Anxious and unhappy with "doing"

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
This is way longer than I had intended. Sorry about that.

Honestly not sure where this belongs - it has elements of anxiety, depression, and just overall dysfunction, so I thought I'd start here.

So, wrote this in my diary last night after a very nice trip to a book fair with my niece (she's going away to school in August, and I like spending time with her. We also made plans to do a few other things this and next month):

"I wish someone could help. I do all kinds of stuff; it often goes ok while I'm doing it, but I am always very anxious and not wanting to do it beforehand and really depressed after. I'm mostly doing things because it's expected (rather than because I enjoy them), although I don't usually do things I would not normally do."

This has been an ongoing issue with me off-and-on for a long time, but moreso since I started back to work in August 2021. I was out of work for a year-and-a-half during COVID, after quitting a horrible job I'd been with for 16 years. It was probably my happiest (well, you know) and most productive time in several years. Yes, there were financial worries, and I lost two beloved cats in 2021, but overall, I felt *alive* and like being so actually meant something. I could be really present with my cats during their final months, I had the flexibility of choosing my own schedule every day, and I did not have to be around people if I didn't want to be.

The job I have now is manageable, primarily a work-from-home position (I did go in initially but got permission to WFH after several months), and it is doing work that I've been trained (and am training) for. Outside of work, I am doing a LOT of stuff. I'm trying to get two businesses off the ground (in hopes I can eventually quit the 9-5 and work a flexible schedule), run a pagan group at church, do some volunteer work for a rescue and a labyrinth organization, write (I have several projects I'm working on), plan a remodel of my condo (and, hopefully, one day a move), be with my cats, feed the birds, take photographs.

Even though I'm not involved in anything I hate--and everything I do I believe in and, at some point, felt good about--I am immensely unhappy. The one thing I hear from any "professional" I deal with is that I just have to get out and do stuff. I am busier than most of the people I know. Not overly so, but I have my hands in a lot of things. But the whole thing morphed into this general apathy, about everything. Well, everything except my cats. Even the businesses, which I was initally very excited about and which focus on the important things in life to me: animals and writing.

I started a thread here some time ago about what you would do if there were no constraints, financial and otherwise. I have two scenarios in my head: either open a state-of-the-art animal sanctuary or buy a house and a lot of wooded land. The latter is more appealing to me now, as I'm really struggling with people and tons of responsibility. I have this fantasy of having the house and woods, builiding two small guest houses to rent out (maybe one a writer's retreat for writers who just want to get away for awhile), and spending the rest of my life just writing, making my cats happy (there's a sizable catio in that fantasy :-), maybe fostering cats or dogs (or just having more, and finishing the writing/research projects I've started.

I think one of my biggest issues is having to be around and responsible to people. I've never much cared for groups, and always had just a few close friends. Now, I really don't have any close friends (all mine died over the last several years) and I don't make them easily. I'm feeling old (61), which is also a new feeling (and, in part, due to some physical issues I'm having), and struggle with feeling any purpose (and sometimes just want to get it all over with). I have also become VERY disenchanted with society just generally, and all of the institutions it has created. Oh, and I'm very easily overwhelmed by things that go wrong in all of those interactions. But that's for another thread.

Anyway, this ended up being longer than I intended. Thanks if you got this far! I mostly just wanted to put this out there for support and to see if anyone feels the same and/or has any suggestions.
 

brat17

MyPTSD Pro
whiteraven thank you for your post. I can relate on several levels. Im 63 with some physical problems for starters. Also have difficultly feeling I have a purpose and am and also disenchanted with society in general. I use to be a true extrovert and loved socializing. Its almost painful now. It has been worse since isolating thru the covid times, but by now, I think I border on agoraphobia. I can push myself to get out, but dread it, and often do it to placate others. Even the routine things like the dentist and hair dresser is a struggle. Often I even hate to answer my phone, and only do so for certain people.

