Would this really bother me if I was as indifferent as I think I am?
January 18, 2007 7:48 AM   Subscribe

I don't think I'm interested in anything, in any realm. I used to have interests and ideas and goals but I feel like I've slowly lost all of that.

I didn't find anything that would answer this question or give me applicable ideas or suggestions while searching, so please bear with me.
I'm 24, live alone (well, with a cat) and am working two jobs to get out of debt and hopefully, hopefully move out of state to a more exciting place and into an exciting job.
The problem is, I don't know where I want to live (I have a few ideas but the logistics, like the expenses, scare me), and I really don't know what I want to do.
I have a degree in journalism and tried that for a while but it didn't really seem to be my "thing." I figured if it was, I would be still doing it and trying really hard to get hired at another newspaper. Instead I said, "Meh, whatever" and left.
As a kid I couldn't ever get my nose out of a book or stop writing my own little dorky stories. It was assumed that would be what I would do. Instead when I got to college I decided to go into political science/prelaw, then criminal justice, then when I realized I may never find my niche switched to journalism and graduated. I switched because I knew it would be easy for me and I didn't have the option of being in school forever "finding myself."
Aside from the working stuff, I don't have any hobbies or anything that I'm particularly passionate about. I still love to read, and do quite often, but other than that, I don't have anything that really "lights my fire."
I have good friends, great family and plenty of great memories of when I used to see my friends all the time (many of them have moved away). I feel like I haven't done anything to create any more memories lately.
I struggle to think about what's changed since I was a kid and had dreams and goals, and it's been pretty much everything (parents divorced when I was 18 and had just gone away to school, I used to be very active in after school activities and my church's youth group, more for the camraderie than the spirituality, I lived with people and not alone, everyone else was single too instead of it just being me, etc.).
Has anyone else ever had this feeling of intense indifference? I could just as easily sit inside and watch TV every day of my life as anything else - I look at how I spent my weekends before getting the second job, which was basically doing nothing during the day and going out at night (which is infinitely less fun than it used to be). The problem is I WANT to be motivated and passionate and excited about something but it just seems to be a concept ever more out of reach as time goes by.
This is quite the ramble and I apologize, but it would be great to know that I'm not alone in this!
Thank you all so much!
posted by slyboots421 to Human Relations (27 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
IANAD (nor am I a therapist) but what you have described screams of "depression" to me. Depression does not always come in a neat package where you feel all sad and "woe is me" ... sometimes it presents itself as a loss of interest in things and a general feeling of apathy.

Of course, you are not alone. I strongly suggest you go talk to a doctor and possibly look into therapy. You can also look into CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) books such as the Feeling Good Handbook. But I think that the best place to start is with a doctor and a therapist, to get a depression screening and to figure out a course of action.

It's hard to feel passionate about much when you are depressed. For the present time, I would focus on making yourself feel GOOD though. For starters, try to make sure you are getting some exercise everyday, even just going for a walk might boost your mood & energy a bit. Then, try to give yourself something fun to do everyday. There is nothing wrong with reading books as your enjoyable activity. But think of other things. Maybe sign up for a creative writing class at a community college or community center, or join a writing workshop either in person or online.

Think about what used to light your fire. Why doesn't it enthrall you anymore? Is it because you've given up hope? Is it because you're afraid of failure or a challenge? Is it because you're too tired/lethargic feeling to go for it? These are huge symptoms of depression, and you CAN feel better.
posted by tastybrains at 7:55 AM on January 18, 2007

I was almost this exact age when I had these exact feelings. I was severely depressed. Get thee to a therapist.
posted by MsMolly at 7:59 AM on January 18, 2007

Your question touched something in me, and while I do not have much constructive to offer, I will share my experiences with you, as I am of a similar mentality as you.

I am 36 now, and can say that I've never really felt strongly about anything. My close friends (and lovers) have mentioned it to me many times over my life -- sometimes with resentment. I don't often get very mad, nor do I often get very happy.

I was always 'above average' at everything, but never great -- mainly because I never felt strongly about anything. I am smart, reasonably successful, and reasonably sociable. But I have few hobbies or interests other than reading, watching TV, and traveling.

I think many will label this as either depression, a lack some amount of spirituality, or boredom. Perhaps it is a bit of each.. Maybe life has just been too easy for us.

