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Ask HN: Anyone else in constant anxiety and how do you cope?
98 points by disturbed on Nov 24, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 134 comments
I was wondering if anyone else is in the state of constant anxiety, not only at work, but at home too. How do you cope?

Here are the several contributing factors in my case:

- feeling of incompetence at work - sole provider for the family. - lost the will to code (I try learning new things but give up after a few days). - I’m 43 and have not accomplished anything, not even financial security for my family. - too scared to change the job I hate (gambling industry, corporate JIRA sweatshop, for 13 years) because I’m incompetent. - social anxiety. - racing mind, incoherent thoughts.

Edit: so incompetent I don’t know how to create a bullet list here

I've got terminal cancer in the US. I'm looking at the prospect of losing my job, which means my health insurance, which means I'll have to stop getting treatment and die. I feel you about constant anxiety. Might I first suggest you realize you're human and that where you're at isn't some crazy abnormal place right now.

I've had times where I've gotten frustrated because with a literal deadline I'm still just too tired to get things done and I beat myself up over things I can't control so it's easy for me to negate the small progress I make because I'm comparing myself to a healthy version of myself.

I'm glad to see that you are in therapy. It's going to feel like some days you get nowhere. Remember that any goal you're trying to attain that's difficult is like climbing a mountain. The higher up you go the harder it is to see all the individual steps it took to get there. With life once you get to the top of one mountain, there's always another mountain to climb. It's a journey not an objective.

There's a Buddhist saying that's helped me when I get frustrated at myself for getting set back."Begin Again". Get stuck on something, begin again. Life intrude on your learning for a bit? Begin again. Lose everything in a terrible storm ? Begin again.

For reviving the love of coding, I suggest doing something you either enjoy with coding or something you see as having purpose. Make it small as a project, then break it up into smaller parts. Start with the hard part. When you get frustrated work on something easy or give yourself some time to just think on the problem. Is there a different way to view it, are you trying to be too complicated, what would it look like if you could be absolutely sure it would work, are there smaller tasks this could be broken into that would be easier to solve apart?

You're worth putting in this effort. You can do it. Love and light.

I’m sorry about your condition. Compared to that, my problems are insignificant.

I try from time to time to code something... I’ve been learning F# lately. I force myself to sit in front of computer and do something, anything.

But, somehow everything is tainted by the thought of going to “the pit” in the morning. I don’t know how to overcome that - to disconnect when I leave office.

I've been really lucky in my treatment and I'm well past my expected survivability so I'm good with the condition.

Regarding the taint you feel, that's similar to writers block. Try a different setting if you can, make sure you're enjoying yourself before you start. Then just go with it. No expectations, no harsh deadlines. You get done what you get done and you're going to have fun doing it. This is going to sound like a really odd thing to do but it really does change some things, take a few deep breaths holding them for a bit before letting them go and after that just shake the anxiety out. Shake your whole body until you feel silly. When you sit down, smile, even if it's forced and make sure your posture is not slouched. Your mind will follow your body. Then start whatever it is you want to do.

I'm very sorry. "Begin again" could well be the best advice anyone could ever give or receive.

It really hit home with me when I heard it. I'm really hard on myself, especially since with so many balls in the air it can be easy to drop one now and again. When I heard those words it was like a ton of bricks I'd been carrying were just set down because it was so simple, yet so profound to me. If I dropped a ball it wasn't failure, it was just pausing those things in life I couldn't make space for, when I had the space I could take them right back up. I'm glad it resonated with you as well.

I've struggled with a similar situation - anxiety stemming from childhood trauma - for a long time. The things that help me the most are:

1. Basic self care: get enough sleep (~8 hours a night), eat plenty of healthy food and cut out as much junk food as possible, and make time for doing something you enjoy each day, even if it's only for 20-30 minutes.

2. Therapy: Either straightforward counseling or something more involved like EMDR or neurofeedback brain training. I can recommend the latter. It has truly changed my life.

3. Spend time with people you love and who love you. Self care and healing would have never been remotely possible or effective for me if I didn't have solid friendships with a few people who truly cared for my best interest and a good relationship with my kids and spouse.

*EDIT: I forgot to add, look into taking medication. I take a small dose of Lexapro daily and it has made a huge difference.

In order to heal and improve your situation, you MUST make time for these things. Don't try to add them on to whatever your day to day already looks like. Cut out other stuff as much as possible and increase the amount of time you spend on 1-3. Be forgiving and kind to yourself with this part, but do be as ruthless as possible with making time for 1-3.

In my experience, taking care of self and being involved in healthy friendships and family relationships creates a situation where the confidence and will to make changes to things like your job becomes possible.

4. Throw away all social media. Don't get on the "look how successfull/beautiful she/he is!"-bandwagon. That only leads to misserable thoughts. This probably is a big part of the burn out-looking syndroms we keep seeing on youth

Thank you. This is true. I’ve stopped using all social media (except HN) a year ago. Not sure about HN. Sometimes I read interesting things. Sometimes it makes me anxious and depressed

I’ve got social media blocked at the network level. Has made a huge difference.

Thank you. I have been drinking more lately. I guess I should stop. I find it hard to enjoy anything. I was thinking about why is that. I found I don’t like myself at all and I guess deep inside I think I don’t deserve to feel joy. My therapist says I’m emotionally immature. She’s probably right.

