Why do I always feel empty?

I am a twenty-two year old male. On the outside, I think I can easily pass for a normal person. First, a few things about myself. I am a somewhat introverted person. I don't do particularly well in crowds but prefer a smaller, more intimate company of close friends. I don't make friends easily, don't have a wide circle of acquaintances and tend to be somewhat picky about those I really get close to. I am, however, fiercely loyal to those who do become my friends and go out of my way to help those in need. I am soft spoken, mild-mannered (although I can get rather loud and talkative with close friends) and am, I believe, a somewhat level-headed person as far as things go. At school, where I major in philosophy, I would readily classify myself as an academic type, a nerd, in other words. I am a member of our university's quizzing team (even won a few times) and am a particularly enthusiastic argumentor/debater. I find pleasure in solitary activities like walking, reading and writing and on the whole prefer solo to group activites, though I do regularly take part in these and enjoy them, too. I have noticed of late, however, that I regularly feel what I can best describe as being 'empty'. While I do take pleasure at things like eating, reading a good book, or talking with my family, I find that, after a while, I cease to really 'take part' in these things. It's like I slowly retreat into a mental recess where I am no longer a participant in my own world but am merely a passive observer. I will laugh at jokes, smile when I find something worth smiling about, get surprised, you know, the entire gamut of human expressions, but sometimes it seems like I am only acting, like I'm just playing out a script. The only things that give me pleasure, other than fleeting physical ones, indeed, the only things I feel really enthusiastic about are my weekly strength training regimen (though this, too, seems rather mechanical at times), the novels I read, the girl I'm in love with and my dreams of becoming a successful businessman. I am health conscious (because of the whole body-building thing) and am quite fit. I don't smoke, drink, or use any substance whatsoever. Outwardly, I look athletic, well-rounded shoulders, a good chest, toned arms, but even that, I realize now, I did to hide my weakness. All for show, nothing inside. Even the things I love the most are sometimes riddled with bouts of what I can best describe as anxiety. Is this normal? I find that I am sometimes rather melancholy. I escape from social gatherings, walk away from people I know just to be alone for a moment, and later find that I crave company, so much. I yearn for a person to talk to, a hug, or maybe just a short chat with a friend. I often have difficulty sleeping ( often staying up until dawn) but make up for it by rising from bed rather late. I feel empty. Sometimes, it feels like I am in a waking dream (especially at night) and I feel like my existence is something very fragile that would scatter in a heartbeat when I lose a grip on things. On the other hand, there are times, especially when I read or hear something inspiring (usually has something to do with business) or when I've just spoken with the girl I mentioned that I experience a sort of 'high'. I feel happy, content, powerful, confident, at peace with the world. I feel like there's nothing I cannot do. That sort of thing. Then I sleep, wake up the next day and fall back into the same mechanical process. I have a tendency to lapse into bouts of silence (not in a strictly negative manner) where I just think about things, sometimes, to the puzzlement of those around me. I would not say, if someone where to ask me directly, that I feel depressed. Nor does this 'condition', if it even is one, get in the way of my normal, everyday functioning. I just feel empty. I know what I should do (short term and long term) but sometimes feel like I'm not living for anything. It really is peculiar. I would also say that I am a rather needy person in that I crave the company of those few people I genuinely care about. Maybe I'm really just weak deep inside. It might be a real affront to those who might really have clinical conditions but I just had to let this out. If you're reading this and have a thing or two to say, then thank you, kind stranger, for this small but important gesture. It means a lot to me. You have my gratitude!

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14 Replies

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  • Hi Fiyero,

    Welcome to the site :)

    I can really empathise with your post. I very often feel like a ghost, watching my life through a glass - an observer not a participant.

    For me this derealisation is a symptom of anxiety and depression. I don't know if that is the same for you. How long have you felt like this?

    As you say you've always been quiet but this is new. Probably the key question is how much this is impacting your life? You've posted here so I suspect quite significantly. If so I would go and see you GP and have a chat about what's going on. Also have you told your gf or someone else you trust how you feel? Sometimes that helps.

    Not sure if any of this is helpful but I wanted to let you know I read your post.

    Please keep posting and let us know how you get on. This is a lovely, supportive community and I hope you'll feel at home here.

    Best Wishes

    Lizard.x

  • Hi fadedlizard. Sorry for the late reply. I didn't really expect replies, to be honest. Ahaha. I was always somewhat like this, even as a kid. My relatives used to comment on how quiet and reserved I was for my age. I don't know, I suppose it does affect me somehow. I just never really took it seriously since I thought it might just be something I'd grow out of. Yet here I am, still occasionally blue. I'm trying to be a better person though. I do try. Thanks for reading my post! :)

  • Hi & Welcome

    I have read your post & you seem a very level headed young man with lots of good values & lots to offer this world

    You are still young & it can take a while for us to level out & reason where all these feelings are coming from but reading what you have put most of what you describe seems normal , the fact that you like a small circle of friends & so on some of us in life do like it that way , the main thing is as long as we are happy

    However you describe that you feel depressed at times so it maybe worth speaking to your doctor & letting them access if you are

    Keep talking on here you will find you are not alone with how you feel which does help

    Love

    whywhy

    xxx

  • Darn it why you always get there before me! :P xx

  • Nah don't worry. :P It's only cos I'm so slow. It's just amusing how it always happens. I always think I'm the first to reply as when I start typing it out it's a blank slate but the second it's posted I see yours above mine!

