Coming to terms with a lifetime of depression
I am just coming out of a lifetime of depression. I am 24 now, and I have no memories of an idyllic childhood, carefree adolescence or an exciting college life. Sure there were moments I enjoyed more than others, but all were consumed by that all encompassing grey void. The one that makes everything have a dreary sameness. The one that steals every good thing and every bad thing, and just makes them both nothing
I have been crawling out of my depression for the last 6 years. I made small steps through college, but due to a horrible junior year, I fell back a lot in my senior year and the year after that. I worked a horrible job as a phone support technician. However quitting that job was my first step of healing, so that was one good thing I got out of it. I have been unemployed for the last year and a half, which has been the most valuable period in my life. I could do nothing but look into my own pain, observe my own wounds. It fucking sucked. But sometimes the only way is through.
Being depressed all my life, I haven't really done anything. I am a virgin and I've never been in a romantic relationship; I still feel a bit ashamed and uncomfortable with this. I've only ever had a few friends, though me having any is a bit of surprise. I've never focused on something, worked on it day-in-day. Thinking of all the opportunities I've never had for friends, for quiet moments, for the nervous butterflies of just meeting someone you like, fills me with an overwhelming sense of anguish. It hurts so much to imagine all the possibilities that I could have had if I had escaped sooner. But dwelling on it doesn't help me at all, so I try and not think about it too much.
Now that I am not being crushed by depression, I am filled with so many conflicting emotions. I am impatient because now that I can experience some of life, I want it all now. I am terrified because I am, for all intents and purposes, a new person who has no experience in anything. I am excited because I have so many first times for so many different things. I am scared shit less because I am unemployed and I don't have a clear path to finding work. I am constantly stressed that everything will come crashing back down around me, and I will fall back into depression. I am happy because I am going to see my best friend soon, for the first time I am on this side.
I am writing this because I want to say it to people who know nothing about me. I want other people to acknowledge my pain. Its a bit selfish, I know, but I am okay with that. So if you read through all of this, thank you
And if you are going through depression or even just hard times, please feel free to message me. And no you won't be bothering me, no I dont have better things to do, no I won't judge you.
I don't know if this is an opportunity you have available to you, but you could talk to a therapist about all of this. Now that you're out of the worst of it all you want to have some tools at your disposal should things get worse in the future. A therapist can help you learn what mental skills will work for you there - and being familiar with a therapist is a tool in itself. If that's something you're already doing then great!
In my opinion the only wrong thing a person can do is hurt someone else. You haven't done anything wrong by having been depressed. Disinterest in sex and romance come along with depression. The cultural attitude towards sex that puts it up there with food and water is gross. Thinking that those without sex deserve pitty is gross. If you can get to the point where you don't see a lack of sex in your life as a problem then it will become clear that anyone who does judge you for it is messed up. Anyway, I think you might be surprised to find that many people your age don't think that way. The population that throws around the word virgin mostly exists amongst insecure teenagers.
I have always thought that 'in the future, I'd like to go to a therapist', but I could never take the first step. Right now, I am not sure if I can find a therapist; I am unemployed, so my healthcare is through my parents. My relationship with parents is not good because they were the primary cause of my depression, so interacting with them is difficult for me. If I can find a way, I would like to go.
I brought up having no romantic experience because the feeling of being unlovable was something that added to my depression. Right now, I am more lost on how to meet people, be it romantic or not.
I think the healthiest thing would be to find out how to love yourself before dating. That could be through therapy or (hopefully and) through living life with good friends. You don’t want to put your self worth in someone else’s hands.
There aren’t a lot of terrible people out there. But some do exist and they might want to take advantage of someone looking for a way to fill that hole. But more likely you’ll hit a few awkward dead ends.
If your up for it, hobbies can be a great way to meet people. There's a shared interest so you automatically have at least one thing in common and it can be a great path to connecting.
I have considered going back to DMing a Tabletop Roleplaying game, but I have been unsure how to find a group. Other than that, I would like to get into more things and I am open to trying new things. Do you have any suggestions for online communities, as I am currently stuck in a US suburb with no car?
Sure! If you want something with no cost, chess is a great hobby to meet some (mostly) nice people. There is a community on reddit (r/chess) that is a decent place, on top of meeting people by playing online.