I dont work at all due to health problems. I admire that you have dreams of your own business. That is something to be grateful for. I have the feeling that I am just going thru the motions until my number is up. My dogs are the love of my life right now, 2 of them. Also, my kids/grandchild visiting, I muster up what is needed for a good menu and anything else, but that isn't real frequent. (maybe 1x month) and it takes all I have to prepare.

You sound like you have a lot more positive things going right now (work, business, busy all the time) than I. Yet I get that you can still feel miserable. I feel like I gave up a few years ago, at least in some ways. The good part is I have no SI. It sounds like you haven't given up at all, and thats wonderful. You still have dreams and goals.

I dont know how to unravel this ball of tangled yarn, how much is ptsd related, how much is what's going on in our world, our age right now, post menopause/empty nesters, etc. I can say it has worsened since the beginning of covid.

Sorry I dont have any answers, just wanted to let you know how I relate to your post and that you are not alone.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
an especially gnarly tic from my own psycho smorgasbord springs to my mind. i, strictly personal, call this tic, "contrarianism." this tic is deeply engrained in my childhood conditioning. "spirited" debates were so popular in my birth family that i will enthusiastically disagree with myself for the sake of winning the debate. this wove into my adult life as a habitual discontent which will not let me be happy with anything. hand me a dream come true and i will search every crack and crevice for the fatal flaw.

i haven't found a cure, but awareness and appreciation are my two most effective tools for managing this psycho tic. awareness helps me realize when i have fallen prey to this tic --AGAIN. appreciation for life on life's own terms helps me move past the control issues, etc. an exercise i use to build my appreciation skills is to quickly, without extra thought, name 3 things in my immediate surroundings which are worthy of appreciation. 1) the peaceful serenity of these early morning hours. 2) the comfortable chair in which i sit. 3) the bills are paid.

but that is me and every case is unique.

gentle support while you sort your own case, raven.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks so much for replying!

I have the feeling that I am just going thru the motions until my number is up
This, exactly. With everything now. I'm sorry you are feeling the same, but I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one.
I'mYou sound like you have a lot more positive things going right now (work, business, busy all the time) than I.
Hm...I'm wondering how you are defining "positive?" I know the tendency is to see any busy time as a good thing, but I simply don't believe/see that. If I'm not getting anything out of it, except staying alive, why is it positive? Sincerely asking.
t sounds like you haven't given up at all, and thats wonderful. You still have dreams and goals.
Well, not really. The only things that keep me here are my cats. Well, and my mom. But that is out of an anticipated guilt, I think. My mom is 87, and it would kill her if I died. She is very depressed herself, and she doesn't want anyone to die before she does.

The businesses used to bring me pleasure, but just the other day I consider closing them both. Neither has been in play for long, and I mostly keep them going with the hope that--if I have to be alive--I can quit the full-time job and at least keep my own schedule.
appreciation for life on life's own terms helps me move past the control issues, etc. an exercise i use to build my appreciation skills is to quickly, without extra thought, name 3 things in my immediate surroundings which are worthy of appreciation.
I can do short-term (very short-term) appreciation for things, but it doesn't seem to matter in the long-run at all. Like, long-term being more than a couple of minutes.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
@whiteraven thank you for the thread. I go in and out of that state you describe. How you describe makes me think of the word apathy, without feeling.

I’m personally in a too-much-grief state currently, so feeling too much and searching for a way to balance it.

Regardless, I recognize the feeling you describe. It’s a question I pose to myself, “What is the point of living?” I have kids so you would think that’s obvious but I had to work to get to a place where my kids were worth living for, let alone my pets.

That said, the question still pops up, usually when I’m dealing with a conflict, and often when I’m unaware what the conflict is.

If I'm not getting anything out of it, except staying alive, why is it positive? Sincerely asking.
This makes sense. Something that comes to mind is that maybe there’s an overemphasis on positive? What about neutral? Positive has its own set of stresses, in my experience: the come-down, the chasing it, the impossibility of it in certain circumstances. Neutral has a more benign quality, and relatively easy to manage emotionally.

