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How to start living again when all feels lost

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This topic contains 14 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Kat 2 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #296453

    Tom
    Participant

    I’m not quite sure how to begin, but I find myself at an impasse in my life, unable to move forward.

    I’d been living and working in a foreign country for a while until last fall, when I had somewhat of a breakdown, which resulted in me moving back to my home country and back in with my parents. Since then, seven months have passed and I have made little to no progress. I struggle with health anxiety and I tend to overthink every decision in my life, which often leads to avoidance and procrastination, because I don’t want to deal with anything. I’m not working, so my days all kind of blend together and I’m finding that I’m becoming more and more detatched from real life. I never had a lot of friends, but lately I’ve been isolating myself from the ones I’ve been close to because I feel like a failure for being nowhere in life.

    I’m in my late twenties and many of my friends have started families and have children. Meanwhile I’m jobless and single, sleeping in my childhood bed. My parents are gracious about my staying with them for now, but I feel like a burden.

    Most of my days consist of sleeping to 10am, having breakfast and coffee, watching TV/scrolling social media, having dinner, more TV/social media and then I might go for an evening stroll to get some fresh air before I go to bed. Not much of a life.

    It’s difficult to know where to start, because every day is a struggle to find meaning. I have some issues with chronic pain, which are exacerbated by my health anxiety because I fear it might be something serious, so on bad days it gets extra hard. Ideally I would have liked to snap my fingers and be installed in a new apartment with a decent enough job to go to, but the actual process of getting from where I am now to there seems almost insurmountable. I feel hopeless and unmotivated.

    I am going to therapy once a week, and I don’t think I’m depressed (nor does my therapist). But I do have issues with anxiety about my health and the future which leads to me avoiding life and spending most of my time sitting at home. I know it’s counter-productive, but I also don’t know how to get out of the situation that I find myself in. My thoughts are spinning a lot and it’s like life is just too much for me. Instead of making decisions and taking action I’m just constantly thinking things over.

    If anyone has experienced similar situations in their lives, where they feel stuck and don’t know how to start living again, I’d appreciate any and all advice or thoughts about how you were able to move forward and get on with your life.

    Thanks

    #296483

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tom:

    I will start with changing the routine you mentioned. Design a different routine (list hours and activities for yourself), less TV and social media more exercise, put some hours into job search and stick to a new, more productive routine.

    anita

    #296495

    nextsteps
    Participant

    Hi Tom,

     

    I can empathise with your position of days merging into one and it being hard to face the world and deal with it. I struggle with this too and so I can say what has worked in the past for me but it does not always work.

     

    For me, things like involving being outside and movment have really helped as they help change my mind from one of “meh” to perhaps one with more energy. Sometimes little ideas come to me when I am walking or running and I try and follow them e.g an idea of making myself a proper lunch, or an idea for the garden, or work etc and so that can be nice when that happens. For me movement means running, walking or yoga. The biggest thing I have learned through this is that I do not always “feel” like going for a walk or doing yoga but actually once I am out there and doing it, just by doing the opposite of my mind, by not letting the thoughts stop me, I have “won”, so the actual exercise is a bonus. You could make it into a game where you make yourself go out for more exercise everday and make a note of 3 things you saw that inspired you outside eg like seeing a barn owl, a new flower on a plant etc so it helps your brain actively look for those things OR get a pedometer and set yourself the target of getting 10,000 steps (or more) a day in.. little things that could help.

    I guess you know this already, but no one is coming. Not God, not a parent, not anyone to save you. You could sit in your room all day for the rest of your life and nothing would change. I know it is obvious and I have definitely fallen into this thinking trap before, as it seems so HARD to make changes, but unless you do, they won’t happen. I wouldnt worry about what you change to start with eg it could be committing to 2 x walks a day instead of just one, or committing to looking for volunteer work that you may like etc .. it could just be one thing, but control over that one thing, knocks into other things in life (in my own experience) so you need to kind of experiment and find that/those things. Asking yourself questions such as: What did you enjoy as a child? What proffession do you secretly admire? What shows do you lije watching? Etc etc can help to try and rediscover those hidden parts of you.

    In terms of a job- perhaps you could write a kist of ideally would you like to do and either post it here or not, and I could help you consider options. You say you would like ‘a decent enough job” which, although better than being sat at home, is not that inspiring to think of.. what about if you could have “an amazing job that is fulfilling and you love”.. looking for that kind of job would be more exciting if you believed those feelings were possible…

    I know life is hard. Adulting is hard and it is hard sometimes to see a point and a reason to actually DO anything. I have struggled with these feelings before. For me, the answer is that say if I go for a run or hold down a job or volunteer, I feel better about myself mentally and physically than if I didnt do those things.. that feeling better then affects how I deal with people I meet in life from cashiers to my colleagues and then that all adds up. I also find I have more ideas when I am running or just finished running or after yoga which can make a very small difference in the world such as sending a card to someone, making a nice dinner, thinking of a new thing to try at work or a new business idea to try out or a hobby to try.. again I think those things are useful in that i dont get to them by thinking, they kind of come after exercise.

    In terms of your thoughts spinning. Mine do that. I NEED to get out of the house each day to put things in perspective so I would advise that if you start to spiral or do a quick 5 minute yoga session (I use yoga by adrienne on youtube for free) or guided meditations. Daniel Siegal does a good one called the “wheel of awareness” meditation which I find calming. Also there are talks by Tony Robbins on youtube that talk about how to xhange your mental state quickly, perhaps it is worth trying a few of those he describes and see what works for you.

    I hope you have a relaxing and non anxious evening.

     

     

     

     

     

    #296489

    Irfan
    Participant

    Dear tom,

    i think we have similar problem the only difference is i m doing small kind of business now what sholud i do i m stuck may traped…

    #296529

    marrriee
    Participant

    Dear Tom,

    I’m so sorry you feel this way. The poison of comparing yourself to your friends and family is a losing game. Have you stopped caring for life and living? Or are you just feeling a sense of despair and hopelessness? It sounds like you want to live a successful life but you’re just taking a detour at the moment. Remember you’re so young. You have so much time to do ANYTHING you want. I know it’s not my place to give advice but I know what it’s like to feel like all is lost.

    I found that 1. Having a routine helps tremendously. Regardless of what you’re doing. It sounds like you sort of already have a routine though, which is a step in the right direction. 2. Find things that you have even the slightest interest in. Now’s the time to do whatever you want! You have no commitments, no job, no family to take care of. The world is your oyster. Think of it as freedom. Is there anything that you’ve always wanted to do, or thought, ‘wouldn’t it be cool if I did this..?’. Now is your time! More importantly, you CAN do anything you want. I know it’s easy to find distractions and excuses and let insecurity get the best of us but I NEED you to be believe in yourself ( I believe in you, for what it’s worth). You could apply for a part time job, do you do some soul searching, improve yourself and come back better and stronger than you were before. It’s all uphill from here, I promise you! Most importantly, don’t put pressure on yourself. You don’t need to be at point A by a certain age. You don’t need to do what everyone else is doing. You don’t need to accomplish ABC to mean something in this world. It sounds like you’re quite hard on yourself a lot, but maybe it’s good that you’re in this exact position at this moment. It’s a time for you to take a step back and find out what it is that brings you happiness and purpose in the very depths of your being. I don’t know if this was of any help but let me know if you need someone to talk to.

    Marie.

    Instagram.com/sorcell_ca/

    #296539

    Tom
    Participant

    Thank you for your replies.

    anita– I’ll definitely try and work on my routine, adding more to it so the days aren’t so empty. It’s just difficult sometimes when life feels overwhelming and all you feel you have the energy to do is sit with your thoughts and do nothing.

    nextsteps– I do need to get more active, because I find when I am on walks that movement and being outside helps me too. And what you say about no one coming to save me and that I have to effect change myself if I want things to change. I used to do some yoga and meditation a while ago, but I kind of stopped making the effort. I’m gonna try getting back into that, thank  you.

    marrriee– Yeah, I know comparing myself to others is not helpful (neither friends, family nor celebrities on Instagram), but sometimes it’s hard not to. I actually think the fact that I am young(-ish) and can do ANYTHING I want almost is part of the problem in a way, too. Because there are so many options for me, which makes life feel overwhelming. I can move to whichever country I want, travel wherever I would like, do a lot of different things – but in the end I don’t know what I want, and so not taking advantage of the privileged position I am in (and instead doing nothing), makes me beat myself up more, I guess.

