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Forums / Depression / I want to start living but I don't know how

Topic: I want to start living but I don't know how

23 posts, 0 answered
  1. spontaneous sunflower
    spontaneous sunflower  avatar
    54 posts
    2 March 2022
    I have been struggling with depression and anxiety for a number of years now. I’ve been seeing a psychologist since I was diagnosed and I’ve sought help on these forums. Both have been helpful; some aspects of my mental health have improved and some haven’t. I’d say the main thing getting help has done is made me understand my feelings better and stop me from causing serious harm to myself. But I’m yet to see some real improvement and I’m starting to feel hopeless. I feel like I’m losing everything and I didn’t even have much to begin with. I left high school because of my struggles. I completed a one-year TAFE course but have yet to do anything with it. I’m 19 and I’ve never had a job because of my anxiety. I’ve been trying to apply for jobs and have even been to a couple job interviews but the whole process is just nauseating and I’m so inept at the whole thing. All my friends are going on with their uni degrees, working and earning/saving money, getting their licenses, etc. I have none of that because of my anxiety and depression. Everyday I feel myself falling behind my friends and drifting away from them. All of this boils down to the stark realisation that I don’t really know who I am or what I want. I feel like I’ve spent my whole life so far trying to work this out. I’ve always been quite self-analytical and philosophical. Maybe that’s my ultimate issue. I can’t just do things (like most functioning adults do), I need to almost feel like it’s my purpose to do whatever the thing is. But I’ve never really felt like that, I feel like an imposter and out of place in most situations. It scares me that I’m almost 20 and I have no work experience, no savings, no prospects. I know I don’t need to have everything figured out but I honestly have nothing figured out. Life just isn’t very fun and I don’t think I’m a fun person to be around anymore but I’m not sure how to change any of this. I look back on my life so far and I don't feel I was even there for most of it, like even in the good memories I'm in disbelief that it was even real. Maybe I'm just thinking this because right now I'm nowhere near "happy" or "okay"... I don't know. I just feel like I haven't lived and I want to but I don't even know how to start. I feel like my whole life is just being eaten away by my depression, anxiety and internal battles.
    1 person found this helpful
  2. Teek
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    11 posts
    3 March 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower
    I think you have been so brave. You completed a tafe course! Its a big achievement, because mental illness often means we can’t commit and complete things. I also think that we can’t measure ourselves against others. They are not dealing with the illness you have. I think life needs to be more about just doing something, anything, any activity (be it running, walking in the park or at the beach, art, anything). We can’t all be earning lots of money and doing 9-5 etc. We don’t need to be. I know it means that we need to find creative ways to live with less money. I know its hard, but your heart and soul are worth that effort. The social pressure to be ‘productive’ is not a fair requirement. Just do something that interests you (even a little bit) and hopefully be with others who share that thing. Being ‘you’ is good enough. You - are good enough. Truly.
    2 people found this helpful
  3. Isabella_
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    3 March 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower

    Hello there,

    I think Teek made a really good point.. Everyone is different in terms of their motivations, their mental/physical health and what it allows.. I think a lot of the time, because of stigmas around depression and anxiety, those who suffer from it don't fully realise that it's not fair to expect things like employment and studying to be as easy as it is for someone without depression/anxiety. Never impossible, but not as natural and seamless, and often times incredibly daunting.. And yes, sometimes impossible in the moment.

    It sounds like you're feeling a very normal social pressure that's 1000x more intense because of your mental health, and that's often how it goes. I hope you can reach a point some day where you're patient with yourself in the sense that you might need more time and extra help with these things, and that's not fully in your control. You simply can't wake up one day and choose to do these things easily, like going to a job interview, know what your purpose is, and it's okay. You will get to where you want and need to be, and I have full faith in that.

    Finding where you want to be is incredibly hard, and I think often times it comes from actually doing things. It's near impossible to exist in a small box and be ambitious, inspired. Going for a walk, people watching, reading/watching about other people's ambitions and life stories are tiny steps to figuring out the world and where you might fit, or where you might like to fit. It's never easy and maybe there's no right answer.

    I'm 19, and before only working in a small cafe last year for a few months which I found incredibly daunting, I finally have a job that I enjoy and feel comfortable in after the massive leap in starting it, and not thinking I'd like it at all. I've learnt so much so fast about people, where I want to work, how I want to interact with people and help them, how other people live.

    I don't have the answers.. But after hardly any work experience and falling into this job, life and the world for me changed incredibly quickly.

