A Quarter of a Century of Disappointment

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This Sunday will be my birthday, I’ll be 25. I think that even though I had low expectations, if you showed my younger self what I’d be like at age 25 it would come as a huge disappointment.

I seem to have missed out that part in life where you are supposed to “grow up”. I know people will inevitably tell me that 25 isn’t old etc etc but by this age you should have at least moved on from a simple chilidish emotional state of being. I still have the exact same feelings now as I did when I was 5 years old, the terror I felt when going to school and being forced to be around other children, the isolation and desperate longing to get away from it all. In many ways I haven’t moved on at all since then.

Apparently most people go through some kind of the stereotypical rebellion as teenagers, wanting independence and all that. I never felt that way; most likely because I’ve never had any friends with who I wanted to stay out late or go into town with or whatever. I never went to any parties or even hung out with people outside of school. I couldn’t imagine anything worse than having to be with the people who made my life such hell for 7 hours a day any longer than was strictly necessary.

It is this lack of any social development that has led me to be in the sorry state I am now. Afraid to leave my room unless I am sure there is no-one outside my door and I have to pretend to be happy, or at least not utterly miserable, a challenge which becomes greater every day. No matter how good their intentions, there are only a few people who I actually like to see and spend time with and this is only because they are either related to me and so have always known me or I have met because they suffer from similar problems.

Just lately I feel as though I have been moving backwards. I live with 2 other people at my uni house and I haven’t said more than 2 sentences to them over the past month that I have been in that house. I consciously avoid them more than ever, more than I did last year when we were even less familiar with each other. The thing that bothers me most is how physically scared I feel whenever I hear one of their boyfriends in the house. I don’t know whether this stems from some sort of jealousy, he is almost the exact opposite of me in every way from what I can tell, confident and outspoken, popular and would almost certainly find my behaviour to be completely alien. I am terrified when I hear his voice though, or him thudding up the stairs. I have confined myself to my room late into the night when I was desperate to go to the bathroom and had to be up early the following day because I was too afraid to cross the living room where they were watching TV.

I don’t know how a person as crippled by such bizarre issues will ever be able to function in the real world. One day I won’t have my mums house to retreat to every weekend. I am already living beyond my means by buying sandwiches and eating out because I am afraid to spend 10 minutes in the kitchen cooking in case I am trapped into an awkward social situation.

A perfect storm of circumstances seems to be forming. The dark winter months, a stark reminder of  how immature I am, the increasingly difficult work at university are all conspiring to make me feel overwhelmed and unable to cope any more. I missed my CBT appointment while I was off over Christmas and he left a voicemail on my mobile which I haven’t yet dared to check and won’t dare to call back anyway. I don’t know what else I can do, nobody can help. I can’t expect to be bailed out all the time and I just cannot cope on my own, I am simply not good enough.

I feel sorry for my parents. Live or die, they are still stuck with a pathetic loser of a son. I can’t help but feel that a tragic loss for them would be better than a continuing disappointment for the rest of time.

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25 thoughts on “A Quarter of a Century of Disappointment

  1. Mia

    I’ve alway dreaded the day when I’d have to face the world on my own. Never really been eager for independence. I even thought it sucked when I got 18 and there were things my parents leagally couldn’t do for me anymore.

    Why don’t you try to get a single room, so you don’t have to live with a couple strangers. That would make things much easier for you, for sure.

    Of course they wouldn’t prefer a dead son. Parents aren’t supposed to live to see their kids die. It’s the worst possible thing that can happen. You’re not a disappointment, your disabled by your mental illnesses, that is not your fault. Mental illnesses is as legitimate as any physical illness, only people are really ignorant and close minded about it. That doesn’t make it less real.

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  2. Hannah

    There is no way your parents would rather lose you, they love you. Call your voicemail, talk to the CBT guy, please. Just keep going and happy birthday for sunday, please take care.