Believe it or not there is a whole community dedicated to lock picking (just for fun of course). They have a very friendly community at r/lockpicking. There are also some great youtubers that pick locks (it's more exciting than it sounds) like lockpickinglawyer and bosnianbill.
If you are interested in photography there are a ton of communities both on reddit and facebook (probably instagram too but I don't know much about that). Personally I really enjoy the film photography community, but I also recognize that film is out of reach for some people due to cost. You'd be surprised how great of pictures you can take with your phone!
If you have the money for an entry level 3D printer that can be a lot of fun and they have both reddit and facebook communites that are pretty good. You can get a new one for about $150. If you have a decent computer you can also get into CAD and design your own things to be printed.
If you want more information on any of these topics I'd be happy to provide what I can :)
I definitely most interested in film and maybe in the future, 3d printing. Film has meant a lot to me, especially as a way to even consider the possibility of living a different life. It is also really overwhelming for me, because there is so much complexity to it. I have tried to find some guides to basic cinematography, which is the thing I am most overwhelmed by.
haha I don't know much about cinematography, I meant old school roll of film cameras. But I do know that some impressive movies have been shot on phones and I'm sure there are nice communities out there for hobbyist film makers too!
You should go for it!
If you have Steam, I'd be willing to play games with you now and again. We don't have to voice chat.
I'd be interested in that; what games do you usually play?
Here are co-op or multiplayer games that I would recommend:
but if there's something you really enjoy, I'm open to trying new things. You don't have to be good at any of the above games. The fun lies in playing with someone friendly, and co-op playing together, learning together, or being noobs together. I also enjoy helping new players get better.
I'd be interested in Fantasy Strike, especially I use Linux. I've wanted to try a fighting game for a while, since I played a lot of Super Smash Bros as kid.
Sounds good. Make an account, then DM me your FS username (which I think is just your Steam username?) and then I'll send you a friend request. We can sort out a way for us to text chat. Maybe IRC or Discord. (Because FS doesn't have text chat built in)
I am very much in that camp; I do want to have sex, it seems fun, but not having really experienced means that the desire is very abstract. To be completely honest as I am trying to be, the thing I always dreamed of was falling to sleep next to someone I loved, of having them just quietly hold me.
I am, luckily, not a neckbeard, and I am honestly more comfortable around women then men, though that was in a platonic fashion. And I whatever part of me that is innate is much more outgoing than I have lived up to this point. I guess my main concern is that I don't have any idea how to ask someone out.
oh oh oh this is me this is me! I love little cute things like that more than anything. Not that I am an Old Person with lots of Experience, but I need emotional connections in relationships or I'm left feeling empty and sad. The physical aspect of sex is fun but imo it's so much more fun with someone you really truly like, & part of that is being able to just appreciate each other's presence in a very close/intimate way. It is a special thing and makes the brain chemicals flow all nice. But there are lots of ways to make that happen. :P
hehe that's fine and there's not one right answer. It's situational, so the specific words you say are whatever. Different people can pull off different things. Whatever you say, just remember to smile (or at least not look dismal), and make enough eye contact. Don't worry about the details too much, everyone knows it's awkward...
If you're looking to date and not just hook up, maybe ask them to dinner. Should make it clear that it's romantic. If you already know that someone's into you (from body language or words), you can kinda go with the flow, but you do need to take some initiative. You can signal interest indirectly by flirting, which is 100% situational: basically making a suggestive joke/comment related to your conversation/environment. But we r not in Victorian England where there's a whole explicit courtship ritual. Do what feels natural. If youre anything like me, then the issue is that you're uncomfortable taking the risk to begin with. A bit of alcohol usually helps... or if you are both sweaty from something like dancing together then you will feel less inhibited. This includes Just Dance 2 on the Nintendo Wii as much as it does square dancing!!!!!
my first relationship was pretty informal/indirect, we clearly enjoyed each other's company & then we started staying over. It really was a "dance" where we reacted to each other. (Also helped that we actually danced together). They say it takes 2 to tango and that is totally true. But just like in a waltz, if you're the man then you're often expected to lead... maybe you will find a lady who can backlead while you figure it out (particularly when it comes to The Sex), but that requires you to be upfront about what you don't know. That's awkward at first, but she'll probably be ok with it if she likes you. and idk, as far as sex goes, she might like that more because she can teach you what SHE likes... unspoiled by the obviously worse preferences of other women. hehehe :P
Things go wrong sometimes but that's just life.. not so different than making a friend. ANd really you should get into the habit of talking about your feelings like this with your irl friends... it's always a weird topic to broach, but many people have had similar experiences. With me & my friends, while my relationship is mostly private to me and my partner, there are still things you can talk about. tbh if you have female friends they will be used to this whole idea because they probably do it already.
