Searching for a hobby has made things worse

RussellSue

Not Active
I've gone through some pretty heavy stints of having no interest in life/hobbies/breathing for long periods of time. Avoiding those stints and eventually becoming unlikely to get there took some real work for me and even took some consistency that I was unable to force myself into but I was lucky enough to have help.

For me, it came down to one very simple thing: my brain does not spit out happy chemicals all on its own -- it's taken too damned much damage to do that. I must force it to, daily, or I will fall in a hole and never get out. Antidepressants were absolutely no help for me, and I must have tried every one over the number of years I was told pills were a solution. Lithium was somewhat helpful, but I did not try it until I was already getting stabilized and it never did a lot -- if I did not do the other things I needed to, I'd go downhill on a therapeutic dose of that, too.

The two things I must do on a daily basis or face a downhill spiral are very simple and scientifically proven: I have to get some physical exercise and I have to make some sort of progress.

For me, daily physical exercise is the key to everything because it will and does create brain good chemicals that my brain has trouble manufacturing. And I exercise more than most because strolling around the block is not enough for me -- I must raise my heart rate for a while. I know that there are things that make this difficult because I have injured myself numerous times over the last few years, not because I was exercising, but because I have some significant physical problems that make me more likely to sustain injuries. I've been forced to use a hand-bike when I was unable to use a regular bike, I've done a lot of swimming when my body couldn't handle much impact, etc. I had little choice: if I do not force myself to exercise, I will go downhill and quickly because exercise will and has increased happy chemicals in my brain. It has felt good in 5-minute intervals, but it has also changed my brain in very positive ways, over time.

Getting the motivation to exercise? I do remember that problem, but I do not have it very often, anymore. My motivation comes from a very simple thing that became very well-illustrated as I forced myself in the beginning: survival. If I do not exercise, I will not do much else and I will not be the least bit productive and the cycle will go and go and go and I will, in a short time, really want to die -- in my sleep at first, but via suicide, eventually.

Early on and during rough patches where I have struggled to keep on track during moves and other major life-changes, though, I had to set alarms, be a part of exercise groups, make public commitments, refuse myself rewards until I did my shit, etc. Early, early on, I was harassed by my boyfriend, who, seeing that I was in a bad way with depression, rode my ass until I would get up and walk the dog, daily. He died and left me with that dog, knowing I would continue to get up and walk him, since I had no fence and he was very small. That man was smart and very helpful -- save my life, really.

As mentioned, seeing progress in my life is also a big deal for me, but I can't do that if I am not exercising because I cannot muster the motivation, so the exercise is progress point #1, in my mind.

That said, I've had people tell me that exercise does not work for them to reduce depression. This is possible, I imagine with some health conditions, but not likely in a healthy body without those conditions given what we know about how the brain works or the number of studies that show that it does help to reduce depression. What I know isn't helpful is a New Year's resolution approach that doesn't last the month of January. I've been there and done that. Like everyone else, I also want a quick fix, and exercise was not that for me. It took at least a year of regular work before I saw major changes to how my brain approached problems in life.

However, I also found ways to use exercise in the short-term to help myself before that happened. For instance, when I was being consistently faced with triggering/difficult situations, I got used to doing 10 minutes of heavy cardio immediately before walking out the door to face the music. It helped me keep my head up and walk through some seriously toxic and abusive audiences without feeling defeated which was a big deal in my personal depression story.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Hi @flowerapple, I can really relate. I'm from the UK and were in full covid lockdown so it's only going out for food or meds. When I'm super depressed I can barely function. Even feeding myself is a massive effort and I just surf on here so that I have some kind of connection with humanity. Like so!some else said, I think that before you can enjoy things in life then the root causes or your trauma and depression need to be fixed. Best of luck to you. S3 😊
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
My T suggested a couple sessions ago that I should try to find a hobby. She said having a hobby would create some amount of purpose and meaning in my life because right now I currently have none of those things. I don't have a purpose for being alive, I don't see any meaning in my life or in life generally, and I don't see myself as having any future of some sort. When I try to imagine my future, I don't see anything, just black... I actually feel like something is going to happen that's going to cause my death in a couple years because I can't see beyond the next 2-3 years.

