00 AM on August 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've been in similar situations. I'm a bookish person, and two books really helped me in the past. They're both by the same author -- a psychiatrist named David Burns. The books are, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy, and Intimate Connections. The books were written some time ago, but I don't think that they've lost their relevance. Good luck!
posted by akk2014 at 11:37 AM on August 20, 2017

When I have had to manage low mood without therapy, here are some of the things I've done that have helped:

Trying really hard to get enough sleep but waking up at the same time every day.

Using social media or texts or writing letters to have at least one social interaction every day with a friend, even if it's very small.

Making playlists of music that just uplifts my senses, like "Best Songs to Sing Loudly," or an ongoing series I have called "Unsad Mix." if you want me to send you my Unsad playlists, send me a message and I'll pass them on. They're pretty great.

Reading the poetry of Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, and Denise Levertov

Reading young adult or kids books that I love, like The Hero and the Crown or Anne of Green Gables.

Practicing mindfulness as much as possible, even if it's just that on my way through the grocery store I stop to look at and smell the flowers in the floral dept.

Getting out into nature.

Jump rope!

Hope that some of this helps. Be well.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 11:46 AM on August 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

But I have no one I'm truly close with and to be honest there's no one I really like enough to pursue that with. I don't know why.

You feel the way you feel. Just don't give up!

My family of origin is toxic, and they live on the other side of the world. I need to go to therapy, that's obvious.

Well, yes.

And I feel like I am looking for someone mostly because I hate being alone, rather than out of a good and healthy place.

No that's a totally fine reason! That's usually the reason people do it. Presumably you would be offering the person love, support, and affection, so there is no trickery involved in that bargain. Go forth and find the person who delights you.

You're in a stage of experimentation right now. Think of it as a process of knowledge, input, feedback. Every response you will get on this list will boil down to "love and take care of yourself," which is a scary and unpleasant thing to contemplate for many people. But that's it.
posted by benadryl at 11:59 AM on August 20, 2017

But I have no one I'm truly close with and to be honest there's no one I really like enough to pursue that with. I don't know why.

Sticking my head back in to say it's entirely possible that this is related to depression. Being open to pursuing new friendships takes emotional energy and vulnerability and an outward focus. Depression tends to mean an inward focus, (at least to me), less willingness to be open and vulnerable, less energy for recognizing likable qualities in other people, for taking chances and for "friend-wooing."

Now is not forever. It will get better.
posted by bunderful at 1:13 PM on August 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Hi, I'll talk to you during my daily commute.
posted by cyclicker at 4:19 PM on August 20, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm sorry you are going through this. It sounds like a lot to deal wirh all at once. No wonder you are feeling the way you do! Im afraid my suggestions are pretty humble, but they have helped me in the past.

1) Watch your favorite uplifting movies at home. Drink tea or other comforting drink and let the dogs up on the couch to snuggle.

2) Regular yoga and/or meditation

3) Listen to really interesting pod casts. Sometimes your brain needs a break from trying to solve all the problems. I find podcasts are both restful and engaging.

4) I know this one is hokey, but it really works for me... Buy flowers. Especially ones that really have a nice smell. You can usually get a bunch of good ones at the grocery store for five bucks or less.

5) Do the thing that you loose yourself in. For me thats creating art with photoshop. Hours go by in the blink of an eye when I am photoshopping. For my friend it was jig saw puzzles.

Hope you get lots of good advice here, and feel better soon. You will get through this.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 5:55 PM on August 20, 2017

I have been, too many times to mention, exactly where you are.

Here are things that helped me:

1. I started going to the same diner on a regular basis ... like every Sunday. Eventually, the staff and other regulars started to recognize me and would chat with me for a bit. Sometimes, this was literally my only interaction with people for the day but it really helped, especially when I saw that there were other people there who were also alone.

2. I started going to my local Unitarian Universalist church. It did ... almost nothing for me spiritually but they had amazing musicians there and the music alone soothed me.

3. I downloaded apps to help me sleep. My current favorite app is called Calm. There are lots of free features but the full app is $40 for the year. It is THE BEST $40 I've spent. It includes guided meditations, ambient music but most importantly: bedtime stories. It is so awesome.

4. I did a lot of self-talk. Nubian, it's OK. You can get out of bed. And sometimes just a step at a time until I could get out the door.

5. You have to do what works for you but I would recommend that you put more effort into meeting friends through Meetup or something rather than dating. When you are already struggling, working your way through small talk is the last place you want to be.

Good luck. This, too, shall pass.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 10:29 AM on August 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hey there,

As tough as things might seem right now, it sounds like you're taking the right steps. This deserves it's own little celebration - the cliche is 'the only way out is through,' and in my experience is that it's quite accurate.

The only bit of advice I can throw in is that you should give yourself credit for the little things you're doing until you can afford therapy. Looking after yourself in a basic and practical way takes a bit of work, and you deserve credit for it. The same for getting yourself out of the house, even just to buy food. The same for socializing, even if you'd normally convince yourself that the interaction wasn't particularly meaningful (this is what I do, I didn't mean to project quite that hard).

It's one of the things that helps you notice the progress you've made, in my experience.
posted by MikePemulis at 3:04 AM on August 22, 2017


I really feel for you. I have been in a similar place. Me: married many years, two very small children, pregnant with another, and my marriage fell apart overnight. Literally overnight. I went into such a sad place that I thought I would never get out of. There were mornings where I wondered if I would ever be happy again, if I would ever not feel weighed down by my sorrows, loneliness, having no one (hardly anyone-- there were a few). You've gotten a lot of really good thoughts and ideas from people, and I'm not sure what else I can add, except I am so sorry that has happened to you. Life is really hard, but it will get better. I don't want to sound trite, but it does. People said it to me, and I didn't believe them. And then... after a lot of time (during which: I did stuff. A lot of the above things people recommended to you like reading those books (the Feelings book, When Things Fall Apart, tons and tons of books like that)) things started to look up. I decided it wasn't going to be the end of me. I realized that I didn't want to be with him, with someone who would treat me like that (that was an empowering thought, rather than feeling like I wasn't good enough). I started planning my future, and I started to dream big. When I felt my most depressed, I thought I'd never find a job, would be alone forever. Now, I'm devoting any free time I get (not much with three little kids) to writing, which is my passion. What is your passion? Return to it, or find it! It is there. Find good people to support you, before you can afford therapy. Also, maybe move out of that town when possible. Is it going to just remind you of bad times?
Time in itself doesn't heal, but it helps. Take baby steps. Take care of yourself. Be selfish-- take care of you! Make sure other people are good to you. Expect and settle for nothing less. Take care of your body.

As for meeting someone: put it on hold. I suspect you're not in the right place for it, and you may feel that too. It's just another stress right now in your life. I guess I'm a believer of "things will fall in place when they do", and it takes a load off my shoulders. That doesn't mean do nothing. But I feel that if a person reawakens themself, if you can get into life again-- hobbies, friends, etc-- then the right person will come along. And if they don't (doubtful), you will probably at that point hopefully be in a different state of mind-- to know what you want and hope for yourself, and be ok with life.

My marriage burned me so much that I have sworn off men-- forever! At least that's what I think now, and I imagine (now) I will always think. I'm fine being by myself. I think it's a good place to be... If you can get there, I honestly think it will (ironically?) make dating easier/more successful.
posted by ladybugmom at 11:02 PM on August 22, 2017

Seriously, please. I've got 40 minutes twice a day. MeMail me and we can set up google voice numbers so we don't know one another's phone #.
posted by cyclicker at 6:18 PM on August 28, 2017

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