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  1. #1

    Am I sick or what? (it's a long one)

    That's my main question here. Today I received a survey form at work, a study on depression. It was pretty big. The more I got into it, the more it messed with my head.

    Basically, I've had the occasional bad mood, but I've just now realised that I've been feeling down for about 5 months now. I have a million reasons, however when I feel down I believe that it's my fault and not that of my environment. Don't know if that's a good thing or not, but it's just the way I am.

    A lot has changed in my life lately. Last year I had lost focus on studying and spent 4-5 days a week going out. I got addicted to the social life. I had lots of friends (most of which didn't work or study so I was easy for them) and met lots of girls. Then starting this year I saw the light and realised that my lifestyle was going to hurt my future career if I don't make some changes now.

    So, I pretty much flipped everything upside down. I am very ambitious now. My lifestyle changed. I live a lot healthier, making me both feel and look better. I began preparations to study at a university (I am 21 now). I got a full-time job which opened some big doors for me and caught up on my missed studies. Things are going quite well for me, now. Next year I will start a new course at university. I am definitely looking forward to it.

    So it comes as very strange to me that now that I've quadrupled my income and have some big things happening for me next year that I am less happy than I ever was. I found that my main reason must be because my being so busy in the first half of the year had killed my social life. I haven't seen most of my friends much, and have been single for a year now. Realising this now is eating me alive.

    Now, with my being tired from working day in day out, I spend most of the time alone. I got hooked on playing computer games (I made lots of cash so I went ahead and bought a very powerful computer) and watching movies. I train at the gym vigorously (more than ever, it's all in my newfound will to achieve things) and work very hard. For a while I started smoking and got pleasure out of material things.

    But, with all that I am alone now. It only started off as a bit of stress. Then it killed my self-esteem and now, I avoid being social. I think the main positive thing was that this year taught me more about myself, and I spent more time reading and I can say I've actually gotten a bit smarter. The positive hardly outweighs the negative, though.

    I received no pleasure in social events - I always leave early so I can go home and play computer games. Then, I started losing the fun in games and my cigarette smoking hurt my ego. So I threw both the computer games and my smoking habit straight out of my window. But still, nothing seems to be fun anymore. I'm like the drug addict looking for something new. And I know that it's social activities (including sexual) that I crave. I want to tune back in, but I'm kinda lost now. My negativity has overshadowed my confidence, and now I can't even have a normal conversation with someone. I used to laugh a lot but now I have no more humour; I feel like I need to force myself to laugh. I can't come up with a joke anymore. I've gotten cold and serious, and people think that's just the way I always am.

    It's not like I don't try. It's just that it seems as if I've missed out on everything I should have been doing all this time. I meet people, but I can't seem to find anything interesting to talk about. I've gotten quiet, and it's killing me. I've told myself that I won't live like this. But I've gotten to a point where I've seriously got to find out if I need some help to get through this. I dont know - do I sound like I have a problem? I'm better off than most people around me but my material things mean nothing to me anymore.

    Some insight would be greatly appreciated. I want my extrovert self back.

  2. Am I sick or what? (it's a long one)

    Hi Eclectic, I'm not expert in this field, so take my opinion as my personal view. From what you've wrote it seems you tend to live(or you lived at least) a little extreme ways of life - either you were 99% social, 1% career or 99% carrer, 1% social. In my opinion, balance is very important in life and it's important for example to balance the social and career part.. If you are unbalanced for a longer period of time, it may start to depress you because you just miss the part you are overriding by your other extreme. Extremes are not good.

    Now why I think you may be not able to bring the "social part" in balance-maybe you have subconscious fear that you will return to your previous extreme style of life, e.g. 99% social, 1% career so you don't enjoy socializing...you can't become comfortable and free yourself because you feel it will catch you like a drug again. Just my opinion though.

