Depression, Apathy, Anxiety, and Self-loathing

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

For three of the previous four years I was on several anti-depressants and have always had anti-anxiety prescription drugs available. This year i’m not takking any anti-depressants because they never really helped. I have only a few exams left and then my master’s thesis, but i can’t do anything. i escape into fantasy and SF films and novels- the only thing that shuts me and the world out for some time.

What worries me even more is this apathy that seems to come whenever i’m about to fall to pieces. it is saving me, but i’m also unable to feel anything – my best friend’s father passed away and i barely felt anything. i acted my part, I have always been good at acting, but there was only a void inside me.
Some of my friends like to joke and call me “Jesus”, and others simply think of me as a great guy. But i feel like none of those things (of course i don’t think i’m Jesus :)… i feel wrong, this emptiness is my only protection and yet i hate it.

I live in Croatia, but I’m Palestinian. I used to suffer because of it, and tried to deny my heritage. When i realized i was more and more intrigued by my heritage, and converted to Islam, it led to a breakup of a three-year long relationship. Today most women i meet end up being my friends because, when i’m not in the apathy mode, there is something that justifies the Jesus nickname. Within days, I end up being a friend with almost every woman and man i meet, and usually exploited. The reason for nothing more happening was always that i was “too nice”. I’m a pretty good looking guy (by some even more) i keep myself fit, mostly it was me who got picked up, not the other way around. One of my exes wanted to break up because she said she felt “too good”. I was about to leave the room and she stopped me, saying she was sorry. I stayed. I tried to bring back my feelings, but for a month there was nothing. I turned on the apathy switch to protect myself and never managed to trust her enough again to turn it off.
All of my friends tell me that i should be more of a bastard towards women (including female friends), but i can’t do that, it does not come naturally to me, and goes against everything I am when I am not feeling this way.

The question, if there is one is – how do i get out of this rut of apathy? How do i become more thick skinned so that i don’t retreat back into it?

I hope you answer.

A: It sounds to me like the diagnosis of depression may have been correct. As you found out, medication alone isn’t helpful. Medication can lift your mood but it can’t help you learn how to interact more successfully with other people. I doubt that you need to be a “bastard” in order to be more interesting to women and more able to take care of yourself with friends of both sexes. It sounds to me like you have learned that the best way to get along is to go along with whatever other people want. Yes, that eliminates conflict. But it also means that people don’t get to know who you really are. When they are with you, they only see some reflection back of themselves. If people wanted to be friends only with themselves, they would make friends with mirrors. People want the give and take and interesting experiences that come with understanding and responding to differences.

I urge you to get into therapy. Find a therapist who specializes in mood disorders. Then work collaboratively with your psychiatrist and your therapist to treat this long-standing depression. From where I sit, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The real world can be just as interesting and exciting as a fantasy game if you know how to play in it.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Depression, Apathy, Anxiety, and Self-loathing. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/26/depression-apathy-anxiety-and-self-loathing/

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