Anxious, Depressed, Confused, Angry....the Typical...


I have been feeling anxious and depressed since before high school. I’m not exactly sure when I started feeling this way. At first I attributed my problems to being in high school, and that maybe all of this was just a normal part of growing up. However I’m now 19, almost 20, and nothing has changed. I have a history of substance abuse, I would feel anxious and depressed and drugs helped me cope, however I didn’t intend to develop a habit. I have since then, overdosed, been in the hospital, been in rehab, and have "moved on." However in reality I haven’t moved on at all. I don’t feel any different than I did from the first time I tried drugs. I have lied to everyone I love and know by saying that I’ve been clean. I HAVE relapsed, many times, and it’s usually to the point where I do way too much, scare myself, and then drive myself into further depression after it happens. Then I don’t do anything for a couple weeks, and the stress and depression build up again. Recently I have started drinking alcohol regularly. This scares me because although it was not my previous drug of choice, it’s still a drug, and I fear it’s just going to lead me down the same path that I have been in so many times before. I constantly wonder why I can realize what’s wrong with me, yet not fix it. Why I can understand and admit that I have a problem, and not be able to resist my urges. This I feel is causing the anxiety. It’s just become more and more debilitating. I am now in college and I fear I am going to flunk out because I can not get myself motivated to even try in classes because 3/4ths of my day is my thinking of why I’m depressed and anxious. I become angry at myself for not being able to resist my urges. Some days I will feel normal, not anxious, not sad, not confused, but on those days I always reason with myself that I should do a drug. And then the next days I’m either on something, or anxious and scared that I’m about to do something. I don’t believe the drugs caused all of the problems. I started being depressed, used drugs to cope, quit drugs, became more depressed. I don’t even seem to fit into the categories of the typical "depressed" person. I don’t constantly cry, I don’t sleep in bed all day, I don’t experience half of the symptoms that most people define as clinical depression. Is there a category for people who are just, generally unhappy?

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First, let me comment on a very beautifully constructed and descriptive E. Mail. You appear to have a lot of insight into yourself, be quite intelligent and very aware. It is a good thing that you are in college where you can build your future.

Now, let’s address some of the issues you present.
There is no "typically depressed person." Yes, we form categories in modern medicine, psychology and psychology but, in reality, each person is unique and does not fit into nice and neat categories.


You seem aware that there is something that is driving or motivating your substance abuse and that seems to be some form of depression. That is very possible. In fact, it is possible that you have some form of Bipolar Disorder. Now, please remember, I do not know you and I am NOT making any diagnosis but merely speculating. Certainly, depression, bipolar disorder, Attention Deficit Disorder(and other disorders) often have co-existing substance abuse issues because the individual is attempting to self medicate, whether or not they are aware of this. Of course, this type of self medication(substance abuse)only makes things worse.

I would suggest that you be seen by a psychologist for evaluation for your problems. That evaluation could yield a diagnosis and, assuming I am correct about this, have both the substance abuse and the psychological diagnosis treated together.

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You are a young person and, to repeat, quite intelligent and have a great future ahead of yourself.

As happens in many substance abuse treatment centers (and good work is done in many of them) it is the addiction that is treated without looking at and treating the underlying psychological problems, such as the ones I already mentioned.

Now, most colleges and universities have treatment or health centers for their students and even provide health insurance for them. The reason for this is that you are not alone with your problems. So, what I want to strongly urge and convince you to do is go to your college treatment center and have your self seen by their staff, be honest about your problems and ask to have yourself evaluated for depression, etc, and referred for help.

Best of Luck

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