    I don't know. Sometimes starting is just picking one little thing and rolling with it, and somehow everything around it falls into place. It's comforting to know that those studying, working 9-5's and saving money don't really know what they're doing or what they want too, and that's okay.

    I hope you're taking care of yourself as best as you can at the moment. What would you think about asking your psych for advice on this and finding work?

    2 people found this helpful
  4. Banksy92
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    3 March 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower

    Hi spontaneous sunflower,

    Please know your feelings a completely valid, and shared by many of us with mental illness who have tried to operate at the same pace as our peers who don't have the same mental health challenges. It's not a fair comparison, but we easily fall into the trap!

    I agree with the comments already made here, focusing on finding something you enjoy can be as simple as a hobby at home (drawing, gardening, cooking, gaming, yoga) it could be anything! Bring some small moments of joy into your life, get creative and explore new things.

    Another step might be to look into some volunteer opportunities, if the workforce is a bit too daunting. Maybe your local area has some events you can pitch in for or there's a charity you can offer to volunteer for. This can help build your confidence and resume too.

    I live with an anxiety disorder which has really weighed me down professionally, I ended up striving to work in the mental health industry because the work culture is so supportive of people living with mental illness.

  5. geoff
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    4 March 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower

    Hello Spontaneous sunflower, a major complaint we all have is that we compare ourselves to what our friends are now doing or have done, they all have different brains and their circumstances are completely different, so we can't physically compare them to us.

    I have many people I went to school with who are trained professionals, doctors, dentists, lawyers and builders, good luck to them and I didn't get marks and wouldn't want to go through the years of uni they had to spend achieving this, so I can't make a contrast, their lives aren't the same as mine, and it doesn't mean their lives are happy.

    Can I suggest you go to a job agency, any experience is learning, whether you stay in the position for a day, a week or longer this will give you some knowledge that can build up to have a position for a job.

    Best wishes.

    Geoff.

  6. spontaneous sunflower
    spontaneous sunflower  avatar
    54 posts
    28 March 2022

    Hi everyone, thanks for all the support and advice.

    I appreciate all the advice of finding something I enjoy or a hobby. I used to have a few hobbies but at the moment I've lost all motivation and enjoyment for them, unfortunately. Finding it hard to get back into them. Partaking in my hobbies used to be a form of self care for me but I'm struggling with even the bare minimum of self care some days, like drinking enough water or cleaning my room. I feel so consumed by my anxiety and depression at the moment, and I know there's a way out of this rut I'm in, but when I'm deep down in it like I am right now, I completely forget how I got out of these ruts before.

    I have a psychologist but I haven't seen her in a while so I decided it would be a good idea to get back in touch. But my appointment isn't til May 5th. Not really sure what to do with myself until then.

  7. Banksy92
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    29 March 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower

    Hi spontaneous sunflowers,

    While you wait for your May appointment, if you ever want to talk to someone you can always call the Beyond Blue helpline, they are really helpful and supportive. The number is: 1300 22 4636

    We are always here in the forums too, to help you get through.

    That's really great you've taken the step to rebook with your psychologist, at least you have a timeframe to work towards and in the mean time I would just be gentle with yourself. Make small and achievable goals for each day to get yourself through without putting pressure on yourself. It might just be aiming to make your bed each morning, or taking a slow walk outside once a day.

    Let us know how you're getting on.

  8. Karen0901
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    73 posts
    30 March 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower

    Hi,

    I'm 36 and I still don't know what I want or who I am. Sometimes I think I know, but then I change or I encounter a new life road block and I stumble again. It hasn't stopped me from aging and progressing through life. I even have a masters degree and a job.

    There is no right path. No perfect direction. I thought there was when I was younger but I was wrong. Life is a journey and no one has it all perfect. There are just not enough hours in the day to have everything. There will always be something else. The key to life is recognising what you have and being grateful. Try not to expect what you need to align with those around you, as geoff mentioned. Those that judge you, do not have everything figured out. I'm still working on this myself though. It's a constant work in progress.

    2 people found this helpful
  9. HamSolo01
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    30 March 2022

    Hi all and thank you to spontaneous sunflower for your initial post

    All I can say is wow. That I am getting from reading everyone's post is a sense of familiarity and counsel. Evenryone who has posted here has the same feelings and experiences at some level

    To intro myself to this theme, my exp with mental health began when i was your age at 18

    I aslo see myself in some of what you have posted. I went to uni straight out of school because i didnt know what else to do. I ended up not liking the course, i quit and then went back to a different one at a diufferent uni and a different course altogether. I was about 1/2 way into it and started questioning why i was doing it. I re assessed my priorities and stuck it out and my marks improved. At that time i was depressed and my self worth came from these things. My perception of who i was, what i was meant to do and where i was going was all over the place. I guess it has been for some time, all of us can relate to these themes hey?

