I feel like I'm tearing myself apart

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    Hello everyone. My name is James, I’m approaching 30 years old, and this is what my average day looks like:
    – Crawl out of bed short on sleep with just enough time to throw on some clothes before going to work.
    – Spend eight hours working a job that, while not actively bad, I don’t particularly care for and that I find extremely boring.
    – Get home, try to psyche myself up for some kind of meaningful activity, fail, spend four/five hours wasting time on the internet (or whatever).
    – After preparing for work the next day realize that I wasted my entire day and stay up too late trying to motivate myself to do ANYTHING.
    – Repeat. Sleep for 12 hours a day on the weekends. I’d say it’s wasting precious free time, but it’s not like I’m doing anything with my time anyway.

    I have decided that I’ve had enough. I missed two days of work this past week because I was simply too exhausted. I occasionally see friends on the weekend (on top of friends at work, which is nice) but I don’t ever really leave my apartment other than for food or work. I waste away time playing video games by myself or just reading. It’s been months since I did anything with regards to hobbies I used to have to the point where I wonder if those are things I even care about anymore. I’ve just had enough. I’m going crazy, I’m tearing myself apart. I want to scream or pound my head against the wall, or SOMETHING.

    I don’t know if it’s some sort of social anxiety or whatever, but ANY sort of activity that involves other people has all this stress attached to it. Whenever I tried to go out before I would freeze up a little, and now I just feel like I mentally slide off and do something else. Something boring and comforting. And now I’m freaking out because this post is rambling and nonsensical and useless so I’m going to shut up now.


    Hi mindwormjim,

    What I would do is join a club, go to a class, and/or pay money in advance to go to an event. Then you HAVE to go, you know? It’s in your calendar, you’ve paid money for it, you’d be letting people down if you miss it! Do the club/class/event in something you’ve always liked or in something you’ve always been curious about. This bright spots on your calendar will give you something to look forward to.

    Good Luck!


    • This reply was modified 7 years, 3 months ago by Inky.

    Dear James:
    You are stuck in a rut. Online definition of rut: “An uninspired routine or pattern of behavior that one continues unthinkingly or because change is difficult.” Doesn’t it fit your situation? Feeling like you are going crazy and wanting to scream is a reaction to being in a rut. It is comfortable in a sense but driving you crazy at the same time. Being STUCK in a rut or in any situation is not a good place to be in. What can you do to unstuck yourself???

    Aurora Borealis

    Hi James,

    Anita and Inky have given some good ideas to start with. Have you looked around this tinybuddha site for some articles about finding inspiration again when you feel that you are in a rut? or how to find things that make you feel excited etc? I have read quite a few and found them useful. I don’t know your situation well, so I have a few questions.
    Has it always been stressful for you even before you started this job, to be in social situations? Trying something new is a good way to break a cycle but it’s always difficult taking the first step. Perhaps treat it like a game where you level up? For example, you get ten points if you take a different route to the store, or fifty points when you go for a nature walk on Saturday instead of virtual walking on the gaming screen? I’m almost 30 too and can relate to what you are feeling. Sometimes, you get stuck in a pattern and then meeting friends in a social setting because 1) you haven’t been doing that in a while 2) fear/feelings of uneasiness from other issues etc, CAN be overwhelming. Could you remember a time when you got excited and really happy? and what were you doing then?

    and last question, what would happen if you didn’t show up for work, or take a week long break doing something? Like a long trip or sabbatical.



    First of all, thank you all for taking the time to respond. 🙂

    Sorry my first post was a little rambling. I just kind of burst and had to write Something. Things are not so bad. I have a lot of great friends that I see on a regular basis. In fact, just yesterday I had the pleasure of attending two of my friend’s wedding, which was a lot of fun. Just doing things with people I know is never a problem.

    Anita, your quote about being stuck in a rut because change is difficult feels spot on. And what makes it so frustrating is that I know that just taking that first step will make things so much better, yet I still can’t seem to take that first step. When I’m in a position where I can’t do much of anything (such as at work) I spend time thinking about all the fun activities I could be doing, but when I get off work I just seem to … slide off of them, is the best I can put it. Rather than do anything interesting or exciting I just settle into comfortable and boring. In the past I would have said I was avoiding them due to the huge stress they cause, but these days I don’t even feel the stress as avoiding them has become practically automatic. AND I HATE IT.

    I suppose the best way is to give a concrete example… I used to play this tabletop game called “Warmachine” (you don’t need to know any more than that, but you can look it up if you want). It was fun and interesting and challenging and I don’t think it would be unfair to say that I was very good at it. But somewhere in being really good and having fun I became scared to play because I might lose. So I sabotaged myself by playing in weird ways that were not as effective so as to be able to provide an excuse to myself if I lost. It didn’t work*. Over the past year or so I’ve felt more and more that this is the problem in microcosm. I get so stressed out over things not going well that I eventually just give up and do something else. Also I think this should have come before the previous paragraph. The urge to ramble is clearly too strong.