I am just constantly depressed with no apparent end in sight, and I think about suicide and dying everyday. I don't know why I am alive because I don't serve any function or purpose. There's no use to me being alive. All I do is burden those around me with unnecessary work and problems because of my issues which I can't seem to deal with. I don't seem to be able to manage anything, and all I do is make things worse for other people.

I've been trying to find a hobby for almost 2 months now and I am still yet to find one. So far, nothing that I've tried was appealing enough for me to continue it, and I've tried hiking, running, cycling, reading, knitting, crocheting, LEGOs, painting, adult colouring books, drawing, journaling, calligraphy, video games, board games, single-player games, crosswords, yoga, going to the gym, and meditation; but none of those things did anything for me. It's like I only exist, and that's it because I have no feelings or attachment to anything at all. I don't feel like I'm actually a person.

Finding a hobby should be simple and easy to do, but yet, I struggle to do something as simple as this. Not being able to find a hobby for myself is only more proof that I'm not really a person because I can't even find one thing that I would like to do. Plus, people are supposed to like things in general too, but I don't even have one thing that I like. Everything to me just seems to be the same, where either I'm ambivalent towards it or I dislike it. I was hoping that finding a hobby would start to turn things around for me, but instead it's just made things worse.
I found at first, having a hobby alone......was not fun. However, I don't know your Covid level bubble.....but doing something with someone else is so much more fun because I got feedback and external interactions with someone other than myself-with whom I wasn't happy. I took several art classes....and was very intimidated at first by others because they were better than I was.....but I kept going back, and I found that it was supportive. To insure I exercise, I required people to walk with me because I don't particularly like walking-but it's like vitamins-important to do..... If you don't like yourself, sometimes it is hard to be a self-starter. Walking with neighbors has been helpful and puzzling with someone else who enjoys it too, has been a lot of fun. I think most hobbies at some point are about sharing......and it is the feedback that is motivating as much as the end reward of doing the hobby.
 

kiwibird

New Here
Yeah, when I'm in the thick of a nasty depression, I just hide in my room and sleep. Only on rare occasions can I break myself out of it by playing with my horses, but if the depression is especially strong even that won't faze it. Like the others have said, find your way through this depression first, THEN find something to help feel some connection when you're better. For me, since connection with people is impossible, I hang out with animals. Local shelters always need volunteers to play with the dogs and cats, or you can find a local therapeutic riding center and volunteer with horses. Being able to hang out with therapy horses is a special connection, and many times they are part of my coping skills for less-debilitating depressions. This is just something that has helped me feel more like a useful human being, but YMMV.

