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Completely Devoid Of Motivation And Slowly Withering Away. Help Pls!


wakalaka

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Hi.

I've been depressed for 8 years. I also have slight/mild social anxiety.

I'm 25 now. While everyone my age seems to be moving forward in life - advancing their careers, socialising, leading healthy productive lifestyles - I stagnate and regress.

I stay in every day.

I play video games (when I can motivate myself to play, which is only if I am in possession of a certain prohibited plant). I watch TV shows. I waste time on the internet.

I'm pretty sure I've lost all my friends, since I stopped talking to everyone years ago.

For me, social contact involves putting on a mask (in order to appear normal) and lying through my teeth about everything. I dread innocuous questions like "what did you do today?" or "what are your plans for the weekend?". They feel like condemnations, and require me to lie.

While I wither away at home, my girlfriend - whom I admire - works 2 jobs and pursues a full-time degree. It's only a matter of time before she leaves me (no one wants an unmotivated burden for a boyfriend), and we've had many 'talks'... but even that isn't enough to get me off my ass.

My parents know about my depression. They are supportive and, even though I dropped out of university, still send me a monthly allowance. When people ask me how I support myself despite being unemployed, I tell them I'm "living off my savings", because I'm supposed to be a grown-ass man, not a developmentally delayed manchild still mooching off his parents.

Being an able-bodied, able-minded, white, upper-middle-class male, I was born into privilege. I have every resource & advantage at my disposal... and yet I continue to squander it all.

I don't exactly hate myself. I like who I am on the inside. Or rather, I like who I could be. But that person has been suffocated by laziness, shame and failure.

I don't want to die, but I often fantasize about fatal accidents or terminal illnesses because they represent an easy way out.

I feel like I'm drowning and it's all my fault.

What can I do?

(Aside from seeking therapy, which is a daunting task in itself.)

I've heard that some ADD meds (e.g. Adderall), and some anti-psychotics, can increase motivation. Could something like that help? Or is it a very bad idea?

Edited by wakalaka
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(I'm replying to myself not to bump my topic, but because it looks cleaner that way. I have some questions that don't fit in with the OP.)

How do you separate depression from yourself? At which point does depression 'fuse' with your personality, making it impossible to distinguish where the 'self' ends and where the depression begins?

8 years is a long time. I fear that, by this point, my actual personality has been sublimated/absorbed by depression - or whatever the hell it is that's making me this way.

As for sharing my feelings, I'm not sure that it helps. Exposing myself like this fills me with shame and revulsion. It feels masturbatory and exhibitionistic. Like I'm looking for an excuse not to change. "It's not me, it's the depression!"

But it is me. I have to be accountable for who I am. Whatever choices I've made have led me to this.

It seems too easy to simply point at a common, poorly understood mental condition and use it to deny responsibility for my current situation.

Who knows if it's even depression? Could be a personality disorder, could be a thyroid problem, could be a lack of vitamins... or it could just be self-reinforcing laziness that has taken on a life of its own, my poor choices snowballing and leading to depression as a symptom of the laziness that engendered it.

Edit: putting the navel-gazing aside for a minute, I do have a plan (kind of) to extricate myself from this rut:

-attend the gym regularly

-eat balanced meals at regular times

-apply to university to get some purpose and a schedule back into my life.

Edited by wakalaka
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Hi Wakalaka,

I can certainly relate to a lot of what you have said and I know it's a horrible place to be in.

I'm 27 and at the start of last year I moved back to living with my parents and started studying full time. At the start of 2012 I was living in a nice place, earning a decent full time salary with a comfortable bank balance and to now be basically broke really sucks. It's especially hard because I feel as you get older you are expected to be more settled and have it all together and to look at the people around my age talking about marriage, promotions and buying houses it makes you feel awful.

In order to get better i think you will need more than just pure will power so please get help from others. Speak to a doctor, speak to a therapist, try to get support from the people around you and most of all try to be kind to yourself. I have also heard that drugs like Adderal can give you a boost in mood/motivation but I think it would do you more harm long term as it would not help your depression and in my opinion would only make things worse.

I think when you are depressed for a long period of time it is very hard to distinguish who you are from the depression. Your mind is so sick that it's impossible to tell until after you are better mentally. I think that when you are feeling better you will find you start to find yourself again.

From what you have written I feel a STRONG amount of guilt and shame which will have to be sorted out first. You just CAN'T move forward with your life if you keep beating yourself up for how your life has transpired so far. Please try to speak to a therapist if you are able to as I think they could really help you start to feel better about yourself, you deserve to be happy and enjoy your life.

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What can I do?

(Aside from seeking therapy, which is a daunting task in itself.)

I've heard that some ADD meds (e.g. Adderall), and some anti-psychotics, can increase motivation. Could something like that help? Or is it a very bad idea?

Therapy is a good option for many people. Ruling out that option because it is daunting limits your potential solutions, and solutions can sometimes be hard to come by for some people. As for meds, your lack of motivation could be caused by depression. Any med that lifts your depression will bring you motivation. There are many, many potential meds, and a psychiatrist could help you come up with a plan. As for adderall and anti-psychotics: I've been prescribed both as off-label anti-depressants. Neither really helped my depression, and therefore neither helped with my motivation. Your mileage may vary, but I don't know why a psych would jump to them first unless something else is going on.

