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  1. FYI: I'm a 23 y/o male. I've struggled with depression and anxiety for much of my life. Despite this, I've somehow been able get through my schooling, and will be graduating on Monday with an MSW (Masters of Social Work). I've already started my first full-time job. But I'm still miserable. I never developed any competencies when I was younger for a variety of reasons, namely: lack of parental support and low self-esteem. When I say "competencies", I'm referring to skills and abilities such as a sport, music, art, writing, etc. Basically, I never was able to develop into being "good" at something. I did reasonably well in school, but when I wasn't doing schoolwork, I was generally unfocused and unproductive (Watched a bunch of TV, played video games, etc.). Ever since I recognized this flaw, I have tried to develop a competency, but it's been a struggle. I did not realize the significance of not having a competency until the end of high school, and attempting to develop a competency from scratch while experiencing significant depression and anxiety and attempting to maintain my grades was a challenge. I saw therapists during this time period, but made little progress. They utilized CBT techniques, which wasn't problematic, but despite efforts CBT wasn't working for me. This seemed like a deeper problem than CBT could fix. I tried to get support from my friends and family, but I realized an almost complete lack of empathy, as no one understood how I could be happy and did not validate my very real depression and anxiety that I was experiencing as a result of this. I struggled for years, was close to committing suicide my sophomore year of college, but thankfully was able to come out of that state of mind. Things got better towards the end of college, as I finally was able to find a group of friends that I enjoyed being around. I've always been naturally funny and I kind of took on being funny as my identity. It worked for the time being and my insecurities were put on the back burner for my senior year of college. I even had a short relationship and had my first kiss. I thought I had moved on. But I didn't. Once I completed college, my friendships in school started to fade. I enjoyed the time I spent with my friends in college, but never connected with anyone. I didn't really have much in common with most of my friends, except we enjoyed hanging out/partying together. Therefore, after college ended, the friendships became less enjoyable. I got bored. The friends I still had from home also didn't meet my needs. We just, weren't really suppose to be friends. They were friends by convenience. Without my social life to distract me, my depression and anxiety came back again. I know that if I had some type of competency, I would be better able to cope with and eventually overcome my depression and anxiety. A competency would allow me to more easily find friends that I have something in common with. A competency would allow me to add more to my life, an activity that I could regularly engage in that would provide joy. It's what's missing. I'm 23. I'm still young. Although I'm working full-time now, I still have time to find a competency to add to my life. I have some interests: basketball, photography, poetry, writing, running, lifting, music. I also thoroughly enjoy my profession as a substance abuse social worker. I yearn to grow and learn more about my field. But I can't seem to make any progress because I'm so miserable. I feel so empty. I have friends but don't want to be around them because there is no connection. No commonality. Personality-wise/interest-wise. Not having experienced intimacy in over two years also has taken a toll. Basically, I'm in a catch-22. I need to start engaging in activities I enjoy in order to develop a competency, feel less empty, experience more joy, and find friends that are more suitable for me, but I'm struggling because my depression and anxiety make it so difficult to motivate myself. Also, it's harder to get involved at age 23 than in high school or college. Further, doing this without social support also is quite challenging. Please, tell me this isn't hopeless. That I'll someday not feel empty. That I can have a life that isn't marred by misery. That I don't have to keep dragging myself through each day. Please. TLDR: I never developed a competency, which has given me identity issues,self-esteem issues and trouble making connections with people, leading to a lonely, miserable, empty life. Attempts to improve my life have been marred by lack of opportunity and overwhelming depression/anxiety.
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