Is this depression or something else?

I don't know what's wrong with me. I'm a male, 26, in unskilled work that I'm not proud of.

I seem unable to form friendships, although I've come to realise that I'm not a bad person, so that's not the reason.

I did very well at school, got straight As, top of the class etc. I tried to avoid people at school, except one friend who I'd talk to. My life since school hasn't panned out as teachers and parents said it would.

I've struggled with my mood and feeling low all my life. As a kid I was too shy and embarrassed to have any hobbies, and if I'm honest that continues almost unchanged to this day.

I struggled with university, completely unable to pay attention in lectures, easily sidetracked by wondering what other people thought of me, unable to get sufficient sleep, utter exhaustion, nil motivation to do work, just to come out alive with a degree was my goal. I did it at long last albeit with a poor grade. I would have terrible difficulty in studying or trying to focus on the work to the point where I virtually couldn't study, so it's a wonder I made it at all. Since leaving university I've been unable to get a relevant job but was pushed by parents into the old job I used to have as a high school teenager, which was some come-down and I have been stuck in that latest rut for a year now. In the middle of my uni time I did a 14 week social anxiety course where, near the end of the 14 weeks, the psychiatrist taking the group had it said that I/me, did not have social anxiety ....which confused me more because I understood that to be my main problem at college/uni.

I've applied with great difficulty for a few jobs last year, and for the past 7 months I've been trying to make a single application to a university for a Master's degree which I just cannot seem to complete. Very slow progress. At one point the application timed out and deleted - so I'd to start all over again. It involves so many things. Any project scares the hell out of me and feels like a huge mountain to climb - and I have no belief in my ability to complete such simple tasks as these. For example, reapplying for a membership of something, which itself requires referees, which means asking my current boss, who I'm intimidated by and can't speak to, and I don't think he likes me. I hide these problems, which consume much of my time, from family. They don't give a shit. They're tied up with their own issues, always were. When talking to people, my thoughts are like a tree and I get side-tracked down an inappropriate branch leading to me forgetting the initial point! Often I just completely forget where I was - this leads me to sometimes butt into peoples' conversations so that I can get it said before I inevitably forget.

I'm lonely, bury my head in the sand to avoid reality by spending hours browsing the internet, feel stuck, unable to focus or carry through with simple tasks that require any concentration or coordination. I do list after list and they just make me feel more guilty when I find them weeks later, undone. It's not that I'm depressed enough to have no feelings. I still have emotions. Nothing gets me as excited as I was as a kid on Christmas morning (which I think is normal!) but I can appreciate nice things like music or nature, and I can empathise with anyone, for example on deaths, on the news or in films, or with other peoples' issues. I do get mildly excited too sometimes, and try to keep my mood stable by looking out for beauty in nature constantly ... because ofc I also get very down at times.

My sleep issues are that I usually can't get to sleep until I'm completely exhausted, and often wake up through the night. After a certain point though, say 7am, I fall into a deep sleep and struggle terribly to get out of bed. Even after 8 hours of sleep I am drowsy and could carry on sleeping all day. It's hard to get out of bed when I don't have early shifts at work. When I do have early shifts at work, I am lucky to get 3 hours sleep and then I crash when I come home, and then cannot sleep until beyond 3am that night.

Sorry for this rambling 'piece'. It's the train of thought. I don't know if I should seek GP help because I have reason not to trust her. The last thing I want is to have nothing wrong with me and make a fool of myself. I may be just lazy. But I'm coming to believe that after all my huge efforts over the years, there's something definitely not working right in me.

Is there anything wrong with me?

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26 Replies

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  • You have no reason to feel embarrassed about the kind of job you do. A job is a job, and it's a whole lot better than sitting on your backside doing nothing.

    It's not for me, or anyone here, to try and diagnose what might be the cause of your difficulties, but I can't help reading your post and thinking ADHD or possibly Aspergers?

    But these are just my opinions. I'm not a medical person. Whatever the issue, it's certainly impacting heavily on your quality of life and I would urge you to make an appointment with your GP to talk about it.