So, as I said, not much help, but you are surely not alone. Undoubtedly there are several other MeFites here who can relate on some level.
posted by eas98 at 8:00 AM on January 18, 2007

Well, I am not a doctor, but that sounds like depression to me. A vast indifference, no motivation, perfectly willing to sit and watch TV all day = depression.

It sounds like a fairly mild case (but I'm not inside your skin, your mileage may vary) so exercise and/or diet might take care of it. Try getting out there and sweating for at least 30 minutes 4 times a week, 7 days a week if you can manage it. See how you feel in a couple of weeks (besides sore!)

You should probably see a Dr. or therapist as well. This is 'fixable' and might even be temporary.

FWIW: My own bout with depression was the discovery that I no longer had ideas for stories, games, poems, etc. The idea bag was empty. This had never happened to me before. Understand now, not all the ideas were gems. Some were real stinkers, but they were always there. Let me tell you, THAT was a wake-up call!
posted by davereed at 8:00 AM on January 18, 2007

You know that book that when you first started reading wasn't that great, but after a while became your favorite? That's kind of the position you're in. You may have to start doing stuff that's not immediately rewarding, but stick with it for a while.

I had a very similar problem. I realized that much of my problem was caused by poor diet, poor exercise and drinking. They're sort of the unholy trinity of malaise and depression.

Cut out drinking for a while if you do it. Start exercising (running to music is always good) and eat better. It won't solve all your problems, but when you are feeling stuck like this, it's important to make some sort of small shift first to get things going.

Also, I suggest you take a short inventory of yourself. What about yourself, besides this indifference, don't you like? Be honest. Then resolve to change that about yourself. This will open you up to new opportunities that you are cutting yourself off from now. Sounds like it will not be effective, but I swear, everytime I do this, the results are amazing.
posted by milarepa at 8:03 AM on January 18, 2007

Yup, that sounds like depression to me. Break your funk, try some new things even if you are not sure about them. Try things where you will meet new people, hopefully people who are not already in a clique. Hook up with old friends. Spend some time with your parents. Get around some people and do it while enjoying yourself. If that fails to lift your funk, seek some professional help.
posted by caddis at 8:03 AM on January 18, 2007

a year ago anyway.
i think part of it is just the situation after college, not knowing what's next, i know my friends who i do keep in touch with feel the same. i think the apathy is from being overwhelmed...bills, debt, sucky jobs, not knowing how to get started with your wonderful life, already!, the dating thing after college is totally different. i have so much to think about, i'd really rather sit and watch tv and not think about anything at all. escapism, in short. (aside, i actually ended up doing the online dating, and meeting a great guy, we've been living together for four months now, so that's a good thing ) for me,another part of it is depression. i was on zoloft for it all during college, and got off it after graduation, but still didn't feel good.
i think i'm getting better, though, ( my boyfriend might not think so, but he's not in my head, i am!) and what helped me the most was pretty surprising, actually. the gyno put me on some new bc, called Yaz, which is approved to treat pms, as well. i knew i got cranky once a month, but i didn't expect it to help me feel better the rest of the time, too.

not that i'm saying you're a hormonal psycho.(nothing pisses me off more than guys automatically assuming when women have emotions, it's cause they're on the rag) i'm just saying i was, in retrospect.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:07 AM on January 18, 2007

DO NOT WORRY SO MUCH!!! As trite as it may sound, you're only 24. The modern culture forced us to believe that we should have things figured out by the time we get out of college, but that is not the case for many people. When kids are young, the parents encourage children to try different activities to see what they are interested in. But things change. That's exactly how I was...I liked doing some of the stuff my mom had me trying, and I thought I would be a doctor, but then I tried volunteering at the hospital and I didn't like dealing with old dying people and nurses and doctors with their inferiority and superiority complex of 'playing god'. The point is, if something is not working for you, you have to change quickly FOR YOURSELF. Even in college people go to classes for their parents, or for that grade, but not really truly for themselves. Take the time to try different things...seek out local magazines and do a freelance articles for them about something that strikes you as interesting. Try volunteering at a public defender services as an investigator, unless you're a woman (didn't pay attention). If you know you're not interested in Criminal law, go work for free at a local firm and say I'll work 20 hours a week for a month or so with a corporate lawyer or a tax lawyer. Keep going to the church...I doubt most people go to the church because they want to go to heaven, unless they're old and running out of time THEN they do for the credit points(I know I am going to hell for it but it had to be said)...people go for companionship, a good 'holy' and 'clean' place where you can get that people touch. I don't know much but it seems like you're a bit lonely. Surround yourself with good company...not trapped in loud music or parties but a certain level of connection..conversation, etc.

