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Been feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed

Hello. I was directed to this site from Twitch.

Im 35. Have been depressed since age 20. Been to the hospital for suicidal idealation 3 times and my last stay was last christmas.

My childhood wasn’t great. Dad was fairly abusive, but mom was an angel. We both decided to run away from dad at age 16. Up until that time, I mostly used school as my safe haven and got my attention needs from teachers, and was a teachers pet kind of kid. Home life was spent either doing schoolwork, or helping dad with construction projects. After running away, my grade plummeted and I barely graduated high school.

Went to college and followed a friend into a frat, and was immediately met with hazing and alcohol. I dropped out after 3 years and felt like an absolute failure. I spent most of my time hiding away and playing video games and sleeping during the daytime.

Spent the next 10 years working in a bowling alley. I enjoyed parts of it, but most of the time was spent outwardly pretending I was okay, and inwardly getting more and more depressed. There was no ladder to climb or foreseeable way to reliably support myself and I ended up spending a lot of time contemplating suicide.

Eventually attempted but was too scared of what would happen and the physical pain I would have to endure and chickened out at the very very last moments. I ended up in the hospitals, and then with therapists and psychiatrists, and a new doc.

I don’t feel like it helped much, but through it I did decide to go back to school, and with a bit of fast-forwarding, is where I am now. I got into a physical therapy program, and felt super grateful to have an opportunity to have an actual job that I could help people with and support myself.

Fast-forward a bit more to now, and I find myself right back in this same situation where I see myself starting to fail and its almost as if im self sabotaging my life and Im watching myself do it, but can’t stop myself.

The last time I was in school, whenever I’d try to do an essay, or an assignment or go to read something, I’d get overwhelmed and then play video games instead. As time got closer and closer to whatever deadline there was, I’d panic and hide even more until I felt so ashamed i dropped out.

I didn’t expect the same thing to happen again, since this time I genuinely am interested in the subject matter, I do want to learn it. These days though I have even more options for gaming or netflix, or youtube and I can’t seem to get myself to stay on task.

I have felt like this opportunity to go back to school was kind of my last ditch effort. My big hurrah to attempt to live a life and be stable. I have failed literally everything else I’ve done, but this is a real tangible opportunity and I can see it starting to slip away.

What the fuck is wrong with me? This is only a slice of it too. I don’t have friends any more. I’ve basically become a hermit other than my limited interactions with school and mom.

I think about if someday I will feel like everything was worth it and that even though it was massive struggle to get there, I was finally glad to have ever been alive. Currently, I am still not grateful for my life and still not enjoying it at all.

I feel like a broken record. A big massive complaining loser with no skills and sometimes lately with the stress of it all, I just find myself pacing in my apartment paralyzed with anxiety and unable to function. I just want to be done and not have to try anymore.

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First off, welcome to the community!

Your struggles with school are very similar to mine. I dropped out twice because I couldn’t get myself to engage with the subject matter (engineering), even though that’s all I could imagine doing. Whenever I got behind at all, I’d get so anxious and set the stakes so high that I’d shut down and just sleep.

My timeline: went to school on a full ride, dropped out after 3 semesters, went to community college for 2.5 years and got my associates degree in drafting, went back to a different university for my second try, felt like I didn’t belong while also feeling like I was blowing my second chance and it was becoming my last chance, dropped out. My mom was the one who told me to drop out because it was clear that I wasn’t happy and I was beating my head against a wall, but to find a job using the drafting skills I’d learned in CC instead of the car rentals I was doing at the time. So I did. Fast forward 7 years, I’ve built myself and engineering career without a bachelor’s degree.

All’s well that ends well and I lived happily ever after, right? Until I got my third job 3 years later, I felt like I was just going through the motions, and that I wasn’t really worthy of the work I was doing. I had bad imposter syndrome. When I got my third job, started using my voice, and had long-timers take notice, I felt like I had finally arrived; but I figured they’d never really take me seriously for more than just helpful observations. Something happened along the way though. I wasn’t letting it beat me down, I wanted more. So I started looking for new jobs, and today I’m doing new product development.

All this to say, if you don’t want to do school, find another way. When I was in school, it was a given that engineers needed degrees. Without that degree I’d be nothing. That just wasn’t true. Find another way. Get certifications. Go to community college–the quality of the teachers there is miles beyond what it is at a university. Get a part time job to add structure and a sense of urgency to your day. Look for jobs in the PT field that will let you learn a thing or two, then get better jobs when they present themselves. I still struggle with voices telling me I’m not good enough, but I can look at my life and know they are wrong. Doors haven’t flown open for me like they would if I had a degree, but I found enough people willing to take a chance on me that I got ahead. What’s more, working for a company that’s willing to take a chance on you is better than working for a company where you check all the boxes, because they’re invested in your performance and your success. Companies don’t hire people for the sake of watching them fail, so they will mentor you. The struggle was worth it in the end. The problem is the end is different for everyone, so we just have to keep going. You’ve got this.

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