Changes

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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.

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Time keeps on slipping away

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I’m not sure how long I managed to try and stay in the positive (kind of) mindset I wrote about in my last entry but unfortunately it has long since passed. It is clear to me now that the isolation is no good for me at all. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the only time for probably 2 years where I have felt any semblance of self worth was when I got to spend a few hours with some people who I can almost convince myself liked being with me. Last night I was thinking about how the best time of my life was probably from mid 2011 to mid 2012, my final year of university (it is probably no coincidence that this period was a big downturn in the number of posts I wrote here, I tend to only write when I am feeling bad). It was a strange situation because the sociability of my living arrangements had decreased more and more: I started off in the halls of residence, then shared a house with 2 of my flatmates and ended up living on my own. This let me spend time alone when I needed to though, and I still saw my classmates so I wasn’t totally isolated. Compared to most people I was still practically a hermit, but this was the most comfortable I have been.

My current situation is constantly deteriorating. I have always had a decent relationship with my parents despite their ridiculous situation of being separated but still living in the same house. Things have started to get on top of me lately though. I don’t want to badmouth them because it would seem massively ungrateful since they let me live with them but things have begun to get a bit strained. I can’t stand to listen to my mum going on about things she has read in the Daily Mail (for people outside the UK, a hateful newspaper) and making horrible comments about people she works with (too fat, too thin, too lazy, too obsessive. You can’t win). It makes me depressed to think about what she would say about me if I wasn’t her son. I keep spending more time alone in my tiny room whenever we are all in the house. I remember a time when all I wanted more than anything was to be at home but now I cannot wait to escape this place. Sometimes I feel as though I am going through life 10+ years behind schedule.

To put it simply: there’s no way I can see my life getting any better. I know it doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things but my birthday is coming up and I remember this time last year how determined I was that I wasn’t going to let the year just slip away into nothingness but that is exactly what has happened. I have achieved nothing in the past two years, they have been a complete waste of time during the part of my life when I should be getting things done.

One of the very few people I have on facebook from the “before time” prior to when I tried to restart my life in 2007/8 is a girl I went to primary school with and we were friends when I was very young but lost touch after we started secondary school. I can quite vividly remember an early time I felt what I would describe now as social anxiety, was when someone told her that I had a crush on her. Anyway, I saw on facebook the other day that she got married. I didn’t feel jealous, I have not even spoken to her in person for over 10 years, but it did hammer home how much my life has diverged from the people I grew up with. When I occasionally see them they look like adults but virtually nothing has changed for me since I was in school.

It is impossible not to feel like there is something irrevocably broken about myself that I can let things go so wrong. I remember when I first started writing the entries in 2007 on another site that I transferred over to here, that one of the main things I was depressed about was how I had missed out on key development in major parts of my life. I am in pretty much the same situation now, 7 years on. I am still the same loser that I was back then except now I don’t even have time on my side. I thought 23 was too old to change things but I was wrong about that. I wish I was that age again. I don’t know how I would do things differently but at least I had time. Now I don’t have that, I don’t have any hope.

My old therapist used to ask “How would you like your life to be different?” or what I would like to change about my life and it used to leave me stumped. You would think that someone so unhappy would have a huge list of things but I could never give concrete answers and I still can’t. Part of it was that I knew what they would do if I could think of something, they’d try and come up with some way of working towards it so I would always be second guessing about what my answers would lead to. If we restrict it to the realm of things that are actually possible, then I can’t really envisage anything that could make things OK. This is my major problem, I would much rather just not be alive than to try and patch up this ridiculous life that I have made for myself.

I sometimes wonder if anyone could be so far gone as me and still manage to turn things around and not want to die. I know there are people with much, much harder lives than me and that I have things extremely easy but they must have some kind of will to fight on that I don’t have. What is the point? If it came down to being as miserable as I was at my first job in order to survive then I would vastly prefer to be dead. Other people might have the comfort of coming home to someone they love or seeing friends but I know that will never be possible for me.

There is nothing for me that would make the awful parts of being alive worth going through.

I apologise for such another rambling and depressing post. I still have not been able to make a doctors appointment, I still have no job and I haven’t spoken to anyone outside my family in any sort of social situation since when I last posted in September. There is not much else for me to report.

Five years on

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warning: contains frank discussion of suicide

It is five years ago since I tried to kill myself. In some ways a lot has changed in that time. I just read back on some of my posts from around that time, something which is difficult because I honestly hate myself more after reading what I was thinking around that time.

I can’t remember exactly what was going through my head in the days leading up to it. The pills must have really done a number on me because there is a total black hole in my memory (which is otherwise very good) from that point up to a couple of weeks later. The only record I have is what I posted on this site. One thing that surprises me is how many people commented and offered their support. God knows why, I really don’t think I deserved it. It looks like I had some kind of upswing right before crashing and it scares me to think about how I don’t even remember what caused me to actually start taking the pills. I remember quite clearly the fact that I had researched what I intended to do and had the stuff stockpiled for months in advance. There wasn’t any major event that tipped me over the edge.