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  3. Emily

    If that’s how they feel they are pathetic excuses as parents. That isn’t necessarily how they feel though, that’s how YOU feel. Unless they are absolutely hateful people they don’t want you dead. If they are hateful people, why bother caring how they feel about you? I do all of those things. Except I go out and comfortably sit by myself in the cafeteria. No one bugs me, and people who don’t have talking problems eat alone, too! My roommate and I completely (well, mostly) ignore each other. I’m afraid to ask to turn out the light! or to turn off her damn TV sometimes! I mostly just fall asleep with her TV on or turn it off if I hear her light snore. Turn the light off when she goes to the bathroom. haha. Some of the things we do are silly and unnecessary, but that doesn’t make us horrible people! I’m not bad, you’re not bad.

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  4. They never said anything bad about me, but I don’t know how else anyone could feel with such a loser for a son.

    @Mia
    I wish I could get a single room but there’s no way I can afford it. I only work during the holidays so all I have is my student loan which barely covers the place I have now. Unfortunately most people do not think depression/social anxiety or whatever are a disability, they think you should just be able to snap out of it and I can’t see that changing any time soon 😦

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  5. Mia

    @Nick

    You’re not a loser. That’s just your vision of yourself. Would you think that of someone else in the same situation? I’m sure they’d wish for you do lead a normal life, but mostly because they feel you deserve it. But no remotely good parents wants to lose their kid, that’s for sure.

    Oh, I’m sorry. I can see how it must be really hard living with strangers like that. I found myself halfway into an anxiety attack just thinking about it while I was looking for places to live. Yeah, as I said, their ignorant and close minded. They can’t see anything physical wrong with you, and instantly assume there’s nothing wrong, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is in reality disorders, disorders you can’t just snap out of. And on top of that it also includes a lot of negatie sympyoms, which involves, symptoms which has removed something from your personality, rather than added something (i.e. hallucinations.) It is much harder to get back something you’ve lost/never had, than remove something that has been added to your personality.

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  6. Emily

    you “don’t know how else anyone could feel”…They could feel love. They could feel proud of you for getting this far in your university. Proud that you went back. They could feel so many emotions. You are in a situation that’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.

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  7. Nick, Happy Birthday! I know you might not want to hear me say that, but I’m saying it anyway. Your parents would never be happy if you weren’t here Nick, and I am sure they are proud of you. I hope you at least get to see them today or soon to celebrate your birthday.

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  8. it seems so nice knowing i am not the only one that lives day to day life like this and there is someone else with the same feelings and thoughts as myself. i guess i am not alone.
    first of all try (as hard is it is) not to kill yourself. life’s never that difficult as much as it might seem to be. u never know what might happen at any time and anywhere. and try not to think about your past as years of missed opportunities, its not your fault. and try hard to think positively on life no matter what. it takes a strong person to live through this. i am for one.
    so beaware you’re not alone.

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  9. Sol

    hi, i know how you feel, im lonely depressed stressed and can’t socialise, i tend to run and hide. im almost 24. and my love life doesn’t existing. its really depressing.

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  10. Rosie

    I have social phobia and I’m 28. I hold down a good job – I have to give a talk at a meeting every week in front of about 8 people. I still hate doing it now (been doing it for years), but my job is really important to me, so I force myself to do it. I still can’t say hello to some people in the hallway and eat my lunch in a toilet cubicle to get away from people. And yet I want to socialise. Sometimes I force myself to, but most of the time I get repeatedly asked why I am so miserable. To know that I am not the only person out there with this is an incredible relief. I am on meds and still think about suicide, but not as much as before I was on meds. I don’t want to die, anyway, I just want to be ‘normal’ socially. I have been in relationships before, but not good ones, probably because of low self-esteem. On the occasions when I have been asked out, I always end up panicking and ruining it and then blaming and hating myself even more. All I want is a decent relationship and I can never have it as long as I have social phobia. I hate it. I am awaiting CBT treatment. I really hope it works.

    I finished a Uni degree, but stayed in halls, in my own room, and only came out to shower, etc. whenever the other girls weren’t there. I made (crunchy) noodles with hot water in my room, rather than go to the kitchen to cook.

    Social phobia, bullying and a ****ed up family life have led to this sorry state of affairs. Just wanted to say I have it too and understand how horrific it is. My counsellor constantly tells me it is not my fault and I think I am beginning to believe her. Behavioural mechanisms were put in place to protect you at a certain time and they did a good job at the time, but now they are a hinderance. Please keep on with treatment and don’t try suicide again if possible.

