to feel like I've been living my life from the sidelines?(19 Posts)
I'm in my early twenties.
It's just struck me that I've never been really, truly happy. Before I continue, I've been very lucky not to have suffered any major tragedies (touchwood) and have a family, and nice friends.
But nevertheless I think back on the previous years, say from the years of 13-23. I can't recall ever having "let go" and enjoyed the moment. Even when with friends, when I should have been at my happiest, I would be tortured with anxious thoughts and constantly worrying about what was round the corner.
I'm really, truly sick of it. I've never ever been comfortable in my skin or at ease with myself and just feel like I'm living half a life really. I don't want to waste the rest of my youth/whole life (!) away!
Should I go on medication? I've tried therapy, didn't work. Neither has "faking it til you make it": I can be bubbly and fake-confident to the point of annoying myself (and I'm sure others!) but then find myself plagued with thoughts of anxiety and self-doubt. I fucking hate it. It's shit.
PS My parents, while nice people, are glass half empty and have suffered from bouts of depression. Intersted to know whether this may be genetic.
Nothing to offer except to say that I'm like this too. I've never been happy in my skin either and I can never let go either. I just find life such hard work, somehow. I'm very, very anxious, particularly over work issues. Yet I'm not unhappy either, and certainly not depressed, even though I've had quite a lot of crap going on during the last few years.
I'm neither happy nor sad, can't laugh, can't cry. It's like living half a life. Weird.
Thanks for replying absolutely and sorry to hear you feel the same - it's really crap isn't it
So true about living a half life.
Hopefully someone who has been through something similar will come on soon to give us some hope
Have you ever considered medication? I am seriously considering it. Sometimes I'll have a good day and I'll laugh a lot or whatever... But I wish most days could have a bit of good to them.
I used to be like that.
I would go over converstations in my head convince I must have accidentally offended somebody in something I said. Thinking 'what if they thought I was meant something else'
Worry about tomorrow, worry dh would die in a car crash every time he went out, worry Something would happen to the kids. Worry I would get cancer and die.
It started when my aunt died and I saw the devestation it brought to her husband and kids.
Tbh it only stopped when I try realised that worrying wouldn't stop something from happening, but would stop me enjoying the time I have with the people I was scared of losing.
I still get terrifying thoughts of losing my parents, dh or kids. I know losing my parents in inevitable. I know one day either me or dh will die and leave the other behind.
But I was just so bone tired with worrying and not enjoying life.
That eventually led to me not over analysing conversations. I settle myself by replaying people's reactions. They seemed happy at the time, I didn't feel I said anything wrong at the time. So decided to start assuming I hasn't done anything wrong.
I can't really give any advice as I don't know why it clicked then and not before. But wanted to let you know you aren't alone. Lots of us feel we have let life pass us by to some degree.
I agree with Katenka in that many, possibly most of us feel that we worry too much and miss out by failing to live in the moment.
Why do you feel you do this more than other people OP?
It sounds like it's just another stick to beat yourself with
When I feel the worries coming on, I try to count my blessings, or to accept that there is actually very little in our lives that any of us can control.
If your worries are getting out of control and stopping you from doing everyday things then you may need help.
You say therapy didn't work for you, but it may be that you just need to find the right counsellor. CBT really doesn't work for everyone but seems to be trotted out for anxiety disorders.
The main issue seems to be that you don't feel you have ever been truly happy, and I wonder if this is a self esteem issue as much as a "letting go" one? FWIW I think you sound really self aware and lovely.
It's a glib cliche I know, but "nobody died" has got me through some testing times.
op what did your therapist say and why do you feel the treatment didn't work?
I wouldn't know where to begin to articulate this problem...
I think it may be linked to self-esteem, though. I beat myself up over stuff that's probably not important to others. I take ages picking something to wear because I want to look absolutely right in it. I refuse to "make do". I never go anywhere without full slap because I don't want people to think I'm sloppy. I can never run the risk of being late so I'm always ridiculously early.
I dread "official" envelopes because I panic about what's inside them. And I'm a terrible people pleaser and, I'm afraid to say, something of a doormat. I always feel so responsible for things going wrong, and when they do, I can't stop blaming myself.
I'm sanctimonious too, and judgemental.
It's bloody exhausting and sucks the life out of me.
I constantly think I should 'get a life' as I seem to spend more time worrying about life than actually living it. Sorry that you feel that way.
I am also a big worrier and very risk-averse, find myself outside the moment worrying more often than I'd like. I can't stop myself from constantly wondering how I come across to others and whether people really like me or just pretend to. I also relive 'embarassing' moments in my head over and over, they won't go away.
I've found it has come and gone in phases...I think for me it all started with bullying within a friendship group at end of primary/start of secondary school. Then (for an unrelated reason) I moved areas and had a great group of friends in my new school, I was totally fine. Then it came back at university where I was plagued by the idea I was unworthy of being there and the most boring person ever. It subsided a lot after uni, but has come back again of late (now in early thirties). I can't really work out why.
I don't think I worry about upcoming things in life so much as what other people think of me, so the part of your OP that mentioned not being comfortable in your own skin was what resonated with me the most. Theoretically I totally accept that we can't be liked by everyone, it's important to 'just be yourself', who cares what other people think etc etc. But on a deeper level I just can't actually make myself believe it and often feel that I am living my life in such a way as to please the maximum amount of other people at any given moment, rather than being 'true' to myself.
It gets easier as you get older - then you look back and feel crap about the things you missed out on by being shy anxious/depressed. I'm not sure what the answer is...
I would be wary about starting medication. This may help short term but I doubt it will get to the route cause of your difficulties.