The thing I have often thought about since is how I feel about the fact that I wasn’t successful. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to die and had done for quite a long time. Do I wish that I had died? To be completely honest, despite the fact that I have had some good times since then and even knowing that I did finally manage to graduate, I still can’t deny that I do. I will concede that at the time there may have been some part of my subconscious that wanted me to be discovered and that’s why I slipped up, but in retrospect I just wish that I had been more thorough.

My situation is no better, in fact in a lot of ways it is objectively worse. I still live in the same place and have no friends or life to speak of. I am older, more in debt and I have nothing to look forward to. If you showed me back then how my life had turned out then I would have been more sure than ever that there was no point to carrying on except for other people’s benefit. Upsetting my family was the only thing holding me back for a long time and I don’t know how much pain I should have to silently endure to keep them happy.

I don’t feel as actively awful as I did back then. The acute feelings of despair are less frequent and I mostly feel a dull all-consuming ache rather than a desperate desire to be dead. I can tread water for a while longer.

There is no future for me though. Each passing day is another wasted one. I have missed the boat on ever having anything like a successful life, wasted whatever potential I may have had. People like me just aren’t compatible with what the world wants.

I don’t want to worry anyone who may be reading this. Please believe me (and I am always honest on here, even if it does make me seem terrible) that I am not in any danger right now. I can’t really describe what I am feeling right now. Disappointment, maybe. Melancholy.

I don’t have anyone to talk to. Nobody wants to put up with someone as permanently miserable as me and I cannot convincingly act as though my existence is constantly permeated sadness for very long. I may finally be getting closer to going back to my doctor. They have a new appointment system where you have to speak to them on the phone first which is awful for me, but I am tired of being stuck just spinning my wheels. It’s sad really but I have slid backwards so much. I remember sitting here in this exact spot at the end of 2007, contemplating the fact that I was going to be alone at new year and making my first forays into contacting some other people with social anxiety. Since then I made a few online friends and even met some of them but that has all slipped away from me and besides a couple of people I occasionally talk to on twitter, none of whom know anything about my problems, I am back where I started.

For some reason this is the hardest thing for me to write about, but I want to be able to see some way out of all this. I don’t know how I can ever be able to be free from these feelings or if it’s even possible. By admitting this to myself I am opening myself up for more disappointment, hope is more dangerous than giving in to despair. Maybe there is some way for me to survive. It’s painful to think about, but I hope that there is.

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.

Update coming soon

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The last few weeks have been very hectic, what with moving back from university and before that exams and finishing my dissertation. I’m going to write a proper entry later on but thought I’d let people know I’m still here.

In the mean time, this is from a book called Person by Sam Pink which I felt sums up the way I feel about things most of the time:

My history is the history of things imagined and not-happened.

Finishing University

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Again I must apologise for leaving such a long gap between updates. The past month or so has been one of the busiest of my academic life. I’ve had a robotics project to develop and demonstrate, software engineering assignment and my final project/dissertation to complete. I haven’t managed my time perfectly, but it has been a vast improvement on last year when I only managed to get one assignment done (and had to ask for an extension for it) before messing up completely which resulted in me having to repeat the year. I’ve managed to get everything in on time this year without any extensions, so that’s something to be pleased about.

My dissertation ended up being around 17,000 words, which isn’t as much as a lot of students but I had to develop and document a piece of software too which involves a lot of technical diagrams and I spent many hours each day over the past few weeks to make sure I got everything done. It wasn’t perfect and there was a lot more I would like to have added but I think it’s fairly good. My tentative goal is to get a 2:1 (the second highest grade) for my degree overall, although I wouldn’t be devastated if I didn’t get that. To be completely honest, it’s been other factors like my mental health and personal problems that have hampered my progress more than anything but I’ve tried really hard to stay on track this year. I’m sure those of you reading this who went to college/university know what a massive undertaking it is and I was completely mentally drained by the time I had to hand it in and demonstrate my software last week. One of my classmates actually got RSI while writing his, so maybe I got off lightly.

It seems very strange to be coming to the end of my university life. I just checked back on the post I wrote when I first started here and I can’t believe how quickly that time has gone. Despite the massive problems I’ve had, especially the obvious one, I’ve enjoyed being here and it’s been a great experience. I’ll be proud of myself for the first time in a long, long time if I manage to pass and get my degree (which, barring any catastrophes, I should do). It’s a weird time and I’m not sure how I feel about it but for once I’m not depressed or anxious about the near future.

The second part of this post is to thank everyone who voted for me in the About.com poll. I didn’t stand much of a chance against the excellent Social Anxiety UK site, which I used many times myself but I did get a Reader’s Choice finalist award, so thank you all for that. You can see the other winners here.