You must stop drinking alcohol. It is a depressant. You are literally making yourself feel worse. No amounts consumed in moderation are helpful. Stop, cold turkey. Don't wait to make this change, either, and try not to replace it with an alternative. If you absolutely must find a replacement, try vaping high-CBD hemp flower. I don't know what your country's legal status is for this, though, and that may not be possible. It can be mail ordered from the U.S. (see Tweedle Farms or Fields of Hemp).

CBD weed works really well for me, its helped me stop drinking and stop smoking the THC strains that were really damaging my life. It can be mail-ordered from the United kingdom (see BUDCBD or search cbd buds uk ).

Actually, kava kava is the best I’ve found outside of benzodiazepines.

Benzos don’t work at all for me. I have an Ativan script and it’s useless. Should I be asking for something else?

Dunno, but kava is over the counter in many places.

She has absolutely no business saying that: she's currently part of your problem. Get rid of her and find someone who is emotionally mature enough to help others.

As others have said, find another therapist. We don't have a lot of context to go on here but my therapist who helped me so much never put me down. He often told me important truths but in a way that I could digest and would help me to find successful mechanisms to help outside of the therapist office. If you're not finding that, get another therapist.

i am no specialist but the way the ego works maybe you are making a very high idealized version of you that when compared with the real persona you find a big hiatus between what you perceive you are and the one you want to become. maybe you should relax a little such high standards for a more down-to-earth person, frequently people less exigent are just happiest. i call this the john wayne syndrome because we are trying to be the hero of our own life whereas we are just regular folks. also seek if there are repressed feelings you avoid that are inducing self-abusive behavior

Thank you for your comment. That is absolutely true. I have excuses for everyone except for myself. Intellectually, I realize that, but it’s difficult to fight it. My therapist is trying to help with this. We’ll see how it goes.

> My therapist says I’m emotionally immature.

find a different therapist :)

Lexapro worked for me until it didn't any more and then made my anxiety worse

This happened to me as well. I remember getting much much worse. Luckily by that point I was in therapy and that helped a ton.

How did you know it stopped working? What did you do to fix it? What if I’m not sure it ever worked in the first place?

My dosage was ridiculously high after adjusting it many times over years. I was on maintenance mode for a long while, not really thinking about how I was feeling and just carrying on. Then, I finally took stock and realized I wasn't feeling emotionally well. It occurred to me that the way I felt at that time was very different from when I just started taking lexapro (it was a dramatic improvement and I was much brighter). I then spoke about my condition with my general physician who seemed to only have a comment about it after I brought it up, such as "yeah, that is a high dose". I felt disappointed in my doctor for not being proactive about it with me but maybe the doctor assumed I knew what worked best for my self.

I cut my dosage by 5mg every 3-5 months until where I am now (5mg). All the while, I supplemented with hemp cbd flower.

Be very careful about reducing dosage. You can get headaches and feel ill. Withdrawal symptoms are pretty bad. Reducing dosage may also have inadvertent psychological side effects. Speak with your doctor before you give it a try. I am not a physician. :)

thank you

Which have you had success with-- EDMR or neurofeedback training? If you are in the bay area can you recommend anyone?

First off, its probably a toxic work environment, and second, you're at a stage where the walls are closing in so it feels worse than it is. Programming is inherently a creative art with a core of logic and reason. For example, you can solve your business case by writing shell scripts instead of Java. By toxic environment, I mean that there are things at work that contribute, such as the way your coworkers talk to you. One such example is that there is one guy who is the go-to guy for all problems relating to X, and he solves this while telling everyone all about it, all the time. This makes it seem like he is the only one who can do it properly, which is of course never true.

Your financial security is just a product of the times. It used to be you could have a house, a lawn, a car and leftover savings just from working in a factory. Now, you are saddled with an unpayable house-loan even with higher education unless you somehow manage to find a remote job, or you win the startup lottery.

Last, anxiety can form bad feedback loops, where the lack of sleep means you are simply not able to do anything during the day. It can also cause other surprising problems, even wrist pains and RSI, simply because the anxiety causes your body to tense up.

I think you, first of all, need to find a way to let go of the feeling that your job performance has any bearing on your worth as a human being. It really doesn't.

> I think you, first of all, need to find a way to let go of the feeling that your job performance has any bearing on your worth as a human being. It really doesn't.

Yeah my therapist is trying to convince me of this too. I find it hard to make myself internalize it.

I think the issue may be that this can come from both within the individual and from society externally. Internally you feel low worth and then you see it confirmed externally moving around in society. Speaking as someone who got laid off and had to take one step back career-wise, I feel this but also, on better days, realize I create my reality at the same time. It's a difficult balancing act of who and what to give the most credence to.

Second the point on financial security. I'm successful, I have a good job at a good company, earning a good wage. I'm in charge of lots of systems and people. But I'm not financially secure, because land prices have detached from wages. You can't work your way out of this hole. That is not your fault.

Why are there so many jobs in industries we hate (gambling, finance, advertising). Because the west is a financialized mess.

We are all trapped. Vote for substantive change.

Thanks for taking time... I live in south-eastern Europe. Gambling/betting here is rampant. I feel like I’m contributing to the problem, but can’t seem to find the way out.

You hate your job, but you feel forced to do it.

