Feel like a failure

Posted , 4 users are following.

Does anyone else feel a bit angry or frustrated that their mental health has changed their kind of projected course in life?

I know this post is going to make me sound like the most self indulgent, cocky person ever it's just really been bugging me recently.

I used to be smart. Like super smart. (There's the cockiness I was referring to). But I really was.

Like all my life from as soon as I started school, I was pushed hard academically by my schools, and a really high achiever.

I think some of this is the reason my depression hit me so hard in my teens, I was discovering my true personality and realised I wasn't actually interested in the whole academic thing. I wanted to work with people, I wanted to be a nurse or a social worker or a chef. But the whole time school/family would push and push and push at me to do academic work, at school, at college, at uni.

I was so unhappy for so many reasons, I just felt this conflict between wanting to please my family and teachers, and wanting to be true to myself. Then I guess I just lost myself...

I did everything I was supposed to, just half heartedly, my father's disappointment at my one and only B grade in my exams still haunts me..

He used to "tax" me money/privileges for any grade under an A. The shock of my maths tutor when I got 96% on an exam causing him to get it re-marked (I actually got 98%) but this still wasn't good enough.

Then my depression got too much, my dear uncle got a terminal illness, my beloved grandma died, my beautiful boyfriend got disabled, and I had to drop out of uni.

I've been working myself to exhaustion looking after people for years, it's the hardest thing I've ever done, but I get no praise. Not like I did when I was the straight A student.

It's all about what I "should" be doing, what I "could" have achieved, how I'm wasting my potential...

It makes me want to scream and cry and shout, but also it makes me want to hide, I feel ashamed.

I know logically I haven't done anything wrong, I prioritised my health and my family's health over a qualification. But why can't anybody understand I'm still working my ass off?

I'm not sat around enjoying a life of doing nothing. I'm a carer to my boyfriend, I spend every day doing his Physio, bathing him, preparing food, giving out meds, taking him to appointments... All the while I can't bring myself to shower. I can't bring myself to eat. I barely sleep. I'm having panic attacks constantly.

I just feel so unhappy, but I'm also angry.

I'm angry that what I do doesn't count for anything because I don't have the Oxbridge degree I was "supposed" to get. I'm angry that I can't see a way out or a future... I'm angry that none of this has been brought on because I've been reckless or made a bad decision, I've just had some bad luck.

I'm sick of being judged for being me, for not living up to unrealistic expectations and for prioritising my loved ones over some career.

At the same time I want a career. I want to excel in some field.

My head is so messed up.

I don't sleep, none of the meds work for me, I'm exhausted and I just want to press pause on my life.

I feel like I need a break even though I know it's impossible.

I'm sorry for the rant I'm just really feeling low tonight.

3 likes, 8 replies

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8 Replies

  • Posted

    Hello Audrey, Let m say you are always thinking of others and forgetting to care about you. You can have all the grades in the world but it doesn't make a person be as caring as yourself. You have qualities that grades cannot give you, compassion, care, thinking and putting others needs before your own, but at what cost? You are suffering with your own mental health, anger is a part of depression because your needs are not met. You are going through the motions of looking after your boyfriend and he needs you, that shows unconditional love, you haven't abandoned him, many others would of. You must love him deeply. Can you get some respite ie other family members to help occassionally so you can go out for a break, a coffee with a friend or some retail therapy. Go back to your GP and tell them how you are feeling, have you considered counselling, this will give you the opportunity to express your frustrations and emotions in a controlled enviroment. As i said at the begining grades do not make a person, especially a kind caring one such as yourself. Be proud and hold your head up. If you want to do courses there are online courses you can do at home. Futurelearn are free you can choose from lots of subjects thou you don't get a qualification it gives you an interest. Don't forget you are special and worthy.

    Best wishes.

    Elizabeth xx 

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  • Posted

    Hey Audrey, everything you say makes perfect sense to me, but then I've suffered depression for some time.  Have you thought about carrying on for a degree at home (assuming you want that), or maybe studying/training for a career that you can do from home?  Just a thought, I realise it must be really tough for you but it sounds to me that you already "excel" in the care and love you show for others, maybe some repite/help with that would allow you some "me" time for other opportunities?

    Sometimes a rant helps, it does me.  Good luck x


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  • Posted

    This'll make you laugh. I do have the Oxford degree, the MA and started a PhD, and now I work as a gardener and feel blessed in my job. I had all the same pressures growing up, "Only a B?!" and I'm sure I continued in education as long as I did because I never felt good enough - was never allowed to feel good enough. Then leaving academia I did various other jobs I thought would please people but couldnt' stick in any of them. All my friends were in high flying jobs and I used to dread parties where I didn't know people and the question "So what do you do?" My depression got worse and worse and I eventually (after about 5 years of failing to stick at anything) went into a tailspin of confusion about my direction and did a horticulture course - as therapy really, a way to give myself a break from beating myself up for not reaching the standards that were expected of me (pressing pause on my life). I loved it so much I haven't looked back, and though I'm sure people still judge me that's their problem. I get to spend my days with flowers and bees and birds and sunshine. I'm 'only' a gardener, but I'm a d*mn good one, and I love my job. In a way I'm glad my depression derailed my life, because otherwise I'd be in some kind of financial career by now, dying on the inside but without the guts to leave.