    Although in this case, it's Lizard. So I think she deserves the round of applause. ;) xx

  • Thanks! I appreciate that.

  • Hi Fiyero,

    Welcome to the site. :) I'm afraid I don't have a clear cut answer. I have a few thoughts though. The lack of sleep is a bit concerning and makes me wonder if this more than just...being human I guess. How long have you felt like this for? Have you always had it? Have you had it and then it's slowly got worse or has it come along recently?

    I think to an extent the emptiness, the feeling that we're playing a part, or that we're on the outside looking in, I don't think it's so unusual really - every human being is alone in their own body and mind if you think about it. I think it's phenomenon is a difficult thing in itself - whatever else is going on.

    Yours does sound pretty acute, and seeing as you've written about it, and shared it here with us, it must be causing you quite some concern. I'm wondering if it's got something to do with this girl you mention. From what I gather you're not an item? I often felt empty inside, when there was someone I liked as well but didn't know anyway of getting to be with them, and I can understand the high you get when talking to them. When you get to your 20s, it's a time where you're just beginning to think about the future and settling down - one of my idols is a singer song writer in his 20s, and that's what he was talking about with regard to the new album he was writing. He also, recently said the following:

    'We're all on this planet for one reason. To find somebody to share your life with, that sees you for what you're worth. That's what colours your world. Everything else is black and white'.

    What do you think? I'm wondering, if, at the moment, perhaps your life is black and white because you're not sharing with someone, in this, the girl you mention.

    Perhaps there is conflict between the feelings you have for this girl, and the possibility that you two could ever be together?

    But in my opinion you have to try, you have to try and find a way of letting her know how you feel. Could you start off by inviting her out with a group of friends, if you don't already? And if you do, invite her somewhere alone, just casually at first... on the pre text of...I dunno, there's this film you saw advertised and you think she might like it? Does she fancy going to see it with you? Unfortunately you only managed to get hold of 2 tickets (Sorry that's not the best example my imagine isn't serving up the goods at the moment, but I'm hoping you understand the principle).

    And then there's the anxiety about reaching your dreams. I'm wondering if some your emptiness comes from just dissatisfaction, but doubt about the conflict between your life goals, and the means of reaching them. But what could be causing the conflict? If some of it anxiety, you need to look into why your anxious, what's the bottom, underlying reason for it. That's what we're going to get to the bottom of - maybe stick with us, and we'll help you through.

    That's the best I can do I'm afraid. As I've only got your post to go on and even then there's probably bits I've missed out.

    Hope this has helped a bit. I always try and make an effort with my responses but it doesn't always come out the way I want it to. If it's any consolation I'm 19 and a lot of what you say rings true with me. It was quite a revelation really - the amount of things I could relate to. But I do have a health problem and I've always blamed it on that. :P But it's not the full cause of how I feel I don't think.

    Here's a gentle pat on the back :)

    Well done, you've expressed everything really smoothly and eloquently. And if I have other thoughts I'll let you know. (I've just read back at the top about the feeling that you want a hug (something I can very much relate to too), and now that's got me wondering about a few things. Someone once said to me after I wrote something similar, that this suggests you're not 'carrying' it with you, internally and I think in my case, perhaps she was on to something - so this has got me wondering whether you received an adequate amount of affection when you were younger - but I could well be starting to over think this, maybe it's something we all crave and some of us are less afraid to talk about it than others. I don't know. I think you need to hug so here. (((hug))) )

    Take care and kindest regards,

    Fay :) xxxx

  • sorry for all the mistakes didn't realise I missed out so many words. if you wanna ask what I'm yacking on about feel free :) xx

  • Hi Fay. You hit the mark pretty solidly for someone who just read my lonesome post. :)) Yup, the girl's definitely part of it, I think. That's one more piece to toss into the salad of anxieties I've somehow ended up with. Haha. Where'd all these come from, anyways? I had a pretty normal childhood, actually. My parents and siblings are a wonderful, loving bunch, so I don't think it's that. I think it's just me. Now, I'm exploring the possibility that this is all rooted in some sort of dissatisfaction, like you suggested. Again, I can't help but feel that it's rather bad of me to rant like this here when there are people out here who have it much worse than I do. I mean, I don't think there's anything wrong with me, physically, that is. I really appreciate your reply, it was really, really helpful, and yeah, sometimes I feel like I just need a hug, so here's a huge thanks to you! Hope you're dong well there yourself :)

  • Hi Fiyero :)

    I'm glad what I said helped. :) I hope you can sort things out with the girl you like at least find some peace. It's horrible when you like someone but you don't know how to go about it. (Your posts about the girl you like actually reminds me of my one of my favourite songs 'Just So You Know' by Jesse McCartney (he's the guy I quoted before actually). It's certainly given me a lot of consolation where they have been people I've liked in the past - as it has for others. It's relate able, but not in any way soppy. That said, I really love this singer so might be biased and not sure what music you're into so you mightn't agree with me). I know it's hard with some of the anxieties you've already got, but I really think you should - need - to start pushing things forward gradually, if you can, because if you don't you might go on to regret it later.