And you've been like that for 13 years! Even slaves in the Bible were released after 7 years.

No wonder you're miserable. No one can do something they hate for that long without having their soul crushed.

Sorry to the people here, but I don't think meditation/diet/exercise will fix this problem.

I don’t know what to say. You are absolutely right.

What makes me even more anxious is the life my kids are going to have. How do I teach them to avoid the slavery when even I’m not able to break free.

Your kids will be grateful that you sacrificed yourself in a job you didn't like to give them a chance. Others have already told you: your situation is bad, but a part of this bad is that you see it worse. It's difficult to tell the realism bits from the defeatism ones. If in doubt, try to err on the side of optimism.

Sounds like you’re in a bad place.

I have a checklist I use to try and keep my mental health strong. The idea isn’t that you get a perfect score on this checklist, but that you ask yourself “what’s the easiest way to improve my score in this checklist at the moment?”

- Did you get a good night's sleep last night?

- Do you see your friends often enough?

- Do you have any enjoyable hobbies?

- Do you exercise or get moving every day?

- Do you have close, enjoyable relationships?

- Do you avoid abusing substances like alcohol or other drugs?

- Do you relax and take slow out breaths? (Or meditate)

- Do you do things for other people?

- Do you have any awesome pets?

Write up about it is here: http://wiki.secretgeek.net/protective-factors-for-mental-hea...

Good luck. Sorry I’m not a professional.

It’s “no” on all of them except hobbies - I do have one (but it’s fairly recent).

Thanks for this. I guess the common thread in all of that is connecting with others. I’ve always been a loner. I don’t know anyone I like spending time with. I don’t know why is that.

Ok I’d say look to do the simplest thing you can that increases your score at all, asap. You don’t need to immediately make a friend somewhere. Work on maybe the meditation question, or exercising (by walking) each day. That’s MUCH easier to start on.

Good luck. Report back if you can.

Please take what @farleykr and @robsinatra said very seriously and act on them.

A few years ago I suffered from anxiety/depression for about a year during what I thought was the most important time of my career. I was overseas at the time, obsessively working at least 10 hours a day without breaks and usually every day of the week, drinking a bottle of wine or a couple of litres of beer a night sleeping on average 5 hours a night. I absolutely hated myself, I stopped playing and listening to any music, and actively avoiding staying in touch with family and friends.

Then one night, when I was very drunk and literally crying on the streets, I somehow decided to call my sister (whom I have already avoided talking to for months at that point) and she made me stop drinking, sleep, and seek professional help. I've always had a lot of respect for her, and I think hearing it from someone I deeply care about made and the fact that she picked up the phone when I needed someone the most made all the difference.

Anyhow! The point of the anecdote is I can't stress enough how important the things @farleykr and @robsinatra said are. Once you start feeling better you will be in a much better position to act on the advice that everyone else has kindly given about career.

As for feeling incompetent, I think a bit of that is a good quality to have because knowing and admitting what you don't know something is a very powerful skill; just don't sit on it forever (as others have said) because nothing will become better if you wallow in it.

And one last thing about dealing with incoherent thoughts: write them down. I think it's too easy to sit there to theory-craft/fantasise/make excuses in your head all-day long; so try writing them down while taking care to organise them, and be honest to yourself, as best as you can.

Thank you for sharing this

Some advice coming from someone who dealt – and is still often dealing – with anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

The very first thing you have to understand is that your perception is biased by your mental issues, is your feeling of incompetence backed by any facts? Is your boss continually complaining about your performance? And even if your performances are as bad as you think they are, I wouldn't be surprised since you seem to hate every moment of your life.

From how you described yourself, I don't see a loser, I see a 43 years old man who's going through a lot of sacrifices to provide for his family, I'd call that courage. I don't see a loser, I see someone with a serious case of depression, everything you described ticks all the boxes.

There is no magic pill to get you out of that, and coping mechanisms only goes so far. You need therapy, plain and simple, and, if possible, time off your job.

Start doing things you enjoy, don't code because you have too, maybe you're at a time in your life where code isn't what you want to do anymore, and that's fine, no shame in that, or maybe you just need a little time off. Many men completely turn their lives around in their 40s, it's not too late, but you have to take risks, you have to try new things, physical activity such as weightlifting is usually great because it'll raise your testosterone levels, but you can also start things you never thought you'd want to try: music, dance, writing, astrophotography, bird watching, anything.

Just remember this: your thoughts are not logical, it's not your analytic brain that's telling you you're worthless, it's depression, and pardon my French by depression is a bitch, it's that asshole of a friend, always in your head telling you just how much of a failure you are even when it's untrue.

Don't isolate yourself from people who care, there are more than you think and they need to know what you're going through. Seek medical help, and take it easy, friend.

"It gets easier. Every day it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day —that’s the hard part. But it does get easier."

Another thing is that EVEN IF your boss is giving you negative feedback about your job performance that does NOT mean you're incompetent. It almost certainly means you're just not in the right job at the moment.

A competent boss in that situation would try and find a better fit for you in the organization and if there isn't one help you find one outside of your current place of employment.