For me I decided not to do things that were positive but rather try to notice when I might be experiencing something positive and maybe jot it down in a neutral way. “While driving saw a child at a bus stop making their disabled sibling laugh and it brought a smile to my face,” for example. Keeping track and telling my T or someone I trust about it helped me orient more toward those types of experiences.
 

brat17

MyPTSD Pro
@whiteraven, what I meant by positive is that you are "showing up" at least.
For myself I have found that when I quit showing up, its easier to not show up the next time.

I feel a bit guilty about what Im about to say......I love staying in my bed. I can add a cover or take one off and am always temperature comfortable. I have my computer, my tv, my phone, my electronic picture frame of grandkids, etc. Its the most comfortable place in the house and it feels like a cocoon. I spend a great deal of time here. I could be doing something for others, or have a cleaner house, or make better food. I just dont care anymore, at least not enough to push myself. I was never like this in my younger days.

Im glad to hear that you are "showing up" for things, but very sorry they dont bring you any pleasure. I feel like I am in the shadow of loved ones lives. Just a few ppl and things I show up for. Pretty apathetic when you think about it I guess, but I no longer feel really depressed about it, and that is scary to me.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
How you describe makes me think of the word apathy, without feeling.

maybe there’s an overemphasis on positive? What about neutral?
Yeah...neutral is just sort of blah to me. Goes right along with apathy.
what I meant by positive is that you are "showing up" at least.
Yeah, I'm still trying to figure out the point of showing up. I mean, if you are not happy or content with showing up, why bother?
I love staying in my bed.
I get that. I don't stay in bed, but sleep and reading in bed are my favorite things these days. Favorite in a not-awful sort of way. I have too much to do to stay in bed, and that really hasn't been anything I've ever done.
I could be doing something for others, or have a cleaner house, or make better food. I just dont care anymore,
Oh, I understand that feeling. Sorry you are also dealing with it.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
neutral is just sort of blah to me. Goes right along with apathy.
Not to be argumentative but blah sounds like boredom and negativity more than neutral. Apathy isn’t feeling at all but neutral can be felt.

I agree that it’s annoying to practice gratitude.
I can do short-term (very short-term) appreciation for things, but it doesn't seem to matter in the long-run at all.
And I agree that it doesn’t seem to effect long term outcome. Who cares if I saw a beautiful sunset last week when I’m falling in the hole right now? I think it matters more for that moment—when you’re in the grinder but still notice the moss growing under the dripping pipe, or whatever happens to show up for you.
 

brat17

MyPTSD Pro
white raven, when you CAN stay in your bed, its a bit bittersweet. You discover the world goes on without you and never notices your absence for a large part. But the comfort is OH So Good to be in the quiet and nothing is expected anymore. If I didn't feel so bad physically, I think I would FAKE IT.😀;blank;😀

Im sorry I had to come right back again and chime in again, but I do think God looks out for baby and the stupid. Being an over achiever all my life, I knew nothing different. I felt bad for the incompetent. Well, foolish me. Nobody expects anything if you appear to not know how to do anything. I say this half heartedly because I honestly do have a head injury that limits me, but haven't lost enough cells to be completely in the dark. People treat me like I am some kind of a simpleton anyway, so I dont want to prove anyone wrong I guess.
 
Idk @whiteraven . But I feel more or less the same. Minus having the cats or a mom, lol. I got and was used up, abused, disregarded, still am and some or all of it is my fault. Except that others can hate or be annoyed by the me they were partly responsible for creating. Now, my avoidance is greater than theirs'. But in a way, I let people be their true selves. I always let them choose to show up or not. And I have come to find it was very disappointing. I no longer care about people, or having a place to be safe, or healing or any of it. Now what, becomes the question. I wish I had a answer for both of us. Perhaps the reward centre in the brain is hampered? You have many things you 'should' be proud of. But I get it. It's not a transient feeling, and it's much deeper than words can convey. It's the meaning or point of one's existence within what feels torturously pointless and difficult to endure.

Hugs to you.
 
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