I’m a 22 year old man who just can’t figure things out. I haven’t had a bad life, nor have I experienced any severe trauma in my life to trigger this, but I’ve been unhappy for years now. In high school, I began to experience strong feelings of self-loathing and loneliness, as well as paranoia. I felt that everyone, even my friends, didn’t really care…That they all thought I was just some joke and laughed at me behind my back. The feelings came and went, but it still affected me pretty hard. I can’t remember exactly when in my teen years that I began to self-mutilate, but it was a practice that has carried on into adulthood. There’ve been “clean periods,” but it still comes back.
When I started college, I thought things would look up for me, but I still wouldn’t allow myself to be happy. I had difficulty making friends, never had a girlfriend (and still haven’t), and couldn’t shake the loneliness. The self-abuse picked up again, I started smoking, and I had to put on a smiling mask for everyone. On the outside, I was this friendly outgoing guy with a good sense of humor. On the inside, I was an emotional wreck. I eventually made a friend that I had come to care for very much, viewing him as more of a brother than anything. Again, I had high hopes for the future, but that quickly changed.
I continued cutting and burning myself. There were plenty of times when my friend had to talk me down from doing something stupid or hurting myself again, and I very much appreciated having someone there for me, but I even started to doubt him. He wasn’t really well-off and had a pretty bad reputation, and I was constantly doing him favors and feeding him. Despite all the times he genuinely cried with me and showed that he cared in his own way, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that the guy I called my brother was only doing this because I was essentially a gravy train. Naturally, this only drove me deeper into despair.
Fast forward to present day, I’m living back home with my parents because financial issues took college out of the picture for now, though I’m working hard to remedy that. But I’m lost. I feel as if I don’t really have a future. I’m incredibly lonely, I have few friends back home, and I’m still struggling with a lot of things in regards to my best friend. I’ve began to wonder if I’m just taking all of the affection I don’t use for myself and dumping it on him, despite the fact that I convince myself I hate him every other day. He recently attempted suicide, which took a heavy toll on me, and while he’s been getting better, I’ve been getting worse. Again, the self-harming has returned, I drink more, and I just don’t want to be on this planet anymore. I either can’t sleep or sleep way too much. I can be perfectly fine one minute, then terribly depressed just like that. I’m irritable towards my family, I hate myself, I’m apathetic to everyone else, and I feel burnt out. I want to be able to smile for real and love myself and others…find joy in doing things again rather than existing solely to work and sleep.
I know I’ve kind of gone all over the place here, but I suppose it all boils down to this one question: How do I fix this mess I’ve become?
A. You are very critical of yourself. You are effectively blaming yourself for the misery you have endured and continue to endure. You seem to have adopted the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality. In other words, you might subscribe to the notion that if you cannot fix your problems on your own, then you are a failure.
Nothing could be further from the truth. No one chooses to be depressed, just like no one chooses to be diabetic. Depression happens to people. You’re not to blame, nor is it within your expertise as a layperson to know how to cure depression. Professional help is required.
You also described “paranoia” but I might categorize this as your inability to trust others. Your inability to trust can significantly affect the development of healthy relationships. That might explain why you have difficulty developing friendships. Some researchers believe that trust issues stem from disrupted early childhood experiences. Once an individual becomes aware of potential trust issues, they are correctable with therapy.
The reality is that these issues have plagued you since adolescence and perhaps earlier. They have never been brought to the attention of a mental health professional and thus you have never had the opportunity to make a positive change.
My recommendation is to seek an evaluation from a mental health professional. Many people have struggled with the same issues and with the right help, they have improved their lives significantly. If you are willing to seek professional help, you can expect a similar, positive outcome. Consider my advice. Please take care.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Nov 2012
Randle, K. (2012). Lonely, Depressed, and Self-Loathing. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 11, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/11/21/lonely-depressed-and-self-loathing/