I was in OP's shoes exactly one year ago. What you wrote above is beautiful and true. Not sure where in Europe he lives but I lived in a northern State of the US. Winners have always been tough, my family and I took a leap and moved 1000 miles south a few months ago. This is the best mental "winter" I ever recall having. As said above, OP your thoughts aren't logical. I had social thoughts last year. I tried making sense of why I was having them. I couldn't. Because they're reasonable. I had/have a good paying job, marriage, family, house, etc. But I was miserable and unwell. You're ill. Find a way to take time off, heal, and then change whatever it is that you think it identify as causing the stress and anxiety. Anyone can reach out to me. www.thisismystoryjesusismysong.com

Thank you.

1) Religiously exercise every single day ideally in the morning as it will set the tone for the rest of the day.

2) Make your diet clean and light. No soft drinks. No heavy carbs. Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables etc.

3) Stop worrying about accomplishing anything. The point of life is to be happy and enjoy the journey not be in some race with others.

4) If you give up after a few days then just pick smaller things you can compete faster. And iterate between lots of different things to help reduce the chance of boredom.

5) If after all of that you still feel anxious then see a professional. Not just about medication but also how to program yourself to fall into less anxious patterns.

I always feel like I’m wasting time and should be learning or trying to find another job. Then I start thinking about what to learn, what could I possibly do, since the domain knowledge I have is about gambling. Then I open the browser and.... down the rabbit hole I go

You must have transferable tech skills that aren’t just specific to gambling?

Anyway (while I admit I know little of your actual situation) I think you’re probably overestimating how hard to would be to find another job - because you’re lacking in confidence, and the unknown component of what a new employer might want is daunting. I’ve been there - my assessment of my employability varies tremendously, due to nothing but my changing mood.

Why don’t you just try applying for a few jobs? Don’t look on it as an ‘all or nothing’ situation, and try not to attach any major hope there. View it as an information-gathering exercise - an experiment. Even if you don’t succeed at first, you’ll gather valuable information about the jobs market, and it might give you a direction to take in the generation of new skills.

I live in a small town, in a small country. If I tried locally the word would get out. I could apply in a different country. I guess I’m afraid of proving myself right that I am incompetent. But, you are right - can’t hurt to try.

Are you willing to relocate, for a better (ie great) role?

Yes, I am willing to relocate. I will try updating my cv and apply for some positions abroad.

Sleep, friends, meditation (this requires serious practice, not dabling) , nutriment supplementation (a LOT of it), cut down on sugar, weight lifting, intermitent fasting, psychotropic microdosing.

That's a ton, so I wouldn't start with more than one, preferably the easiest, then increment. They support each otber because constant anxiety for me is just the symptom that everything is going to crap.

Meditation has the strongest reward, but also the highest cost. Psycheselic have the best cost/reward ratio but may hide other problems: once you feel great, you may stop working on it.

Food, friends and sleep are hard, because they affect your life so much and requires motivation.

Supplements require no motivation, little effort to take and have a huge impact... But require a lot of reading, trials and errors et money.

Neverthless, I wish I knew all that 15 years ago. It would have saved me so much trouble, and actually work on the root problem, as anxiety is just one of the many small tip of a huge and deep iceberg.

I would start meditating, it will help you on being able to identify and intervene on repetitive, negative thought patterns (rumination).

Give yourself 10 minutes everyday to train your mind. I use the app Waking up.

Release anxiety through some physical exercise several days per week, ideally something you enjoy.

Every day, build some grit by doing something difficult - the fact that you’ve done it, and continue to do it, will become a foundation for overcoming resistance. I like to take a cold shower every morning, which seems silly until you step up to the faucet and have to pony up and actually do it.

Read books, so few people read anymore, those who do are able to absorb the distilled wisdom of many lifetimes.

Lastly, you are not alone, I don’t know how to create a bullet list here either. You are also not alone in your struggles, we are all human and suffer in our ways. Good luck.

Thanks. Several people recommended cold showers or swimming in cold water. Guess it doesn’t hurt to try.

You might find Wim Hof method useful then. https://www.wimhofmethod.com/

Please do be physically safe if you do swim. Swim with someone, make it short, and read up on cold shock and "after drop".

Several people in the thread have already recommended meditation. I’m going to join them.

If you’re already doing therapy, consider complementing it with meditation. Meditation, if done right, can be equivalent to years of therapy.

The benefits are great, and for your situation the most relevant are reduced/eliminated anxiety, more willpower, energy, clarity (to see through depression for example); but there many others.

However, there’s a catch: meditation is hard. It requires consistent effort and dedication, just like any practice involving a complex skill (e.g., going to the gym or swimming pool).

For a completely secular practice, I’d recommend “The Mind Illuminated” by John Yates [1], a neuroscientist and a master meditator, whose aim with the book was to create a modern manual for meditation by making old Buddhist teachings accessible to an average westerner. The book is a synthesis of those teachings complemented with both his experience as a master meditator /and/ as a neuroscience Ph.D. This means that along with detailed instructions on how to actually meditate the book contains theoretic chapters explaining in popular scientific terms how your brain works and what meditation has to do with it, by first introducing a simple model, and then gradually building upon it as you progress through the book and develop your skill.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Mind-Illuminated-Meditation-Integrati...