  • Er..I sit on my backside doing nothing Lucy :) x

  • [Edited by Will (ThemysciraDrive), 27/4/14]

    Sorry Downnotout, not sure what the intention was, but that might be seen as offensive...

    Themys

  • I hope that's a joke Downnotout! x

  • Me too!! X

  • Hi Mindblank nice to meet you. It does sound like depression to me with those symptoms. Mine started with feeling very stressed and tired and sleep problems like yours. Why don't you do an online depression test? Google it and you should find a free one. I think the nhs site does one. It sounds as well as your are not very experienced in social interaction and this just could be down to lack of practise. Like anything else the more you do it the easier it becomes and the better you will be at it. I learnt a lot by studying other people, especially popular ones, and trying to copy them. Listen and learn. If you are suffering from depression or like Lucy suggests you will only get a firm diagnosis from a medical professional, So you will need to see a gp as the first point of contact. Medication might help you and counselling as well. Let us know how you get on. Oh and I agree with Lucy - any job is honourable no matter what type of job so don't put yourself down please. xx

  • You sound like a shy, quiet young man who is not sociable and worries too much, some of us are born like that, i found not sleeping was my mind racing thinking of things which bother me. Try not to sleep during the day and get into a habit of going to bed at the same time. I think some of us are born this way, reading your post sounds like myself,ultra sensitive, i have spent most of my life like this.

  • Hello there; someone else will probably give a better reply than me, but I did want to say that I read your post.You sound like a lovely sensitive young man who has and is having some issues. It could be depression, I would have said that you did have some social anxiety symptoms myself so was a bit surprised to read what the psychiatrist said. It seems you don't have good self esteem and one notable thing is that you say your family are not interested and are self absorbed so this will not be helping you at all.

    I agree about trying the online depression test. You say you are worried to go to the GP and find out there is nothing wrong with you. You sound a bit like me, constantly worried about what people think about you and worried about whether you will believed; so this in itself is evidence that you do need some support! It is hard worrying about whether the GP will give you what you need. Try and think what it is that may help you? I would suggest that maybe you go and make a summary of what you have said to us and maybe you have an idea in your mind of what may help? Counselling? A specialist assessment for autistic type symptoms? Don't push for one thing or another but try and list all your symptoms (write them down) and say you feel they are seriously impacting on your life and you need some answers with it.

    I don't think it is laziness by the way but it does seem linked to your sensitivity (all the best people are sensitive I have decided!!) and confidence issues; there may be more to it as Lucy has suggested but I could not possibly say if it is those sorts of things as for one I don't have much experience with it and for another it would take a specialist assessment I think.

    I don't seem too articulate this morning, but I did want to reply to you.Gemma X

  • Have you ever thought of being tested for Asperger's? Many of the things you suggested there would fit this diagnosis: social anxiety such as worrying what people think and not forming friendships, losing concentration, inconsistent sleeping patterns, forgetting the point of your conversation and later butting into someone else's just to get your thoughts out and also isolating yourself to the internet for escapism.

    You're not lazy. It may be depression or anxiety for which you can take medication. But maybe you should research Aspeger's syndrome and consider whether this could fit?

    I just realised that Lucy34 has suggested the same thing. I thought this before reading her post so maybe it is something you could consider, Honey?

  • Interesting we both thought the same ...

  • It's something I'm aware of and researched it so know all the symptoms etc. When I studied ADHD and Asperger's for uni (among other things) I realised that they can have similar symptoms which is interesting. Depending on the person, he/she can become withdrawn or start to act out with either condition and therefore are difficult to diagnose.

  • I agree - I have traits of both! :)

  • Me too actually

  • Hi there welcome, sorry for late reply. Firstly you shouldn't feel one bit ashamed

    About your job. To me you come across as a lovely young man. We are either extroverts

    Or introverts more or less. You seem like the latter, I think you should do a few

    Online tests, and then it's only your GP or Psychiatrist who could make the

    Definitive diagnosis.

    It does seem like concentration and focus are difficult for you, this happens in Depression and many other things too.

