Painfully Alone

Every time I started to write a new post, I just froze because honestly I’m ashamed of how little I’ve done since the last time I wrote any kind of substantive update. The past few years have been mostly uneventful and I just haven’t had the motivation to write anything that could be worth reading.

Looking back it seems like the last real update was when I started back on antidepressants. I carried on taking them for over a year but the gradually started losing effectiveness and I couldn’t afford to keep paying for them. The NHS prescription levy isn’t that much (about £8 per month) but that is a lot to me since I have no money and massive debts from university due to having to pay fees out of pocket which I still have on credit card. To make things worse, I tried getting an HC2 certificate for people on low income but once it expired I didn’t realise it was out of date and ended up having to pay a £50 fine, which I could not afford so in the end  I just stopped taking them because it was all too much.

I did manage to get into therapy for a few sessions which I did find helpful, but after the initial 8 appointments I was supposed to have to wait for 6 months before I could re-apply, but as usual I still have not been able to do that for all the various stupid reasons that prevented me from trying to get back into therapy for all those years. I’m still holding out hope that maybe I could possibly get back there and see the same therapist because I feel like he was the only person who really understood me and where I was coming from. It probably took 3/4 of the sessions to get to that point and I simply cannot face trying to go through all the explanations again for what would probably be the 5 or 6th time, it is just too painful and embarrassing. Knowing my luck, he’s probably moved on just like everyone else I have ever had try to treat me.

I did perhaps made a little progress when it comes to social anxiety, it can be hard to tell because most of the time I have little or no chance to have any kind of social interactions. A couple of years ago I started going swimming with my dad on Saturdays and through some weird turn of events he ended up talking to a woman who was there with her daughter and told them it was my birthday. The daughter (who is about the same age as me) came over to wish me a happy birthday and we actually ended up talking a bit because she worked at a tech company and I told her I had done computer science at uni and and some web development. This probably all sounds mundane to most people but over the following few weeks I managed to talk to her more and got to know her a bit.

She is a very nice person and it became the highlight of my week to go swimming because I knew I might get to see her. I know how sad this sounds, but it’s true. At the back of my mind I knew I was being foolish for thinking that she could really care about me, she’s beautiful and successful and pretty much the exact opposite to me, I couldn’t even understand why she continued to talk to me. I realise it’s unhealthy but seeing her was pretty much the only thing I looked forward to. Sometimes she wouldn’t be there and I’d be filled with anxiety that it was my fault, that I had said or done something stupid and ruined it all but she did come back. That was until this summer. I knew she was going away for a several weeks to the country where her mother is from because they were going to see family but I didn’t know when she’d be back. For about 6 or 7 weeks I would get my hopes up, only to be disappointed every time.

I sent her a message (we are facebook friends but I am always reluctant to contact her much because she doesn’t really use it much and I don’t want to be overbearing) and found out she and her mum had started going to the gym instead of swimming and I can’t really express how sad it makes me that I don’t get to see her any more. I have been able to talk to her a couple of times when I saw her leaving the leisure centre as I arrived in the last month but didn’t have more than a few minutes to say much, and I felt like my usual stupid tongue-tied self.

I always wanted to get to know her better but I was always afraid of saying anything because I didn’t want to come off as a creepy guy or drive her away, but thinking back, I know I wasted my chance to make any kind of real connection. There were times when I might have been able to say something but I was too afraid that it would backfire and I preferred to have that fantasy not destroyed. I do realise how ridiculous it must seem for a 30 something to act like a stupid teenager but that’s just where I am.

It feels wrong to even admit that I have these kind of feelings for someone because a fucked up freak like me doesn’t really deserve to have any kind of affection, but I really like her so much and it would make me so happy to know her better and be part of her life but I don’t think it’s ever possible to be more than a casual acquaintance, if even that is possible now. I had a chance where I could have tried to say something, but I just have no idea how or what I could say that wouldn’t come off as weird. I keep wanting to reach out and say something but I don’t know how to tell someone that I want to know them better.

There aren’t many things I can think of that could realistically make me happy but it would mean so much to me if I could spend time with her. I doubt it can ever happen now though, as with all people we are drifting apart because I have nothing to offer and no idea how to connect with people.

 

Steps

I’m not sure what happened but something finally spurred me into action and I finally made it to the doctors at the end of November. It was a year ago when I went to re-register with my GP here and I remember it being Christmas time and lying to my mum about where I’d been. It was yet another year before that when I realised that I am not able to cope alone and even if it’s only a placebo effect, the medication that I took before seemed to help and I had my most productive and happy time in 20 odd years when I was taking it. The doctor didn’t ask much, it didn’t seem as though they had any of my records from when I was at university but I took one of the old boxes with me and she wrote me a new prescription for the same one.