Thanks. I will look in to it - sounds interesting

Oh, and you if you need a little more persuading or motivation you might want to check up on books by Sam Harris [1] and Michael A. Singer [2]. The first one is also a neuroscientist and a famous sceptic, and the second is a former programmer and a successful businessman. Personally, when I was in a similar place as you are now, I found that simply reading Singer’s book was a form of therapy.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Waking-Up-Spirituality-Without-Religi... [2] https://www.amazon.com/Untethered-Soul-Journey-Beyond-Yourse...

I’m probably the 50th person to say this, but I hope my saying it again would add to its importance: there’s nothing that I’ve found more powerful and long-lasting to my psychological health than regular exercise coupled with a healthy diet. At the end of the day we’re animals, our thinking and behaviour highly dependent on our surrounding environment and our metabolic functions, and if those are disturbed, then we are disturbed. Consider taking a vacation to get away from it all for a while.

1. A small amount of anxiety is normal and even very useful - but not when it's a constant thing. It sounds to me like you may need to be on medication for this. Your family doctor might be able to help you with this (or if they can't they will refer you to a specialist who can - like a psychiatrist.)

2. You've mentioned feelings of low self-worth. That's a classic sign of depression. The racing mind and jumbled thoughts overlaps with many different illnesses though. You definitely want to bring this up with your doctor (especially the last part) as it might be a sign of something more serious (not to scare you or anything.)

On a personal level: try to celebrate your own successes more rather than being overly interested in what other people are doing. There's always going to be someone doing better and if you're always looking at them you forget the progress you have made. For the 'lost the will to code' issue -- its hard to say what the cause is. Depression causes a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, but honestly you might just be burned out and fried from the repetition.

Practically, I can understand why you would feel stressed out over financials. If I were you I'd look into moving somewhere with a very low cost of living and find yourself a high paying remote gig (not sure how practical this is for you -- probably asking a lot if you have a family and/or mortgage, idk.) I wouldn't bother learning any new skills tho. It sounds like you already have years of experience. You just have to sell your existing engineering skills and how they translate to designing and implementing different systems with any tech.

Good luck, hope your situation improves.

Thank you. Yeah I’ve got mortgages and kids. And you are right I do sell myself short sometimes. But on the other hand, there is a lot of young (cheaper) talent on the market that I’d have to be exceptional to get hired (or at least this is how I see it in my mind).

Please consider making time for therapy. See a psychologist who specializes in cognitive behavior therapy. Finding a doctor takes work and then dedicating time to see one takes even more so. However, this is the kind of effort that really pays off! Don't do nothing about how you feel. No one on HN can replace the sessions you'll have with a licensed therapist.

Thank you.

I used to worry a lot about everything and had severe anxiety most of the time. Not anymore.

Add meditation to your daily life, excercise at least 3 times x week. For both activities you want to start SMALL, as small as you can so you don't end up discarding them inmediately. With meditation I recommend starting with an app like headspace or calm, also going to a meditation center after you have the basics (or inmediately if you can). In my case I meditate for about 7-10 mins each day. With excercise it doesn't really matter what you do, just pick up any physical activity and get your work done each week. It is important that you pick something you enjoy, so you see it as a hobby and relaxing activity instead of a chore: in my case I practice martial arts.

Also read the book "Feeling good" by David Burns, this book touches mostly on depression but some stuff can also work for anxiety.

I swim in cold water, every day if possible and ideally before work in the morning. This has been a game changer in terms of reducing anxiety, being much better able to cope with difficulties and frankly, making me into a much happier and healthier version of myself. So much so that if I don't get in the cold water for a day or two then I just feel like .. bleurgh. If you've read "Flowers for Algernon" and recall towards the end where (spoiler alert) the main character has come off the drug that makes him much more intelligent and crucially - he can't remember what it was that had happened to him, just that he had a sense of loss from no longer having some <very very good> - that's what this is like. Can't recommend enough. I also use running for the same purpose, but cold water swimming in just a couple of minutes provides a tremendous dose of <good things.> Also it seems to stop me catching colds.

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I have tried running but like everything else, I give up after a few days. And also when running my mind is still racing with me...

Running with people is even better than running alone if it's an option for you. Communities like "Park Run" and "Good Gymn" and no doubt many others multiply the benefits of simply running.

There's nowhere I could easily swim, would showering in cold water help?

Cold showers can be a way to regain control through positive morning priming. I wrote this how-to a few years ago: https://medium.com/the-mission/a-year-of-cold-showers-662ec6...

What a great article !

Yes absolutely - cold showering is great in the same ways. There are plenty people out there who do this every day also. Personally I prefer a cold bath to a cold shower as I like the instant hit of more full immersion, but there's not always time for a bath!

I'm not a medical professional. You might consider if you are getting sufficient magnesium in your diet. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-foods-high-in-magnes... https://www.huffpost.com/entry/magnesium-the-most-powerf_b_4...

Others here have stressed the importance of sleep... https://digest.bps.org.uk/2019/11/21/a-lack-of-sleep-causes-...

I worked in gambling for the start of my career too. It’s a toxic atmosphere at absolutely every level. They generally run on a principle of assuming IT is worthless to the company and just a money dumpster fire. The way they treat you has no reflection on your ability. At times, just the weather alone dictates the mood of management. Others, management is actively alcoholic, on the job!

