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Can Anyone relate?

Hi, this is my first post as I've been reading other peoples posts but haven't had the confidence to write myself until now. I'm a woman in my early thirties and I have suffered from anxiety and depression from and early age, probably since before I was old enough to understand what I was feeling. I feel that I am broken and that maybe I am just not cut out for this world. I don't mean to sound self pitying as I have been fortunate in many ways in that I have a supportive and caring family and now a kind and supportive partner but I think ultimately they feel helpless when it comes to helping me. I have been on and off all different types of antidepressants for the last 15 years and I have tried counselling, CBT and psychotherapy as well as doing my own research and reading relevant self help books and websites but none of it seems to help for any length of time. I sometimes feel that I am "better" then I relapse again. I feel like I have been going around in the same circle for most of my life because of this. My mental health has hindered my education as I was hardly able to attend high school and I have had to quite my degree more than once. It has also cost me friendships and it is at the stage where it may cost me the first full time job that I have had. My anxiety and depression really get in the way of me being able to function and lead a meaningful life and I really feel like a burden to those closest to me. I am really just reaching out there to see if anyone can relate as I am aware that many people have episodes of depression or may only start experiencing it as an adult and possibly after a particular trigger and while I am not demeaning their experiences or pain I feel different in that there is no known cause or trigger for my anxiety and depression and it's got to the point where I feel like they are part of my personality now. Anyway thank you for reading.


20 Replies

Gosh I could be reading about myself from your description! So please don't feel you're alone. I too have felt that I can never get my life on to any normal track because it seems I am disfunctional to this modern world. Unfortunately I have no supportive family, (Mum died 1986 and dad's in a dementia home) My friends do their best but simply can't understand me! Again meds and talking therapies offer little relief as I just feel my nervous system is working in over drive the whole time and then it crashes from exhaustion! I cannot get to grips with the mental barriers that anxiety and despondency presents me with the whole time. There is a strong hereditary link with ASD's in our family and although I can relate to a complete exacerbation of symptoms following a relationship abandonment episode; I know that I have always struggled with joining the 'social world' permanently.. If that makes sense! Again schooling and careers affected due to requiring 'time out' which is darn near impossible with most high responsibility jobs. I managed my degree through distance learning but regret having to give up a good career as a Theatre Technician due to the hierarchy of medical staff and associated pressures. Just not sure how to move on in life now and at 51, feel it's all over!

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I can relate to much of what you have written as I am now 65 and have had depression since I was a young child like you, long before I knew what depression is.

You say you have a supportive and caring family and I have no doubt they are both of those but I do wonder if they are so supportive and caring why it was that you were depressed as a child? Children are not born depressed - even people who believe in a genetic basis for depression accept that it is only a predisposition to being perhaps over-sensitive - research demonstrates that whether or not a person actually becomes depressed depends upon their life experiences and, for a child the most important life experiences are those within their family of origin.

Like you I have spent most of my life feeling I was not meant for this world, that I simply didn't develop the skills as a child that would have enabled me to function well and happily as an adult - and that's despite having good general physical health, high intelligence, 4 post-grad qualifications, enough money, good superficial social skills and my being a fully trained psychoanalytic psychotherapist myself! It has taken me many years of therapy to realise that although I felt depressed I was in fact unhappy - and had always been unhappy, right back into my infancy.

I know it is difficult to feel badly about one's family, but I wonder whether you have really thought about your experiences in childhood? As a child, did you FEEL LOVED - I am not asking whether your parents were loving towards you, but whether you felt they loved YOU, whether you are loveable? Did your parents help you develop the skills that would enable you to make friends as a young child, to have confidence in your abilities and competence in using your innate talents and the skills you learned? Did you feel your parents really knew who you were as a child, did they know YOU? Were you able to turn to them when you were depressed and distressed? How did they respond to your depression, did they comfort you, or did you hide the depression from them? Parents usually go out of their way to care and support their children but that does not mean they have offered what a particular child needs - sometimes parents are unable to do that, often because they didn't get particular needs met by their own parents but sometimes because a particular child reminds them of something difficult from their own pasts.