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  11. INdia is my country Malayalam is my language

    me too in the same state..each and every word you hav written represents me…seriously i mean it…
    i am a total loser…now 21…i hate my birth day …i don want to get older…i dont deserve it…
    If there was some way to remain as a child forever i woul hav opted for it…
    seriously thinking of suicide…

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  12. Katie

    I didn’t even make it to Uni because of my social phobia!
    Luckily I pushed myself no matter how uncomfortable and trained as a Registered Nurse, then moved to the other side of the world!! I now work as a Nurse Educator and teach regularlyto big groups. I have even accomplished something major recently-that is to be interviewed and filmed-I’m too scared to look at the filming though-maybe one day!
    I know this does not sound like a social phobic-I can’t believe I’ve achieved so much it has taken a lot of uncomfortability, but I’ve never wanted to live with regrets. I still have issues but most people are unaware. I no longer drink alcohol so have stopped going out socially (I feel I’m quite boring without the old dutch courage!), I’m too fearful to listen to my voicemail messages, I eat lunch on my own at my desk, I’m fearful of relationships-I end up in really bad co-dependency style relationships and can’t bear the thought of going on a date. (I’m 34 now)
    Life is definitely a challenge. I am 80% better than I used to be (I do care less about what other people think-in general, which is a major improvement, and I can live with the other stuff-for now anyway).
    I have always believed that the positive of being a social phobic is that it makes me more aware of others and their feelings. By being open and honest I have learned there’s a lot of people out there with the condition. I always feel better once I’ve opened up a little, even if I just say something like ‘I tend to keep myself to myself I get uncomfortable around groups of people or people I don’t know very well, so don’t be offended if I spend a lot of time on my own’ I was the worst social phob-I used to spend all my time in my room with the curtains closed and used to hide behind the sofa if someone came to the front door!! You can still achieve just don’t ever give up!!x

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  13. David

    Hi Nick,
    I stumbled upon your blog looking for other people like me. I suffer from depression and social phobia too, and was beginning to think there was no-one like me out there. Socialising seems effortless to others, conversation seems to roll from tongues without the slightest panic, and even stranger they seem to enjoy it. Few can comprehend how a grown person can be scared to answer the phone, or the door. I’ve especially struggled for the last 15 years, and I’m speeding towards 40. A grown man, married with children, and yet little more than a child himself – unable to work, unable to function as a father at times. It’s easy to self deprecate, especially when trying to fit into a world that seems to run on a person being social. I’m proud of you though. You’re at university, something I wish I had the balls to do again, and doing it despite having a disability that makes everything painfully difficult. I’m sure your parents feel the same way if a complete stranger can be proud of your achievements, and it IS an astonishing achievement. I’ve been very lucky in that my wife and I met a school and still adore each other, she sees past my mental problems, and I past hers. There have been particularly low moments in my life, suicide attempts, abuse of drugs to feel something close to normal, and at times I’ve wondered how she’s coped. I’m through the worst of it now though, and what I can’t do, she does, and what she can’t do, I often can. We sort-of-function, but it’s nothing like a “normal” life – but it is a life, and I’m sure you too will one day find a way of coping as I have.

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  14. paddy1998

    i went 28 in april everything downhill since then about to finish at uni but failing badly will be lucky to scrape a 3rd im well read but that is just because i read rather than interact i had 1 girlfriend for about 6 weeks when i was 17 – 18 although we were only really going out for the 1st 3 weeks then it was mainly waiting for her to end it in the last 10 years i have never come close to annother person. i find it nigh on impossible to say hi never mind anything else this last week i have been borderline suicidal most of the time however i lack the courage to actually do the deed

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  15. Nico

    Did you just describe my life? I stumbled upon your blog while looking (again) for infos about social phobia. I already knew quite a lot about it but since I’m pretty much in the middle of a depression, right now, I tried to get even more informations. I’m 27 now and life totally suck right now…

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  16. Andrew

    Nick, everyone else,

    It’s uncanny how just reading your honest admissions about your fear and feelings that your a loser sound like they’ve exact transcriptions of my own thoughts about myself. So many of us have this illness or disease or dysfunction…whatever you want to call it. Well, I can say that as you get older you learn tricks to help you see yourself differently than you do right now. First of all, it is definitely true that the heart of the problem is genetic and beyond your control. So the immediate thing you can do is go easy on yourself and recognize it’s not your fault. Seriously, just say the words in your head “show yourself some compassion.” That eases the pain a little, because it lets you off the hook a little for the whole “i’m a loser” self blame. You’re not a loser. you have a freaking condition. It’s sucks. believe me, I know.