I’d do everything and anything that could make your life more stable. The biggest, positive place to start is, and this can take a lot of work, sleep. Make proper sleep your first priority every day. There’s a whole lot that can make sleep better or worse, so there’s no way for me to be complete. But maybe consider going for a walk, writing in a journal, and consistent, exactly on the same time every day melatonin slow release - and low dose.


I'm sorry to read this.

I hope you have at this point enough insight to recognize that logically you are more capable that how you feel about yourself. Therefore, it is a matter of making sense of that feeling of anxiety that you should be addressing.

If you speak to the right physician you'll probably be diagnosed with ADHD, and it is driving a large part of your anxiety.

You should be careful about strengthening your ability to become more anxious. After all, any neural pathways exercised become stronger with time. Give yourself some quiet time each day where you get to ignore any anxious thoughts that arise. They are junk thoughts at this stage, you can safely ignore them.

If you need any more motivation, please recognize your family suffers when you cultivate thoughts like this. Find counter examples and keep reminding yourself of them.

Lots of good suggestions here, but they miss the elephant in the room: you are trapped and you feel that. It seems like a lot of your anxiety stems from that.

My only suggestion would be to "climb out" of this trap. Since you can't find another job in your town (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21620176), try looking fo remote job openings. Freelancing and starting your own business are options as well, but I won't recommend them for you, at least for now.

Start looking here



All the best

Thanks for the links. I will look into them.

I suffer from OCD (which manifests itself as constant anxiety).

My OCD is mainly health related - every pain or swollen part of my body automatically leads me to fear I may have cancer (or other terminal illness).

The constant fear that I may die soon is highly debilitating - I have times where its hard for me to function at work and be a good parent and spouse.

I'm currently taking SSRI medications, which really improved my well-being, and recently started CBT treatment, but it is still a struggle.

I know it is not a popular advice, but if you find it difficult to be productive, try medications at least for a short while. It can help you "break the cycle" and jump start your life.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or other treatment modalities) and, maybe, medication! This sounds like the desperation of anxiety and depression. But there is hope! Untreated, it can be a killer, so remember 1-800-273-TALK for moments of crisis.

Thank you for your concern. I am seeing a therapist. I don’t think I’m in any kind of crisis though.

Seeing a therapist is the first important step, congratulations!

Please remember that it may take some time for you to find the answers out of your situation, including to grasp everything your therapist had explained. Please give yourself permission to let those discussion / feedback sink in, no need to rush. Trying to speed things up will only make it worse, as my experience during my post-grad time shows.

Besides, I can't stress enough the importance of physical exercise. I wish I had practised yoga back then. Or swimming as others had suggested.

I only relied on meditation and jogging, which was not effective given the gloomy sky of Edinburgh that let the bad feeling coming back even during post-running cooling down. Running made me feel a little better, but only for a short while. You need to try any exercise that work for you. Running with your friends, I think will, also help.

Now that I practised yoga for almost 2 years, and am learning piano from scratch, I feel much better though that unwanted feeling sometimes keeps coming back, but at least I can slowly win the battle.

Hope this helps.

I'm in Edinburgh too :) The sky is certainly gloomy today! In case of any interest there's a swimming group through which people organise - "the wild ones" on FB. I'm going along to a swim later today and there was another this morning.

Thank you.

I still get anxious sometimes, and the thing that helped most, back when I had to stop going to university because of anxiety, was therapy.

And what I got out of therapy was techniques to kind of step back when I feel anxious, and to realize that the problems I have cannot be solved now, when I am lying in bed at 3am. That every step towards a goal is progress, and that I wont die and lose everything because of one day where things don't go how I hoped. Anxiety makes all problems immediate and life destroying. Most problems aren't.

But, that recognition isn't always there for me. What made it mostly there for me was therapy.

I feel your pain. My advice would be to consult a professional. There is nothing wrong in medication and therapy. It helps many people. And then, like others mentioned, go for exercise and meditation. CBT/REBT also help. Idea is the to address immediate panic and anxiety by Medication and treating long term with meditation and therapy. More than curing the condition, you would need to manage it.

It's hard but possible. You can be in a very different state of the mind within 6 months. So do not lose hope. DM me if you need further info. Good luck!

Thank you! I’ve started seeing a therapist. We’ll see how it goes.

Good luck. Also consult a psychiatrist. You will get better.

Try decreasing your spending? The less you spend, the less you depend on the miserable job. Being less dependent (ex. accumulating even a couple years of living expenses's worth of savings) should give a lot of breathing room re: changing jobs or even careers.

How to spend less? I personally have found this blog to be both very inspiring and practical: http://earlyretirementextreme.com/

Good tips here already. I personally found value in reading stoic philosophy, but that's not for everyone.

>feeling of incompetence at work

Read up on impostor syndrome. Being aware of this helps counter it.

I also think it (mental issues) is more common than people realise. A shocking number of my friends are on psych meds of some sort. Almost like it's a wider society issue. So I think a strong case can be made for "don't beat yourself up about it" - plus that wouldn't help anyway.

Here what helps If you scared about ppl dying or smth, 1) repeat in your head "Humanity is the disease, Inferno is the cure" 2) repeat i can control only my actions, actions of other is their own responsibility 3) control is illusion 4) humanity (retards) deserves all this shit that happens

You should abstract yourself from the environment. Somehow force yourself to don't give a fuck because it's not your choice everything is shit. And let it go to ashes.