You said you have had therapy before, what kind was it? There are lots of different models and approaches out there. I would say looking into a different type of talking therapy than the one you have accessed previously would be helpful.
You sound like my dh op, he had crippling anxiety when we met and he could never just loosen up, he was highly strung and always worrying about what people thought.
His mum is extremely glass half empty and kept him sheltered his whole life. I do think upbringing plays a big part because he is different when he is with me.
My family are all glass half full, through all that's happened to us we always find the fun and can laugh at things.
Do you live with your parents still or live alone?
I am still in that "waiting for my real life to start" and "what will I be when I grow up" mindset. I am 58! I am not going to change now. I know myself and I know that my personality is that of always being the person who has missed the boat. It's who I am. I have accepted it (sort of) and learned to live with myself.
But you, OP, you are young! There is time for you to live the life you want! Please just get out there and grab it!!
Firstly, screw what others think. You cannot control what other people think, only how you think and feel which is the thing to work on. Find out what makes YOU happy and work on goals to achieve them. Worrying is a wasteful pastime. Of course be cautious about things but worrying about things that might happen are just daft, just deal with things as they happen.
It's easy to say this now in my 30s as I felt like a fake in my 20s, I think it's an adjustment into adulthood. Taking full responsibility for our lives is a difficult transition no matter how exciting it may seem in our teens, when it does kick in and the gloss of independence falls away it's actually pretty tough to deal with. Finding a fulfilling and exciting job that pays enough to support ourselves, finding a partner who is right in every way and raising a family are so very difficult to manage and we're thrown in without any experience.
So my advice is to find yourself first and learn to love yourself
What kind of therapy did you have OP? Were you referred by a psychiatrist? If not, I would recommend seeing one & taking it from there, particularly if you are considering meds, as they are the experts. Typically, meds may be prescribed in combination with therapy or therapy at a later date once the meds have "worked".
I say this as someone who has dysthymia and a lot of what you say is how I have felt. My mother had bipolar & I think parental interaction when you are very young can influence mental health of the children. I had a career, partner & kids but always felt disconnected somehow. When I took meds at first I didn't recognise what this new feeling of enjoyment was - it was something strange I'd never had before! I felt even worse for not having sought help earlier & having wasted so much time "on the sidelines" so I really encourage to explore this & hopefully it will improve for you soon.
OP: do you have something you really enjoy doing? Do you enjoy your job/studies? You don't have to be a rocket scientist to find fulfilment in the old "job well done". Even though I have had my fair share of dull office jobs, (which i don't now), i would take pleasure in things like- a good spreadsheet, a nice fancy graph that impressed my boss, little stuff like that.
Also: have you considered volunteering? Again, I know it sounds cliche, but interacting with others really does work wonders in lifting you out of yourself and "feeling good". I am currently doing a stint of volunteering at an old age home for work reasons, and believe me, there's not much space left for thinking a lot about myself while I'm there.
There's a very good line in the movie 'The Holiday',
"You're supposed to be the leading lady in your own life"
I was you in my twenties; I'm now in my 50's and all I can tell you is - what made life worth living was to validate those feelings. Acknowledge them, don't deny them, BUT then move on. For example - if you feel anxious, sad, angry with yourself or someone else - look in a mirror and say outloud "I feel really anxious about/sad about/angry ....... is there anything I can do to alleviate that ?" If the answer to that is NO; then leave it. But allow yourself to feel insecure - you won't ever know all the answers - but neither does anyone else.
If you try and hide how you feel to yourself, then you don't ever move on; you can spend hours beating yourself up for not being perfect; I can't tell you the hours I've spent stressing over my fat thighs ! But living in the here and now stops that - I can't change my body shape - but I can change what I wear - so I emphasise my best bits. For me, being happy and content is accepting the stuff that I can't control, appreciating my friends for who they are, not what they might be and just 'getting on with it'. Being twenty can really suck and I think if you ask any fifty year old they'd say the same. You're supposed to be able to 'have it all' - it's a myth. Get on with what you have, be kind to yourself and eventually you'll get to the point where you quite like yourself
I think I feel quite similar to you, was thinking about it this morning. Has to be more to life - but I just don't know what - and never have. Think mine is a mid life crisis type thing as I crave some excitement, something to feel alive.
I know what you mean.
My parents are very much half empty people and very negative about me- they were following a family pattern though I think they tried to break it.
I think was on the way to being better - would actively stop myself thinking things bad things about myself or over analysing - you know would realise and think no not going to and distract myself.
Had much more limited contact with parents criticisms then was learning to stop those as well.
Then we had DC and that made a massive difference. Being very busy, good bond with babies, going out and meeting many other parents at groups being focused on our children all helped I think. I also think I realised I had children to protect from family crap, to model good behaviour and frankly that seemed to all add to my confidence and ability to be assertive generally.
That has faded with time - especially as I haven't managed to get back to work as much as I wanted. We've just moved and a lot of my "plans" have hit buffers. I have things to do but too much thinking time with them. I think it's classic lose of self and self esteem that many SAHM get. Though I have wondered a few times if depression is playing a role there too.
Getting older does mean I much more aware many people have insecurities but at the minute I feel like the support role for DH and the DC life stories. I'm very aware that need to change.
I still remind myself of the stuff I have managed to do but there does seem to be all the obstacles in the way. I know I need to get back out there be more focused and push past any obstacles to do more of what I want -it's getting myself to that point again.
Try and shut any existing criticism coming your way down, try and be aware of negative thought patterns and try and stop them - argue against them if necessary - and try and get busier so less time for bad thoughts to ramp up. But yes if it'e really impacting you at least talk to a GP see what they can offer you then research what the offer to see if it might work for you.
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