You are not alone in this! you're only 24. There are hobbies, classes and people you can take and meet. The resources are endless, but YOU have to go get it. Spend a couple hundred bucks in a class of your choice at a local college....now I am rambling. I hope you don't worry too much and just do it.

I have a relative who grew up very poor...and she couldn't get the education she needed. She is now reaching 70 and she's constantly running around here to there trying to take classes and learn stuff. She says, I couldn't learn all these things then, and now I have the time and the resources so I want to learn as much as I can. I think it's all in your mind...the more you know, the more you discover, the better chance you have in discovering yourself.

Have fun and chill the hell out! Don't worry too much...it's only your future.
posted by icollectpurses at 8:10 AM on January 18, 2007

I'm going to go against the popular opinion and say that this may just be general 20 something malaise (I don't want to diminish your feelings in any ways by saying this - pop culture likes to call it the Quarterlife crisis, these days..however, IANAD and if you feel depressed, please go seek help). I just want to offer something up - I'm 23 and I feel like I'm a veritable newborn at life. Its been helping me to realize that I'm young and that my interests have changed, and *should* change (or even be non-existent at times.) I wouldn't pressure myself too much about having a "great passion"...there aren't many people, I've found, that have the same goals, with the same intensity, as they had when they were just a few years older.

That being said, are there things you're slightly interested in? That you've seen other people do and think "hey, that looks neat!" Start volunteering if there are. For ex., I found myself in a similar situation last year. I thought about the things I wouldn't mind doing, wouldn't mind being around all the time, realized that was animals (I *love* animals)...so I decided to do something about it and start helping them, and joined an animal rescue group that got me out to adoption events on the weekends. I was so exhausted by the end of the day, I didn't even *want* to drink. This is of course my own example and perhaps not getting to the root of your problem as well as you'd like, but I just wanted to offer a dissenting opinion and tell ya not to be so hard on yourself! Everyone I know around my age is going through this right now, and I don't think its going to be neatly categorized under the term *depression,* ya know (it certainly wasn't for me who went to a therapist, got on meds, and still felt like shit. But again, YMMV). Good luck!
posted by Eudaimonia at 8:17 AM on January 18, 2007

or what icollectpurses said, heh
posted by Eudaimonia at 8:18 AM on January 18, 2007

I don't know if it's depression, really. I'm not a doctor but I've been in a similar spot. I got laid off from my job a few years ago that was sort of my "identity," much like it sounds like journalism was for you. But when I didn't have that identity anymore, I really didn't know what the hell to do with myself or what I even liked anymore. So I went to the therapist and the therapist said I should make a list of things I wouldn't mind doing. Not that I wanted to do, but that I wouldn't mind doing on a daily basis. Things like "go for a walk" or "go to the aquarium" or "go see this writer talk." And so, through a not that long process of elimination, I discovered what it is I like again. Some of it was the same stuff I used to like, and some of it was totally new stuff. This really helped. The process helped me make a new direction for myself. The catch is, you have to get up every day and decide to do something off of the list. You can also decide not to do anything, but you have to go through the list daily. You can email me if you want more info. It may be harder for you if you're working two jobs.
posted by bash at 8:20 AM on January 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Get rid of your TV! I'm living with no internet and no TV at home right now, and it's like a whole new world. Forces you to read, do chores, fill your time with things you like.
posted by footnote at 8:27 AM on January 18, 2007

I second the no-TV idea.

Seriously, it sounds like maybe depression. But maybe it's just that "zero effect" of sticking your head into the idiot box after work.

TV is like booze that way: It feels good when you're doing it, but it makes you slow and unable to enjoy things. So you just drink/watch more. And so it goes.

Before therapy, I would try turning it off. Detox for a month or two.
posted by ImJustRick at 9:00 AM on January 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Whether this is or is not depression I cannot say, but I would counsel very strongly against simply letting things continue as they are.