    I found this site by googling various keywords to look for help and I will say that a lot of the articles here are really good. It’s just that nothing seems to really help. I might be able to trick myself into feeling better, but it never lasts for more than a couple days. All of the answers I see boil down to “just do it anyway and you’ll feel better”, which I know is true. But if I could “just do it” I wouldn’t be here asking for help. So, I don’t know.

    *I won a bunch anyway and felt even more stressed out.


    Dear James:
    Here is a first step for you: what if you stop wanting out of your rut? What if you stop wanting out? If you accept it and stop resisting it? Accepting a situation is a necessary step to changing it anyway. If you are staying in the rut – accept it. If you plan to maybe someday in the future exit the rut, do what it takes to get there: accept it for now, for now and the coming week and the week after. Accept it and don’t try to change it for as long as it takes, for as long, as L.O.N.G as you need to stay in it. No rushing. No pressure. Let go of trying.

    You want to get out of the rut. You want it too much for your own good. Your want is getting in your way. Relax into it. I strongly feel this can help you if you get it and relax into it. What do you think?

    Aurora Borealis

    Hi James,

    Glad to know that you have a group of close friends whom you see on a regular basis. Have you ever considered seeing a life coach or speaking to a counselor about your fears etc? Here, we can only give you suggestions and all this interaction is solely via “written words”. Perhaps you can try talking to a trained professional in person and that might be better?
    In any case, whatever small habits or changes you seek in your life, the effort has to be sustained and sustainable for at least weeks.
    I’m thinking maybe you need to modify your thought patterns and that requires some offline help. CBT is a way as suggested earlier and you can pick up a book on this topic at the library. What you described sounds like a self-limiting belief and sabotaging behavior out of fear or lack of confidence etc. There might be other underlying reasons as well from childhood in some people’s cases. What articles have you read on here?


    Bethany Rosselit

    Hi James,

    You really need to look at the reasons for doing what you do. Lack of motivation is usually a red flag that you are unhappy. So you need to look at WHY. Is it your job? Are you ready to consider a career change? Why are you anxious around other people–how are you afraid of being judged?

    A little (or a lot!) introspection might help you out of this rut.

    Here’s another question: If you could spend your day doing anything at all, what would you do?



    Hi James. In your post on June 7th you said two things that gave me a clue as to why you are stuck. You said you are afraid to play Warmachine because you might lose and also you said you get very stressed out at things not going well. Both of these are signs of “Perfectionism”. I’ve had this problem for many years and it can be paralyzing. It keeps you stuck because you procrastinate on or fear taking a risk. The fear of it not turning out perfectly keeps you from even trying. I’ve made some progress in my own life by realizing that no matter how hard we wish or in spite of our best efforts, events are not always going to turn out the way we want. If this sounds like you I would recommend doing some research on perfectionism. Hope this helps!


    Hey, thanks everyone. I thought I had put up another response here, but it looks like the internet ate it.

    A few points: I have been speaking with a therapist every other week for a couple months and that has been helping. On Saturday I just felt like … I don’t know, like I wanted a second opinion? (or third, or fourth, the more the merrier) I was just really down and had to vent. I chose this site because I’d read a few articles and found them to be very insightful. Specifically, the first article I read – “Scared to Try: Moving Beyond the Paralysis of Perfectionism” – really resonated strongly with me, as I felt like it put perfectly in words a feeling I had never been able to describe. (Good catch Jim.)

    I just … I don’t know what I want out of life. All I know is that I’ve been sitting where I am now for a couple years now and I just keep feeling worse and worse. In fact, last autumn I quit my old shitty job (one of the few things in the past few years I’m absolutely certain was a good idea). But rather than go out and find something I would actually enjoy I did nothing. I didn’t know what I wanted, I didn’t apply to anything because I didn’t feel qualified. I only got my current job because of some help with my friends, which is to say that I was dragged (kicking and screaming) into employment.

    And I know in my head that it’s all foolish and that there really isn’t anything to be afraid of. I’ve read a lot of articles with really good advice, but it doesn’t change how I feel.

    Aurora Borealis


    Have you read these two articles yet?

    Have a read and tell me what you think.

    and Have you spoken to a life coach before?



    Hi James. In my case, perfectionism developed in my teens as a result of my very low self esteem. Because I felt I was inferior to my peers, I felt I had to become this “perfect” person in order to measure up. The pressure of not making mistakes or being judged negatively is what leads to the anxiety and paralysis. Keep talking with your therapist and see if low self esteem is involved. Best of luck James!


