I am emailing you because I find your voice and opinions supremely calming. I feel really awful right now and I hope by writing this down I might be able to get some space.
I am terrified for the future, my self-esteem is all over the place and I am horrible.
I am 29, recently switched careers to a much nicer happier one, moved in with my boyfriend, go to work, go to the gym, have a good salary, but I'm terrified and feel crap about myself all the time.
I feel very anxious about my abilities at work, about my appearance, about whether or not my friends like me, about whether my family are disappointed in me, about whether I might have some undiagnosed mental illness or learning difficulty. Most of all, I feel anxious that my boyfriend dislikes me and is about to make me move out, that he thinks I am a terrible person, that he won't speak to me ever again, and no amount of him saying otherwise seems to make this fear go away.
I used to paint and do creative projects, but now all I do is feel bad and discuss feeling bad. I often repeatedly fixate about horrible stories in the news. I feel like a crap 29-year-old failure. I stopped taking antidepressants about 10 months ago and I feel better than I did before I started taking them, but I wonder if it was the right choice. My boyfriend thinks it was the right decision, as while they kept me calm, they were helping me suppress difficult feelings around my self-image and self-esteem.
I could almost deal with this, but it's having a terrible effect on my relationship. My boyfriend wants to help me, and he's amazing. He will talk to me for hours about why I feel sad. Listen to me cry about things from my childhood that to outsiders sound commonplace but to me feel terrible. I do feel like I am starting to get better, but I frustrate him. I know I have a responsibility to be nice to him and my failure to do this makes me feel terrible. Sometimes I will try to do nice things for him, make the dinner, buy him a nice beer, ask polite questions, but this feels contrived and I'm still feeling my paranoid thoughts, my hostility shows through and I am frustrating again.
We met in our early twenties and split up for a year or so. We got back together when we realised how much we missed each other and spent a lot of happy time together, even through a period of him battling serious illness we have been extremely happy in the past, and sometimes still really are, I think. This makes me think I must have been nice once and I've lost it. All this got worse after we moved in together (we've been living together for just over a year), I think because I'm so afraid of rejection, ending up alone, dying completely isolated as a twisted horrible person having disappointed everyone.
How can I just be NICE? I know I am starting to destroy his happiness.
Got a question for Viv? Email her at DearViv@thepoolltd.com. The Dear Viv podcast airs weekly on The Pool at 5pm on Tuesdays. All letters will be edited for length. Unfortunately Viv cannot reply to your emails personally.