I am open with my irl friends, but at this point in my life, that is 2 people. They also live far away, so I haven't seen them in a long time, ignoring Covid problems of traveling. I am a more concerned about coming off as too open and weirding them out. I am a rather earnest person, if you couldn't tell :D, but that was something that my family always made fun of. So I am still a bit insecure about it.
mood. I mean, I'm in college and I am pretty social by default, so I have a lot of friends, but I wouldn't talk to most of them explicitly about The Sex. It is definitely easy to feel like you're coming off too strong.
With that said... one of my friends surprised me a few months ago by calling me late at night and asking for relationship advice about his girlfriend. And I was sorta undert the impression that, although we were friendly, we were fading away. Changed my perspective. I also recently became friends with someone I'd semi-known through some mutual acquaintances: very stoic sort of guy, natural resting face is very serious, not one to talk about his ladyfriend. I was shocked when the 4 of us started getting into conversations about relationship problems and medication that we took, skincare routines, etc.
Like, we were not too explicit in these interactions, but I think we all appreciated being able to talk about it and not be judged. Anything sexual/heavy might've been weird if it was the first time we'd met, but you can always test the waters with this sort of thing, build up to it. Don't HAVE to jump right in.
lol. Yes well my greatest Character Flaw is not expressing my emotions properly or at all, as I talked about in this thread that I created and was subsequently incapable of replying to any comments on. I am Serious All The Time except when I am tipsy and/or extremely excited (only a few other exceptions). Especially during the pandemic I have been much more stone-faced. (Though somehow my work persona is to smile more and be more energetic, maybe that is subconsciously part of my ass-kissing strategy.) It's not hard for me to be happy with my friends, but I have a serious stick up my ass up until a certain point, and it definitely throws off people who don't know me better. This behavior is particularly uncomfortable in a romantic context: I will say "I love you" (and mean it) but barely be able to express it otherwise??? It might be related to my overall self-confidence, or maybe my weirdness with physical contact, or just general anxiety, idk.
As for "earnestness" in the sense of straightforwardness, I'm not very direct when it comes to relationships, I'm so afraid of confrontation. This is bad when we need to talk about a problem or even something that's not a problem but is just awkward. It's also bad because I'm prone to overanalyze everything about a text and get into my head with all the anxiety and everything. Very overwhelming. Spiral of existential dread. Gotta say... being able to say what you want to say without worrying about the mind games is honestly very refreshing.
I can definitely relate to the 'spiral of existential dread'. I used to do that with everything a person a said. Ohh, they took 1 second longer than usual to acknowledge my existence, well they must hate me. They just replied to my text with one word, well they must hate me. It caused so many problems in my friendships, I fucking hated it.
In my opinion sex is quite dumb, there's not much to it. I mean it's a skill you can develop and explore but I think most people have mediocre sex and it's not the end of the world. Even pathetic sex can be fun, with a bit of humor. You can also explore a lot of things by yourself.
The affection/emotional part I think is indeed more significant and difficult to get elsewhere.
That’s reasonable. OP did say they have friends, though. But if they want to improve their general happiness then a larger group of friends with more regular interaction is a better step to solving a need for human connection than jumping into romantic or sexual relationships.
I’m not in a wildly different position from OP. I’m a couple years further ahead in my climb out of depression. I’m building my life on a foundation of solid friendships. Gunning it for a romantic relationship isn’t the ideal path for me. So when I say it’s okay to be a virgin I really mean it completely. Human connection comes in all forms. I love myself, I love my friends, I love my family and soon I’ll have a dog I love.
Romantic love is WAY too powerful an emotion. Biology wants us to reproduce so it saves its strongest signal for a perceived need to be with a particular person. My advice to OP is to place romance aside for now and build up other kinds of love.