    Hi James

    For a moment I thought you were my younger self having accessed a time machine, and I was worried that if I replied I might find myself in some weird seventh dimension…

    In summary, you seem to be saying, “I don’t know what it is I want, but I know I don’t want this!” The fact is, the majority of people we meet every day feel like this. They just don’t want to admit it to themselves, so they crowd out those thoughts with other things. The difference with you is, you have realized it. And so you have already taken the biggest step towards changing it – simply acknowledging it.

    The perfectionism thing is a very common problem – we don’t want to produce something mediocre, because we think others will judge us by it, so we end up producing nothing. I have spent many years trying to overcome it in myself, and even now, it is hard to hit that “Submit” button!

    It took me a long time to decide what it was I really wanted out of life, and even longer to get started on it, mostly due to the perfectionism thing. But eventually, once I realized that doing something I wanted to do was always going to better than staying as I was, I started. I wasn’t very good at first, but I stuck at it because I loved it. I’m still nowhere near as good as I would like to be, but I’m better than if I’d never started. Deciding to change your life is hard. But not changing is a decision too.

    The first thing to consider is, do you really want to change? I mean, really? Sticking with the status quo has its upsides – familiarity, predictability, simplicity. That’s why so many people do it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of – UNLESS you feel it hurting you, asphyxiating you, drowning you. And, from the tone of your posts, I think it is.

    OK, so you know you want to change. What is it that will inspire you? What is it that you would love to do? What is it that, if money was no object, you would do every day anyway?

    It can be a difficult question to answer, simply because we are sometimes too close to even see it. So take your time over it. Write down every idea you have. Choose some friends who will give you honest and sensible feedback what they think you are really good at. (Don’t worry about how to make money out of it at this stage – if they say “playing Warmachine” write it down – people make a fortune playing games on Youtube.)

    Think back to what you really loved doing as a child. What got you excited? What did you do with yourself in those years when you didn’t even know what money was? Did you draw? Did you breakdance? Did you play sport? Did you put a box on your head and pretend to be a Stormtrooper? Write it all down.

    Now look at your list. If you need more ideas, try combining two or more together (a breakdancing Stormtrooper? I’d pay to see that.)
    Chances are, there will be two or three items on your list that really fire you up. That give you that burning desire. These will be the ones to focus on.

    Unless you were a really unusual kid, I’m guessing your list won’t contain things like, “playing accountants”. So in terms of making a living out of your passion, it may not be obvious at first.

    This is where you need to get creative. If it was painting, you could produce your own art, or train as a graphic designer, or an architect, or produce murals, re-spray cars, custom-paint motorcycles, design logos, become a sign-writer. If it was breakdancing, it could be a dance teacher, a fitness instructor, performing arts, kid’s parties. If it was pretending to be a Stormtrooper, well, a guy near me hires himself out doing just that.

    Then just start doing it. Whether or not you get paid, and whether or not anyone even sees it. Start. It won’t be perfect. You will want to do it better. Good. That means it matters to you. So do it again.

    Now, I’m not going to pretend to you that everything can be turned into a job you can do for a living. Maybe you will just end up doing it for the fun of it. But so what? You will have made your life that bit more enjoyable. And because you enjoy it, you will do it well. And because you do it well, you will be asked to do it more. And then…who knows?

    You obviously have a fire smoldering within you, or you would never have written your post on this site. Keep feeding those flames, and you will burn more brightly than you could ever have believed.

    Rose Tattoo

    Hi James – I have some similar issues, particularly around isolating myself. Lately I’ve felt like most of my human interactions have either been negative or have had some negativity associated with it – like going out to a party with friends and running into my ex and his new lover, or going out to dinner with a friend and having her talk mostly about herself. I definitely understand how it feels to feel stressful about people and interacting with them.

    I think part of it for me is that I’m moving beyond my current communities. I’m feeling scared, but I think what I need to do is go out and explore communities where it’s not all about drugs and partying and drinking and screwing a bunch of people. Sounds obvious, I’m sure, but for me, it’s a group I’ve known for a long time and I’ve been blind to the negative effects on me, until now.

    So I wonder if you’re not reaching out because you haven’t found your people or a community that calls to you.

    I think procrastination or numbing behaviors (the internet, the video games, even reading) means that you’re scared to make changes, maybe scared that people won’t like you or want to connect. I think that’s really common; I know I’ve been in that place lately myself – going on Facebook for hours after work and not doing what I need to be doing.

    I’m scared to fail, is I think what it is.

    Do you know what you’re scared of?



    I found this page also typing keywords into the search bar in the middle of the night. This sent chills up my spine, because it’s almost verbatim what I’ve been feeling for years now. So, seven years later: how are your 30s going? Did you ever find a way out? Did you find a way to too aching to rip yourself apart from the inside out?

    Asking for a friend.

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