    Me and this guy at school danced around each other for 2 years - and it's stayed with me, and looking back, ok some of it was down to luck but I know I could have tried harder to make him mine. That final time I saw him, at the leaver's prom, was like something out of film, we walked past on another and then my turned my head to look at him - and so did he, at the same time. I thought I might be in with one final clinch because I hadn't seem him with his girlfriend all night, but then I saw them leave together in the car and my heart just, sank. I haven't felt the same about anyone before or since, ok a few teenager infatuations but he was the first one I had grown up feelings for - and the the first person I was sure felt the same way. I STILL feel like's there's unfinished business and I STILL think I'm going to see him, and it'll sort itself out - even now! - 8 months later (it's not gonna happen is it? :/ ) I don't think I'm ever going to forget him, even if I met someone nice. Anyway, I'll stop now because I don't want to turn this into a hijack, I'm just saying, take it from someone who knows.

    Just start by simply smiling at her, maybe holding eye contact for a second or two longer than you usually would. Tapping her on the shoulder when you see her. It's amazing how such things can develop into an lengthy embrace and - eventually a kiss? - after which you'll hopefully be able to declare yourselves an item. Eventually the signs will be so clear anyway, it would be safe to say straight out, that you like her, without her being surprised.

    You may be worried that having anxiety is a problem, but women are generally more empathetic than men (not saying that's the case for all men, just generalising - men themselves have said they prefer talking to women about their problems than other men), and if you're meant to be, I reckon she'd do whatever you can to support you.

    It's good that you had a normal child hood and you've got a loving bunch of family members around you (do you see them so much these days? I've read in your post that you're at uni - maybe a part of this could be down to missing them, without realising, just a thought). So it does seem like, because there's no obvious reason why you're feeling anxious - it stems from feeling dissatisfied in in the present, so I'm glad you're looking into this. :) You know yourself better than anyone else. Maybe you just need to look into your heart and ask yourself what you want from life, and if achieving it, even just some of it, is possible.

    Please don't feel bad about talking about your problems - even when other people are going through worse - because their situation doesn't make yours any better. Also, sometimes it's better to confront the issue sooner because then it's easier to get help. I think some of our members (not all), might have it worse because they put off confronting their problems. I think you've done the right thing. :) And thankyou. :D I really do appreciate hearing from you again too and I would be interested to hear how you're getting on (although obviously it's up to you).

    Thanks, :) not doing too bad thanks, lots of ups and downs at the moments but trying to be as positive as I can.

    (((hugs)))

    Fay :) xxxx

  • You sound a very intelligent guy, clever too, maybe you are somewhere on the 'autistic spectrum'......why not get it checked out.

    There's no shame in it.

    You obviously are concerned and I think everybody so etimes feels that they are 'outside' looking in...it's unpleasant to say the least...maybe you are overthinking things and need to relax more.

    I do hope you can get help.

    Good luck.

  • Nah. I just like to rant sometimes. Just had to let it all out. :)) Yeah, I'm looking into that, the whole over-thinking thing. Thanks a lot!

  • hi ! my name is Mon Jamisolamin and i have been like that since i was 13 . i always laugh at jokes but feel empty inside. just one little problem and i would think of doing suicide but i always think again because doing such thing makes me feel like i already lose them game and i don't like losing . till now i still feel empty. im smart since im in the top of the class, but nothing really excites me except for reading books and thinking about my future. it feels like i already know what will happens next, which i already do since i think a lot . my friends thinks i'am weird when i become silent because of it. and i'am afraid to sleep at night because i feel so vulnerable , like i could be killed at any minute even if the doors and windows are lock . the only things that amuses me are the books and my small circle of friend which consist of 9 people . i only trust my family and best friend since i feel like any time now my friends will back stab me. i have trust issue since my father left my mother for another women . i hate people that leave their spouse for another , my hatred for those kind of people makes me want kill every single one of them.

    but i do take pleasure in such stories as people leaving their lovers for another .

  • I think I know how you feel. Lately I've been having moments of feeling completely and utterly empty, like I felt no emotion whatsoever. These moments have been happening less and less. I guess there are just less things to spark them now, which is great. I hope you're able to get through this. I'm rooting for you

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