Feel completely hopeless

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    I struggle a lot with anxiety, agoraphobia really, and have done since I was 14 – now nearly 32. It feels so entrenched that I don’t know if I will ever be able to live anything resembling a normal life. I see a therapist twice a week who is great but apart from that I don’t really have any support and trying to go out and do things on my own just seems to be almost impossible. I know I need to find that feeling of support within myself instead of giving myself a hard time and punishing myself for not doing things or being like other people. But I’m not sure how I do that.

    I keep trying to do things and getting into this state where I worry about it and feel scared and then I start to think that I can’t do it and then I get angry with myself and punish myself and then I don’t go and then I punish myself more. It’s this horrible spiral and I’m in one now and I just don’t know how to break out of it. I put so much pressure on myself to go and it feels like life and death which in a way for me it is because not going out feels like not living.Then when I don’t go I feel so angry with myself and with all the people around me who are just going out and doing things and who don’t seem to care that I am so unhappy and that I’m struggling.

    I think it would be better if I had never been born or I could evaporate into thin air. I keep trying to get better and I keep failing and it just seems like there is no point to being here and trying so hard when nothing comes of it. I don’t know how to keep going, how to move forward. I feel so bad and I don’t see any hope for my future.

    The Ruminant

    Dear Adriene,

    My personal recommendation would be to take up mindfulness meditation and use it as kind of a physical therapy for your brain. Allow me to elaborate…

    Our brains, just like our bodies, adjust to our lifestyle. If you lift heavy things every day, you’ll develop more muscle mass. We can understand this, because we see the results. We can’t see how our brains develop, but there is some evidence now that our brains continue to develop throughout our lives. If a person starts to practice juggling, the parts of their brain responsible for the skills needed to be able to juggle will grow. There is some evidence that mindfulness meditation can help develop the parts of the brain responsible for our emotions and so on. As you can see, I’m not an expert, nor am I a doctor, so I don’t have the right medical terms to use here.

    Nobody consciously chooses an anxious mind, a bad back or a poor fitness level. They can develop over time, as we make small choices here and there to try to avoid pain and seek an easier way to live. Years of riding the elevator instead of taking the stairs will leave a person out of breath when they finally do try to take the stairs. That doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be able to adapt again to a new lifestyle of taking the stairs instead of the elevator. It also doesn’t mean that one should have to take the stairs to develop cardiovascular health in order to be able to take the stairs. One can start out slowly with a stationary bike. It has the same affect on the fitness level. Similarly, if the brain is anxious, then start to train the brain slowly with gentle mindfulness exercises. Of course it will be difficult at first, because it’s foreign for the brain. It’s like going to the gym and trying to lift something really heavy for the first time. So be gentle and don’t jump into any conclusions too fast.

    Training over time makes things easier and changes are starting to occur. Our bodies do not adapt overnight to a new regime, and nobody can become a completely different person in a short amount of time. But it is possible to actually physically change the structure of your brain by using it differently.

    Like I said, I’m not a doctor, but there are other people who have studied this. Here’s one study:

    And my favorite book on the subject:

    Please don’t despair. There is hope 🙂


    Thank you for your response Ruminant.

    I actually have that book! I’ve done quite a lot of mindfulness meditation on and off over the last ten years. I suppose I should try and stick with it for longer periods and then I might see some effects. I tend to do it and then I have a rough patch and I can’t bear to sit with myself because I just sit there and berate myself for everything that is wrong with me and get upset so then I stop and then it takes me awhile to come back round to trying it again. I haven’t yet found a way to stick with it through the rough patches. When I get into those places my feelings of despair and hopelessness and desperately trying to figure out a way to fix myself are so strong that I can’t be mindful – I don’t even want to be mindful because it doesn’t feel like the answer and I can’t see how it helps when I am in that place. I struggle so grasp how it helps when I am not in that place because I haven’t really felt much benefit from what I have done. I’ve been on and off the mindfulness wagon so many times that I start to get a sinking now when I contemplate trying it again because it just doesn’t seem to be something that I am able to stick with and get any benefit from. I’m just not sure I’m in a good enough mental/emotional place to be able to do it. It feels like I need to take other steps before I am strong enough to meditate but I don’t know what those steps are.


    Scientifically speaking, meditation quiets your mind and brings it to a temporary state of normalcy. Regular meditation can actually repair the neural pathways that lead to the anxiety. Cutting it off at it’s source. I know first hand. I tried therapy, exercise, and medication. Fortunately I was able to pratice meditation with monks (you can use guided meditation on YouTube). I know for a fact it works!

    I would also like to recommend possitive affirmations to boost your confidence and make you feel better. There is a video on youtube by paul santisi called “I am”. You are bombarded by possitive affirmations. When you are feeling uneasy with anxiety tell yourself you are calm, confident, relaxed, and full of love. Even if you don’t feel it at the time. Once that starts to calm you down, you can start meditation. With practice you will need to keep it up daily. This will keep you out of the quicksand (because that is what it feels like).

    Many buddhist practitioners will also recommend embracing your fears and anxieties. Love them with compassion, but don’t let them define you. When they arrise, treat them tenderly like a mother treats her child when it is crying. This will lessen the suffering out of the whole experience. You are more than your emotions, worries, fears, and anxieties. Let them make you stronger and know you can not know happiness without suffering.

    Keep us posted 🙂



    Well adding to whatever everyone here has wisely suggested, watch this video and use some of the ideas if you can –

    The Ruminant

    Thank you both for the YouTube recommendations. I think I’ll check them out as well!

    Adriene, naturally you need to stick with it. You know that. It’s like diet or exercise. Going to the gym sporadically will not give you results. I got help for my impatience and self-sabotage issues from this concept: I took control over the voice that was constantly saying that I can’t or that it’s too hard. Being patient and having self-control can also be learned through practice.


    Hi A,

    In my opinion, the root cause of Agoraphobia is either a distrust of other people or a lack of trust/confidence in oneself.

    Please go within and find out which one is more dominant in your case. Once you do, there are resources on this website and others that you can use.

    Just do me 2 small favors:

    1) DO NOT give up on yourself ! Life can be hard but ‘Darkness always gives way to Light’ – it may take longer than we thought but it always does !

    2) Listen to this one song by Seal – it helped me in tough times and hope it does for you too !. Here is the Youtube link:

    GOD Bless !

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