I’ve spent most of my life dreaming of either being somewhere else or being someone other than who I am. For example, for the longest time I wanted to be a writer. I spent over five years working on a novel. I put that dream on hold last year and started writing flash fiction. I got a few stories published, but I gave up after that. My perfectionism makes writing really, really hard. Plus, I can’t handle rejection. I guess it’s not even really like I thought I could be a writer; it’s more like I used the thought of possibly being a writer to propel me forward, through my depressions.
Lately, I’ve used running to push me through. In the past, I’ve put my hope in life transitions, like going to college or moving to New York, to get me through the day. I remember when I made the decision to move to New York and bought my one-way ticket how good I felt. No matter what was going on in the present, just the thought of that ticket made everything better.
You see, I thought the transitions would change me. I thought moving to New York or running seventeen miles or writing a book would change who I am–that is, I would no longer be depressed or anxious. This thinking not only took me out of the present moment, it pushed a lot of negative feelings aside. Instead of dealing with my problems, I focused on the future–something that doesn’t even exist–and suppressed my feelings and emotions.
I think this deep, all-encompassing depression I’m feeling now is all those feelings and emotions catching up to me. I’m running out of options. I’ve tried a lot of things. I can’t run anymore. I have to be present–and the present is complete shit when there’s no hope.
Maybe awareness will save me?
That’s how I’ve felt for a very long time. It’s hard to feel like you’ve spent your whole life running with no idea of where to. I wish you luck in your journeys.
If I ever want to go in to a dark place, all I have to do is compare my life to others’ and think about all the things I think I’m missing out on. You need to stop wishing and start doing. If you don’t like how you feel, then change it. I challenge you to write about at least one positive thing about your day, each day!
Hey man, I also have the same realizations in my own direction in life. I feel as if all my friends have known where to go and have gotten there where I’ve been the spare tire and I have been left behind. This year or just before Christmas was the time I started a new job and decided to take a new approach to finishing things I needed to finish. I went all out and finished my grade 12 and finished just recently. Now it’s off my back. It is important to know what you want and it’s not anyones fault, including your own because you just dont know what to do, and that is mainly and only because of SA setting us back. Keep your chin up though man, try and see what you can focus on one at a time and just get it done and dedicate yourself, cross it off and move onto the next task. Perfectionism is overrated IMO, just do what you can do because that’s probably the best you can do against all odds, godspeed man.
Yes, I often feel that way or sometimes I just wish that my life would happen already the way I EXPECT it to, as this CANNOT be all that there is. I still struggle with this. But the changes have to happen within me. The problem is learning how to do that, and getting the guidance from somewhere. I have traveled and moved so many times and it doesn’t help, as I am still there.
With awareness comes hope. With awareness there is pain and happiness. Without pain happiness and hope can never co-exist or exist. The growth is coming. The pain isn’t there without a realization and growth beyond it. It may be small, but it exists and it is there.
Point 1: You are a writer. You write this blog. You’ve written a novel. Keep writing. I did and eventually start making a living (a meagre one, but a living) as a writer. You can too if you’re good at it, and you get good at it by doing it a lot. Also realize that there are lots of different ways to be a “writer” that don’t necessarily mean “writing fiction.”
Point 2: Pick up this book: “The Underachiever’s Manifesto.” It’s ostensibly a “humor book” but I think that sells it short. It’s a philosophy of life that is very helpful to read if you tend toward perfectionism. It make me think about all the time I’ve wasted on making things perfect — things no one notices — and now I’m trying to stop doing that. Life is short. I don’t want to spend it correcting my typos on Facebook.
Point 3: Everyone you know is not happy, nor are they necessarily secure. I know people who seem very accomplished on the outside yet I am learning that they nevertheless feel inadequate or failed in one or more ways. Everyone’s chasing carrots. Chase your own carrots, not other people’s carrots.