    I’m glad to have time to step back and figure out what I want and what would bring happiness, I just wish it were easier.

     

    #296547

    nextsteps
    Participant

    Hi Tom,

    I agree in wishing life were easier at times. I can also relate to feeling priviledged and lucky that we do have so many choices in the world but lacking internal direction of what to actually do to get there. Tony Robbins suggests “action”. So basically anything that is different could help get the ball rolling again. If you wanted to explore what you wanted to do as a job here, then I would be happy to help.

    The agony aunt “ask Polly” forum online has some good and funny replies to the kind of question you asked, and it tends to be along the lines of therapy, exercise and doing stuff. Perhaps set yourself some mini goals and see how you get on. I know for me, if I dont do anything all day and dont go outside, I feel bad about myself and guilty— I dont feel like soing anything— so I feel worse— whilst if I go for a run/walk etc then it kind of breaks those feelings and I seem to have more energy and motivation to actually do things once I am back inside.

    #296567

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tom:

    You shared that you are in your late twenties. You worked in a foreign country last year, had “somewhat of a breakdown”, and moved back to your parents’ home in your home country seven months ago. You haven’t worked since, days “all kind of blend together”, feeling “more and more detached from real life”, feeling “like a failure for being nowhere in life”

    “the fact that I am young(-ish) and can do ANYTHING I want almost is part of the problem.. so many options for me, which makes life feel overwhelming. I can move whichever country I want, travel wherever I would like, do a lot of different things.. not taking advantage of the privileged position I am in.. makes me beat myself up more”-

    – you can imagine doing anything you want, it takes only a few seconds to imagine, it is easy, fast and pleasurable. I once imagined myself flying, like a bird, in the sky, oh how pleasurable that was. I used to imagine myself a celebrity, rich-and-famous, performing in front of large audiences, watched by millions all over the world- we can imagine ourselves doing anything and everything but we can’t do anything and everything.

    Let’s look at more realistic plans than flying like a bird (never possible) or becoming a celebrity (chances are very small)- finding a job for which you will be qualified. If you are stuck in fear, it is not possible. Ongoing fear aka anxiety makes a lot of things that are doable-in-theory, impossible for those who are very anxious.

    When you are very anxious, stuck in fear, you are not in a privileged position (“the privileged position I am in”). You weren’t privileged last year either, when you did work and had that breakdown. Misunderstanding reality, thinking incorrectly that you are privileged when you are not,  leads you to not have empathy for that privileged person who doesn’t take advantage of his privilege, and you beat yourself up which .. is the problem here.

    Think of it this way, if you will: a five year old boy is very scared to walk on a narrow bridge, afraid he will fall. You are the adult, what do you do? Scream at him, tell him he should walk because he is privileged to have legs and there are children out there without legs and he should be grateful, tell him other children walked through this bridge and what is his problem?

    Or do you sit him down with you, hold his hand, look in his eyes and say: I understand. It is scary to think about falling down that bridge. I will tell you what, sit here where you are and watch me walk that bridge and walk back to you. When I am back with you, you can decide if you want to hold my hand and both of us will walk together to the other side of this bridge. If you don’t want to, we will not. We will go back home.

    What if you talked to yourself this way?

    anita

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by  anita.
    #296709

    Lara
    Participant

    Dear Tom,

    when I was depressed and afraid what helped me were multiple things, but the start was good theraphy (CBT) and walks every morning. There is a freedome in just walking, looking around you, noticing small things. Also it gets you started into the day! Do you live in an envorinment where you feel safe to do that?