Good luck, and healing hugs if you accept them.
I agree. I used to feel like I wasn't a real person too. And I thought animals would see that I wasn't and not respond to me. But that wasn't true. I volunteered at a shelter and the dogs liked me. I am not saying that the poster is necessarilyready to volunteer, but be reassured that feeling like you are not a person doesn't mean that you are not. I was also frightened the first time I was hypnotised - by a friend training as a hypnotherapist- that it wouldn't work on me and would blow my cover of being a person, but the opposite was true. I was an unusually good subject and my friend chose to use me in her exams. Volunteering at a shelter also helped me to see myself from the outside, by seeing myself in the traumatised dogs. I know I can come across as odd and I often feel bad about it, but some of the abused dogs could be odd too and I had compassion for them, which helped me to feel some for myself.
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
I agree. I used to feel like I wasn't a real person too. And I thought animals would see that I wasn't and not respond to me. But that wasn't true. I volunteered at a shelter and the dogs liked me. I am not saying that the poster is necessarilyready to volunteer, but be reassured that feeling like you are not a person doesn't mean that you are not. I was also frightened the first time I was hypnotised - by a friend training as a hypnotherapist- that it wouldn't work on me and would blow my cover of being a person, but the opposite was true. I was an unusually good subject and my friend chose to use me in her exams. Volunteering at a shelter also helped me to see myself from the outside, by seeing myself in the traumatised dogs. I know I can come across as odd and I often feel bad about it, but some of the abused dogs could be odd too and I had compassion for them, which helped me to feel some for myself.
Odd means unusual...........but I like the word unique better. We might be a little loopy.....or even a tad eccentric. I'm okay with being different.......my dysfunctional family wasn't-if you didn't fit in, you were the black sheep (I was the one who got angry when my safety was jeopardized when my father would get drunk).......I got kicked to the curb as the unfavored child.....because of being different. Looking at it now, I'm glad I didn't try harder to fit in......and follow in their drunken footsteps.....it's fine to be different....better than being abusively dysfunctional!
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
@flowerapple About the thread topic....a hobby. I think that there might be something in T's idea.....maybe her presentation was lacking. I moved to my new home, traumatized in fear, and the abuse continued for another year and a half....I wasn't living, I was surviving. There I sat....in fear and all alone.......and nothing to give me purpose in life......disconnected from all of my family........my only purpose was staying safe. I had retired from teaching....so not even a job for a purpose in life. It totally sucked.So, it wasn't until I realized that if I didn't change what I was doing (sitting in bed all day-distancing myself from the world in the name of safety, then I'd die an unhappy withering person hiding in the bed...basically that I had to do something different if I wanted different results.

A hobby simply is any activity done for leisure for pleasure....so it doesn't have to be anything specific......like stamp/coin collecting, sewing/crocheting/knitting, or whatever images come to mind as a hobby-those are my first....yuk. So there are the creative works kinda hobbies (anything you want to make, repair, fix up, redo), there are the hobby lobby/Michaels kinda hobby which is all creative works, too. Then there are outdoor hobbies, nature and animal hobbies, old car hobbies, traveling kinds of hobbies, boating as a hobby, playing an instrument, etc. For some people, exercise and fitness is a hobby. All it has to do is bring a little light into your world......a little happiness or a little more confidence.

So, I made a list of all the things that I felt I had missed out on in life as a result of my dysfunctional family, health circumstances and even things I would have liked to learn, places I'd like to go.....At that time, I needed to exercise.....exercise if I did it made me feel better but a water aerobics class didn't feel very safe.....or going to an art class.....where I had to talk to others and get my work evaluated......didn't feel safe. But I knew I had to do something....to get out of the house. So I got a gal to give me a good rate on individual art lessons.....once a week. I wanted to learn how to draw animals and people. She recommended a small group class after I was comfortable with taking individual lessons, and I was agreeable because they were cheaper. Art, helped me get my feet wet and get back my confidence.....which helped me try new things.
It was scary, and I walked out of a couple of group classes because the stress was too much.....headphones and music were key to blocking out all the chatter. I have an SUV and started traveling short distances and then longer ones-my car always felt safe.....and now I miss traveling so very much.

For me, personally, hobbies (or you can call them activities) have helped me stay connected to others, give me a reason to get out of bed, give me something to distract me from issues revolving around trauma, have made me laugh and feel better meeting new people, improved my social skills, and have given me the opportunity to meet like-minded people through an interest (as opposed to meeting them on a dating app, a bar, or other social gathering where the focus is on "getting together." )That wasn't a stressor I wanted to deal with. Activities have been an avenue to climbing out of the deep hole I was in mentally, and I continue to do them but due to Covid-I don't get the opportunity to go to classes or get out to aerobics.....and now I miss doing activities with others

Trying new things that I hadn't done, and wished I had.......was a BIG DEAL-GRAND ACCOMPLISHMENT...because I have fewer regrets for not doing the things I felt I should have done when I was younger. So consider starting with a bucket list of all the things you'd wish you had learned to do.......things you still want to do.....and pick just one to try.....that would make you feel good about yourself for just trying. And when you decide to do it.....tell yourself....good job. Oh, and when you have an activity that you've done....you have something to talk about with others--- other than the negative trauma/depression stuff.
 
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