It has been about 6 weeks since I started back on them and I think it is helping. Although they tell you it takes 4-6 weeks to take effect, I noticed around an hour after I took the first one that I felt different. It could be placebo, but my pupils were dilated and I felt energised by it like a (recreational) drug. It was almost as if I needed it. It’s difficult to know how to feel about that. I have long suspected there is something wrong with how my brain works. I know that there isn’t a very strong case for SSRIs being effective but I feel better for being on them again (despite it adding another monthly expense I can ill afford).

My general mood has improved but I still have the deeper underlying sense that life is meaningless and a crushing sense of alienation. I have been so isolated for 3 years now, it takes its toll. I still think about suicide, it seems like the only sensible thing to do sometimes. There isn’t really any reason that I want to be alive besides not inflicting the grief on my family. It’s bearable for now though. Maybe there’s still some hope for me.

Ages ago I joined a Social Anxiety group on Meetup but I’d never been to any of them since it seemed like a lot of the people in the group knew each other and I was afraid of being the new person. I did make it to one in December though, we were planning on going to a Christmas thing in the Arboretum. Only about 6 people were meant to be attending but the weather got so awful (after I’d already gone out..) that only 3 of us actually turned up. It went ok, I didn’t really say a lot but the two people I met seemed quite nice. I might go along to the next one and see how it goes. The thing is, I always feel as though I’m putting on a performance by trying to appear normal. If you are a dark, miserable person like me then you cannot “be yourself”.

The loneliness has been getting to me. I want to write more about this but it’s late and I haven’t been sleeping well. Hopefully I will remember to write more than one post every two months this year. Let’s hope 2016 is a good one.

Changes

I remember sitting on a bench with my dad some time in the early 2000s talking about how England were bidding to host the 2006 World Cup and I started thinking how I would be 21 by that time, which seemed a very long way off, and that I would probably have a good job then and would hopefully be able to pay for me and my dad to go and see some of the matches. Back then people used to tell me that because I was good at computer stuff I would get a good job and have a lot of money and I foolishly believed them. As it turned out, that world cup was eventually hosted in Germany and by the time it rolled around I had already dropped out of university, gone to a virtually useless college course and was about to begin an extremely low paid (less than the minimum wage if you worked it out hourly) tech support job that I hated and have written about at great length on this site.

One of the traps that I fell into then and several times afterwards was assuming that, given time, things will work out or change for the better. Many times in the past before I was depressed, I used to think about things might be better in the future. The thing is, unless you can do something about it then nothing will change. I have wasted so much time and that’s why I still find myself in virtually the same situation (except massively in debt) as I was back in 2002 or whenever it was.

I don’t know how other people do it. There must be something (or many things) that I am just incapable of doing because I can think of no end of people who I used to know in the past who you would think didn’t have things together as much as me, but they have turned out vastly more successful than me (not that that is difficult, but you know what I mean). It sounds bitter and I supposed I really am bitter, to talk about this but I can’t help but feel defeated when I think about the people I knew at school that were very far from being the most intelligent or hard working, people who probably got bullied as much or more than me for being weird, who have managed to make something of their lives.

I hate showing these ugly emotions, but when I think about how I used to be thought of as clever and was picked on for that reason (among others) I feel fucking furious that I have absolutely nothing to show for it all. Why did I have to get all the downsides of being intelligent but get none of the supposed rewards?

What changed? How did they do it? I know what changed for me: nothing. In some ways I am the exact same person I have been for years. Hating myself, terrified of what people think and say about me. I think I might have been mistaken in the past. I probably could have made something of myself if I’d been able to get some kind of help and know what I know now. I didn’t used to be a completely lost cause, but with each passing day I crept closer and closer to what I am now.

I have written about this before but it bears repeating. The easiest thing in the world to do is nothing. Things will never change if you don’t make things happen. I don’t know how to do that any more, I don’t know if I have the chance to change things for the better. I will address this in a future post but there is a vicious cycle keeping me where I am and every part of it makes it impossible to break out of any of the other parts.

When I first seriously contemplated the idea that I had social anxiety and depression back in 2007, I can distinctly remember sitting exactly where I am writing this post now and I reading a forum about social anxiety which essentially started me off on what I think of as a new “chapter” of my life. One of the people who I met on that forum eventually gave me the courage to think about going back to university and even moving away to a different city, which had previously been unthinkable to me. The next two years saw probably the biggest changes I had been through in my life, including it almost ending.