    #296733

    Tom
    Participant

    Thank you for your thoughts.

    nextsteps– Lack of internal direction is exactly right. I did some yoga and went for a walk yesterday and will try to do the same today. As for the job search, the lack of direction is a part of that too. I don’t know what I would like to do. I have a teaching degree, but I have problems with my voice (I lose it very easily), so it’s hard for me to be in a classroom. I went to see a speech therapist for a while, but I didn’t really benefit much from it. I think I’d rather find something a bit more quiet, like working at a university in a more office-based capacity (teaching assisstant, researching etc.) or at a publishing house (I love books.)

    anita– You are right that I can be hard on myself and not give myself enough credit or empathy. I do tend to talk to myself in a way that focuses on feeling disappointed, guilty and useless – rather than trying to see possibilities. I used to joke with a friend that he was someone who only saw possibilities in situations, whereas I only see the limitations and possible problems. That is a facet of me that I still struggle with and something that I do think is an obstacle in terms of being happier and less stressed.

    Lara– My therapist and I are getting into CBT now (I’ve only been going for a couple of months and in the beginning she was largely getting my back story and like an overview of my situation). What kind of exercises did you do? So far for me it revolves around challenging “avoidance behavior” and destructive thought patterns, as well as making choices to be more active. I really enjoy walks, though I usually take them in the evening. Doing a morning walk as well could perhaps give my days a better start.

    #296901

    Kelly
    Participant

    Hi Tom,

    First, and foremost…you have taken a big step in the right direction by reaching out for advice. I can definitely relate to how you’re feeling as I too am in the process of starting over…the only difference being I am more than twice your age.  I honestly believe deep down you know what you need to do…but you’re trying to plan your future in your head and you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Not seeing the light does not necessarily mean it’s not there…it IS there. Try to start with smaller steps, such as making it a point to get out of the house every day…even if it’s just for a short walk in the neighborhood. Look for all the positive aspects of your life right now…focus on those and write them down. You’ll be surprised how much gratitude can change your whole perspective on life. It seems your self esteem may need a little boost…try reaching out to close friends and family for support and possibly some guidance.  You will find your way out of this and one day soon look back at this part of your life, and know that everything happened exactly the way it was supposed to.

    Kahma

    #296965

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tom:

    You wrote: “I do tend to talk to myself in a way that focuses on feeling disappointed, guilty and useless- rather than trying to see possibilities.. I only see the limitations and possible problems”, so you have a negative “self critic”, which I think of as a mental representative of the real negative critic in our early lives, a parent, and it is that critical parent’s voice that keeps talking to us in between our ears.

    You wrote that with your therapist you’ve been “challenging ‘avoidance behavior’ and destructive thought patterns'”- I wonder if you and your therapist have been challenging the inner critic as the part of the destructive thought patterns?

    anita

    #297379

    Tom
    Participant

    Thank your for the replies.

    Kahma– Starting over is tough at any age, yeah. It’s my first true attempt at it, and it’s so hard, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed and are unsure of exactly what you want to do going forward. Smaller steps is good advice. My therapist introduced the word “action” meaning that you can think and think and think, you could spend your life just ruminating, but ultimately action is needed if you want anything to change, and certainly if you want to rebuild your life (which I very much want to). So I am trying to do small things like fitting in a little meditation and exercise every day or at least every other day, as well as walks. But I know that I’ll need to start doing more practical things too, like applying for more jobs, and start apartment hunting.

    anita– My inner critic (and worrier for that matter) definitely need to be challenged more often. In terms of my parents, I think their main influence in this case is that I don’t want to “fail” and thus let them down, or be a burden to them. So my inner critic is in part informed by wanting to be in a position where my parents can feel like I am in a stable, secure life situation.

    #297381

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Tom:

    I think that it wouldn’t have occurred to you being a burden to your parents if you thought of them as strong and capable. If you thought of them as successful you wouldn’t worry about failing them.

    Children need strong, capable parents so to feel secure enough to make mistakes and fail because they will be there to take care of us if we fail, carry us through our trials and struggles… except when they are weak and can’t or we think they can’t.. so we see them as children and we want to be strong enough for them; can’t fail because they need us strong and capable.

    It is a role reversal that often happens because well, parents are most often not as strong and capable as we children need them to be.

    anita

     

    #298781

    Kat
    Participant

    Hello. You are basically me. You just need to make some moves to get out the funk. You can recover from health anxiety , I have and that is after convincing myself I was terminal.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 1 week ago by  Kat.
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