Point 4: Keep running. It will help with your mood. If you’re not already running hard — like doing focused training for a specific race distance — try that. This is the thing that stopped my anxiety attacks for good and I believe it helps with my depression. “Running” doesn’t mean “running away from” — running is a opportunity time to reflect on your life and on yourself. It can also add structure to your days — and to the seasons — and get you out with other people with whom you might have some things in common.
I believe you can get through this and be a happier person. Realizing that making external changes won’t do it alone is a huge step. I have to believe we can all get better or I too would give up.
See? Shitloads of typos. I don’t care. 🙂
I’m sorry you feel so down Mike. I’ve been there too and I know life can feel pretty hopeless sometimes.
I’m sort of a writer also, though I don’t write fiction – I wish I had that gift. But when I was freelancing journalism articles, the rejection was the worst part. That and making $100 a week :-). I just realized at that point in my life, I couldn’t handle the stress of that, and got into a corporate job with a paycheck where my self esteem wasn’t on the line every day. I think it would be nobler to persevere with writing, but I couldn’t do it at that time anyway.
I don’t think your running is an escape at all – it’s very good. Good for the mood, your health, and shows you have self-discipline. I’d keep at it.
I think whatever you do with your life, you need to handle the depression separately. That’s what I’ve found. Accomplishing wonderful things doesn’t help depression, if yours is like mine.
Maybe a more feelings based therapy approach would help you? It always sounds to me like you really want someone to listen to how you actually feel, and explore that with you? I hope you keep looking for a therapist to help you. In my case, even though therapy is not a fun time, it really helps to have someone listen and who seems to care. It does have to be the right person.
I think you’re a good writer, for what it’s worth. Take care
When you mentioned writing, I wasn’t surprised at all. Based on your writings, I definitely had the feeling that writing is (or at least one of) your “life path”. I also have a few interests (programming, drawing) that I would’ve liked to pursue for the about 20 years but now it’s clear that dealing with anxiety and other life lessons had to come first. Actually, I also was able to create a few things here and there but not exactly as much or the way I would’ve preferred. On the plus side, it did help with my perfectionism and dealing rejection. At that time I was practicing the “I don’t give a f#@k!!!” about what others think and reading the comments for my creations (especially the negative ones) did loose their emotional impact gradually. Rationally, I knew that everyone can have their opinion and you can’t create something that everyone will like but the subconscious mind is not rational and emotion based automatic patterns can’t be dealt with rationally. (Kind of like in Inception. To me, they could’ve simply replaced the ‘dream’ with ‘hypnosis’ and would’ve been the same thing since in many instances they were dealing with the emotional aspect of the subconscious mind. And of course how we can’t necessarily control it – though it’s possible to work with it … if we get permission)
About running: I used to run and ride the bike and on mild level anxiety days it did help lift my mood. But on moderate to intense level days … no change. They say heavy exercise is supposed to burn off / eliminate the hormones produced during the anxiety/panic (i.e. fight/flight/freeze) process but I haven’t really noticed much difference. Have you ever ran (or exercised) after a situation and noticed mood change (or perhaps the length of mood change was shorter)? Maybe different kind of exercise (e.g. lifting weight or punching a sand bag) might work better.
I also heard similar things from other people how they expected new place / work / etc to bring certain changes, but … In my case, it was different. When I attended college, in part, I was hoping that I could “gain time” and be able to figure out what I was dealing with in the first place and then change. That didn’t happen there, but came later.
I was watching a movie recently and heard the line (I’m translating here) “only those suffer who leave the path that is intended for them”. It pretty much summed up my life: I both found my path and learned my lessons and suffering is nowhere near where it used be. Perhaps it was meaningful to me because it also fits my belief system (not religious but “kinda” spiritual though nothing in particular). So if it doesn’t resonate with you, simply ignore.
I do have the sense that just like me, you also have something that you need to create / contribute. Don’t give up. Keep going.