    I think it's best to visit your GP first and see what your dealing with first, it's only

    Then that you can begin to work on certain things and begin to accept

    And like who you are. At least now you have made a start, so it's a good reason

    To feel positive and hopefull.

    Take care

    Hannah

  • Hi

    It's late and I've had an enjoyable but tiring day and so I won't go into lots of detail in my reply as I often do when responding to posts, but will try to think more about what you have written tomorrow. I just wanted to say that because you are bright but have not achieved as highly as your abilities led people to expect of you that must be incredibly disappointing and frustrating for you. I do really feel for you as I lived with that kind of under-achievement for a lengthy part of my life and it is soul destroying.

    I will try to respond with more thought in the morning.

    Suexx

  • Ah, I know, and it is a horrible feeling, but I suppose we all have crosses to bear whether that was anticipated in childhood or not. Whether it's clear or not, whether other people see it or not. In what way were you under-achieving? Since you put it in the past tense I'm guessing that you've overcome that now?

  • Yes, I was emotionally isolated as a child then had a breakdown at 11 and truanted from 11-15. I then managed to find a good office job - at that time you could without qualifications and we moved to central London where I temped for some years, knew nobody and sat mindlessly audio typing or even worse doing nothing as a receptionist. I felt like I hardly existed but at 27 I got a job as an assistant social worker, married a social worker and began studying. My children are intellectually gifted and I discovered I am as well - I did an Access course at 40 and now have two degrees (Psychology and Fine Art) and five postgraduate qualifications! Sadly it didn't enable me to catch up partly because the harm had been done emotionally and the things that interested me are the very things that society values less now - I enjoy creativity, intellectual thinking and the deeper long term therapies I trained in whereas the trend, particularly in the NHS, is now for quick fixes, superficiality, and cost effectiveness never mind the quality of life. It is sad.

    I need to put some shopping away now including frozen things and need to eat but will try to come on later to answer your initial post. Suex

  • Hi people, firstly thanks to everyone who gave their thoughts I really appreciate it. Btw I'm sorry for not replying individually but all the replies were so encouraging and it was just there were quite a lot of replies and some of what was said overlapped with others but thanks people.

    As for tests, I've taken them all, and moderate depression comes up, but I'm not sure if those tests are set to worsen the reality in order to push people towards seeking help (thus funding the antidepressant and medical - if USA - industry). They're definitely not definitive and always come with that disclaimer.

    Like in reality if I'm not depressed I do not want to go to my doctor, have her think I'm a hypochondriac and blacklist me as "one of them" not to be trusted. Aspergers doesn't seem to match me properly although I've a lot of those traits but so do we all. I come up strong for ADHD but I've never been hyperactive so I can't take that seriously, and I suspect neither would a GP.

    Part of it is I've always felt that admitting depression is like giving up on trying to overcome it. For me it tends to come and go, between moderate and very low moods but at times I can have some really good days where I manage to get things done, but it's as though I have no control over any of it. I tried and tried and burned out on that. I thought depression was very low, ALL the time? I mean if there was a wonder pill I could take that would make me able to jump out of bed in the morning, and get things done, not worry so much, focus on what needs to be done and how to do it, I would take it in a heartbeat. I avoid socialising. Maybe I could even feel like doing that too?

  • Hi

    I said I would get back to you and haven't done so, sorry, I've been feeling really tired today but needed to do work in the garden and now am even more tired! I'll go back to your initial post and respond to it, and forget all the responses for now if that's ok.

    Firstly what the psychiatrist said about you not having social anxiety may be true in terms of a psychiatric diagnosis but you clearly still felt socially anxious! That was your experience and therefore what you experienced. When you write about feeling daunted by any project like applying for a course and getting references etc it sounds as if you feel overwhelmed by it all, as if the process is so complicated and exhausting that you just want to give up on it before you have started. That does sound like depression - and no, depression does not necessarily mean staying low all the time. Many of us go up and down and have good and bad days depending upon the cause of our depression, whether we are on meds, life events, and all sorts of other factors. About being able to have emotions and feel empathy etc as well as enjoy some things like music on some days, you are probably relatively healthy but struggling to cope with the burden of a depression that you carry around with you. That can feel completely exhausting - I spent a lot of time like that before having therapy. Where you say your thoughts go off at tangents, probably you are quite a lateral thinker which is a creative way to be but when accompanied by being overwhelmed it can mean that the tangents take you nowhere because you can't recall where you began or why you started the particular thought. Anxiety can get in the way of thinking clearly as well.

