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Twisted up with anxiety and stress

  • 19-11-2023 11:32pm
    Registered Users Posts: 3

    Hello. Unreg. Helpful comments only as I’m quite low at the moment. This is a long post. Apologies in advance if I repeat myself in parts.

    Need some advice as I’m completely frozen with inaction due to stress and anxiety. I feel twisted up, worried and low. Cannot set goals or work towards anything. I feel so bad about myself lately. If I had a middle name, it would be procrastination. Followed by unfulfilled potential.

    I am in a full time stressful job. It takes most of my energy, especially lately, due to shift work. I graduated years ago. Most of my class have left Ireland.

    My circumstances didn’t allow for that at the time as one of my parents got sick at the time and then Covid hit when they were in remission and then during Covid, met my then ex so it wasn’t meant to be for me and now being in my early 30s; I just feel it’s too late to go anywhere now and I should find a way to settle down, get a small house and accept things the way they are. 

    Firstly I would just like to say, I am far from physically lazy. I’m constantly on my feet, active and do long hours in hard circumstances. However, I would say, mentally, I am lazy. Slow to change my circumstances out of fear of failure or changing the status quo.

    Recently, I sat a job interview for a promotion that I’m well qualified for and have years of experience for. Got muddled in the middle and struggled to recover as I was nervous. It’s as if I like selling myself short purposely. I know I’m well capable of executing the specific job I went for and would be good at it and I successfully made a balls of it towards the end with my vague answers on 2 specific topics. So messed up there and just waiting for the rejection letter. I have an idea of where I’d like to be but struggling to make it happen. For example, signing up or applying to postgrads to enhance my chances and not following through because full time work is so draining. Yet the successful people in my field “do it all” so this knocks my confidence and leaves me feeling inadequate. I know there’s more in me but I can’t push through the barrier.

    But that’s not all. I am so lonely. I’ve nothing to look forward to or comfort me or feel happy about anymore. I’ve been single for a year and before my last relationship, I was always single so my ex was my first serious relationship. I was so in love with my ex but I couldn’t ignore the fact he didn’t love me back. He said it but for many reasons I don’t want to get into, I knew he didn’t or couldn’t have love/loved me and he wasn’t attracted to me. You just know when someone doesn’t love you. I had valid reasons to believe I was being used. I had to call it off and to make matters worse, he messed me around after the break up in a petty attempt for revenge. It was ironic in a way because even though he believed he was hard done by because I choose to end the relationship, I was the one who was heartbroken for months before the break up due to the way he treated me. He is one of those selfish people who cannot and will not take responsibility for his actions and I doubt that has changed. That’s all there is to say about him. Talking about him any further is a waste of time and oxygen. So, my confidence has been shattered since. Dated online and that also shattered my confidence as I met men who were only out for themselves and weren’t genuine and I’ve given that up too. Hope is gone and I’m now sadly accepting that the relationship I had with my ex may be the only shred of love I ever get. I’m a good person but don’t feel worthy because that’s what rejection taught me. Not good enough for anything more than crumbs. And the dating expectations and perfection expectations are so high now I don’t stand a chance anymore. Plus I’m in my thirties. So should seriously start looking at egg freezing or going it alone down the line. Before anyone jumps down my throat, I’m just being a realist. This has been my experience of dating men. Anyone I’ve been across from on a date (my ex included) has been looking over my shoulder for the next best option or back on the apps after we meet. And that’s when I felt great, looked and was in great form but I ignored it and stayed positive, made excuses for them. Now; I’m just accepting the way things truly are these days.

    I feel stuck and miserable. I live at home. It’s ok and perhaps I should be grateful in this climate that I have somewhere to live but honestly - it’s miserable. At the same time, I felt if I moved out now that I’m single - I’d be more lonely and out of pocket. My family are fine but have no boundaries and have a word for everything. Nothing positive if I’m honest. 

    I feel like I’m in a pit and can’t get out it. My life is work and back. That’s it. A counsellor asked me a few months ago what do I do for fun and I couldn’t tell him and sat there like a goldfish with my mouth open. It was actually embarrassing. He also asked me why there’s so much unfulfilled potential as I always sold myself short since I can remember. Stupid things like cramming last minute, not going after big things in life etc. I sat with my mouth catching flies and it’s still a question that’s unanswered.

