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Back in the day, 15 years ago or so, I suffered a breakdown, or burnout, if you will. 

It was work and insomnia related and I also had severe panic attacks. I was diagnosed with acute anxiety,, insomnia and burnout.

In therapy I realized I have been suffering from anxiety most of my life. I also had(have) a strong penchant for pessimism and poor self esteem. After three years of therapy I also realized I had been chronically dissatisfied and had feelings of emptiness and pointlessness since I was a kid. At our last session, I told my therapist I had been dissatisfied and empty most of my life. I had felt a failure and had hated all the dead end jobs I had had. She looked at me and said laconically that that would probably take another three years of therapy to deal with. 

Well, I am there again. Full blown anxiety, borderline burnout and funnily enough it only has a little to do with covid19. 

I have stated before that I am more concerned about the impact our reactions have and not so much the virus itself. But the thing is, I have been obsessing about the fact that I hate my job for five years or so and can’t do anything about it. I hate to repeat myself, but I see no way of dealing with it that won’t just make everything even worse.

I am over 50 now, I have no skills or interests that would make any difference on the job market. I am crap at studying. I feel like a complete failure and not least because of not making a satisfactory life for myself. I feel out of place everywhere. I am constantly irritated and get worked up easily. I have anger issues, actually I am angry most of the time. People drain me even on a good day, on bad days which are the majority, I just can’t stand people.

I feel worse than 15 years ago. I am older, this corona bs is in full blaze, the economy is down the drain and I can assure it won’t get better anytime soon after the virus has dissipated. I feel more stuck and hopeless than ever. I am worrying constantly of losing my job. Though I hate it, losing it would mean less money and would make my life even more of a hell than it is now. Retirement abhors me too. That too would mean less money, and honest truth is it would make me feel old and redundant. I don’t know what to do with myself even on a good day.

15 years ago It took me two years to get back on my feet, if you can even call it that. One of those years I was unemployed and the experience was horrible. I couldn’t take it again. Now though,  age discrimination is a fact. It’s hard for competent over 50’s to get a job, let alone someone who has no credentials, interests or skills.

I don’t know what to do anymore. I am still fit, considering I suffer from chronic tendinopathy. Martial arts etc. I can’t do anything much though, so I am not exactly advancing in any way. Whenever I can, I try distract myself. Reading, music etc.

But nothing I do makes any difference. I am just going through the motions of living. At the end of the day I stay stuck, dissatisfied and empty. I am completely paralyzed. Even if I could move though, there is nowhere to go. Yes I know. Acceptance, count your blessings bla bla. Doesn’t work. I am not wired that way. I can’t afford therapy, not that I believe in it anymore.

You know the Edvard  Munch painting The Scream? My take of it is that it’s of someone realizing that all there is is void.

That's how I feel. I am in constant anxiety. Inside I am screaming constantly.

The void is staring into me.

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If we were to arbitrarily say you're walking around at a 65 out of 100 on the emotional distress meter on an average day, that leaves only 35 for day-to-day Corona-related strife, workplace stress, people issues, physical pain, emotional pain, etc - it ain't much bandwidth is what I'm getting at.

It is not surprising to hear that you were/are experiencing full-blown anxiety attacks which are common at the upper end of the wave of emotion. I'm hoping the wave passes soon although I know it will still leave you feeling anything but well. Wishing I could loan you 20 more bandwidth. 

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I'm pretty much always full as I call it.  I'm a pressure cooker ready to boil over on "good" days.  There's not much left of me at this point.  I on a regular basis feel like I'm going to fall over and die from the stress.  This isn't a world that cares if we've had too much.  This is a world that makes sure we have too much.  With my physical health problems and the endless stress I'll be dead sometime this year I'm sure of it.

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I actually believe you when you say you’ve tried everything and your best around the idea of a job. I don’t know, but maybe there is a way to at least feel a little less stressed and gain the tiniest piece of happiness by looking for meaning in life outside of a good job. I do not promise complete joy, at least not immediately, but maybe you’re too tunnel visioned on the idea of a job. Sometimes fixing one area of life without fixing other areas of life that needs more attention first, just makes you fail over and over. Whether it’s childhood trauma to make peace with, unhealthy health habits or a lack of spirituality no matter what religious or secular beliefs you have that creates it. (I define spirituality as finding meaning in close relationships, a sense of not being alone and loyal to community, and being kind to others — it is not attached to one certain stance on religion.) Perhaps if you were less stressed in another area, then perhaps it would be easier to progress in a job. A lot of other areas of my life are in a horrible state, but my career life is great, so let me give you some advice if you’d take the offer.

The truth is sometimes being better in a career involves not just trying harder, but slowing down. A lot of people can work hard, and it’s easy to replace someone like that. A lot would work hard for a lot less. What makes someone succesful instead has more to do with what they do differently in work. Studies seem to show that working too hard, too fast and working to exhaustion actually makes the efficiency in work worse. More progress is made from someone who gets enough of a break who can think clearly to make less mistakes than someone working so hard. So please, no need to pressure yourself. I doubt in all these years, you would not have made the tiniest bits of progress. A lot of motivation is made from celebrating your small wins and rewarding yourself for that, rather than being frustrated to only wait to reward yourself after a big achievement is made. You don’t need to motivate yourself through punishment, it’s possible to motivate yourself in rewards too. There is a time for punishment, but I wouldn’t resort to it all the time since stress makes it so that there is less energy for work.

Perhaps it would help to just learn how to prioritize. Studies say human beings cannot really multitask well. If people learn to focus deeply on one thing at a time at work rather than having shallow progress in several projects at once, more progress is made. If you have to do many projects at a time, at least move on to something else only after a day or even a few hours. I’ll give you some prioritization skills that only takes a few minutes to learn. Look up the Eisenhower Matrix, the Pomodoro Method, music for concentration, to do lists, and relaxation techniques to learn how to slow down. 

Anyway, you’re not alone in this. Even with those I work with being talented, everyone is putting off projects extremely late, everyone is more tired, have worse ideas and so on in this pandemic. It is not your fault. 

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