That I have been on a backslide ever since I left university causes me a lot of anguish. To some people it doesn’t mean a lot, but even though I went through some enormously testing times including long periods of feeling suicidal, it was the best time of my life. I felt like I had a purpose. I sometimes wonder now if it was just escapism, but back when I was there I didn’t feel like I should be ashamed just to exist. I would not have described it this way at the time, but I was proud to be a university student at last. Nowadays I feel like I am looked down upon just for walking along the street. People here have an almost psychotic hatred for those without a job.

A few months ago I went back to the city where I lived while I was at university and it was the first time I had returned since I went to my graduation ceremony in 2012. I didn’t write about it here, only in a personal journal thing. It stirred up some strange emotions though. Last year I had seen a photo of the view I used to see from the road that led to my flat and I felt very sad that I didn’t live there any more but I wanted to go back there. It’s not an amazing place, just your average English town really. I thought about going back there a few times but I didn’t know if it would make me too sad.

Almost on a whim one day in July I decided to get the train and just go for a few hours since it doesn’t take too long to get there. When I got there I realised I could conceivably have started and finished another bachelor’s degree in the time since I left. I wrote in my journal that it felt like a dream, and it really did. I almost went back into the same routine, walking down the same part of the pavement I did for 4 years and almost as if I was on autopilot. It seems odd to write about it like this because it’s probably not a special or deeply significant place to anyone but me, but the whole experience was so surreal. I walked past where my old flat was in the halls of residence and up to the university building itself. It’s changed a little bit in appearance but it felt different somehow.

At the time I wrote how I felt as though people knew I shouldn’t be there any more, this was no longer my place to be. I walked along the roads I still knew so well but I didn’t feel welcome any more. Nobody said anything to me of course, why would they? but I felt so sad that this was no longer home to me, I was just a visitor now. I was glad I had sunglasses on because I actually got tears in my eyes.

As I returned to the train station this feeling was underlined. I used to go there most Friday’s to come back to my parent’s house for the weekend but I knew I’d be heading back to uni in a few days. This time I was going back for good though, I was only here temporarily. In my journal I wrote that, with hindsight, I was wanted here. I was welcomed by people I never thought would want me to be there, they asked me to share a house with them. I had members of the university staff fight for me to get my fees waived for the year I had to re-sit. I didn’t know how lucky I was at the time and I feel a deep sadness now that has all passed.

I don’t know if I will ever have anything like that again. I did not appreciate it at the time and I now feel like an idiot for ignoring all the good things I had back then.

I sit here, right back where I was in 2007, on the same bed, feeling the same feelings of hopelessness. This time I am older and have let another chance at making something of my life slip through my fingers. I was ridiculously lucky to get a second chance in 2008. I don’t know that I will ever be afforded another opportunity like that again.

I know this is a very long shot

I would really like to get back in touch with someone who commented on my blog a long time ago and used to email me but I don’t think the address I have works any more. PJ, if you still read my blog please email again. I have been going through some old emails of mine and I can’t believe how kind and supportive you were to me when I was at my lowest point. I know you had your own problems and I dearly hope you are still here.

Self Fulfilling Prophecies

Tell people why they should dislike you enough and eventually they will. I don’t know why I do this, I just can’t seem to help it. It’s like I have to convince anyone who may have a positive opinion about me that they are wrong. This is something I have done over and over, driving away what few people who have been kind enough to talk to me.

Maybe deep down I just want people to hate me? I don’t know or understand why.

Getting Things Done

I made a list of things that I wanted to try and get done this past week, it was mostly small things that I kept putting off for one reason or another like replying to some message that I was nervous about reading etc. I managed to get a few of them done but I’m still left with a few that are very difficult. I am not in a great situation financially and there is a bank account that I opened while at university pretty much only because it came with a free railcard and I was taking the train a lot at the time. Anyway, this account was overdrawn by a small amount and I tried to get it back in credit and just leave some money in there so they didn’t bother me but somehow it got charged again even though I wasn’t overdrawn so now it’d back in debt again. I really need to phone up and get it sorted out but I hate using the phone, especially for things like this where I am going to have to give them loads of information and I just can’t face it. There is another thing that I need to phone up and cancel because it’s costing me £20 every few months, which I can hardly afford but it’s so daunting to me that I have just left it for well over a year…

There are so many ways in which being this way has cost me huge amounts of money. The most obvious is having a degree which is supposedly in demand but not being able to do anything with it. Even if I could call my old workplace up and face going back there, I was still only getting just over minimum wage. I dropped out of university and going back ended up putting me into way more debt than everyone else my age.