Before that^ you must del all social apps on your phone, and try not to open social websites. You can leave messenger but not soc app. Also don't open world news websites for a month or two so you can freely focus on stuff^.

not constant, but I do suffer from some anxiety. First, it might be useful for you to look for professional help.

Then, some things that were helpful for me, and may be helpful for you, ymmv:

- check your health: maybe you suffer from physical issues, such as high blood pressure, and you can help it with pills, which will help with anxiety.

- drop coffee and sigarettes, reduce alcool, eat more vegetables and fruit; it's weird, but it helps.

- physical activity; I spend 1-2 hours every morning a day walking (or running), it's good for both body and mind.

- daily meditation; get a test account on headspace, try it for a week.

- face anxiety-inducing things ASAP; E.g. if you are stressed cause you wrote shitty code, just tell your boss/colleagues immediately; if you fucked up something with your partner, tell them etc. Once bad things happened, you will stop worrying about what might happen.

- "hedge" your anxiety-inducing problems; if you are worried about your family surviving without you, set up life insurance. If you feel incompetente and unable to find another job, spend some time studying something new, and try applying for another position, even if you don't want to take it, you may be able to find something else, or learn what's missing.

Good luck, anxiety sucks.

>- drop coffee and sigarettes, reduce alcool, eat more vegetables and fruit; it's weird

Why is it weird? You know in medieval Europe taking a bath was weird, two centuries ago having tuberculosis was fashionable. What is more important - fashion of times or your unique life? You must make up your mind.

sorry, I was referring to the last part, as coffee, cigarettes and alcohol have clear effects on the mind, while zucchini do not.

I only mentioned it may seems weird because generally one expects eating fruits and vegetables to help with some generic "physical well being" but doesn't think of them being useful for psychological health too.

I would like to say something about this "because generally one expects". See this is your life right here and now and soon it will be over. If your concern about fundamental aspects like food is only "general" - this means you still not realized how important they are.

In other words instead of marking things "weird", "general" etc one should try for themselves and see what works for real. It does require some courage and intelligence but hey, it's your life what is this about.

Thank you

Author: I'm glad you wrote, I hope you are finding helpful ideas here. I'll be brief:

- Besides all the great ideas already here, consider religion. It can bring great calm. - If you have some talent in your job, just know that 'imposter syndrome' is real. Study it, you might get by. - If you have no talent in your job, start looking for something different. It's not worth staying in this case.

Wishing you good luck.

Thanks. Religion isn’t my cup of tea.

Ah, while there is a lot of good advice here, but just reading your symptoms, it sounds like you may have adult ADHD. Forget what most people think ADHD is, it should technically be called Executive Function Disorder and can be associated with social anxiety, racing thoughts, motivation, etc. Go and see a psychiatrist who specialising in ADHD and anxiety.

I cope by realizing this is just a place to learn and i keep calm. The answers you seek are beyond the mental temporary paradigm. When you see your Self with your purified mind and are satisfied within your self as eternal consciousness then all your anxiety falls like dead leaves. I recommend reading the Bhagavad-gita by Prabhupada 1972 edition.

I suggest you try taking a class at a local college. Having to actually show up will keep you interested and help you finish. I would also look at career advice to help you plan your future. Your anxiety is partially cause by not knowing your future. Sit down with a career professional and life coach to plan your future and how to get there.

Man, don’t feel this way. You are great, young and capable. Fuck the job! There will be many opportunities for you and with hard work and a little belief in yourself you’ll capture them.

Do you know how many great entrepreneurs, professionals and artists got started at your age? A LOT!

Thank you!

I have read through several comments in the thread. #1 and easiest thing you can do which will show you quick results is to join the gym and make sure you hit it at least 5 times a week for minimum 45 minutes each time.

There is a menu of coping mechanisms. The ones that build the soul are optimal.

Connectedness with a spiritual community is a source of energy.

Striving not to get too "believe after me" here, but how you answer the "Why am I here?" question is crucial.

If you want a real change - search for something called Inner Engineering. For 2 years since I've done it, I never had a single bad day. Apart from it bliss and extasy became real experiences I now get once in a while.

Looking into it, it may seem wonky (it does to me). A friend of mine, very pragmatic and Cartesian enough gave it a shot and told me the same thing about how his life was transformed. Maybe I should look into it more closely.

It's ok, you can look at it this way: the worst case is you will waste some money and a couple days. On the other hand the best case is your life can be transformed in ways you can not imagine. You can listen to as many opinions as you want, you will really know only if you try it.

For me, daily meditation has helped reduce my anxiety and has made me generally a more happier person. A book i recommend is The Mind Illuminated. It’s a step by step guide into meditation.

I’d like to thank everyone for the support and advice! Your kindness alone made me feel better. You’ve also given me motivation to continue the fight.

The advice here is terrible. How are you supposed to get 8 hrs of sleep if you are anxious all the time, lol. Its like saying 'just eat healthy food ' to the person struggling with weight issues. You cannot solve the anxiety financial insecuitry for your family with "self care".

I think your only option here is to

1. move into non-coding management role, you have to do everything at your work to make this possible.