    Secondly, is any one else on this thread like me?–it comes in waves…? I can have stretches where I feel good about myself, then on a dime I’m back to abyss. just like that. in one day, I can go from feeling pretty good, to a total outcast, loser, phony, pathetic piece of shit that is basically worth less than an insect. being around others enjoying their lives is excruciating and I just feel like everyone knows and thinks i’m pathetic. The only relief comes in being totally alone and isolated. But then you feel so withdrawn. The only pleasure in life comes from being social and yet we’re cursed with an inability to do so. Then… it lifts. and you have a run where you feel pretty good. Well, this is my experience. It’s just hard to remember that the storm eventually passes. Just never expect it to last indefinitely either way. But ALWAYS be compassionate toward yourself.

    I’ve also noticed that it can help in a pinch to apply the trick of viewing others as suffering and vulnerable people. Really look at everyone you see as a person that is suffering. Because the truth is they are. It can take a little of the focus off yourself. Of course, there is no cure all and this trick will not always work, but it is a truth and it can help take the edge off.

    Finally, i read that in almost all suicides (based on notes left), the person believed his/her death would be a burden taken off of his/her loved ones. This is never the case. Suicides destroy a person’s loved ones. It’s is something that in impossible to ever recover from and absolutely doesn’t not lessen their burden. Do not talk yourself into the suicidal thought process. That is the illness hijacking your mind. Do try to be compassionate toward yourself. Say it, right now “go easy on yourself.” “it’s not your fault”

    good luck

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  17. Indian

    I am in the same condition..Each and every word you wrote reminds me of myself…
    Me too hav got the feeling of not having grown up…I am 22 and hates to tell my age or even think of it…I wish to be a little younger or go back to child hood bcoz i hav nothing to say that i am grown up…I am just an over emotinal stupid child in all ways…

    When my sister’s friends come to my house,i hide inside my room just like you did…

    In college,its becoming more and more like a night mare due to the assignments including stage presentattions etc…I am terrified to be in a group for a group work as I will not be able to stand up to their expectations in the program they plan…Now ppl are avoiding me in class…Some class mates are making fun of me asking about my tooo silent character…I am just fed up of this life…There is nothing to look forward in life as i see only darkness ahead…Even my room mate is not speaking a single word to me these days…I am 22 ,but never had a love life or even talked to a girl…When all others are so active and energetic in my age, i am destined to hide in a room crying about my fate….

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  18. lori

    I feel so much like you do only I’m much older. I haven’t really known anyone that had this problem to this degree, especially the fear of listening to voice mail. I am getting so physically ill from having to do things out in public.Email me if you want, though you probably don’t lol.

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  19. Sumit

    So tell me is there any solution available. Who wants to go on with a life like this. I dont even understand what the problem is.I just fell so bad when i have thoughts like i am not normal . Please tell me is there any solution to this. I constantly feel suicidal …every waking moment….but still holding on…dont really know whats the purpose of living? but still the hope that things might just get better … Like Led Zep says ..’A new day will dawn for all those who stand long ‘. I dont know what might happen ….. but things will surely not change if you dont want it to….I guess all these stems from a severe lack of activity. So get yourself involved physically….When you feel energy flowing through your body…you would want to do other things as well. I guess writing constantly helps people like us to lessen the burden a bit. I so desperately want to be positive …but i have grown mentally so exhausted that …i just cant force myself to think. All these strange thoughts just flows in…They are not in my control. If only i knew a way to control my thoughts….Medication might help. Still I have not started. Lets just hope things will be OK one day . Good luck to all of you .And please hold on as long as possible.Keep trying to change yourself. It just might work.

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