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I’ve never really had friends

And I spend most of my time alone. 

Our elder suggests some resources for a letter writer suffering from anxiety and depression who struggles to make connections.

 

Dear EWC

Hi, I am a 17-year-old high school student looking to self-improve. I suffer from anxiety and depression. I have had it for years but now I feel like I’m at my breaking point. I’ve never really had friends, or friends I could be close to. It’s difficult for me to be in a conversation with someone. I try my best to have a meaningful and deep conversation with someone but I just can’t. I don’t know how to talk with others. I spend most of my time alone. Even though I’m with my friends, it’s like I’m not really there. I’m also a part of a band after school, but it’s the same thing. I’m not really there. I feel so alone and I hate it.

 

William replies

Anxiety and depression are conditions that shouldn’t be ignored. While you mention that you want to self-improve, would it be useful to talk to a doctor, counselor or psychologist?  They are professionals in this area, and they likely have suggestions and ideas that you and I might not think of. It’s something to consider if you feel overwhelmed and are not confident you can fix the problem on your own. There is no shame or stigma in asking for assistance, be it a broken leg, a sprained wrist, or anxiety and depression. Sometimes we all need a little help in life.

Assuming you feel you can deal with this on your own, try to avoid ruminating on it as much as possible. That’s easy to say, and hard to do. One thing that helped me was that I was told some years ago that depression comes from the past, and anxiety comes from the future. All we have now: today. The past is gone, and we can’t change it. The future is unknown, and we can’t predict it. We have to live in the present. Taking things one day at a time is probably the best approach.

Along these lines, one technique I’ve found useful for self-help to deal with anxiety and depression is called cognitive behavior therapy, often abbreviated as CBT. Don’t get hung up on the word therapy if you are trying to deal with this on your own…  Many people can and do apply these techniques independently. There are numerous books and online resources that can be quite helpful. At 17, you probably are more comfortable with online resources. At my age, I prefer books. Regardless of the medium, the message is the same. Here’s probably one of the best books you might want to consider. Disclaimer: I have no association with the author or publisher.

“Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D Burns M.D.”

It’s available in most bookstores, as well as from a number of on-line sellers. It’s been around for a while, but don’t dismiss it because it’s not the latest “fad” in self-help. As I said, it’s considered the gold standard by many and has been quite helpful to many, including myself. 

If you prefer accessing information on-line, here are a couple of websites that I find helpful:

https://www.verywellmind.com/ten-cognitive-distortions-identified-in-cbt-22412

– and –

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/self-care-for-depression/

We are all different. What works for one person might not for another. I hope I’ve given you a starting point to do a bit of research on your own. As I said in the beginning, if you find it overwhelming, it may be better to contact a professional in the area. Either way, I do hope my words of advice are of some use. I wish you all the best!

Article #: 432131

Category: Self-Improvement

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