    In terms of work my first proper job didn't come til 25. For very similar reasons, I was afraid and i was struggling with the anxiety I had. I recently started a new job about 4 months ago but had to leave - because it just wasn't for me and i wasn't fulfilled. It wasn't up to standard for me and I was bored there. IT was too easy. Some said i was mad beacuse it was easy and secure - but it made my mental health worse you see.

    My experience is but 1 amongst so many. What I have realised is that we are all in this cocophany of life together.

    There are no straight answers and there are no ways in which wisdom can be passed down to us. It is really up to us to go out into the world (of our own volition of course) and seek out things and experience.

    My friend, do not fret. I know this is hard to say and i know what its like. It is not meant as a command or an easy fix - such things do not exist. All I am saying is that I know EXACTLY what it is you are describing because I've been there myself my friend. Take care and keep posting. There is a community of people here who want to share i can sense it. I think we can all learn

    I actually just did a youtube search about "lessons in your 20s" and there are some fascinating things.

    My friend, my best to you

  10. spontaneous sunflower
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    54 posts
    31 March 2022

    Hi Banksy, Karen0901 and Hamsolo01,

    Thank you for all your support and advice. It is comforting to hear that others can relate to my story, oftentimes when I am feeling low I can feel very isolated and alone in my struggles. It is actually nice to know I am not completely unique!

    I agree with the ideas of being proud of your daily small achievements, being gentle with yourself and understanding that there is no right path...until I am at my lowest and I lose all the reasoning and self compassion I once had. It's frustrating that when you need those beliefs the most is when your mind decides to stop believing in them. Anyway, I am trying to reintroduce those beliefs to myself again and at the very least trying to remind myself that the narrative playing in my head at the moment is false.

    Yesterday I started cleaning my room just by folding some clothes and putting a couple things away. My room is still messy but it's more of a organised, manageable mess and I've made it a little easier for myself to clean when I feel up to it. Today I made an appointment over the phone, I hate talking on the phone but I did it and I'm recognising that as a win today. I don't feel great but I know it's a process and as they say, Rome wasn't built in a day. It's great to have this community on here that is so understanding and judgement-free so I will be sure to pop on here time to time and let you know I am going.

    1 person found this helpful
  11. Banksy92
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    31 March 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower

    Hi spontaneous sunflower,

    Great to hear you found some comfort in knowing you are not alone - I agree, it can definitely be such an isolating experience so it is good you have reached out and shared your story, it helps not only you but all of us to connect and support each other through it.

    Well done for doing some tidying/cleaning! That's a brilliant step, hopefully it made you feel a bit of accomplishment? Remember even the smallest effort is progress.

    How have you been feeling today?

  12. spontaneous sunflower
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    54 posts
    11 April 2022 in reply to Banksy92

    Hi, sorry for the delayed response/update. I have been finding it hard to express myself lately, words aren't coming to me easily these days...until right now haha.

    It's been pretty 1 step forward, 2 steps back for me these past couple weeks. Sometimes I notice a lift in my mood but I feel like I'm still lacking the energy to do more of the things that cheer me up. Cleaning my room made me feel a little better, but quickly it became a mess again as I lack the energy/motivation to put things away. However today I simply picked up a few clothes and made my bed and it felt like a little bit of weight lifted off my shoulders. I haven't been leaving the house much, but when I do it's hit or miss on whether it improves my mood or not. I'm really struggling with fatigue at the moment, so when I'm out at the shops, for instance, I find myself getting really tired really quickly and I spend the rest of the shopping trip feeling very disoriented and out of it. Sometimes I can push through this tiredness and when I finally get back home I can recognise that it was nice to be out of the house for a change. I have always said to myself that getting better isn't a linear process which really is true at the moment, but regardless I still find the "lack of progress" frustrating.

    Last week I went to the doctors. I saw a new doctor because I didn't like my old one and she was fortunately very kind and understanding of my mental health situation. She prescribed me meds  to help with my sleep and I am going back next week to find out the results of my blood test and I hope maybe I will get some answer on why I am so fatigued all the time.

