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I'm So Depressed And Lonely - Agony Aunt

Ask Anne

Dear Anne

I have been shy all my life and have always been especially nervous talking to women. After the only real relationship I ever had with a woman broke up about 3 years ago I've been single. I'm 35 now and I feel I'm going to spend the rest of my life on my own. I get so nervous trying to talk to women I come across as weird so I've more or less given up trying. At the age of 35 I feel my life is over and I would rather be dead than live alone.

I've been to see a counsellor who told me I was suffering from depression but there was nothing they could do for me only give me pills which made me sleepy all the time. I work full time and didn't like the side effects they had. I have very few friends, have no social contact with women whatsoever apart from my mother, and it's a struggle just to keep a roof over my head. There is no fun in my life, just hard work. I feel I have a lot of love to give, and Iknow I'm a nice person if only people could get to know me. I just wish I was dead�but I haven't got the guts to kill myself. Bob

Dear Bob

I'm sorry you feel so down-hearted and stuck. One thing about guts, though: you might not realise it but obviously you have plenty, which is great because overcoming obstacles will need that! You've shown more gumption by carrying on living through tough times, and I invite you to applaud your courage, as I do. Just because things have been tough doesn't mean they always will be. Lots of people with depression don't just make a full recovery, they also learn how to make their lives more rewarding so that they never feel that bleak again. You can do the same. But not if you're dead.

Just because one counsellor didn't know how to help you move forward, that doesn't mean things are hopeless. Other counsellors could suit you better, and you're allowed to find one you can work comfortably and constructively with. One who's trained in Transactional Analysis could be really helpful, and you can write to admin@ita.org.uk to find one in your area. Different sorts of anti-depressants act differently on different people so it's important to check things out with your GP and try something different.

Pain is how we grow. If we're comfortable, we don't need to do anything different. When we're not happy, that's the signal to try something different. And it doesn't have to be all at once. It's fine to do one little thing different and see how that comes out. Small achievements are still achievements, and you can celebrate each one!

Instead of constantly thinking about the sad past and dreading the future, I invite you to stay in the now. Now is the only moment we live in. Now is the only moment where we can choose to smile at someone or not. Do something pleasant for ourselves, or not. It does't have to be a big thing, just watching a comedy (listening to laughter releases beneficial hormones inour blood), eating something you like, or reading an uplifting story. Lising things you like even a bit can help. And if thinking about the past and the future hurts, why not stay focussed in making now the best you can?

You could find that a confidence or assertiveness class will also help, as it has helped so many others. Working through books like Brian Roet's The Confidence to Be Yourself can be a life-changing experience. But it's OK to take things slowly. After all, the longest journey starts with the first step.

Depression lifts one little bit at a time. Things go from seeming permanently bleak to having moments of feeling OK, to more moments of feeling more OK, until gradually you feel pretty good most of the time. Nobody's happy all the time, so you're not alone.

You can do it, Bob, one step at a time. And as your confidence builds, you'll also overcome those negative expectations about talking to women which have made it hard for you to talk to women! You can have a great future with a good social life and female companionship. Lots of women are looking for a nice, sensitive, caring man just like you with a lot of love to give. Won't it be great when you find one? And you will. When you are ready to let go of negative thoughts and embrace supportive, positive ones.

One step at a time. Good luck, Bob! My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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