Isolation

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I have been thinking a lot about how being alone is so damaging to my (I don’t want to speak for others, some people like being alone, although I would question how many would prefer complete isolation…) mental wellbeing recently. I think I touched on this in a previous post but I have been thinking back to when the last time I actually spent time with or talked to anyone outside my family and apart from a few occasions with people who I wouldn’t even call acquaintances, it has been over 18 months. I am afraid that it is doing irreparable damage to me. Even my own family doesn’t really seem interested in what I have to say. Practically every time I try and talk to one of my parents they either change the subject to something about themselves or just start doing other things or walking away. I know that I am not the most interesting person but I am starting to feel invisible. In the rare times when I do get to say anything, I feel like I am falling over my words or almost stuttering, which I never used to do. Years of being stuck in this situation can’t be good for you.

Since I last posted I have continued to feel very depressed. It’s still not quite as bad as it has been in the past, the period in late 2006 when I was at my first job being the absolute worst that I’ve ever felt, even more so than when I tried to kill myself, but I do feel more hopeless than I have in a long time. It seems strange to think back a few years when I was writing such despairing posts on here. I did feel absolutely terrible at times but by all accounts I was so much better off then than I am now. I was younger and doing something with my life that isn’t seen by society as a complete waste. I had a lot more going for me then than I do now, people I talked to online who cared about me and even a few people who would speak to me in real life.

I have slid so far backwards, I am practically at the same point that I was when I first started the original posts 6 years ago that eventually became this blog. The main difference is that this time I have nowhere to go. Back then I still had university ahead of me and I was young enough that I could get away with being behind on a lot of things. Now every single day I feel more and more inadequate compared to other people my age. Even the people I met who were years younger than me have already far surpassed me.

I’m tired of being an embarrassment. There is nothing that can be realistically expected that would make things seem ok to me now. There is no path that I can see that would lead to me ever feeling any different, it’s too late to turn things around now.

Describing Anxious Feelings

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Something I used to struggle with immensely during my therapy sessions was finding the words to describe how anxiety made me feel. A big component of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) is identifying thoughts, feelings and behaviours related to anxiety and how they interact with each other. I always found it difficult to describe feelings in relation to the anxiety I feel in social situations accurately. I honestly think the English language lacks the vocabulary to fully describe such personal things and my own feelings are more complex than just simple fear or whatever.

I ended up having to leave my CBT therapist because I was so depressed at that time that working on my anxiety with CBT was becoming impossible and he didn’t think it was effective. I wasn’t sure about how well I would get on with it either but lately I’m starting to think that I might benefit from it now even though I am still depressed, it is not quite so all-encompassing as it was in 2009/10. One thing that springs to mind is the cascade of horrible thoughts and feelings that overcomes me whenever I have to look at job listings. I tried to put it into words but some of the things are just too hard for me to verbalise.

The main thing that fills my mind is how I am almost the exact opposite of how people need to be to be successful. I am so inadequate in almost every way when it comes to work. I don’t feel confident at all in my own abilities and I can say with 100% honesty that I cannot see why anyone would want to hire me over anyone else who happened to apply for the same position.

I am immediately taken back to my first job where I could not cope at all with the demands of working there and I dread (and I really do mean dread) having to be in that position again. I would end each day completely mentally exhausted and not have the mental strength to do anything else once I had finished work. I hate being there so much, before I left in the morning I would have to fight myself from thinking too much about it because I would uncontrollably get tears in my eyes. I am not someone who cries a lot but there were several times I had to hide in the toilets when I was working there and fight back tears and there is nothing I fear more than being stuck like this.

I won’t have to opportunity to leave like I did when I was working there. At some point I will have to support myself and that would simply not be an option. I couldn’t handle being trapped like that and I don’t know what I’d do (or rather, I fear I know too well what I would do) if I was stuck in that situation.

All of this and more comes to me in a flood of sickening anxiety. Needless to say this makes job hunting quite a daunting task. I am already feeling extremely guilty because of how long I have been unemployed despite having good qualifications on paper, this just adds to my worries.

Blogging’s Impact

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I have received some kind comments, someone even said they found my blog encouraging which pleased me a great deal. One of the things that often makes me hesitant to continue writing on this site is that it quickly became a place where I wrote down a lot of my darkest thoughts and went into quite a lot of detail about my feelings when I was at very low points in my life and I don’t know how useful that is to anyone who may be reading it. I worry that my very depressing and probably frequently triggering posts may make someone who happens to stumble upon this site feel worse and I really don’t want that to happen.

