SurferJoe

Feeling down. Why can't I pick myself up?

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Am I depressed? It’s not a question I’ve really ever grappled with. Anxiety – definitely. That’s always been my biggest issue, but I’m feeling something I don’t know how to explain and basically it’s a feeling of not feeling as happy/content as I think I should be feeling.

A little backstory. I’m a 41 year old male. Good health. Two great kids (8 year old boy and 6 year old girl). I have a job that I like and that I’m good at. I have a house in the suburbs. I have 4 rescued cats. I have a small circle of good friends and I have a great family.

I’ve gone through some rough moments in the past decade. My ex-wife and I lost our first child at birth in fall of 2008 and then we got divorced in August of 2015.

In case you’re wondering – I do see an excellent therapist (I actually have an appointment for tomorrow) and also a psychiatrist. I’ve struggled with anxiety long enough that I really value being proactive about my mental health.

The last couple of years were not easy. I was suddenly a “single” dad. My ex and I split custody/placement 50% so that is good. The divorce was not my idea and I still don’t know why she left – she had her reasons – but they never added up, but I’ve moved past that.

We made the last couple of years work. I slowly rebuilt my life – got to at least a stable level financially. We developed new routines. We created new memories. Life was good, but even then I struggled a lot with my mood being consistently low. My motivation was not always great. I’d get to work and feel lost. I love music, for instance – and there would be days where I simply wouldn’t put it on while I was working. The act of putting in my ear buds and turning it on was so simple and even though I knew it would make me feel better – I couldn’t/wouldn’t do it. I felt stuck.

Anyway, this past February I met a girl who has turned into my girlfriend. I really like her. We’ve gone through the typical growing pains as we went from meeting to getting to know one another to falling in love and then from infatuation to figuring out how to build a future together. I feel like we’re a good match: similar in some regards, but different in others. I think we complement one another.

Having her in my life has added a lot of new things – most of them good. I have struggled with a few things. It was a struggle for me to let go of the “safe” life/world I had created for the kids and me. There was sadness in saying goodbye to that chapter. It was a hard couple of years, but it meant the world to me. That said – I realized I was not so much saying goodbye as I was adding to what I already had – and adding in a good way. I also struggled with learning to share my life with someone else. It wasn’t just about me anymore and I had kind of grown to like being the lone decision maker. I still actually struggle with this, but I’m learning that I like having someone to share life with.

I just feel strange. I feel like I have a lot of great things going on, but I’m still struggling with just feeling down and it’s not a “heavy” feeling of being down – it’s more of a dullness. I know how life felt before – there was a comfortable rhythm about life. Sometimes I felt up, sometimes I felt down – but most of the time I felt relatively carefree. I felt excited about life. I felt up more than down. I smiled more. I obsessed less (and yeah – my anxiety sort of seems to run alongside my feelings of being down).

I wake up and I feel like my emotions are all over the place. I’m feeling good one minute, but the next moment I might feel anxious or scared or sad or angry and then it might change back to feeling happy and content, but more often than not I just feel down. I struggle to concentrate. I feel agitated. I feel glum and I just don’t understand why. I feel like I should be happy. I’ve got a lot of great things going for me. I’ve been blessed and maybe that’s the hardest part for me: knowing what I have – being aware that I’m feeling down far more than I feel I should be – but feeling powerless to escape it – to pick myself back up.

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I can definitely relate to your last paragraph. Having so much to be thankful for yet kind of taking things for granted while keenly aware of it.It's hard to say if your clinically depressed or going through some ups and downs. I would definitely recommend branching out on positive new things to do. Variety is the spice of life.Good luck!

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Thanks for sharing. It's great to hear you are going to counseling. Does your counselor work with though management- learning to move thoughts from emotional to cognitive? If not, you may want to seek out a cognitive behavioral therapists. I've been doing sessions with one and it's been great. Not all counselors focus on the same thing. Also, the dullness, discontent you feel could also be lack of hope, purpose and being. I've found pastors and Christian counseling the best because they deal with the mental and spiritual. If you are feeling a lack of life meaning, it could be your inner person needing to find peace and purpose. Here is a great research that shows the importance of dealing with your spiritual life when finding healing from anxiety/depression. https://bit.ly/2xyVro8 

Prayers, 

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Having "everything" we're suppose to, unfortunately has nothing to do with anxiety and depression. I too should count my blessings: happy health kids (3), great wife, we both have good jobs, a nice home in the suburbs. We're far from wealthy but we don't struggle.  YET...it seems my baseline is basically just existing day to day. Doing what needs to be done. No excitement. Then when even that low baseline is threatened by  say health anxiety, I become despondant.  A couple of times I believe I sunk into depression, just not clinically diagnosed.

Point being, ,many people who have nothing, or who have troubles we cannot dream of walk around all day with a happy heart and mind. People who on the surface seem "lucky" struggle with their mental health. It is what it is, and like the OP does, it's important that we realize we need help and reach out to professionals, like our doctor, mental health professional, spouse, etc.

Finally, don't beat yourself up for feeling the way you do. Dont say you shouldn't feel this way.  you do and thats the reality. Just don't sink into the mire, but rather reach out for help.

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