Where I've been. Where I am

I am in my mid 20s, and I have been programming professionally for around 6 years (as a hobby for more than 10 years). I do remote contract work part time and work as a 9-5 software dev full time. I want to start my own small software company one day to gain more independence.

I have never had a problem getting work, and I always get complemented in my abilities and performance. But I am absolutely miserable 3 months into every job I get. Sure they aren’t perfect jobs, but I think it has more to do with me than the jobs themselves.

I have a horrible time with normal life commitments. I can go weeks without eating just because im focused on something else. I have had 2 cars towed away and owned by the towing company, because I was too preoccupied to actually go to the towing company and talk to the people to get my car back. I also have trouble making or keeping any friendships. As you probably guessed I have also never had anything close to a romantic relationship. Something that as I get older is a constant source of frustration.

I have a family history (both sides and immediate) for the following: depression, suicide, schizophrenia, bipolar, ocd, alcoholism etc.

I mainly want to learn how to meet people and not have a looming cloud of depression and thoughts of suicide plague me constantly.

Things I have tried that helped me:

  • I have been doing a strength training program for 6 months now. (this has forced me to eat regularly and consistently). I have also found the workouts to be relaxing and I enjoy the optimizations involved in figuring out meal plans.
  • I use time trackers and project organizer tools to force me to get tasks done. What I use: https://trello.com/ and https://www.toggl.com/
  • I have made one friend over the course of 4 years of trying, and this has helped me a lot. I recommend a non-technical person, because someone who is very much not like you can give you a fresh perspective.

Things I have tried that have NOT helped me:

  • Alcohol; Lots of it. I was basically self medicating with hard liquor for about a year. I am now sober, but it was a tough time.
  • Feeling sorry for myself. This is a big one that I still struggle with.
  • Feeling like I am above certain things. I always thought I was above social interaction. I just never cared at all about other people or what they had to say. They would talk and I would just see endless drivel pouring out. Thinking that you are above social interaction, treatment, help, anything really is an unhealthy thought process.

Here are the things I am currently trying to solve my problems:

  • I scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist (in 4 months… the earliest I could find sadly). (I was diagnosed OCD and took prozac and other pills when I was a teenager. I stopped seeing people or medications when I was 16).
  • I am trying to meet more people. I think a lot of my depression stems from crippling loneliness.

Maybe some of this will help you. Maybe you can help me too.

Also, I just joined this community, Hi.

The only recommendation I have is about meeting people and for that you should look around in your local area for meet-ups on topics that interest you, particularly non-technical themes. For me it was movies and I joined a group that would go see old Hitchcock films and other classics before heading to a cafe to talk about it. It started out as just a way to hear about screenings of interesting movies but turned out to be a good way to meet people, particularly those outside my usual, technical circles. Having that shared interest plus the structure of the meet-ups made talking to new people so much easier.

It’s great that you’ve recognized the need to speak to someone professionally about this. If you can find an appointment sooner, please do.

As for meeting people, there are so many great resources that offer fun and no pressure scenarios. Meetup.com is great, as suggested above. Wherever I move, I usually find a weekly gaming group full of people about as awkward as I am. It’s always a good time just existing around people for a few hours. I’d also recommend CouchSurfing. They have meetups and it’s a great way to travel and make friends, and get new perspectives on life. Both these communities are filled with people who are interested in meeting new people, and many of them have the same initial awkwardness that you may feel (otherwise they probably wouldn’t be using these services).

I think the key (professional help aside) is just not putting so much pressure on the situation. I used to go out and be devastated that I was too messed up to even enjoy what could be considered a nice night. I’d beat myself up in my head and go home more depressed than ever. Eventually I changed my approach to it. I started forcing myself out not expecting to have a good time. I turned it into a challenge to simply just leave the house and be around people… even if it meant just 4 hours of hell. Enjoyment is found when you’re not looking for it. The first step to meeting people is just going out into scenarios where you have an easy avenue to begin communicating on. You can do that, you can succeed at that task, and be proud of yourself for doing so no matter if it was a ‘successful’ or ‘fun’ night in the end. Most likely you will have a nice time at some point, and then you keep going with that. It’s all tiny steps. You can do it!

Thanks for the replys. I am looking into more meetup groups in my area.

I have been trying the meetup thing a little for the last year (forgot to mention it), but I should definitely try to find some more groups to join.