    My life is literally passing me by. I cheer for everyone else, congratulate everyone else, say good luck to everyone else. Believe in everyone else. But if I’m honest, I don’t get the same efforts or love back or cheers back. No one does anything for me or surprises me or turns up “just because” or bothers to check in to see how I’m doing or cheers me on. I’m the one who texts my so called friends to look to meet up. I find my life, because I’m a single woman in my thirties, is about everyone else’s milestones and watching everyone else smash it. I’ve people my age patronising me just because they are lucky enough to be married or engaged because they stuck with the boyfriend since secondary school. My confidence is down since my break up, there’s no denying it and I absolutely don’t appreciate being patronised by so called friends/colleagues as if they’ve discovered fire. And don’t get me wrong; I’m happy for them. Truly. But the arrogance of certain people and the patronising sad sympathetic face when they ask you how the love life is - it’s hurtful if I’m honest and not helpful at all. I feel alienated as literally everyone I know is in a relationship, have no interest in going out after 5pm and people feel sorry for me or find me amusing. I feel a lot of the time, my life or love life etc is fodder for them and it feels like I’m not a real person and it’s all entertainment as to why the last date didn’t work out. I might as well be on the Truman show.

    I just feel like I’m lost in life. I have been strong for years with my parents illness and getting on with things in work during Covid, I put every effort into a man who didn’t bother doing the same at any time during that 2 years and it’s like it’s catching up with me and I can actually say I have no idea where I’m going from here and I’m scared. My nerves are shot. Things I used to enjoy, I inconsistently do them now. I’ve lost my body confidence. I avoid certain places too for fear of seeing certain people. 

    I feel invisible a lot of the time. For example, colleagues (I know they aren’t friends but these are people I spend most of my time with) ask about the friends I knew that left and have more of an interest in people who have moved on - they don’t bother to get to know me or ask me about my life. Friends I’ve had over the years from college - again, all about themselves, their goals and their schedules.

    Plus… all the stuff on the news lately… from the case of a.Murphy and other violent crimes to no accommodation, inflation and prices to wars etc - I’m absolutely terrified. When my parents die etc; I would literally have no one. I’m so scared and feeling so lost/alone and for the first time in my 31 years, I feel like I could be swallowed up by this harsh world and no one would miss me. I’ve never felt like this in my life. Bad news was always there but I’ve no one to face the world with or someone to take care of me. I take care of everyone else but no one has my back.

    It’s hard to believe when I was younger, I felt I had a whole life ahead of me, could be anything or anyone I wanted to be and now I’ve been hit by reality and all the years I’ve wasted working shift work, missing out on experiences or even opportunities that were offered and exploring my life have been an absolute waste.

    Has anyone gone through a horrible phase like this? What should I do? 

    Post edited by ineedacompass on


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,524 ✭✭✭maninasia

    31 is still plenty young! Get out there in the great big world and break out of that cycle you are in.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,611 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hannibal_Smith

    31 is still very young. Your life is in no way passing you by. But I do think a lot of people feel the way you feel. I don't think anyone thinks they have life cracked. They just muddle forward, the same as you. They may act like they've discovered fire, but I doubt that's what they're thinking.

    Some interviews are tough and are designed to be. Some you smash and some you don't. As they say, you can't win them all. I'm pretty sure there are people who can help you with them? On the one hand you never know until they come back to you, at the same time everyone has had interviews like that. Don't beat yourself up over it.

    You have to find something you're interested in and go do it. Don't date. You're no where near ready. But build up yourself by finding something you're interested in that makes you happy and join a local group.

    However, if you've been like this for over a year that's a bit different to having a bad interview or bad day. The very first thing you should do is talk to your GP and go about seeking help that way. Even if it's just to say it out loud.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,042 ✭✭✭lawrencesummers

    It may sound trite but you need a hobby, or a few hobbies.

    When life is work and home and work and home and neither the home life because its not your house, or the work life because you see it as unfulfilled potential are places that make you happy then you need to find another place or a few other places to be that let you get you mind off home and work.

    Have you any interest in sports? Volunteering? Hobbies like hill walking, cycling clubs anything to get your head out of the work / home rut and have the side effect of meeting new people?

    Try and find something that requires complete attention and that will allow you forget about everything else at least for a while.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,137 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    Sounds like you're a little bit depressed due to your environment at home and at work and personal life.

    As others have said I think you need to do something different, something new. Something positive, something distracting. You need a detox for your head.