How do you separate depression from yourself? At which point does depression 'fuse' with your personality, making it impossible to distinguish where the 'self' ends and where the depression begins?

Depression is not a separate creature living alongside your normal personality, though some people might like to think that way. It's a significant change in your mental status and personality, determined through clinical diagnosis. Personality is fluid. Work can change it..

As for sharing my feelings, I'm not sure that it helps. Exposing myself like this fills me with shame and revulsion. It feels masturbatory and exhibitionistic. Like I'm looking for an excuse not to change. "It's not me, it's the depression!"

Masturbatory and exhibitionistic? No. Obviously I could be way off base, but my first thought is that you seem to be making excuses for feeling ashamed about it, and that's why you don't want to talk about it. I certainly didn't feel good about opening up about my depression to a professional. It was a relief when finally done. Why not give it a try? You don't have anything to lose but some time and money, and could gain a tool for improvement.

Who knows if it's even depression? Could be a personality disorder, could be a thyroid problem, could be a lack of vitamins... or it could just be self-reinforcing laziness that has taken on a life of its own, my poor choices snowballing and leading to depression as a symptom of the laziness that engendered it.

As I said earlier, depression is a clinical diagnosis - based on the symptoms your present. As long as the identifying symptoms are present, it doesn't matter if you're hypothyroid, have a suite of unhealthy coping mechanisms, or are severely malnourished - you're still depressed.

Good luck figuring things out from here. Hope it gets better. Healthy eating, exercise, along with sunlight, a regular sleep cycle, and socializing, seems to help some people.

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Thanks for your responses.

From what you have written I feel a STRONG amount of guilt and shame which will have to be sorted out first. You just CAN'T move forward with your life if you keep beating yourself up for how your life has transpired so far. Please try to speak to a therapist if you are able to as I think they could really help you start to feel better about yourself, you deserve to be happy and enjoy your life.

The mid-20s are a period during which you are expected to fully transition into adulthood. Throwing depression into the mix at this point really adds to the guilt of not living up to societal standards. You're right about shame, etc. being an important element to tackle before I can make meaningful progress.


Depression is not a separate creature living alongside your normal personality, though some people might like to think that way. It's a significant change in your mental status and personality, determined through clinical diagnosis. Personality is fluid. Work can change it..

As I said earlier, depression is a clinical diagnosis - based on the symptoms your present. As long as the identifying symptoms are present, it doesn't matter if you're hypothyroid, have a suite of unhealthy coping mechanisms, or are severely malnourished - you're still depressed.

Good point. I tend to fall into the trap of thinking that my depression is fabricated, not real or somehow 'less valid' than others'. I suppose it's one of the many tools I use to chastise myself and reinforce my feelings of worthlessness.

To deny the validity of my symptoms is just as harmful as wallowing in them. It's a trick to avoid dealing with my issues head-on.

You're right about 'depression' being a general descriptive term for a collection of symptoms. It is not a value judgment. You just made me realise that - despite knowing better - I've been telling myself that since my symptoms probably lack a 'purely neurological' cause (e.g. brain damage), I am not 'entitled' to the level of misery I've been experiencing.

How does one walk the fine line between self-acceptance and self-indulgence? How do you acknowledge yourself and treat yourself with kindness without enabling yourself? Self-love (not that kind) is all well and good, but if you don't know how to love yourself, any attempt at doing so seems doomed to include tacit approval of one's destructive habits.

As for therapists, I had one session with a university counsellor last year. Like SpaceAce, she quickly identified guilt as being a major defining characteristic of my depression.

It was difficult to open up, and I was incredibly anxious during the meeting, but it was also cathartic. Thrilling, even.

She gave me some forms to fill in whenever I felt anxious or depressed. I was to describe the feeling, rate its intensity, jot down my response to it, define the context in which it took place, and identify any possible triggers. The exercise took place over a week. Any longer, she said, and it would encourage rumination, making it counter-productive.

I diligently completed it, and had every intention of returning... but on the day of our next appointment, I cancelled and never went back.

However, on the basis of that one consultation, I can see how regular follow-ups with a professional could be helpful.

By the way, I have sought treatment. Kind of. The first person I consulted was my GP about 3 years ago. She was the first person I talked to about it.

She went through the checklist, identified me as severely depressed and prescribed 50mg of Zoloft, which eventually progressed to 150mg.

I took sertraline for 2 years but saw no improvement. (I was naive enough to hope that medication alone might give me the kickstart I needed. I'd like to say that I'm wiser now, but I still cling to the hope of a miracle drug. Which is why I asked about Adderall.)

Anyway - I'll start looking for a therapist.

PS - need to rant: it is incredibly frustrating to deal with an illness that affects the only organ with which you are able to perceive it. It is a vicious, self-reinforcing thing that cannot be grasped or adequately defined as distinct from the self (unlike, say, a broken leg). I find it difficult to stop trying to 'figure it out' and 'think my way out of it'. It's hard to accept the futility of trying to untie that gordian knot.

Earlier I said "I feel like I'm drowning". Here's a more accurate description: it feels like I'm living in an Escher painting.

Edited by wakalaka
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