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In need of help with a longterm problem


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I’m a man in my mid 20’s who is having a rather serious problem, one that I don’t think I’ll be able to solve on my own (I’ve tried, for far too long, but it has not worked).

Basically, I am an underachiever, who also battle with bouts of depression and have severe trust issues. I know exactly how this came to be, why I am the way I am today, and while I understand that I’ll probably never be completely free of this, I do at least want to do something about it.

Here is my story:

During my childhood I had to deal with people in my immediate surrounding who were taking heavy drugs, and I could never really feel safe. People around me were so unpredictable, and prone to fits of violence. This of course made me shy & timid, and I started to avoid people that I did not fully trust.

As the oldest child I also felt the need to protect my younger siblings, though in reality there was nothing I could do, though it was a constant stress element for me.

When I started elementary school I had a hard time making friends. Being the shy & timid kid, I made an obvious target for bullies, and I spent my entire time in elementary school being bullied. The fact that none of the adults were taking this seriously hardly made my already prominent trust issues any better.

The only thing I really had was the fact that I was (and still consider myself to be) pretty smart, so even though I completely lacked the motivation to do anything school-related during this time, I went through both elementary & high school with decent grades. Heck, I even ignored homework, and other assignments, and lived on the fact that teachers thought I was a smart kid.

This was something that my relatives disliked though. Not my performance in school, but the fact that I at an early age actually could outsmart them, and knew more about the world than them. My relatives are incredibly anti-intellectual, so I had almost monthly fights with them once I entered my teens (I still do, even though I’ve told my relatives that I want nothing to do with them anymore, they keep on contacting me, and they keep on condemning me for “thinking that I’m better than them”).

And it was during my late teens that the biggest tragedy in my life happened. One of my siblings, probably as a cry for attention, was starting to take stupid risks, and ended up getting killed in an accident.

So here I am today. I’m trying to get a higher education, but while I enjoy studying, I’m also suffering from fits of “complete lack of motivation”, so I’m basically squandering my chances here. I even managed to get into one of my country’s most prestigious universities, but I’m not doing anything with it.

My contacts with others are a bit better. I do have a good amount of friends, some of which I consider close friends, but my trust issues does make having relationships nigh impossible. Once a person gets too close to me, I unconsciously push them away. And this is another thing that is getting a bit stressful for me. And I feel really bad about having hurt some people along the way, people who were trying to get close to me, in a romantic way, but which I just gave the cold shoulder, in what I in retrospect realize was a rather rude way.

While I’m usually not as depressing as I guess this post made me seem, I am currently in a rather blue mood. Exams are coming up, and I know that I’ll fail them, due to my lack of motivation during the last 2 months (which is also a convenient excuse. I’m smart enough to be able to do this, I just did not try, so thus the failure was not due to my poor abilities, per se), and I’m just back from a fight with my relatives (not a physical one, just verbal, which once again ended with me shouting at them over the phone that if they don’t intend to start act in a more respectful way towards me and my siblings, I don’t want anything to do with them).

So this is my cry for help.

I have by the way been trying to get professional help, but the psychiatric care here is grossly underfunded, and as I’m not about to throw myself in front of a train, or hurt someone else, I’m not prioritized.

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Welcome to the community, NOD.

Your childhood sounds unstable and stressful. I'm sorry for the loss of your brother. :( Did you receive support during this time?

Is the schoolwork in your courses challenging for you? What helps you to feel motivated?

I think it's good that you are looking for professional help with your struggles. I'm sorry that help has been difficult to find. Attachment issues can be very difficult to deal with. Therapy can be beneficial. I hope you are able to receive the care you have been seeking.

Take care.

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I sadly did not get a lot of support during the time, and I'm partially to blame for it. My reaction to feeling bad is to lock myself indoors to read books & play video games, and that was what I did during that time as well.

Parts of it is challenging, and when I get to work creatively to solve problems I'm usually able to motivate myself to do what I should do, but when it comes to just learning things by heart I tend to get bored and feel unmotivated.

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Are there small steps you can take toward building your ground with yourself? I'm sorry mental help does not seem to be available because talking with someone can really help. You are welcome to keep talking here... how are exams going?

I think motivation comes from feeling, and when we are hurt or depressed, our feelings are taken up with that.

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I don't really know where to go from here. While I've made a bit of progress in some directions, in particular when it comes to self confidence, but it still feels like the rest is going very slowly.

Exams did sadly not go well. I (think) I passed one and failed two

And you are most likely right about motivation coming from how we feel. When I’m in a good mood, I can be quite productive, but when I feel down, I’m just not able to do much at all.

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Can you observe the conditions around how you feel? Learning your triggers for feeling down, learning the things that lift you a bit... and the simple act of observing to gain a perspective can be a powerful shift from just being at the mercy of things.

If you can loosen up from being carried away, there are some techniques people use to shift gears. Deep breathing, meditation (even if it is brief), exercise, poses that challenge you against gravity such as in yoga, art, hobbies... If negative thinking prevents you from trying new things like this, you could research CBT or look for a positive statement to tell yourself. Sometimes a very small thing can help. For me, simply being around nature can shift my perspective.

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The main thing that brings me down is stress. This is usually stress induced by conflicts (or expected conflicts), or from having too much to do and not enough time. The later is something that I can “usually” do something about, but the former is a bit harder to prevent.

As for things that genuinely make me feel better, and don’t just work as a quick band-aid, social activities seem to work best. Just spending time with people that I know usually makes me feel a lot better. As does long walks, though that is a bit more weather dependent.

I’ve tried meditation techniques and yoga, but they have never really worked for me. I do paint, but I can usually not focus on it when I’m stressed out. My other hobbies usually momentarily make me feel better, but they have also developed into a bit of a crutch that I’m trying to avoid relying too much on when I’m feeling down.

Currently I am also once again reminded how complicated things can be when you mix alcohol and people who are just outside your social circle. It does add a small amount of stress, but more than anything else, it really gives me something that occupies my mind.

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I'm not feeling bad after the party, I just don't quite know how to handle one of the persons I met there.

I don’t really have any control over when these conflicts happen. The people who it feels like I have a constant conflict with are the ones seeking out me, and when they can’t get in touch with me, they seek out people around me. I am actively trying to distance myself from these people, and I have been trying since my early teens, but thus far they just don’t seem to get the message.

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