    If things aren't working. Do a reboot and try something different. Mistakes and things not working is how we learn to do things differently the next time.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,372 ✭✭✭Bigmac1euro

    The hobbies is honestly a good one. It’s also a good way of meeting new people with similar interests. I’m in a good/happy relationship for nearly 10 years with a house we bought and a beautiful child and amazing dog I’m of similar age to you OP but I noticed I’ve became less happy in the last few years even though the last few years has been most progressive. I’ve decided to focus on my health/fitness and this is helping. I also feel lost a lot and my mental health has been the worst it’s been in about a decade. It’s obviously something we need to change from within and not external factors. Life is a bit **** and mundane but maybe try focus a bit less on work as I notice your post is very work focussed. I say this as I’m late for work. I wish you all the best OP. Head up. Life is a bitch sometimes.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,372 ✭✭✭Bigmac1euro

    Can I add. I really blew my chance at a job I wanted for 8 years recently which i was completely qualified for and had done the job for 2 years as a contractor but I have decided to look at it as a learning curve. I’m still kicking myself. Got the rejection letter last week but I knew I’d messed up so expected the rejection. Your story reads similar to mine right now. Another job/promotion will come though as it always does. Next time be more prepared is what I tell myself.

  • Registered Users Posts: 88 ✭✭Calvin001

    You sound like a very caring person, and deserve more than what your currently getting. But you need to get out and find that or allow yourself to be out there for someone else to find you. I found if your from a small area and everyone knows everyone's business, then getting away (to to the next big town) can give you a new lifeline.

    If your family are all well again, why not take a career break, travel the world or just travel to where your class mates are of to wherever. Living at home, you have saved money? you could get a work travel visa, and work in small jobs to allow more travel (Australia? Canada? South America?). You could use the time away to find new interests or renew existing ones.

  • Administrators Posts: 13,029 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    What are you interested in? I heard a psychologist talking one day and said what we loved and enjoyed when we were aged 9-10 is the true us. It's what we love doing. Often teenagers give up hobbies that might not be seen as "cool" or that take up too much time. And then as adults we almost feel embarrassed to go back to some things.

    What did you like doing as a child? It might be music, drama, dancing, sport, creative writing, public speaking, knitting, sewing, photography, art, film making?

    There are so many clubs and activities now that you are sure to find something that suits you. I was sort of sporty as a child but didn't play any sport formally. Recently I joined a Gaelic4mothers&Others group. You don't have to have any football experience whatsoever. It's a social club. Matches are organised, days out, fundraising nights etc. It's incredibly social. The only criteria to sign up is you have to be over 25 and not playing sport competitively.

    Drama clubs, musical societies, panto societies are always looking for help. You don't have to be on stage.

    Learn an instrument. Adult group classes are very popular.

    You need to find an outlet.

  • Registered Users Posts: 407 ✭✭dickdasr1234

    A good counsellor could help you sort out the wheat from the chaff.

    Stress/anxiety is a bugger and so debilitating it is often impossible to think clearly.

    You have a good handle on what is going on for you and you appear to realise that you cannot keep doing what you are doing.

    As the previous poster said: take some action, however small.

    I think it was psychologist William James who once said: "Act and the feeling will follow".

    Good luck.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 574 ✭✭✭LilacNails

    Hi Op,

    I dont have alot of advice but want u to know im same age and in the same boat as you.

    Life is passing by at full speed and it feels like everyone around me is either having kids or planning their wedding. And u just feel like ur outside this "building " looking in at everyone, knocking on the glass begging to be seen and invited in.

    Its so tough. I think this time of years add more pressure and stress cause everyones looking forward to christmas , staying in fine country manors for the weekend with their partners or out with all the girls. Im out here peddling on my own too.

    I have had the same experience woth dating apps, I never feel good enough or their just looking for an ego boost.

    My plan for now is try be more mindful off often I am on Instagram and facebook, Iv set timers and when they go off its like a lil relief it makes me switch off, switch off to stop the comparisons and expectations from the world.

    You dont hear about people like us very often do u? I do feel forgotten about, and judged.

    Going back to my point re timers for SM, scrolling is a massive distraction and only fuels procrastination. Im kicking myself how much time iv been glued to it over the weeks instead of studying and going outside. Definitely be aware of screen time.

    I hope my post brings u some bit of comfort. Ur not alone. Its hard to spot people like us out there because its those who seem to be on top of everything and leading happy healthy lives get the spotlight. Its ****.

    Put u first and try prioritise some selfcare. X

  • Registered Users Posts: 1 WellWhatUsernameIsNotUsed

    First up i've been exactly where you are, the waking up in the middle of the night not able to sleep, struggling to see the point to existence other than it being a long painful slog.

    So your not going to fix this by yourself, forget that idea, you are too far into this for that, that's from my experience and others whom have been through the same. Next get yourself this week to a GP, describe everything above, they will put you on mild anti depressants and maybe something more to get the anxiety levels down. Ask them for a recommendation for a psychologist and start seeing them privately weekly.