    Recently I learned something new that made me understand more about myself. Every psychologist I've ever seen has told me about the fight or flight response but only recently I learned about the freeze response. I feel like that's exactly how I've been responding to every stress, trauma or problem these past few years, and post-lockdowns I feel like it's gotten worse. I feel like I'm in this constant frozen, out of body state. I read a couple articles about this and some suggestions of how to overcome this freeze response such as grounding techniques. There are things that have helped with this in the past but my issue is staying consistent enough with it to notice a real difference.

    That's my update! Overall still pretty sucky, trying to stay hopeful/positive but sometimes it's really hard to.

  13. geoff
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    12 April 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower

    Hello Spontaneous sunflower, it's always good to hear back about how you are going and this applies for everyone.

    We often hear ' one stand forward and two steps back' by many people and in most cases it's exactly what happens, but to do this, could mean that you've acknowledge that what you are approaching isn't quite right for you in this particular situation, but on another occasion you might not had to have to do this and been able to take two steps forward and one step back, so somewhere there might be a balance you might want to accept, because, perhaps not every situation is the same as another one.

    It's easy to accept this when suffering but taking a step or two backwards, could mean we realise that we have to consider a bigger picture of what's actually happening and may in different circumstances be a good move for you.

    Take care.

    Geoff.

    1 person found this helpful
  14. HamSolo01
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    12 April 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower

    hey spontaneous sunflower

    it is good to hear from you and i am glad you also find this space a non judgemental zone as well. This I can relate to

    I hope to hear from you soon :)

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  15. Banksy92
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    13 April 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower

    Hi spontaneous sunflower, it's great to hear back from you on how things are going. I'm really happy for you that you have found a doctor you're more comfortable with - this is so important i think! Really interesting about the ''freeze'' response stuff too. I'd heard of this too but haven't read much up on it.

    Grounding exercises and mindful breathing are such a helpful tool for mental health. Have you tried the 555 exercise? I like this one if I am feeling overwhelmed. I sit and close my eyes, and in my mind I identify 5 things I can physically feel, 5 things I can hear, then (with eyes open) 5 things I can see. The more descriptive the better.

    I'm sorry you've been struggling so much with fatigue, it is understandable that this would make things so much more difficult. Hopefully there is an insight from your blood test results or new medication. Let us know how you go!

    Remember, you are doing really well. Even these small efforts to tidy a space, get out of the house to the shops and finding a better doctor to work on how you're feeling are really positive. Keep doing what you can and be kind and gentle with yourself.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

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  16. spontaneous sunflower
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    18 April 2022

    Hi everyone, thank you for all the words of support + encouragement, and for reading all my updates!

    The day after I last wrote on here I went to a concert with my friend. I was nervous about it because I haven't been going out much lately. But I ended up having a great time. On the train there I had a honest chat with my friend about how I've been feeling lately and she was very understanding and supportive. I know some people with anxiety would find being in a crowd of strangers at a concert very nerve wracking, but actually for me I found it was the perfect thing to throw me back into going out and socialising again. No one really cared that you were there or how you were dancing or singing, everyone was there for the same reason- for the music and to have a good time. Sometimes I find parties, going out or even shopping centres really overwhelming but I don't think i've ever been to a concert that I didn't enjoy.

    It's a funny coincidence what happened the days following the concert. The very next day I went out for lunch with my parents at a restaurant we have gone to for years, and a waitress who is familiar with us suggested I hand in my resume. I came back with my resume and 10 minutes later I got a call asking if I could do a trial shift the next day! I was so nervous as I had no idea what to expect but my friends and family encouraged me and already being familiar with the restaurant eased my nerves a little. And to my suprise, the trial shift went well! All the staff were very nice, patient and helpful and thankfully it wasn't a busy night at the restaurant. The supervisor told me someone informed him that I did a great job, which was relieving to hear. Last night I found out I got the job and I have two shifts coming up later this week.

    I started this thread after I had a bad job interview that left me feeling at my wits end with my job search. I haven't been looking for a job recently as I didn't think I was in the right mindset for it and then this happened. I'm hoping this inspires other parts of my life to fall into place. I already feel like my mindset has improved in the past week. Still feeling quite fatigued and my sleep has really only gotten worse (I wake up about every 2 hours at night, very frustrating). But on the other hand I'm reading more and drinking peppermint tea again. I've taken a new big step (a job) and some more little steps and I'm hoping this is the start of things looking up

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  17. Banksy92
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    21 April 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower

    Hi spontaneous sunflower,

    Wow! I have to say, your recent post put a massive smile on my face. I am so thrilled to hear you've had so many positive things come your way and that you are feeling a bit better.

