I’m Running Out of Time (or “The Inevitable Quarter-Life Crisis”)

anxiety depression running out of time

So here’s something that really bothers me: I feel like I’m constantly running out of time. And that’s not in the sense of perhaps running out of time to get my mum a Mother’s Day card – I mean in terms of ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING I DO.

The “I’m Running Out of Time” Bit

It’s something that influences every single day of my life. As soon as I wake up, I feel like my day is almost over. As soon as I finish work on a Friday, my weekend is almost over.

Now, you might think that doesn’t exactly sound like the worst affliction in the world, and you’re right, it’s not. There are some positives: in a way, it means I’m pretty economical with my time and I fit loads of things into the time that I have. But there’s a flipside to it too – a very big flipside.

If I don’t/can’t take advantage of my time, I feel like my day has been a failure. That results in me getting tetchy and irritable with those around me. That means it then starts to have an impact on my relationship with my family and my loved ones because they have no idea why I’m in such a bad mood (I can’t exactly say “because I’m running out of time” now can I?). That then leads to me feeling like shit because I’ve unnecessarily lashed out over, what looks to them like nothing, and something that I struggle to explain.

This “out of time” feeling doesn’t just make me irritable, it also means I can never truly relax. I turn on my PS4 to play a video game and after 5 minutes I’ve turned it off because I feel like I’m wasting my time. I put on a movie and I’m immediately checking Facebook or Twitter because I feel like I need to be a part of the online world. I go to read a book and, after a couple of pages, I’m closing it again because I feel like I should be doing something better with my time. What “better” means, I’ll never know.

What I have since learnt from my CBT sessions is that this constant feeling of restlessness is very common in cases of anxiety. It’s in part due to an elevated level of adrenaline putting my body into an almost constant ‘fight or flight’ mode – a feeling that also massively affects my ability to fall asleep at night (when you consider that will lead to more grumpiness and more self-loathing, it’s suddenly obvious why anxiety and depression are commonly diagnosed together).

Admittedly, this feeling has improved somewhat since my initial low-intensity CBT course I had about 4 months ago. At that time, I literally couldn’t relax at all, even if I knew I had nothing planned for the whole weekend.

It’s much better than it was, but it’s still there. I still think of every day as a 9 to 5 working day and, if I don’t get everything done within that time, I get pissed off. I do still have times where I’m restless but I either power through it and do something that requires a lot of attention, or I start writing a draft blog post about what I’m feeling (there’s plenty of posts I’ve never actually published on here). So I suppose I’m finding ways to control it all a bit better.

The “Quarter-Life Crisis” Bit

Now to address the second title of this article. The one about the quarter life crisis.

A few years ago, a good friend of mine was diagnosed with severe depression. I had no idea about it until she stopped showing up for work. I ended up dropping her a candid text suggesting she was faking illness. I felt pretty bad when she told me what was actually preventing her from coming to work.

We eventually met up for a Christmas lunch/shopping session that same year. Naturally the subject of her depression came up and eventually we hit on the subject of the “quarter-life crisis”. At the time, I had only ever heard of a mid-life crisis, but my friend proceeded to explain it to me.

She explained that the majority of her depression came from the feeling that she had failed in life. She wanted to go into a career in acting but instead was stuck working a retail job which she hated. At the age of (I think) 25, she hadn’t had a long term relationship and, as far as I knew, was still a virgin. At the time, it all felt very irrelevant to me and, because of a lack of empathy, it just felt a bit over the top.

Now, at the age of 27, I suddenly feel like I know exactly what she’s going through – albeit in a slightly different way.

I too went through a period of feeling that I’d failed at life. There was a good 6 months or so where I literally (or perhaps it should be figuratively?) had a voice in my head telling me I was worthless and a failure every single day. I was basically in a cycle of self-loathing leading to my eventual depression diagnosis.

I do think my cancer also played a part in all of it. I went through a period – and to some extent, I still think this – where I would think I should at least be on my way to making a difference in the world of cancer. That has been slightly remedied though with my former job writing information for people affected by cancer, and my present job where I essentially translate pharmaceutical info to the public.

These days it’s a lot better. I do have a lingering feeling like I should be somewhere better than I should be right now in my life. I don’t think I should be living with my mum and brother for a start. I often get a feeling that I should be well on my way through my career too, especially considering (and I’m trying not to sound arrogant here) that I have a post-graduate degree. The job I currently have is only my second full-time position after all. And I often get a familiar feeling that I should be thinking about marriage and children soon (I’ve always thought of 30 as the latest I should achieve both things).

The “Tying Both Titles Together”/Conclusion Bit

And I suppose that’s how the two titles of this post come together. My own feelings of constantly running out of time has resulted in a quarter-life crisis of my own. I’m aware this isn’t a new concept – my depressed friend told me she’d read about it in one of her magazines. But apparently it’s something that’s becoming more common with the digital age that we live in. The constant pressures we experience from social media, I believe, are a huge influence in this – the same social media that we are heavily influenced into believing will improve our lives. But anyway, that’s a whole ‘nother subject that I could ramble on for for another 1,000 or so words.

This post has felt strange to write. As I’ve carried on, my main thought is “surely these issues you have are completely irrelevant compared to what others have to go through every day?” But then, that’s what CBT has taught me – if it matters to you then IT MATTERS. You can’t dismiss something that has such a big impact on your life.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling for now.

Speak soon.

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