    I had similar problems to many of the ones you describe during much of my early life. I could function normally but felt permanently exhausted and like you I slept badly and then fell exhausted in the morning, very much as you do. Eventually I went into analytic therapy - that's not necessarily the right thing for you though it may be - I found it helpful because it enabled me to understand and FEEL how I had been looking after myself emotionally all my life until that time - in fact I had been carrying around the feelings of the child in me and putting so much effort into (unconsciously) trying to cope with the feelings that just living was exhausting. I do feel very much better now and seldom struggle with life in those kind of ways, so there is hope.

    You are young and it would be a shame not to get help at this point in your life particularly as not doing so will affect the whole of your life, so do make sure you get the help you need. Firstly is there any way you can get help from someone to complete the MA process with you - if I lived near enough I would do it myself. They are fiddly to do online but having all the info in front of you first and having a statement ready written and then cut and paste into the form helps. Probably at the moment your anxiety and mental fog (confusion of thinking) will make it difficult. I don't know whether you live in the same town/city where you did your degree but if so you could go to the students union and they may have someone who can help you, also as a graduate you may find you can use their counselling service still so do check that out.

    I would also see your GP and ask him to refer you for a full assessment for psychological services. If you do not like your GP see another one in the practice, preferably female as I think they might empathise better with you and are likely to be warmer which I think you will respond better to. You might also ask him whether either beta blocks or similar for anxiety or else anti-depressants may help - I would not ask for one or the other but would ask his opinion about meds AFTER you have had the psychological assessment. You may need to persuade the GP to refer you for the assessment - the best way may be to say you have problems in all sorts of areas in your life - which you do - and that although you know there is often short term therapy such as CBT available you would like to be considered for a longer talking therapy. I think you would benefit from that as it sounds as if you are lacking some social skills despite having high intelligence and that usually comes down to emotional difficulties which originate in childhood. It may be that you felt your parents didn't really know YOU as a person although they knew what you were like, or it may be that you were extremely shy and isolated yourself. I realised over time that I had always felt lonely even when seemingly part of a group - I was simply going through the motions and was no good at doing that because I was out of touch with some part of myself - and yet, like you, I never lacked empathy and in fact later I life I trained as a therapist and was very good at it, even marital therapy and yet I struggled to feel part of a group.

    You are NOT just lazy! I think you have had certain experiences missing within your life and as a result are unable to feel secure in your sense of self and where you fit in the world. I think you can be helped to overcome those difficulties within therapy. If you have the money you could go privately rather than via your GP in which case see a female analytic therapist, preferably one you find warm! You need some nurturing emotionally and also what is called 'containment' in order to manage your thoughts and reduce your anxiety about yourself and others.

    Keep writing here, we will all support you and enjoy doing so, also you are bright and seem sensitive so when you feel up to it you could use your empathy to support us too.

    Suexx

  • Hi Sue that email was very helpful and nice to read. Thanks. Sorry took so long to reply. Well I am still not sure about the appointment, I'd one made for last week but I got the day mixed up and re-scheduled it for tomorrow (Wednesday) but it's right after work and as I say I feel embarrassed over the appointment because I'm not sure whether the Doctor will, as has happened in the past, just hear the way I talk - and decide that I'm fine (but think of me as a hypochondriac). My "depression" has lifted which is becoming a noticeable trend - will be sinking down into it for weeks and be very very down for a few weeks and then it lifts quickly, over the course of maybe 3-4 days and I'm back to what I call normal, still with the other issues but not the horrible deep "depression" which is truly horrible - and which led me to this site. I only get those really bad times maybe about once per year? I really feel like I'm fussing over nothing or that I'm a fraud over it all.