    Big congratulations on the new job and well done for smashing your trial shift. That's fantastic. Isn't it so funny when we least expect it, sometimes life just offers us a solution and it works out so well? It's great you were less stressed due to the familiar environment, which means you could perform at your best.

    I am also glad to hear you felt comfortable enough with your friend to open up about how you have been feeling on the way to the concert and that they were respectful and supportive. Sometimes it just really helps to be heard about these things, I'm sure they will be looking out for you now as well going forward.

    Reading and peppermint tea are both lovely rituals to help unwind and prepare for bed - I do both of these myself! Sorry to hear your sleep is still quite disrupted, but maybe as you build up your new work routine this will start to shift as well? Magnesium can also nice for sleep too.

    Let us know how you're going with the job and how you're feeling when you can.

  18. oz_robbo
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    7 posts
    25 April 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower
    All I can offer is support.
    I feel much the same.
  19. HamSolo01
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    26 April 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower

    hi spontaneous sunflower

    nice to hear from you, I wanted to say that there are a couple of themes I can relate to from what you have said.

    your point about being in crowd and dealing with anxiety - sometimes i find being in amongst people even if i am not interacting with them can be good. I feel okay at that point. I think the same can be said for music in a club atmosphere - no really cares about us and how we dance lol.

    Awesome news on that job front too - It goes to show that even though we may doubt ourselves, we can still prove ourselves to others.

    Hey what you said here really resonated with me - " started this thread after I had a bad job interview that left me feeling at my wits end with my job search. I haven't been looking for a job recently as I didn't think I was in the right mindset for it and then this happened. I'm hoping this inspires other parts of my life to fall into place. "

    I had an interview not too long ago and did't go well. I was in the same mindset. I guess a radical reshift kicked in and I started to look at new options and pathways I could go into. I am looking into many things. Life goes on hey? Your post did have that positive effect for me. So thanks heaps for making it :)

    Hey are you copying me? reading more and drinking peppermint tea again? haha. Same!

    Things are looking up. Just go with it and let the universe do its thing. In giving away the control - you've got it!

    Take care and see you round

    - Hamsolo01

  20. That Other Guy
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    125 posts
    26 April 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower

    Hey. Sounds like you're struggling at the moment, which is pretty normal, but you're also making some progress, so that's great!!!

  21. spontaneous sunflower
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    54 posts
    27 April 2022

    Wow, lots of responses! Sorry it's taken me a couple days to respond.
    Thanks Banksy. You are quite right, sometimes things resolve themselves when we least expect it. I think the suddenness of getting this job worked well for me, as it left me little time to get all anxious over it. Although I know not everything can happen so quickly and easily like this, so I think it's about finding a balance- letting things just unfold naturally but still actively seeking what you want to some extent.
    Hi Oz_robbo, sorry to hear you feel similarly. Thank you for your support, I'm sending you my support as well. I hope you're trying to look after yourself.
    Thank you Hamsolo01 for your support and kind words. It means a lot to hear that my words resonated with you!
    Hey That Other Guy, thanks for replying. You're right, it is normal to have some degree of struggle in your life. Nothing can be perfect all the time and I think having hardships helps us to appreciate the happier moments in our lives more. I definitely feel that I have made progress, even though I am still not exactly where I want to be, and that I will eventually get to where I want to be (or maybe my path will change again and that's okay too, because sometimes our wants change).
    Job is going well, I've had 3 shifts so far. I get particularly nervous before my shift, which I handle by giving myself lots of time to get ready, blast uplifting music to hype me up and have a cup of tea! Once I'm there and moving about, I feel lots better. There are moments I make a mistake or feel nervous, but I feel with each shift it becomes less and less. I still feel pretty fatigued, although I think it's due to me doing more stuff and getting out and about more than I did a month ago. Hopefully I settle into a more relaxed routine soon.

  22. Banksy92
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    29 April 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower

    Great to hear the shifts are going well and that you have a routine to help you counter the nerves before hand. I think once you've done a few more shifts your confidence will grow even more and hopefully then they will reduce or even disappear.

    Hoping your energy levels also level out once you're fully adjusted to the new routine. But if you're still feeling fatigued, always good to check with your GP.

  23. Karen0901
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    73 posts
    29 April 2022 in reply to spontaneous sunflower

    Congratulations on the new job. Starting a new job is always hard but it sounds like you are doing great at managing the anxiety.

    I find that having a job really helps with depression. Gets you out of the house and distracts you from your problems. Gives you a reason to get up.

    Over time the anxiety will get easier.

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