lifelong low-level depression - trigger warning, mentions suicidal thoughts

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Oscen

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I have probably been "depressed" since I was about 10 or 11 - though very mild, low level. I get out of bed every day but feel tired and unenthusiastic. I reluctantly go to work and although I do enjoy elements of it and get lost in flow, I don't put in as much effort as I could, in order to conserve my energy. I long for something more, as I've never actually been encouraged by anyone to "pick" a career - my parents pushed me away from making choices about university when I was in high school, even though I was smart. I've just fallen into various paths over the years. I often struggle to perform any tasks that are non-essential, and feel even more down on myself for that. I struggle to work hard because I feel so disengaged with my life, with the results of my labour, and with the rest of the world. Then I feel bad that I'm lazy and incompetent. I don't necessarily use those words in my own self-talk inside my head, but I feel like this is who I am, that I'm not good enough and have no agency and can't trust myself.

I hate reading diagnostic tests that say things like you are depressed if "you are not feeling yourself, or don't have your normal levels of happiness or energy". I've always been like this, at least all my adult life and teens. Does that mean this is just who I am? I can't change? Finding out about C-PTSD has allowed me to have some true hope, because it explains why I feel so down and it also shows I can grow and heal. I think I must be primarily a freeze type (though I can see flight, fight and fawn rearing their ugly heads too). I have retreated inside myself so deeply that I am often not even really here. I've had so many crappy jobs that I hated over the years, like waitressing, where I was shy and didn't want to be there so retreated inside my head and then was even worse at the job, forgetting things and dropping things, etc. I think some coworkers treated me badly because they thought I was stupid. I like my job more now, but am struggling to stay engaged and deal with the day-to-day admin, etc. I can do it, but I just struggle to and feel on edge a lot, and struggle to believe that I'm good enough at the job. I also feel like there's not much point in doing extra, because it takes energy I don't feel I have. Paradoxically, the stress I feel from the self-criticism I engage in is what sucks the life out of me, so I might as well just do he extra work to get it up to my perfectionistic standards, but I'm struggling to turn it around as I still don't see the point. Feels like a Catch-22.

I have also never really focused on having real fun or leisure, or planning fun things ahead of time, which is draining the life out of me too. I am trying to do more lately, planning fun things so that I have nice things to look forward to and moments of real enjoyment to boost my mood, but it's hard building this habit. As a kid, I was not taught that fun and enjoyment were important, or even that my feelings really mattered. Also, I feel like I keep whiting out when I get overwhelmed because my schedule is too busy, and it's like I wake up weeks later from the fog.

So, lately I've been feeling like my mood has been ok, stable, but just.. directionless. I'm not unhappy, and I have not had suicidal thoughts for a long time (years and years), because I really do love and feel valued by my partner, but I feel like trying harder is kind of pointless. I've been looking for a therapist lately, but that's going slow. The key things I've realised that I need to do right now are journalling every day, meditating every day, and I think I will add posting here every day to the list. Eating, sleeping, and exercising well can all go on the list as well, although I'm doing ok in those areas atm. I know that journalling, etc, is important, but haven't been doing it religiously. I do hope it will help me process my feelings a bit more and bring my mood up, because I am kind of... tired of feeling like everything is pointless. It is classic depression - feeling hopeless about the future, and helpless about how to change. I know I can improve step-by-step as I have done over the years, but not having any undepressed adult years or a healthy family for role models makes me feel like I'm navigating life without a compass.

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Kizzie

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I can relate to what you're saying Oscen, it's like we are surviving but can't quite find our way to thriving b/c we don't have a road map or role models, plus it's hard to thrive when the trauma eats away at what energy we have.

I have come to think of it being like when I have too many programs running on my laptop in the background that slow things down and make it behave in a cranky way. In our case there is too much trauma 'running in the background' and it interferes with our ability/desire/energy to find our way to the more positive things others seem to find more easily b/c as you suggest they have a compass we don't.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I hear you and I'm sorry you are feeling unsure of what to do next. Like so many others in our little tribe here I too am looking for ways to move forward. I think in my case it will be to return to therapy. We currently live in a rural location, but are moving close to a major city in June where there are finally some trauma informed T's thankfully. There are even some face-to-face groups and TI classes in yoga, mediation, mindfulness, art, dance, etc.  Do you have anything like this where you are?

:grouphug:


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Oscen

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Hi Kizzie, thanks for your reply. I was thinking myself that my brain seems to need a lot of defragmenting!

I have plenty of options thankfully as I live in a big city, though that creates challenges and energy sucks of its own. I am currently searching for a new therapist to return to therapy. I have also made a resolution to post here regularly, and to write in my journal. There is a meet up group in town about recovery from narcissistic abuse, although I feel nervous about going there. Face to face seems difficult, especially without a current therapist locked in. I'm worried I'll share inappropriately - unfortunately, I've done that before in a group setting! It was mortifying when I realised. I'm going to stick to written processing - here and in a journal, at least until I've got some talking therapy happening.

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Kizzie

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It's great that you seem to know your limits and what you can handle at the moment  :thumbup: 

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SharpAndBlunt

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Hi,

I know this is a really old post but I just wanted to say, Oscen, how much I relate to your posts, and to Kizzie's replies.

The thing you said Oscen, about those depression tests where you 'don't feel like your normal self' rings so true. I have felt this way my entire adult life and I think this is what unresolved trauma feels like.

I also struggle to focus and I feel I have underachieved work wise and I have definitely had many jobs that I hated. Despite being bright enough to have a better 'career' I have just never been able to achieve that.

I also really feel the idea of the brain needing defragmenting. Thanks for posting.

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saylor

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I can relate, too, Oscen. I could have written your first paragraph, it resonated with me so much.
I interacted with a therapist recently whom I told, after relating my various symptoms, that I felt I needed to “reformat my hard drive”. The analogies between our troubled brains and computers needing maintenance capture the situation so well

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Gromit

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I came here looking for inspiration. That low level stuff is eating away at me and I almost called the doctors. I have been worse, I am now in ACOA and wondering if this is the feelings which I need to feel in order to heal. Or do I need to return to those little pills so I can keep the tears at bay and keep my mask in place?

As a comment on those 'fun plans' when I was in therapy I had a counsellor who was always enthusiastic about holidays of all kinds, it just made me feel more shame because I wasn't as excited as she seemed to want me to be. Such things seem to fill me with dread, they are to be endured.

Sorry, perhaps I should have started a new thread on low-level depression.
G

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Rainagain

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This is an older post but I think I've only just read it for the first time.

Oscen, you have really captured so much that I recognise, very well put, simply and clearly stated with real insight.