The problems I experience are not typical of every social anxiety sufferer and just because you might have the same condition, it doesn’t mean you are going to end up a wreck like I am. I have made a lot of bad decisions in life and depression along with anxiety and possibly having an avoidant personality have all contributed to where I am now.

Going Back to the Doctor

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I can’t remember when the last time I made an appointment with my doctor was, it has been years since I went to the GP here where I live. When I was at university I got tired of messing around with the psychiatrist and couldn’t stand dealing with the unhelpful person they used to send to see me (presumably to make sure I wasn’t about to hurt myself) and so worked my usual avoidance magic until I was free of them. The medication I used to take was on a repeat prescription so I managed to get that for a few months without making a doctor’s appointment and I’d stopped taking it by the time came for it to be reviewed. The GP I used to see there had left and after all the different medical staff I’ve had to try and explain my situation to over the years I didn’t fancy going through all of that again with someone else. At any rate, I felt I could get on without the antidepressants by that point and I managed reasonably well.

Lately I have felt like I really need to talk to someone again though. I think I would benefit from being back on the sertraline too, I just hope that it works again, it took a lot of tries to find an antidepressant that made a difference without awful side effects. I don’t want to repeat myself, but I am practically in the exact situation I was in back in 2008 yet again, only this time I am 5 years older and don’t have the chance to escape to university.

It’s been months and I just can’t get myself to overcome the obstacles in the way though. It might seem like I should just make an appointment and go, but it isn’t that simple. I will try to explain what’s stopping me. I realise this will sound crazy but it’s just how my mind works.

  • I will have to let my mum know because she’ll want to know where I’m going and I don’t want her to worry about me. She seems to think I am over the depression but in reality it’s just a lot easier to hide when I don’t have the stresses of uni work or a job but that has to change at some point. If I start working I know I won’t be able to cope alone.
  • Having to explain everything to yet another new GP is very difficult for me to do.
  • I don’t even know if I’m still registered at the doctor’s surgery here. I didn’t tell them I’d registered at the one where I went to university.
  • Making the actual appointment itself. This may seem trivial but using the phone is still something I go to any lengths to avoid. I don’t know if I can do it.
  • Money is very tight and because I’m not on jobseekers allowance (for a multitude of reasons that I have gone into before) I would have to pay for the prescription which I can’t really afford.

I might try and talk to my mum about it but I keep remembering how much she used to get upset about it all before. I don’t think she wants to think of me as someone who needs mental health help. Also considering how much she blames my suicide attempt entirely on the paroxetine I used to take despite me being suicidal for years previously, I don’t think she’s too keen on me taking any sort of antidepressant.

Making No Progress

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Following on a bit from my last post, and paraphrasing Oscar Wilde a bit, the only thing more depressing to me than going back to old places like the social anxiety forums and seeing people stuck in ruts for years is seeing people who you used to know and relate to have moved on and aren’t like you any more. I know this is a selfish sentiment and I feel bad even admitting that in public but it’s probably not too uncommon for people to feel that way. I am quite a jealous person, I suppose.

Recently I was talking to my mum about some people we used to know from my old primary school (she used to work there) and it brought some bad memories back. I know how ridiculous it is to obsess and ruminate over things that happened so long ago but from a young age when I was practically forced to make friends with those people up until I dropped out of university when I was 19, these were the only people outside my family I spent any real length of time with. Since then I have never formed any kind of long lasting connection with anyone who I see on a regular basis. These people were around for my formative years and as I’m sure anyone who’s read any of my many previous posts on the subject knows, contributed enormously to the mess I made of my life and why I hate myself so much.

I keep thinking about how different everyone’s life is now from back then, yet I am still largely in the same situation. I live in the same place, have the same bedroom, have little life experience to show for the 10 years since I last spoke to them. I feel terrified that one day I might run into someone who knew me before my decade of virtual isolation and have to try and explain away why I am such a failure. My life is a prime example of how not to do things. It’s difficult to explain how I have ended up like this to any normal person, I think most people would struggle to understand how anyone could end up like this but given enough crippling self loathing and fear it is possible.

Since my last birthday in January I have been preoccupied with getting older and how little I’ve accomplished. When I started writing the stuff that formed the early entries on this blog in 2007 I was young enough that a lot of things could be sort of written off, like there was still a lot of time for me to fix things and get on with having an actual life. Getting closer to 30 (it actually pained me to write that because putting it into words really hammers home the reality of it) I no longer have that excuse of youth to hide behind. Every single passing day brings me further and further away from normality. [this is an aside, but I have this awful habit of obsessing over time in a weird way. When I would have time off, from work or school for example, I would always be dreading going back and I’d think things to myself like “I still have 3 more days where I can not have to worry about not being able to sleep that night” and stupid things like that. It’s hard to put into words.] I honestly don’t know what I’ll do when I actually am 30, I am abnormally preoccupied with this because in addition to all the usual things people worry about crossing a milestone age, I have the fact that I still only posses the life experience and ability to deal with things as a child, not even the average teenager. Unless something dramatic happens in the next 2 years (unlikely) then I honestly can’t see myself living to experience it. I don’t want to alarm people but I think if I am still like this at age 30 then I will have given things long enough to not feel bad for giving up on life.