2. Apply for management jobs everywhere after you have accomplished 1.

3. Get upto speed on system design, study a little bit everyday. Its not hard stuff.

4. Get your spouse to start working even if its a job at walmart.

5. Not sure what is going on with finances but why don't u have a 401k?

1. I dread that but it may be one option

3. What do you mean by system design?

5. Not in the US. Here everyone pays taxes and when you retire you get some small pension (a lot of senior people digging through dumpsters for bottles to earn extra money).

I feel exactly the same. Exercise helps. Psychologist helps a bit. Medication helps too. Talk to people. You might find that more people than you think feel similar.

Thank you. The thought of medication makes me sad, I don’t know why. I am seeing a therapist. Not sure if helps, I’ve only been in three or four sessions.

For some reason I don’t like talking to people. Usually I don’t know what to say and I don’t find interesting the things others talk about. I know it sounds selfish but I don’t know how to pretend to be interested.

Yeah I know where you are coming from. I was reluctant to take medication and I'd prefer not to have to take it. But when things get bad it's good to know it is there as an option and it does help. It is hard to talk to other people - can you find people with similar interests or hobbies ?

This might be the most valuable discussion I've ever seen on the internet. So much great information, people reaching out and connecting.

i used to live with a sever anxiety, so bad that i could not get out of my mind, i was surrounded by ugly and negative thought.

reading the book bellow helped me a lot, however you need to be patient and accept the situation.


> Edit: so incompetent I don’t know how to create a bullet list here

HN has nothing for that. Use multiple newlines like so:

- bla

- foo

Oh ok thanks. I tried two spaces indentation but it shows in monospace font without wrapping (probably meant to be used for code)

Most of us have anxiety and/or depressed mood nowadays. Have you read Capitalist Realism? It provides a coherent explanation of what is going on.

There are no good recipes for getting out of this state of mind (because you can't escape from reality). You may heal the symptoms by exercising, meditating and taking medications.

To cure the cause though would require significantly changing your attitude and reconciling your goals in life.


- work is just work; it's neither a way of expressing yourself, nor should it be used to measure your success in life

- maintain and nurture close relationships with your family and friends; establish relationships based on shared interests and fun, rather than on economical utility

- be political, engage in local and global communities; politics underlies everything and gives people a higher purpose in life, but somehow we all have been deprived of it in XX century; seek leaders and inspirations and try to become one yourself (e.g. in a local community)

Thank you. I get anxious around people. For example, every time I get out of the house I have to prepare mentally. Going to the market store I have to go through possible scenarios in my head. It’s been like that as long as I can remember. I’ve learned to deal with it over the years, but it’s there.

That’s why becoming political or engaged in the community is difficult but I like the idea and will try to find some way.

I used to be a bit like that too, but then I just accepted myself and stopped caring (and other people never cared anyway, as I found out eventually). Good luck, I hope you find a way out!

Therapy, regular workouts (5/week), regular meditation

To echo what was said above, you are not alone.

Read Mark Fisher

+1 (and he makes a lot of references to XX century philosophers, which are worth exploring).

Also watch Adam Curtis. Read Noam Chomsky. Michael O'Church has been writing very interesting stuff for many years.

You're not alone

Thank you

i personally give up hope, the sense that someday i will overcome my schizophrenia. instead i incorporate it as a new paradigm, a new side of me so that by knowing it's there i know the cause and be able to handle it more easily, and also by avoiding portraying it as a insurmountable monster so as to convince it is just a trick of the mind on me and move on. no regrets, no cries, no self-pity. that's more easily said than done sometimes but that's the drive

i've never taken a pill so far chosen to take a more holistic approach and i consider that i'm not in a worse condition than i would if medicated and this gives me the extra benefit of considering drugs as a last resort of sorts if nothing else works, if i was heavy on drugs that probably would give me some sense of despair since it seemed there was no exit left, so if you need help seek a psychologist rather than a psychiatrist. also seek support groups with similar conditions in your area or online (that step we seem already making) since we humans are social beasts rather than solitary wanderers and we need the comfort of knowing we are not alone and somewhere there are people going trough the same pains as we; that might be a group instinct bias pushing us over to integrate but i feel that much more appeal with someone on the same track knowing what i am talking about rather than talking generic abstraction like "it will all turn all right" good intended as they may be, i prefer being down with someone that understand my pain than being pushed up to party by someone trying to compulsively cheer me up. i think we live in a society that overall is trying real hard for everyone to feel good because that way we are most likely to buy the junk that everyone is trying to sell each other on this post-capitalist distopia, but i am digressing, the point is i think i have the right to misery and to suffer, not passively but on my own terms, to reach nirvana, whatever that means, on my own pace. so here's my advice: don't put a bright face just for the sake of others, don't represent for them or you will turn into a caricature of yourself, if that way you are turning away some around you, maybe you are pushing the right ones and who's left are the ones you can count on

Thank you


Just don't do that, using recreational drugs is never a solution for anything!

Cannabis is not a recreational drug. I am prescribed it by a physician for anxiety and depression. Please leave your 20th century Prohibitionist mindset somewhere else.

Note that I have not said anything about cannabis on a prescription basis for medical purposes, you just said "maybe smoke some weed" (smoking anything doesn't seem very healthy...), not "maybe see a doctor".

I’ve never tried it. It’s illegal in my country.

Sorry to hear that! It does help for intense anxiety, but also dulls discomfort that drives you to improve. It’s a tool much like Benzos, SSRIs, CBT, and exercise.

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