One of the more pressing things I want to try and accomplish this week is something I have been trying to do for like 2 years now and get back to the doctor. I just find it so hard going back there, I can’t really explain all the reasons why. I am scared of them telling me I can’t go back on the medication I was on, the only one which worked. I am scared that even if I do, it won’t work this time. I am scared of everything about calling them to make the appointment, going there, talking to the doctor, telling them everything all over again, what they might make me do regarding mental health workers etc. I can’t go on like I have been for the last few years though. It’s getting too much to try and handle alone.

Paradoxical Feelings

Over the last week I started talking to a new person I met online and had a few nice conversations which you might think would make me feel better but strangely I actually feel worse. I have been trying to break it down in my head as to why I feel like this and it kind of happens in a few stages. First of all I usually expect to be rejected by everyone because it is my honest belief (I don’t just say this to try and make people disagree and reassure me) that I am a boring, worthless person who is fundamentally unlikeable. If this doesn’t happen then I can occasionally have positive experiences, like how I described in a post from last year (I cannot believe a year has passed since that already..) but afterwards I start to get a sense of dread building up. On rare occasions I can fight it for a while but I inevitably end up replaying conversations or things I did over and over in my mind and thinking about how stupid and inept I came across. I usually get the urge to try and correct it by giving some sort of apology or seeking approval in some way. I feel ashamed admitting this because it sounds so pathetic but that’s what it is really. The alternative is what I am feeling right now about the most recent experience, that I feel guilty for deceiving the person into thinking I am more interesting or less of an idiot that I really am.

The main conclusion that I have drawn from this crude self-analysis is that a lot of my problems come from my fundamental beliefs about myself, which have been formed from years of experience both personally and from listening and reading about what people say about others. I know I am the kind of person who is almost universally thought of as a complete loser and looked down upon by pretty much everyone. The thing is, I don’t necessarily disagree with them. I don’t like myself at all, and I’m not just saying that for effect. This leads me to think “if I don’t like myself, why should anyone else?”

This is a big sticking point when it comes to trying to get better. I have been feeling very depressed just lately (but not actively suicidal) and fed up of not knowing how to deal with it. I read a book called Reasons to Stay Alive because I thought it might have some insight. The author gives a very good description of how depression can feel (at least in my experience) and obviously had more acute and severe anxiety than me. I couldn’t help but come away with the feeling that our situations, and the situation of a lot of people whom I have read describing their dealings with depression are very different and come from a completely different place. I think for some people, depression is a completely irrational thing. This guy had a loving girlfriend, to whom he gives enormous credit for helping him through what was a very difficult time. I’m not trying to play down anyone’s experiences, but I can see why it might not be quite so hard to find reasons to stay alive if you have that kind of support.

I find myself in the same old situation of not having anyone besides my immediate family who I can talk to or get any kind of support from. Even this is very limited because I don’t like talking to them about things because I don’t want to upset them any more than I already have done in the past. I never talk to my dad about things, my sister is so busy and stressed out by her job I don’t want to add to her troubles and my mum seems completely unable to understand why I feel the way I do even though it is clearly not a normal situation at all. Even though they are sympathetic, I cannot shake the feeling that it’s because I am related to them and doesn’t really reflect on my value as a person because people often support their family members even if they are truly awful. Maybe this makes me a bad, ungrateful person, I don’t know. I simultaneously crave, but cannot believe that I will ever have, acceptance and friendship from other people who aren’t obligated to give it.

The common thread I have seen when people write about recovering from depression is that they try to invoke the fact that you can return to some sort of state that you were in before you were depressed, and I can see why that is valuable because if you used to be OK then I’m sure it would be possible to be OK again. The thing is that some of us don’t really have those memories or experiences to look at and think “I can be like that again”. I can’t remember any prolonged period in my entire adult life where I have not been depressed. At 18 I felt like my life was falling apart because I couldn’t cope with university and this was the first time I fallen off track from what I was “supposed” to do. 19 to 21 felt like an extension of my school days, at 22 I realised work was just as bad and that people there could hate me and make my life a misery just as much as they did at school. At 23 I spent a year unemployed and isolated (as I have done from 2012 to now) my mid 20s were spent battling suicidal thoughts and actions that I have described in tediously great detail on this blog. The closest I can think of is the last year I was at university. This would hardly rank as a great situation for most people, I spent virtually every day alone and only briefly spoke to one person in my classes every now and then. I didn’t feel utterly hopeless though, perhaps that is the high water mark I have to aim for.

What My Brain Says

  • You are worthless
  • You are unlikeable
  • You will always be alone
  • You are a failure
  • You are boring
  • You are hideous
  • You are an idiot
  • You have wasted your life
  • You don’t deserve to ever be happy
  • It’s too late for you to do anything about it
  • Everyone would be better off if you were dead.

Apologies

Sorry I haven’t responded to comments or emails for a while, I haven’t been feeling too well. I am ok though.