As for all that about how to secure a romantic partner - from my limited experience the mode of operation I like is to consider each person as an individual. That does kinda require turning a blind eye to patterns you might observe within members of a gender. But the last thing I ever want to hear is something about how I’m a guy so I have X or Y behaviors. So I won’t even let myself think that way about women.
As someone who was diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder as an adult, I can certainly empathize with your situation. Thinking about what could have been is often suffocating. Many bridges were burned, and many opportunities were lost while I was entrenched in endless manic episodes, or dealing with the crippling cognitive handicaps of being ADHD. I did some things that I'm proud of, but I have no money in the bank, no exciting professional prospects, and nothing that resembles a career.
At my age, I am what a lot of people would consider a complete failure. Someone who failed to achieve professional success and financial independence. Some days it is hard to get out of bed, it's like I'm trying to lift the entire world over my shoulders. Frustration and anxiety wear me down.
And then I remember that there are more things in life than having a great job or being a provider. I mean, those are certainly desirable things, but one must accept the fact that not everyone will achieve that goal. It is absolutely possible to succeed, but it is unreasonable to think that success is a given.
Good people fail all the time, but the condition of failure is something that you negotiate with yourself, taking into account your particular qualities and difficulties. It is possible to become an NBA player if you're 5’3″ (1.6m), but you should have realistic expectations. For this hypothetical player, getting in the league is an achievement in itself. It would be silly to compare himself with Shaquille O'Neal.
So you should look at your life putting in perspective to what life gave to you. Your character got into the game with a "fucked up brain" card. So did I. That is unfortunate. You can do all sorts of things to circumvent the effects of a fucked up brain, but you can't completely remove the negative consequences of that startup condition. Do not compare yourself with others that did not get the card, they are playing a different game. For some, simply being alive with a relatively positive outlook on life is an astounding victory. Every day I actually wanna live is a blessing, and I make sure to savor it.
Don't worry about this. You're only 24. You're not that old. While pop culture and social media make it seem like everyone else is out there dating and living up their lives at your age, your situation isn't uncommon. Plenty of people don't start dating or having sex until after college. Have you tried signing up for any dating apps or anything like that? Or just joining local clubs/groups on subjects that interest you so that you can slowly get out and meet new people?
Instead of worrying about what you've missed out on, think about what you might be able to do now that you're finally coming out of the cocoon that was your depression. You can go out and make up for all that time you think you missed out on.
Take it slowly, like I suggested before, maybe try joining one or two local groups on things you're interested and work out from there. And if you join a group and don't like it, don't let it bum you out. Try again. Eventually you'll find some people you get along with and want to be friends with.
If you feel like sharing, what did you study in college? What is your dream career? Maybe come up with a list of ways to work toward that career and start checking them off one by one.
I studied Economics, but by senior year, I got pretty disillusioned with it as a field of study. The one thing I know I want in a job is to build something, which has usually manifested as programming. I have learned a lot about programming in the past, but I haven't written any serious programs yet.
If you're good with computers, have you considered something on the more physical side of things, like IT or IT infrastructure? Always good money to be made there and it's a relatively easy field to break into.
I know Linux well enough that I am confident I could do the job, even if I would need to learn some things on the job. So far, I just haven't had any positive replies to my applications, so that's been pretty disheartening.
Don’t take it personally! I applied to well over 100 jobs before I found the one I’m currently at. Only about 15 of those turned in to interviews.
Do you have any advice on conveying ability when I don't have much proof?
I just wanted to say how much I identified with your story. I'm a couple years younger than you but I feel very similarly. It was only recently that I fully internalized that there was more to life than what my parents wanted me to do, and that their manipulation and gaslighting was not something that I had to deal with if I didn't want to (the alternative being walking away). That moment came after I did something similar to you as well, I quit all of my extracurricular activities to try and get more in touch with my feelings, even if it would be a painful process as many of those feelings are ones of suffering and loneliness. I'm still coming to terms with it, like you are, that I've basically just been living 20 years of neglect. There is a lot of hurt and I'm trying to be patient with myself when it comes to developing new, healthier relationships (including romantic ones). You should be too. And you're right that the possibilities feel like they've opened up, it's scary and intimidating to me, but also nice to finally start experiencing the full range of human emotion rather than just grayness.
There's something comforting about knowing there is another person who understands the conflicting emotions of it. I wish you the best on your journey to the possibility of so many things. :D