    Now you're thinking i'm not that bad, or they can't help, but believe me you are that bad and they can help, the hardest part is reaching out to professionals to get help. And go to a proper psychologist, no online influencers or "gurus". Imagine if you had a 1 foot tumor growth on your arm would you seek a solution via the internet or go to A&E? You would go to the professionals! Also the costs of the psychologist is worth it, best money i ever spent.

  • Registered Users Posts: 330 ✭✭taxAHcruel

    And yet people like myself show the opposite OP - that it is absolutely doable to get out of such depths by yourself.

    Thankfully working on such things by yourself - and working on it by trying medication (which sometimes help and sometimes don't and sometimes make it worse) or therapy (same) - are not mutually exclusive.

    You can absolutely start on the path and get after it by yourself and then at the same time seek various medical assistance. And work out what works for you. What you need to beware is not online gurus but anyone who tells you something definitely will or will not work. Based on nothing but what happened to work or not work for THEM.

    Actually online gurus and influences (Andrew Hubermann springs to mind) can be a great source of ideas to try that you might not otherwise have thought of trialing.

    The moment someone tells you "Forget that idea it will never work" or "Do this it will absolutely help" then switch off. They are not who you should be listening to. The people you want to listen to are the "Ok I see where you are at - here is a few ideas to try and see if they work - if they do not work then lets go to the next set of ideas and try those" and so on.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3 ineedacompass

    Hi everyone.

    First of all, thank you for taking the time to write back to me. The length of the responses and quality of advice has been overwhelming - but in a positive way.

    I will respond to each shortly.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,506 ✭✭✭SuperBowserWorld

    There is some really excellent advice in this thread.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2 Cestquecest

    You see you are definitely not alone in what you are experiencing and feeling.

    Most people have gone through it or are going through it.

    Picture yourself when you are elderly looking at a photo of you as you are right now a VERY YOUNG beauty with her whole life ahead of her. Make that women proud.

    You are so young people start college at your age. Most haven’t yet met their life partners yet. !

    You didn’t get the job (or maybe you did!!) but get support and be ready for the next interview.

    use the time you are staying at home to build up a bunch of money - it not ideal but it is what it is for the moment so use it to your advantage- it’s short term.

    I’ll bet your friends think you have it so together they see the opposite to what you are feeling - they may not even realise they didn’t call you first. They may be struggling behind closed doors (most are!)

    Confide in your closest friend(s).

    Get a hobby (swimming/ walking/book club cook club /choir!)

    YOU have to help yourself -take care

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,996 ✭✭✭Ubbquittious

    Try neurofeedback, not guaranteed to work but still worth a go. And perhaps you might find this easier than talk therapy

  • Registered Users Posts: 14 lindy123

    To @ineedacompass There is so much valuable, road-tested advice in this thread already that I can't think of much I can add right now. I genuinely hope you can find some nuggets here to help you take action in a positive and helpful way. Good luck with your journey, and perhaps some day you will be back here to pass on your wisdom to others in a similar 'stuck' situation.

    I really could not let the post by @taxAHcruel pass without reply: This is one of the most motivational, encouraging and action-oriented, useful posts I have read on boards or in any self-help forum. Good for you that you made a plan and followed through! Your post should serve as great inspiration for so many people who wish to make changes in their lives. Hope all continues well for you - and we're all cheering for you @ineedacompass that similar gains will follow your new action plan :)

  • Registered Users Posts: 3 ineedacompass

    Hello everyone.

    I intended to write back to everyone but I simply haven’t had the time to sit and write back. I want to say thank you all so much. I appreciate everyone’s contribution here. I was feeling so hopeless and low for a long time but I’ve realised simply - what I’m doing is not working for me. For example - the “not rocking the boat” business and playing a passenger in my own life and getting frustrated when that’s how I’m treated. Putting up with a toxic work environment, sinking to other people’s level, being negative and watching everyone else achieve. The goods news for me is I’m getting away from that environment soon as the interview actually went better than I thought. I just seem to be in free fall with no plan to follow or goal and felt so down for a long time. So I need to find a goal. And a hobby. Not sure what it is or what hobby I should take up to be honest. I need to stop looking and thinking about others and most importantly, worrying about what they think. I’m acting like a shadow of myself. And that needs to stop. I’m done. I want my confidence back. I want the real me back.

    I have decided to invest in some books and change my mindset. I’m also going to distance myself from fair weather friends who’ve been weighing me down.

    My eyes have been opened. I need to find positive people who want my company too. I’m sick of chasing people and meeting up every few months. I need real friends who also make an effort.