I don’t think that doing things like, writing and running and looking to the future are negative. I think they’re good for you as they set goals. From what you state you just need to start dealing with your negative emotions as they come up, but I believe that it’s possible to do that and think ahead at the same time. It’s just a matter of learning how to, and the fact that you realize this, means you’re way ahead. Perhaps this is something to bring up in therapy.
I have the opposite problem. I’m stuck in the past and losing the present, therefore I see no future and have trouble setting goals.
Keep writing and running. It can’t hurt and it’s good for your mental and physical health. You’ll get through this. It may not seem that way, but you will. You’ve given me good advice in that vein, so I know you are capable of thinking positively. Be well. *hugs*
i sometimes feel like that as well, being somewhere else, being somebody else… acceptance brought some light back into my life. maybe you should try it too.
Writing… perfectionism can make it very difficult indeed. but hey you’re writing this blog so i guess you have it in you. don’t give up, i kinda did and i regret it very much so. Going back after years without writing… not easy. Even if it’s not as good as you wish it was, keep on writing. the best work of art often hides in between two no so good pieces of writing.
i wish you luck
Yeah, I never thought I could be a journalist.
And then I wrote for the BBC.
I never thought I could be a psychotherapist.
And I then I passed my assessment and got further on the road towards those goals.
You’ve got a lot of external things that you use to propel you forward in life and that’s great.
But wait a second here.
What do you want?
How will you know when you get it?
Now, these might be hard right now because depression messes with the sensory acuity so take all the time you need.
You have had a lot of achievements by the sounds of things but I wonder if you have ever felt any of them.
I’m not going to tell you how easy it is to feel good about yourself on a deep level because of those achievements you’ve made over the years. That’s something you can discover on your own.
Not feeling achievements means the mind doesn’t have much of a reference point on feeling happy so external goals can be reached but they won’t be registered very well.
I’ve been thinking about you. I hope you are getting on okay.
Thanks. I’m managing .. feeling guilty about not blogging
Don’t feel guilty. I just wanted to let you know that even if you’re not blogging, people care about you and are thinking about you.
Hello. I really like your blog and I relate to a lot of what you say. Is it okay if I add you to my blogroll? If not, I understand.
Yes. You can def. add me.
Hey Mike, I used to wish I was someone else too, someone not shy and socially anxious. But the more I’ve addressed and confronted my shyness this year, the more understanding of it I have become. Maybe there’s a reason as to why I’m going through this, maybe there’s something positive out of all this. It has brought us connections and understanding of other shy and socially anxious people, I think.
Don’t give up on writing, especially this blog. If it’s something you truly love to do, then you should keep doing it.
Hey. I’m glad you’ve been able to confront and accept your shyness. It’s a continual struggle for me. Some days I feel content with who I am, while on others I hate myself. I think it’s part of the process. Thanks for the feedback.
Hey Mike, just wanted to let you know that I gave you the stylish blogger award!
Sometimes i think we should all be standing on rooftops shouting until people ARE aware. Awareness might save everybody……..
It’s Josh (MrShyAndTimid). It’s been awhile. I haven’t seen you posting up in awhile. I just wanted to drop by and see what was new or how things were going. I hope all is well.
Hey Josh. Yeah, I’ve been fairly depressed. A lot has changed for me. Yesterday, my g/f asked me, “What happened to the reader, writer, runner, librarian Mike.” I can’t explain it. I am not who I was just three or four months ago. I no longer enjoy many things I used to enjoy. I’m not as depressed or hopeless as I was a few weeks ago, but I know that this depression has changed me. I really want to start writing again. I hope all is well with you.
omg I am so where your coming from. social anxiety is such an awful learned disposition. but you have inspired me because I do believe that being happy for the day leads to tomorrow having an even start. dont give up rejoice in the knowledge that you can run your depression and anxieties off. nobody is completely happy – everyone is wishing for something
thanks for the comment! totally agree – one good day, leads to another, which leads to another … it can have a snowball effect. If we can learn social anxiety in the same way, then we can unlearn it (in a sense).
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