The crux of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) involves challenging the thoughts of clients. Are their thoughts realistic? Do they make sense? What evidence is available to support their thoughts and ideas? CBT is primarily based on the idea that your thoughts cause you to feel a certain way and examining those thoughts might help to alter or improve the perception of a person’s situation. I am going to take that approach with you in this response. I will also focus on reality, truth and logic.
Essentially, what you have done is compared yourself to how you think others are living and concluded that since you are not like everyone else there is something profoundly wrong with you.
Even though it’s human nature to compare yourself to others, you should try to avoid it. It’s not realistic. It does not matter what other people are doing with their lives. All that matters is what you are doing and what is best for you. You are unique. There is no one exactly like you. Each person lives a different life with a diverse set of experiences. You have different talents, family members, genes and hereditary traits, etc. than other people do. You have you own life circumstances that are vastly different from others. Because of this, it’s not fair for you to compare yourself to other people. Thus when you compare yourself to other people you are doing yourself a disservice.
With respect to having a girlfriend, you had one but for whatever reason you did not nurture the relationship and she left you. You said that you did not think it was “meant to be.” What exactly does that mean? You said later in your letter that if you could find someone to love you back, “it would change everything.” It seems you had someone who loved you back but it did not change anything.
As for the woman you met who had a fiancé, it did not seem that you knew her for very long. Nor did it seem that you knew her very well. But when you learned that she had a fiancé, you were devastated. I am wondering why you were crushed by this news when you hardly knew her. You may have overreacted.
Ideally, you should strive to be happy with or without a significant other in your life. It’s not healthy that other people can dictate whether or not you’ll be happy. Happiness needs to come from you and by you and should not be dependent upon the will and actions of other people.
With regard to friendships, you said that you only have one friend. You see this as a failure. Psychologist Abraham Maslow noted in his study of self-actualized people that the psychologically healthiest people have very few friends. Why? Because it’s difficult to maintain deep and meaningful relationships with many people simultaneously. It’s time consuming to build long-lasting relationships. If you inspected the relationships among people who have many friends, you’d probably discover that most of those friendships are superficial. Typically, the person who has many friends has “friendships of convenience.” This means that they only interact with those “friends” when their bored and have nothing else to do, rather than because they enjoy and cherish their presence.
With regard to a career, maybe you have not found what you are best suited for. Rather than putting yourself down consider the fact that you may be misperceiving your situation. It is also an extremely difficult time to find a job. The world is in a recession. That may be why you do not have a job. But there could be other reasons as well. Maybe you are not trying hard enough.
Things may not be as bad as you think they are. There are positive aspects of your life that you overlooked such as your health. Don’t underestimate how lucky you are to be physically healthy. You’re also a chess player. It takes incredible patience and talent to play chess. It is a “thinking” game and not many people have the skill to play chess professionally.
You asked what my advice to you would be. I would suggest if you continue to feel depressed that you consider therapy. Depression by definition is the sense of feeling empty. It seems that you have lost the meaning in your life and a good therapist could help with this.
You can also try your own version of self-help by reframing your life situation and basing your thinking on truth and reality. But if you find that you are unsuccessful with self-analysis then professional assistance may be warranted.
You also asked whether or not medication would be helpful. I cannot be sure because that is best determined by a mental health professional who evaluates you in person. But my initial thought is that medication is not necessary. Thanks for writing.