Do something. Anything. Just don't continue down the path you're on; lifelong apathy usually doesn't end up in a good place.
posted by aramaic at 9:01 AM on January 18, 2007

I would recommend some creative writing, whether it's on your own or in a local writing group or workshop or whatever. It sounds like you (used to) have an interest in that, and if you really do read a lot, you'll have a solid foundation to build on. Things are much more interesting when you're writing -- capturing (in words) even the unique texture of the dust on your lampshade can be amazingly satisfying and energizing.

Also, take footnote's (& ImJustRick's) suggestion seriously!! Your TV is the enemy. It hates you, and it will anaesthetize you for decades if you let it.
posted by sleevener at 9:14 AM on January 18, 2007

Get better sleep. Not just hours, but rest. This "I'm no good, I used to have lots of goals blah blah blah" thing comes up with me every few months personally, and the vast majority of it is solved simply by getting good deeper sleep.
posted by Quarter Pincher at 9:20 AM on January 18, 2007

Go and live somewhere much worse than where you are now.

Go hungry.

Pretty soon, you'll find some passion (or die trying).
posted by ewkpates at 9:46 AM on January 18, 2007

I would second bash's response. You may be lacking drive from the emotional part of your brain, for want of a better term, but the thinking part can help you there, by forcing you to do things that will elicit emotional responses once you're there doing them. (It doesn't need to be anything big, just something you find satisfying; from little acorns etc etc. Anything creative is good for me, for example.) This works for me when I feel like you do, which is quite often.
posted by thoughtless at 9:53 AM on January 18, 2007

The word "ahedonia" really comes to mind from your description. Your current state is most emphatically not normal. Echoing the countless others who have posted before me -- get thee to thy therapist or physician!
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 9:54 AM on January 18, 2007

blah blah depression blah. your post could have been written by me, my girlfriend, many of our friends, and tons of people i knew in high school and have peripheral contact with now.

we're all in our mid to late 20s and most of us are 'above average'. some of us ARE actually depressed (diagnosed by a real doctor and everything!) but most of us aren't. we're just kind of....uninspired.

we're overcome by trying to pay bills and finding that great job we feel we were promised by college/grad school. it leaves us little time for anything else besides getting to the next paycheck.

we don't have time to create new memories, because if we're out memory-making, we get evicted. so we relive our 'glory days' and smile at the 'better times' oh so many (ha, 5-10) years ago.

the thing is, we grew up believing we would/should have a a certain life. and external factors (job market, etc) just kind of worked against us.

i guess those are the type A's among us. i dunno.

the ones who aren't feeling the same ennui are the ones getting married or having kids. doesn't help me or my girlfriend, or probably you. just thought i'd throw it out there.

maybe you're depressed, maybe you're not. maybe it just is that 'quarterlife crisis' where you're trying to work out what you have compared with what you think you should have at this point.

i do know that some of my older friends, while still struggling to pay bills and just live, don't have the same disinterest or indifference. it's never come up in conversation, but i suspect it's because they've found things to amuse themselves with (knitting, a cat rescue, joining a sports team, etc.).

i think it just comes with time.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:29 AM on January 18, 2007

It sounds trite and boring but exercise really can make a lot of difference in these situations (which isn't to say you shouldn't consult a doctor or look into the possibility that you are depressed).

Doing some exercise, especially outdoors, has the following effects:

-- makes you fitter
-- exposes you to daylight (reducing any SAD effects)
-- gives you a little endorphin blast, which can be very helpful
-- makes you feel more energetic
-- tends to make you eat better (you *want* to eat the good stuff)
-- tends to make you sleep better

One thing I have learned is that whatever you were happiest doing when you were a kid of eleven or twelve before you started worrying about being cool, impressing the opposite sex, money etc, is probably what you will be happiest doing as an adult. Me? I loved to ride my bike and make up stupid stories with my friends, and record them onto an old tape recorder. These days I mountain bike a lot and write movies. Both of these things still make me happy.

I think it is a good idea to lay off the sauce except in social situations until you figure out what is going on.
posted by unSane at 10:34 AM on January 18, 2007

Been there. Did that.

Wasted four or five years (and passed up some incredible opportunities) before I got so bored with it that I sought some therapy. In retrospect, I was just depressed.

If I were you I would deal with the situation now, before it becomes a habit. If therapy isn't an option, at least shake up your daily routine -- kicking out the TV is a good start, as is a resolution to do at least one new thing every week.