    Anyway, the point of that is that people can be very very shallow. If someone defines you by your wealth and career, and they will, they are at fault, not you. I know that's easy to say and hard to feel, but over the years I have come to feel proud of what I've achieved. I've worked d*mn hard for 25 years to fight this illness we have, I've fought it with everything I have, and every option that has been offered to me by the NHS (and a bit privately). I also have CFS and I've fought that tooth and nail too. The fact that I am alive and working at all is an amazing achievement, and I believe the same of everyone who has depression. We f*ing rock. We have reserves of strength and determination that people who have coasted through life will never know. It's EXHAUSTING but we still keep going. You clearly have all that and more.

    Unfortunately you can't change people, and you can't make them understand. There is no point in trying to get recognition from someone who is incapable of providing it, you have to accept that the reason you're not getting approval is not because you're not good enough, it's because they have limitations. It's painful but it can set you free. I know it's the hardest thing in the world to turn away from seeking validation from a parent who won't give it, especially as it involves seeing your parents as fallible, but it will make you feel so much better. There's a difference between knowing something logically, and believing it in your heart. Sometimes it takes something really bad: for me it was my father telling me he couldnt' think of anything he liked about me. I thought, "I can't be THAT bad" and it enabled me to believe in myself more.

    Try opening up to moments of approval from elsewhere, and build your self-image up that way. Make a mental note if someone laughs at your joke, or is grateful for something you've done - small things that we usually overlook but which show you that the person you are is made up of lots more than the one negative opinion that is causing you so much pain. It's not easy, but we have those reserves of strength, remember? Anyway, that's years of therapy in a few paragraphs. 

    Enough about me....(and they say people with depression are self-absorbed!)

    I would highly recommend doing some part-time or evening courses in something you love. Even if you can't have a career you can excel at something. The horticulture course I did was supposed to just be for fun, before it turned into a job (and one I can do around my CFS and without worrying about holes in my CV). Don't put pressure on yourself to find a direction because that's the worst way to make yourself feel inadequate (those wretched career-choice handbooks are a particular form of torture).  Pick art or cake decoration or motorcycle maintenance or anything that is just supposed to be for your entertainment so there is no pressure and you can enjoy using your brain without having to achieve. It'll give you a breathing space and a boost and open up new avenues. Maybe even get you thinking more about what, for you, defines an acceptable occupation. If it doesn't try another! 

    If you need help getting out of the house, try getting in touch with the Carer's Trust or Carers UK who will be able to give you advice, support and maybe even practical help. 

    Kudos to you for everything you've done so far, you deserve a lot of admiration for the choices you've made, I hope you can start to find peace with your situation and work on doing something that gives you some pleasure. 

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  • Posted

    Hi.. Sorry for such late replies.

    I've basically spent the last week in bed feeling rubbish. I just can't seem to get out of this period of low.

    I used to see my psychologist every week (NHS). Now my amount of appointments are over and I feel lost.

    I've lost my time I used to allow myself every week in what I thought was my safe space to rant and moan and cry.. But on our last session he was so harsh with me it bordered on unprofessional.

    I've had about 6 weeks to digest and reflect on that meeting and I still come to that conclusion.

    I know perhaps some will think its me transferring my sadness at the sessions ending or whatever else. But I genuinely don't think it is. I think he was out of his depth and I think he knew it.

    I've read on here about others who simply don't respond to CBT and the like, I know I'm one of them. The thing is I can't convince myself of an alternate reality; I can't employ the sleep hygiene techniques or mindfulness because I am too mindful!

    No matter how hard I try my mind just goes all the time, I try distraction, exercise, meditation, absolutely everything. But still my mind is ticking over.

    I sleep very little, but even when I do that sleep is filled with nightmares where I can see, smell, hear, taste... Everything. I wake up in a cold sweat and that's my sleep done for the night.

    I've turned to alcohol. Which I know is stupid. God knows I know. But I'm so desperate and so out of options. I don't know what to do. I feel like a failure at life and I just can't see through the darkness at the moment.

    Thank you all for your kind replies and I'm so sorry I haven't had the courtesy to respond until now.

    Thanks for being lovely and kind.


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    • Posted

      Hi Audrey,

      I don't have any answers, only that i know they will never be found in the bottom of a bottle/glass.  Alcohol may numb things, but it'll also make them worse.  It may start off under control, but it won't be long before there is no dumbness and you'll need more and more.  

      I hope you find an alternative, I wish I had better advice.

      Thinking of you, please keep in touch, pm me if it helps. 

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    • Posted

      Hi, thank you so much for your reply.

      I know it's a bad coping strategy and I know I need to get it under control.

      I do this intermittently when things feel really bad as I get so desperate for sleep and an escape and I can't find a physical one. So I drink.

      Normally for a couple of weeks then I get a grip and stop.

      I don't think it's necessarily a massive problem right now, but I know it's something I need to keep an eye on if that makes sense? I guess what I'm saying is I'm not in denial or anything, I know I'm drinking too much and too frequently, and for the wrong reasons.

      I think last nights binge has been the end of this period of drinking. I'm hoping so anyway.

      I've spent all day obsessively cleaning which I know isn't particularly healthy either but it's better than booze! I tend to replace one compulsion with another, it's like I've always got to find a way to keep my mind busy, I think it's some kind of strategy I've inadvertently developed to not properly address what's going on in my head.

      Anyway I'm hoping I can get back to normal range social drinking now.

      Thank you for your kind words, best wishes xxx

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