Did you have siblings you got on with, or were there conflicts and rivalries? If so, how did your parents deal with them? Did they side with one or other, or did they enable you to become friends with your brothers and sisters? Or perhaps you were an only child and did not learn the rough and tumble of loving and hating the same children.

Did you have good friends at school or were you bulliedl? If so, how did your parents react to being told? Or were you unable to feel safe enough to tell them? So often we grow up feeling we have to hide how we are feeling from others, particularly those people we would most want to turn to for comfort and love.

You say you have a supportive partner now - how does he/she respond when you tell him you are feeling depressed? Do you feel they understand? Do you feel comforted by them? If not, do you tell them, and if so how do they respond to being told, do they accept how you feel or make you feel bad for not feeling better?

There IS a cause for every depression - but in the case of depression that goes back into childhood the causes are multiple and become lost in the way our personality develops. The way we learned to cope with very early experiences predisposed us to continue to cope with later disappointments and hurts in a similar way - and so our depressed way of coping becomes inbuilt within us, not so much depression that we suffer but more that we have a personality that is prone to depression.

However even things inbuilt into our personalities can change if we have the right experiences later in life - the trouble is that it is so difficult to find the experiences we need. The NHS is generally unable to provide them because it simply isn't equipped to aid the development of personality or work with those needs. What people who were depressed as children most need is what they needed at the time they first became depressed - certain aspects of mothering, playmates, good friends to cuddle then fall out with only to make up again, people to teach them how to find their place in the world - and sadly it is so very hard to find those kinds of relationships.

Long ago (25 years ago to be precise) I took myself into long term private psychotherapy - I saw someone weekly for five years and as a result of feeling sufficiently desperate I gradually found myself telling her how I experienced the world, how I really felt. As I began to feel safe I began to write about what my childhood had felt like and then take the material into sessions and that process enabled me to get in touch with feelings from long ago that had led me to feel unloved and unloveable. That particular therapist was good at enabling me to trust her and open up to her on a very deep level but she was not able to work with the extent of my anger, so in the end I left the therapy and felt traumatised and alone in the world. It was only at that stage that I turned to a therapist I had met while doing my psychology degree. With him I learned that it was safe to express extreme negative feelings and as a result I gradually became less depressed. Those changes have been ongoing and subtle. I stayed in touch with him by letter for many years, then finally 'let him go' and no longer need contact because I am able to remember being with him and so feel supported and cared about. I guess you could call that LOVE. I do still get depressed, but never quite the same kind of depressed as I felt before - and I do now feel part of the world.

I don't have any answers, but just wanted to give you things to think about though I don't know whether you will find what I have written helpful.



Sue what a brilliant reply. You always see things so clearly. Bev x


Thank you Bev. xx



Yes I relate. I recall the feelings of isolation and anxiety from an early age. I recall dark depression. I want you to know that I rarely feel that now. I found mindfulness works for me. It took a long time to practice and a long time before it worked well. I want you to know there is always hope and if mindfulness does not work for you, there will be something that does. There is Emotional Freedom Therapy, And so many more.

Just because you can't recall a trigger does not mean there isn't one.


Hi I so relate to this as I have always felt the same. My depression stems from childhood when my emotional needs weren't met and I didn't know what or who I was. I always felt like an alien in a world populated by 'normal' people who understood the rules, whereas I never knew there were any. I always became so confused when I was told off for something because I never knew what I had done wrong or how to do it right. No one ever told me, they just criticised me. My schoolwork suffered and I was dropped down from the top class to the second one halfway through my school life. No one ever questioned what was wrong or seemed to care.

I grew up thinking life was a very grim affair and what was the point of it all. Around me people seemed happy and laughed but I was always weighed down with a huge millstone round my neck, and I wondered why I was so different to them. I lived on edge throughout my childhood trying not to do things wrong but it seemed I constantly did - I felt very insecure.

I left home at the age of 18, very ill prepared for life in the outside world and consequently had a breakdown at 19 on my own in London. Neither of my parents came to see me and the more needy I became the more my mother shouted and yelled at me over the phone. I realised that no one cared about me and I was on my own in life. I felt totally inadequate to deal with anything, least of all myself.

My education suffered enormously and when I left school at 15 I just drifted from one office job to another, all the time struggling with my depression. I did get sacked from various jobs.

I did seek therapy after a few years but got very confused when counsellors kept asking me what my aims were or would say I would get back to normal. The only normal I had was depression and I cannot remember a time before I had this.

Eventually I did make some sort of a life for myself but it involved huge compromises and as I couldn't trust anyone never managed to have a successful intimate relationship. I never married or had kids because I had to try and lead as stressfree a life as possible as I was always on the edge and just hanging on with my fingertips.

Consequently at the age of 61 I am now on my own in life but have achieved miracles compared to what my life was, and am reasonably content now if not happy. I have good friends, a good social life and hobbies I enjoy.

I have private pensions and will get my state pension in another 4 years so don't have to work any more. I am so happy at that as work was always a major cause of stress for me.

Like Sue I am more sad now rather than depressed. Maybe this comes more with age? Who knows. I am proud of myself and what I have achieved while very sad coz I am on my own as usual.

At least you do have a supportive family and bf which is great. You have got something to build on there.

Bev x


Thank you for sharing all of that detail Bev, I didn't realise you and I have had so much in common in our childhood and later past experiences - no wonder we get on :) Suexx


Yes we do don't we Sue? You seem to have managed your depression better than me though as you didn't miss out on having a family, and also ended up with a good career. Bev x


Bev, you are right. It is ironic that the reason I have been lucky enough for that to happen despite my childhood isolation was because after the breakdown I was unable to cope with the feelings of desperation that provided me with the motivation to repeatedly seek therapy. I had a drive towards the kind of care and support I needed, my survival instinct pushed me in the right direction - even now I am back in therapy (with the art therapist).

I think you made yourself become self-reliant whereas I sought care and support whilst giving care and support back (Danny says he feels secure for the first time in his life, it is mutual).

However I didn't have the career Bev - I had the possibility of one but despite my hard work and effort it came to nothing - it was tantalising although I enjoyed the process while I was believing it would take me to success. However I have been very lucky to have two beautiful children to love and see grow up into well adjusted adults, that makes everything more tolerable. I feel for you Bev, as I know that were it not for the children I would be more depressed than I am.

You say counsellors asked about your aims and about getting back to normality and how that confused you, and I can identify with that - I also went through very many years of feeling such extreme confusion that I wrote to various famous therapists in the hope that one of them might find a way to understand me - but believing they would not because it seemed impossible - and contacted in-patient services in London and the North West as I felt so mentally ill (mad) I believed I needed admittting to hospital and that if anyone knew how I really felt they would have taken me in compulsorily.

But I was persistent. I insisted on finding someone who would understand me because I wanted to LIVE fully. I never gave up on the search because I had given up as a child and I wasn't going to let that happen again. I think the problem for you Bev has been that you don't recall just how desperate you felt as an infant/young child and if you remembered that and allowed yourself to experience the anxiety and madness those feelings would produce in you as an adult (the terror an infant feels when adults responsible for her care fail to recognise her as the person she was) those feelings would become past for you. I think the reason I am luckier than you is that I used my strong will to get the child in me the help she had needed so that as an adult I could find a satisfying way to live my life - I am not sure how successful I have been but I have certainly tried, I inherited my strong will and intelligence from my parents who were both extremely strong characters.

How did you come to leave home at 18 Bev, that must have taken enormous courage! I could never have found a way to do that. I was terrified of the world but knew my mother didn't want me to depend upon her - as soon as I left home she moved to a flat with no spare space at all, clear message, she only wanted space for herself. I always had the certain knowledge that I was on my own but unlike you I would not have had the courage to remain alone, that was more frightening for me than being unhappy but with someone, so I sought people to depend upon, for comfort, though ironically they failed to provide what I had hoped for. However we learn through relationships, so they offered me a learning experience which I built upon.

Like you I drifted from one office job to another, all the time suffering from depression. I didn't get sacked from any jobs but only because I left before things became impossible. I was excrutiatingly bored ALL the time - bored to death - felt I was waiting to live. I felt I was just existing, not living. Probably you felt that too.

Sadly life is full of compromises. I also haven't had what I would call a happy relationship Bev (maybe all happiness is relative, how can we measure it...) but by marrying I again found the material security that I had in childhood and as an adult enabled me to pay for further therapy - without Danny I would be unable to pay for private art therapy and because he willingly does that (lovingly) I love him for it. None of us are really capable of loving selflessly, those who believe they do generally turn out to be martyrs which I find worse than people who take honestly. We offer something in exchange for something else. Historically men provided for women in exchange for sex and mothering of their children and not much has changed, just a bit of tinkering. By being on your own you limit the possibility of finding the kind of life you want, one where you can love and be loved.

Life is cruel Bev, that we all learn lessons only when it is too late for us to put them into practice. But you have managed to create a life for yourself, it is a compromise but one you have chosen from the possibilities. Maybe if you had realised at the time you would have chosen differently, perhaps I would as well, but we didn't.

I sound like a preacher, I am sorry Bev, I didn't mean to do that. Life iS sad and all we can do is accept that, grieve for what might have been had we known what we know now, and continue to direct ourselves towards the kind of life we think we want. For me that means getting help to enable me to paint and print which I enjoy but stop myself doing because I am angry with myself and the world. It means getting a dog or dog which will make me go out for plenty of walks which otherwise I will avoid doing because it's 'too cold' or 'too wet' outside when the truth is that I am avoiding discomfort and effort. It means joining a local womens' centre, seeing a counsellor there for ongoing support (I see someone for an initial appointment in a week or two), asking them for every kind of help going so that I begin to make friends locally because this is where my life is right now. It means losing weight (walking the dog will help but stopping eating Cadbury's milk chocolate by the bar will help too!), taking care of my diet, becoming more self-disciplined and instead of winging on about the past, making myself do things so I am not bored...

You know how much I like you Bev - well I hope you know - you have always been supportive of me. Now you need to hold onto the pride you are right to have but at the same time seek ways of finding a good enough relationship because it is never too late, not so long as you are alive!



Hi Sue what a lovely lovely thoughtful and caring

Reply to Bev. Life is sad but we do have choices

And I know people and friends of mine say to

Me " you should try and meet someone " , I Really

Do t feel like doing this, I'm not sure why , it fills

Me with terror. Bev could have a relationship I'm

Sure if she wanted it, I think anyone can, I suppose

It depends on how much you want that.

Sue I cried reading your reply to Bev, as I too think

Bev is a great person and I love her to bits. So Bev

Take a bow and Sue take a bow for putting so much

Into your replies.

Hannah xx


Oh thank you Hannah, that is a very kind reply to both of us. xxx


Thank you all so much for replying and being so honest about your experiences. It's really appreciated and makes me feel a lot less alone. I will give a much more detailed reply later as I am a slow typist and I have an appointment with the. Citizens Advice soon. Reading your reply have already made me feel a bit more positive.

D x


No you are not alone D, far from it. It makes you feel better meeting others like yourself doesn't it? Bev x


Hello! First of all well done for opening up so deeply on here. It's not an easy thing to do but even though what your says is that it feels like it will never go away, u recognise all of your symptoms which a lot of people can't. It sounds as though you have had it hard and have tried your best to get over it however I don't think it works like that. Many of us recognise the triggers and many don't. Personally I have never been able to put it down to one thing it always seems like they pile up then it's too much and I have a relapse. It's not an easy illness and it sounds as though you do understand it. I wish I could suggest another method of treatment but I don't know of many. I find talking on here with people who understand can help. Just to be heard and not judged. Your work, there should be supportive. I have a lot of trouble with my work also which is just one of the pile of things in my life that causes me to breakdown. I'm just taking each day as it comes. I do understand!! I hope this helps. Xx

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Again thank you all for your replies and your openness. Although I don't like to think of you all suffering, it's in a way comforting to hear that you have gone through similar experiences.

I think what gets me most is the sheer frustration that depression and anxiety causes me and I feel like I'm my own worst enemy sometimes. I just feel like I've been held back in life not that I don't accept some responsibility for that myself but it's difficult to stay focussed and positive when you're always second guessing yourself and your moods are all over the place.

Pandora I totally understand what you are saying about your nervous system being in overdrive then crashing from exhaustion, sometimes I feel like my skin is paper thin and it takes all my energy just to do the basic things. I'm sorry to hear about your family as my dad died five years ago now so I can empathise to an extent however I am still very lucky that I have a very supportive mum who although is different from me seems to have grasped a good understanding of my issues over the years, well she's had to really. What I would say about you feeling that it's all over,which again is something I can relate to, is that I truly don't think it is for you. I know hope can feel like a dangerous thing sometimes but I have hope for you, even though I don't know you. Maybe this may sound simplistic but try to find something that you enjoy doing, even if it is something small. I hope that doesn't sound patronising.

Sue thank you for your reply as it has given me a lot to think about which is appreciated. I have racked my brain again and again but to be honest I really can't see where my parents went wrong, if they indeed did at all. I will say though that they were never people to toot their own horn so to speak and often underplayed their own achievements so I can see how that may have affected my own confidence. The other interesting thing that could have had an impact is that my mum lost her own mother around the time that she became pregnant with me so that may have had some impact although I don't ever remember my mother being distant or depressed when I was a child. However I think I will continue to analyse my childhood for any clues however I'm not going to get too hung up on it as I think my road to "recovery" lies in what I do now but I can see how looking at the past may help. Also I'm looking to start my psychology degree with the OU soon as I think it will help me to understand myself as well as other people. I don't expect it to give me all the answers by any means but it's a start.

Allestklar than you for your reply and for telling me about your experience of mindfulness, it's something I've been looking into and I'm now going to make a real effort to get started with it.

Bev again thank you for sharing your story too. I'm glad to here that you are content now especially giving what you have been through. That in itself is a massive achievement and I've said before that I would settle for contentment any day as I think for anyone, including those who don't suffer from mental health issues contentment is more realistic and sustainable.

Nicolar-dun also than you for your reply (I'm beginning to sound like a broken record lol) I understand what you are saying. To be honest I don't ever think I will be depression free if you like but just being able to have a better handle on it would be an improvement and not to get the extreme lows. My work have been pretty supportive to be honest but there a limit to what they can do to help and how much absence they can tolerate but like you at the moment I'm just taking it one day at a time.

You have all been so helpful and generous with your experiences and I've never had the courage to share like this before but the risk certainly feels like it has paid off. Big hugs to you all. D xx


Hi D

I am glad you are finding all the replies helpful, it always helps to share things even though at the time doing so can be painful.

So, your mum lost her mum while pregnant with you - it may well be that she was still grieving when you were born and that what you took in - by looking at her face you saw the way she looked at you - was a mum who looked at you with sadness. Those very early experiences do alter the way we see ourselves because they are all we had upon which we could build our self-image.

However you say you were depressed in childhood and I wonder whether you can remember a time when you were not depressed, whether you were happy as a young school child, how you responded to starting school, how your mum describes you as a toddler? You may wonder what's the point in looking back over your past, but who we are now is entirely made up from the experiences and memories we have had so far in our lives, the earlier experiences are more important because they determine the way we interpret. Well done you for deciding to do an OU degree - i went to Uni as a (vry) mature student, did a Psychology degree and then went on to do many years of further study and trainings. One of the things you will learn is that we tend to make the way we experience life fit with our previous schema (models of the world) because if things don't fit we find it uncomfortable and confusing. That is especially true regarding experiences relating to our self-image and emotional states, so for example an infant who is looked at by a depressed mother assumes they are not enjoyable for the mother to be with, and that negative self-appraisal tends to remain very firmly in place even when there are subsequent experiences that contradict the idea.... so your depression may be based upon experiences that are too early to consciously remember but which are still affecting the way you see the world. CBT can help shift beliefs, but evidence suggests the effects of that method of therapy are relatively short term and that people who have used it tend to slide back into the familiar patterns they learned over a long period earlier in life. One of the reasons I turned to psychoanalytic psychotherapy is that it is based upon changing the internal models of experiences through re-living the emotions associated with them within the relationship with the therapist and finding the models based upon those experiences were not valid - so, for example, you might re-live feeling you are with a mother (therapist) who does not enjoy looking at you because she is depressed as your mother was but discover experientially that she enjoys working with you. The evidence actually changes the internal model which is based mostly upon emotions and the way we interpret them, it forces you not only to re-think attitudes you take for granted but emotions attached to them also change as they are shared but found to be untrue. Some scientists poo-poo psychoanalytic ideas because it is impossible to provide evidence for them - and believe if you can't provide evidence for something it doesn't exist - but I learned from experience that beliefs can change. I feel the way I experienced relationships has been turned upside down as a result of therapy, change has been enormous, and although I still get depressed it is not at all like the very deep depression of isolation that I used to feel - because now even when I am feeling low I also know in my feelings that some people do care and that I am loveable. What I now feel is anger and grief about what I miss out on because of all the wasted years.

So, perhaps you might seek private psychoanalytic therapy if you can afford it, if not then you might consider going into a therapy group through the NHS, long term if possible.



Hi Sue. I'm sorry for not replying sooner, my heads been a bit busy and I've been a bit overwhelmed with things but that's not always a bad sign. To be honest I always remember being an anxious child,the depression didn't come until I was probably about 10 although it could have been earlier. I understand what your saying about mother however I honestly can only remember her being comforting and loving however it may have been more subtle and like you say it may have been too early for me to remember.

Thank you for your advice about psychoanalysis,I'm going to have a look into it and see what I think. Your explanations are really clear and greatly appreciated.

Yeah I'm looking forward to starting my OU degree as distance learning feels like a style that is more suited to me and I crave more knowledge about psychology. I don't expect it to "fix" me but I think it couldn't hurt.

I can relate to what you said about feeling anger and grief about wasted years as I feel the same about parts of my life. My hope is that more of my life will be filled with positive experiences and like you say the lows will be sadness rather than depression. Thank you for your input Sue,you sound so knowledgeable and wise with it. Dx


Thank you for your compliments D, I have learned from my own experiences and those of working with clients.

I wonder whether your depression had anything to do with the changes which come with being that age, the realisation that you were moving towards adulthood, or perhaps something about changing schools which was a hugely important thing for me going from a small local school within walking distance to a huge noisy school two bus rides away. There is always some reason why depression begins but teasing out what it was in any particular person's life takes time and thought, thinking about things in the past. Maybe there were other changes for you too around that time in your life?

A lot of people may say why look back, but I have found that understanding who I am in the light of who I was and what happened to me, in other words becoming able to tell my life story (the deeper one behind the outer events) enabled me to make sense of my past and in so doing make sense of who I am now, to really know and understand myself. I find that important because it enables me to understand others and that links me to people in a way I never was in my past.

Enjoy your studies!



Hi TD 83 :) yes I'm the same nothing seem to trigger my lows and I've always felt like I am different, I've had to leave jobs and lose partners/friends as a result of this horrible illness,Yes something terrible happened when I was a child but really can that be the soul reason I am like this, my education also suffered badly, In times of "wellness"if u know what I mean, I'm ambitious,confident and want to learn everything, But because of this everything tumbles down to inadequacy and a feeling of hopelessness x Willow 7


Hi Willow. I'm sorry I've not replied sooner,I've been offline recently,my head has been a bit busy and I've felt a bit overwhelmed. I'm sorry to hear about your experiences and most do sound similar to mine. Yeah it's so difficult to know what is going on in our heads sometimes and you don't know if something is a trigger or a response, I sometimes get wrapped up in knots and that can be when I feel dejected and the depression can set in. I understand what your saying about being ambitious and wanting to learn everything too although my confidence lacks at times. That's sometimes what keeps me going, its a sheer stubbornness not to settle for just managing to get through life. I want to properly live my life and not have to think that I won't be able to achieve things because of my illness, I have a feeling you may be similar. Dx


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