Or better yet, shake things up entirely and try one of your big plans. Sure it's scary, but it beats being bored. What have you got to lose?
posted by tkolar at 10:34 AM on January 18, 2007

Response by poster: I really appreciate everyone's comments. Thanks so much!

As far as the quarterlife crisis goes, I've actually read the book about it and identified with most of it, which made me feel better and not so half-crazy. As far as "not being where I think I should be at this point in life" goes - that's what scares me the most, is that I don't even know where I'm "supposed" to be and for the most part don't care. I don't think I should be making six figures or driving new cars or jetting off to Europe for the weekend. I just know I shouldn't feel like this.
I have been haphazardly diagnosed with depression in the past and my doctor put me on Zoloft at 18, which I took myself off of after realizing I was feeling much much worse than I had before I started it. I do want to find someone to talk to, that would probably help a lot.

Thanks again everyone, and please keep them coming! I appreciate the advice and suggestions.
posted by slyboots421 at 11:53 AM on January 18, 2007

I'm not a doctor and don't presume to know if you're suffering from depression or. But I have a suggestion that may or may not be appealing to you.

You have the journalism degree, why not try to find a job at a small town newspaper (there are thousands of these around the country) While the job itself probably won't be very exciting, it will give you the chance to be something of a big fish in a small pond, and give you the opportunity to connect with a community on a personal level. It will make it nearly impossible to stay detached from the world around you, forcing you to interact with others on a regular basis.

Regular human contact is a good way to combat apathy, and being a member of a small community as a journalist would guarentee you'd have that.

Either way, good luck. Like many of the people writing here, I've been where you are before. Remember that these feelings (or lack thereof) don't last forever.
posted by pathighgate at 1:11 PM on January 18, 2007

I have been haphazardly diagnosed with depression in the past and my doctor put me on Zoloft at 18, which I took myself off of after realizing I was feeling much much worse than I had before I started it.

Just a side note - and again IANAD and I'm not saying you are or aren't depressed - but most people have to do a little trial & error with their doctors to find an antidepressant that works for them. Just because one doesn't work well for you or gives you unpleasant side effects doesn't mean that there isn't something that could be a help.

And I'm not saying medicine is the answer. It helped me in many ways, but it's not the ultimate solution to any problem.
posted by tastybrains at 1:52 PM on January 18, 2007

I second many of the above in suggesting that you are in a low-level depression. I, like many who have answered here, share your "do nothing" drive. I recently had ankle surgery, and the lack of physical activity has definitely increased the feeling that I'm not moving forward in life - so get some exercise. I'm 25 and if I didn't have roommates I might well be in the exact same situation. Is there a way to take the things you used to be passionate about and add a social element to them? How often are you seeing friends outside of work? I'm really crappy about getting out to see people - I've just started using Google's calendar and I'm making an active effort to schedule more stuff during the week. Sometimes a small (but concrete) change is needed to bring about a larger lifestyle change. Also, what pathighgate said.
posted by taliaferro at 2:01 PM on January 18, 2007

... can say that I've never really felt strongly about anything. My close friends (and lovers) have mentioned it to me many times over my life -- sometimes with resentment. I don't often get very mad, nor do I often get very happy.

I was always 'above average' at everything, but never great -- mainly because I never felt strongly about anything. I am smart, reasonably successful, and reasonably sociable. But I have few hobbies or interests other than reading, watching TV, and traveling.


Sounds like me! A friend described me as a rock, as in when everything was getting shitty I was able to be pretty calm. It wasn't that I didn't feel, I just didn't feel that much.

I don't think I could ever work myself up to a serious neurosis or depression, life just doesn't make that much of an impact on me. Even important stuff doesn't seem too important. Who knows, it's always been this way. I'm doing okay though, I just feel that on the emotional scale of things I rank fairly far down, I love to laugh and be silly, but I dont get the black clouds of depression or sadness too much, fortunately.

I guess I could say that there's no major passion in my life - I see friends with a deep love of theater or music or other things, and I don't feel the connection, and never have. Still, life is okay. I recommend trying everything you can and maybe you'll find something you like. I enjoy making things from time to time, woodcraft, sewing etc.
posted by tomble at 3:19 AM on January 19, 2007

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