  3. #3

    Am I sick or what? (it's a long one)

    I meet people, but I can't seem to find anything interesting to talk about.
    As you can imagine, there are self-help books on the art of conversation. A few books I just saw at Amazon:

    Conversationally Speaking: Tested New Ways to Increase Your Personal and Social Effectiveness by Alan Garner
    How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships by Leil Lowndes
    How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less by Nicholas Boothman

    An excerpt from Conversationally Speaking:

    Having asked someone where he's from and having found out he's from Huntsville, you might ask him open-ended questions like:

    "How did you happen to move here from Huntsville?"

    "How's the weather in Alabama different from what we have here?"

    "What was the best part of growing up in Huntsville?"

    page 6, Conversationally Speaking
    An online article:
    "The Art of Conversation" by Ros Taylor - BBC
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  4. #4

    Am I sick or what? (it's a long one)

    My problem is not learning how to have a conversation. It's regaining the interest in having one. It's tricky when you have to force yourself to smile at the person you meet. I feel like I'm being held back by something.

    I can't laugh anymore. I'm acting way to serious - I need to snap out of this. People that know me say I haven't been myself lately.

  5. #5

    Am I sick or what? (it's a long one)

    I can't laugh anymore. I'm acting way to serious - I need to snap out of this. People that know me say I haven't been myself lately.
    Have you thought about seeing a therapist or doctor? This sure sounds like depression. Though depression may be mild or secondary to something else (anxiety, medical problems, etc.), depression tends to take on a life of its own if not treated...like the guest that won't leave. Its not something one can just snap out of.

    If you are a guy, see: Male depression: Don't ignore the symptoms - MayoClinic
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  6. #6

    Am I sick or what? (it's a long one)

    Yes, I think you may be right. I keep thinking this is just a temporary thing. Looking back to the start of this year, I was living quite happily.

    And yes, I have considered it. However I want to see if I can squash this bug myself before I decide that therapy is my only solution.
    I've been having a bit of an identity crisis. I think that's what started this mess.

    So I've been thinking that most people go through a scenario like this once in their lifetime... I keep thinking that time is going to fix it. But I'm not sure.

    One of my best friends just told me recently that he's depressed. He is in a similar situation. He seems to be dealing with it well... or maybe he is bottling it up like me. Had I been open about it like him maybe this might have died off earlier. I just don't know for certain anymore.

  7. #7

    Am I sick or what? (it's a long one)

    Oh, and here's another idea I've got: since my "depression" or whatever you want to call it has been at its peak in the last few weeks, I wanted to ask whether smoking tobacco (as I'm sure I've mentioned) would have an effect on my mood.

    I've never smoked heavily; I was a social smoker (ie. smoking was my excuse to go outside with a friend and talk). A few days ago I've finally kicked the habit. I know myself well enough to be able to say that I won't start again.

    I do wonder if maybe smoking can "amplify" my mood, or perhaps the act of quitting.

    Oh, and thanks for the imput so far. I feel good to be able to talk about it.

  8. #8

    Am I sick or what? (it's a long one)

    As you probably know, the withdrawal from nicotine can cause irritability, depressed mood, etc. What is less widely known:

    Since nicotine itself has antidepressant effects - and many smokers unknowingly smoke to self-medicate depression - use of antidepressants to relieve withdrawal may be particularly helpful.

    A screening for depression may also be helpful to ensure proper treatment and increase the odds of maintaining abstinence.

    Nicotine withdrawal - MedlinePlus
    The best quit-smoking programs combine multiple strategies, including peer support and ways to overcome potential relapse situations. Counseling by telephone can be a very helpful reinforcement, even as effective as face-to-face counseling.

    Short-term use of the antidepressant medication bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban), along with a quit-smoking program, may increase your success. Bupropion requires a prescription from your health provider and should not be used if you have a history of seizures or kidney failure.

    Smoking and smokeless tobacco - MedlinePlus
    "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

  9. #9

    Am I sick or what? (it's a long one)

    When one quits smoking (or any other long-standing habit) there are always emotional ups and downs; especially, early on. Wellbutrin could be very helpful to you, I'd think. :)

  10. #10

    Am I sick or what? (it's a long one)

    Smoking doesn't have that much of an effect on me. It's more like the icing on the cake. I hadn't known it's got antidepressant effects, though. In fact, I was convinced of the opposite.

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