I’m a 23 year old male living with my father in an apartment. I find that I have no motivation, fail at everything I’ve attempted so far in my life, and reflecting on myself, I have come to a conclusion that I actively hate myself, to the point I think I may be self-sabotaging… Some days I want to die… just end everything, but I have always hated the idea of suicide… And am too afraid of hurting those who care for me, and I feel like killing myself would only result in dumping upon them all the unresolved problems I leave behind… My life is a mess… I have no job, have dropped out of school and am facing massive debt… and all because I can’t stand my existence… I even sabotage all my friendships… and by the time I realize it, they’ve moved on. Who am I? Why the hell do I feel so disconnected from everything… including myself? I can’t sleep at night because I can’t shake these questions out of my mind… and when I do sleep, the same questions haunt me in my nightmares… I’m lost…. and I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried telling my family… but they don’t understand my reasoning… and I’ve hurt them so much by my actions (or lack thereof) that feel like they’re giving up. I want to know why I feel so out of place in this world… like I’m so different that I can’t even relate to the people around me. One reason I can’t make sense of it, is that I’ve committed to certain things before in my life without a second thought… such as not drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes… being kind and considerate to others… and being patient and level headed. Why can’t I apply that same tenacity to anything else? I’ve tried… but I can never manage to pull it off… I know asking these kinds of questions online is not always reliable…. but I have no one to turn to… and no money to invest in serious counseling… so I don’t know what to do. Any advice… anything at all… even an angry or hateful response… is appreciated, I just need SOMETHING. (age 23, from US)

A: First of all, there is no way that you can fail at everything you’ve attempted in life. You need to examine the “measuring stick” that you are using. Maybe you are struggling with school and employment right now, but using some of your other examples like committing to not drinking or smoking, practicing patience and being kind to others are things that other people struggle with (even people with stable jobs). All of us have strengths and weaknesses. All of us have things that come easy to us and things we really have to strive for and put extra effort into. It’s part of being human.

If you are not finding helpful answers within yourself right now, it is time to look elsewhere. If you are feeling disconnected, then you need to search for ways to connect. Therapy is certainly one way to do this and you can look into what services your local community mental health center has to offer, but you may find other ways to feel more connected as well.

Try volunteering for a cause you care about, try a new hobby, or take one class in college instead of taking a full load. Set your goals small so that you can begin to feel some success and then build on this. Give yourself chances to discover things you enjoy outside of yourself and hopefully this will lead you to discovering things within yourself that you can embrace. Just don’t give up. There are many, many successful people in our world who floundered at some point in their lives.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts