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I don't understand what is happening to me


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I think I've always had some sort of clinical depression but I've never been able to accept it. It's something that happens to "someone else", right? If I've managed to make it this far, I must be OK, right? That sort of thing.

In any case, I don't really feel comfortable talking about this publicly, but I need help understanding what is happening to me, and in particular what happened to me yesterday.

I'm in my car. It's a special day, something we've been stressfully preparing for months. People are flying in from all over the country. Expert services have been enlisted, at great cost. Much is at stake. I'm driving to a special location rented for the occasion. A song comes on the radio that I know, and I open my mouth to start singing, and I start crying instead.

I cried the entire drive, for no reason I could discern. I was able to pull myself together once I had to start interacting with people. And things seemed to go pretty well for a while, but it was a long day, and by the end of it I had completely lost my charm. I get into a state where I just can't deal with what I perceive to be phoniness and self-aggrandizing of the people around me - it's a pattern of thinking that's recurred my whole life.

It goes along with another set of feelings I've always had to varying degrees. One of them is a sort of social self-loathing: everyone around me hates me, they just tolerate me to be polite, they wish I would go away, if I wasn't around everyone's life would be alot better and they would be a lot happier. Another feeling is that everything is totally unfair: Why don't these people recognize what I contribute? Why do I have to work and try harder than everyone else? Why can't I make anyone happy with what I do? Then there's jealousy of other's happiness: Why are these people acting so happy? What is there to be happy about?

When I start having those thoughts, I'm told that I'm pretty impossible, that I scowl and huff and slam doors. It's written all over my face and they ask me if I'm OK. I don't know what to say, because I want to throw a chair and set the building on fire, but the only socially acceptable thing is to say "Oh yeah I'm great everything's super".

I was able to carry on like that until the end of the day, and the second after saying goodbye to the last person, I felt that sadness sink in again. I made it home but things just got worse.

I never used to cry, and I've made it through deaths of friends & family without being able to cry, or feel what the people around me felt. Lately though, I'm crying for no reason at all, or for reasons I don't understand. Physically, it feels like a heavy weight attached to my chest, a very vivid physical feeling of dragging something heavy. When I breathe, it feels heavy. It will go on for hours or days like that.

Anyway I'm laying on the couch (because I can't eat, drink or do anything else) just trying to deal with this, and suddenly it gets much worse. I can't really describe it. It was like a sudden headache, but instead of pain it was even more sadness and guilt. Massive, overwhelming, a huge pool of sadness with no reason.

It came and went like that, a few minutes at a time, for hours, then suddenly it went away and I felt OK again. I had an appetite for the first time that day, I wanted to watch TV and laugh and talk to people.

I've had these episodes before. I guess I've blocked them out but there's one I can remember recently where I broke something that belonged to my Mom. She really didn't care, said it was "just a thing" and later fixed it easily, but I had this feeling inside that I had just destroyed something of huge emotional importance, that the process was irreversible and that everyone would always hate me forever for it. It took me weeks to get over it, and I'm still not sure I am.

I don't know what's happening to me, but I wasn't always like this.

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I'm so sorry that you have to feel this way. I know how hard it is too, I feel it everyday. I think the reason you are crying so much now is that all those years of holding it in has finally caught up with you. I do the same thing, I never cried, not when my grandfather died, not when my parents announced their plans for divorce, not when I said goodbye to my friends. But now, I always want to cry, I'll randomly start crying for no reason, and I shut myself in my room so no one can see me. But my therapist tells me every session that it's ok to cry, and even though I don't believe it, crying is not a weakness, but a strength. The strength to be able to show that emotion. I also know how frustrating it is when "the only socially acceptable thing is to say "Oh yeah I'm great everything's super"." Almost no one around you understands your feelings, and you feel so utterly alone. But then you find places like this website, and you realize that you really aren't alone. There are other people who are going through the exact same thing you're going through. I'm not here to pat your head and tell you that everything will be fine, I'm sure you hear that enough as it is, I know I do, but I am here to tell you that you aren't alone, wherever you are. Find someone who can listen to you without judging you for your feelings. If you ever need to talk, just email me. =)

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Off the cuff, this sounds depression-ish. At least there are depressive symptoms happening here. There are many different kinds of depression. there are acute episodes where you can't get out of bed, lasting a couple weeks - that is the intense stuff. Then there is a more low level but constant sort of depression called dysthymia that people can have for years. Or you can have both kinds at once.

What jumps out at me is something we therapist types call "automatic thoughts" - which are the thoughts you're reporting about the judgements you're making automatically about how negative things are, how people are so phony, how they just tolerate you, how even when people tell you that something is okay, you focus in on the negatives, find them and resonate to them solely. These are very much depressive symptoms of thinking. Check out our depression topic center for more information.

The therapy that is designed to help people learn to recognize and challenge automatic thoughts is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - it is widely available these days, and it is known to be as effective as drug therapy for depression or slightly better in the long run (as relapse to depressive states tends to be lower when you learn CBT skills). I'd suggest that you look into making an appointment with a CBT therapist for a consultation. You're in pain and for this sort of thing, there really is good help available.

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