I can’t pretend I am a good enough person not to feel anger at the people who first made me despise myself so thoroughly and forced me to withdraw from society. The first counsellor I used to see would ask me if I felt angry, and back then I didn’t really. Nowadays I do feel a lot of resentment towards them.

For many years, the majority of my life so far, I 100% believed that everyone would have the same attitude towards me. That they would at best see me as a figure of fun and someone to quietly mock. At worst, I feared being hated like some people back then used to hate me. This kind of mental beating that went on from when I was 11 ground down any self esteem I had (and believe it or not, I was quite happy up to that point) and I have never recovered or had any reason to like myself since.

It is only in the past few years that I have found anyone who didn’t regard me with such negativity. Sadly I don’t live near any of them but even if I did, it is probably only my limited contact with them that stopped them from becoming bored or tired of my horrendous self doubt and sadness. I already drove away most of the people I used to speak online with.

Even this small glimmer of acceptance makes me sad though. I keep wondering what my life might have been like if instead of being surrounded by people who always wanted to put me down and make me feel worthless, I had been around some of the people who don’t hate me. Maybe I would have some friends in real life? Perhaps if I didn’t take every opportunity to shut myself off and hide away I could have developed some confidence and not be completely unable to cope in the work place. I’m not a stupid person but any intelligence or skills I have are going completely to waste. It is incredibly depressing to think about the potential I have wasted over the years.

There is no real purpose to this post, I am trying to verbalise the thoughts that have been swimming around my head so much but it is difficult. It’s like there are certain ways that people learn how to act and how to cope with life that I have completely missed out on because of how much I screwed everything up and it’s already too late to ever catch up. I felt this right from when I started this blog but it is slipping further and further away and at a seemingly quicker pace than ever. I really need to start getting help again.

Same Old

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Recently I checked back in on the SA forums that I used to read regularly and interact with people somewhat more than I had in other online communities where I am mostly just an observer. It’s always strange going back to places you haven’t frequented in a long time, I often feel a strange mix of familiarity sadness because a lot of things don’t change much. There are some people who have been on those forums longer than me (I registered in late 2007), are older than I am and are still stuck in life situations they hate. I don’t want to sound like I’m being down on them because I am very sympathetic to their problems and goodness knows I’ve let things hold me back a hell of a lot, but when I read their posts it’s like looking into my own future and this is what depresses me. It is the reason I stopped going there about 2 years ago. Back then I felt like I had moved on quite a bit from the person I was in 2007/8 – I had a semblance of a life. Now though, it seems as though I’ve slid back into the same old state.

The last few years were very eventful in one way or another. I reached low points for sure but I also had probably my biggest achievement in graduating from university. This was very important to me, although it may not seem like much of a triumph to a lot of people, I found it extremely hard work both academically and emotionally. My graduation ceremony itself was one of the very few times I have been proud of myself and I was happy to be there.

It has been quite a few months since then and in that time I’ve kind of slipped back into depression and withdrawal from life again. For various reasons I haven’t been able to find a job and it’s beginning to feel like I am right back where I was in 2007. There is probably too much on this blog already about how much I hated the job I mercifully had to leave in January 2007. It was genuinely the worst time in my life, I hated the people there that made me feel awful. I hated working afternoons until late at night. I hated the 1hr30 it took for me to get there. There has never been a time when I was more anxious than the months I worked there and I am constantly filled with dread when I read job listings and they remind me of that. It’s hard for most people to find a job in this economy but lots of other things are holding me back even more. Even though I have a degree now I just don’t feel confident in my abilities and I know that there are so many people more knowledgable and better equipped to deal with things than I am.

When I left the place I worked over the last couple of summers, the boss said that I could come back if I wanted to and I did get on OK there (at least compared to the previous job) but I don’t know if I could go back now. It’s been so long since I left uni and I haven’t got anything to show for the last few months, I don’t know if I could face them because I seem like such a failure. Again, I have done the same stupid thing by putting it off for so long until it becomes harder and harder to deal with. I should have known months ago that I would not get a better job and gone back then but now it has dragged on too long.

I’m going to leave it here for now but hopefully I will have another post up soon and won’t leave this site abandoned for months at a time.