    I was reading up on ADD since people mentioned it - didn't know there was more to it than hyperactive kids (which I never was) but I seem to fit "ADD-Inattentive" like a glove however I better not mention this to the Doc as they will probably have that scoffing attitude towards ADD (and self-diagnosis) and think I'm an attention seeker. I am in two minds whether I should cancel the appointment, having it right after work sucks because I won't have time to gather my thoughts and look over what I'm going to say. (Worst case scenario I get the humiliation of being verbally written off and dismissed as 'absolutely normal' etc etc - then I would truly never go back to that Doc).

    My university is a long way away from where I live and their free careers help, for me, (3 months after leaving) would've expired a while ago. Also I don't have anyone that can help with completing the form. It's embarrassing - the application sounds so simple and it is simple, even to me, yet I can't seem to get through it. I think if everything was on paper, I could deal with it better but the virtual world, where everything is hard to find through all these links on webpages, is murder. There are times where I make small bits of progress but it involves so so many things. I am still slowly making progress but it's hard when everything seems to hinge on another hinge-dependent factor.

    With the other things I mentioned, I am really torn as to whether or not it's justified me going to the Dr and asking for help from the already stretched mental health services. I am not deeply deeply depressed now, it's quite rare that I get down like that, but the other issues are always there.

    The thing is there's one Doc in particular who has no time for anything she cannot see. She's fine if there's something to look at but if she can't see it, she's very short and dismissive and actually angry. There's 3 Docs and I could get any of them. If her name comes up I don't know what I'll do, probably just not go in and leave!

  • Hi,

    I would see the GP as long as it isn't the one who is dismissive - can you not make an appointment with a specific one?! I have found that my depression lifts as if by magic once I know help is on its way ie when there is an appointment pending but appears seemingly unrelated to events afterwards - that is quite common with depression so don't assume because it lifts for a time that it is not a problem - it certainly has been a problem for you.

    In terms of the form, that does seem to indicate that you are still struggling - an underlying depression often results in an inability to concentrate on things and that affects motivation as well so what you describe about the form is not unusual.

    The difficulty is not so much whether or not to see the GP but what you would want to happen if you do go. Would you want to try meds - if so a mood stabiliser such as fluoxetine may be better than standard anti-depressants and hopefully your GP will agree if you explain that the depression comes and goes. An alternative might be to ask for counselling - the NHS are only likely to offer you short term CBT but that may be enough to enable you to fill in the forms and begin further studying and then you can use the resources of the student services!

    Do keep in touch and let us know how you get on as it would be a shame to waste your potential.

    Suex

  • Well I have decided I won't cancel the appointment. If worst comes to worst, I will leave the practice and register with another one. I will try and keep a sheet of paper with me for the rest of the evening in order to jot down any pointers so as to make it as clear as possible what my problems are. Dreading it though.

  • Hi, sorry I have only just seen your reply. You might find it helpful to ask to be referred for a psychiatric assessment - that way you would get a formal diagnosis and could begin to think about what kinds of treatment and help you might benefit from. Alternately you might ask for assessment for longer term psychotherapy from the secondary mental health services. In some areas of the country you will first have to be offered CBT and if that doesn't work then they will refer you to the secondary services but in other places you can get referred straight through. Do persist and seek help as it would be sad to waste your life and all the potential you have. xx

  • It's done and though I didn't explain myself well at the appt as I find it hard, it's done and the ball is rolling so to speak. Got referred to a virtual counselling thing. Was told to exercise, set goals, etc.

  • I am no expert but my young grandson lives with me and has autism we go to a support group with kids that have ADHD and aspergers have you looked into this there's always a reason my older son is twenty five going through same sort of thing and actually now suspects he has aspergers there is a lot of help out there

  • Hi Maureen, thanks for your reply, have looked into ADHD and Aspergers. I'm 100% not Aspergers. ADD seems to fit me but many believe it is an excuse for laziness - apparently a lot of medical professionals don't even believe it exists - therefore I have my own doubts as to its legitimacy. ADD symptoms also are totally similar to depression/anxiety symptoms. Will wait and see what the Dr says tomorrow.

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