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I have the feeling frequently, if not most of the time, that I'm actually a child going through the motions of being an adult. I'm 30 with a family of my own and yet when I'm around people in their early twenties or teens I almost invariably feel like I'm the youngest person there. I still like a lot of children's things, feel very uncomfortable with my sexuality, have never been self supporting and feel a strong desire to be taken care of. I thought maybe everyone felt this way or that I'm just immature, but some stuff just came up in therapy in addition to some previous trauma that I knew about and now I'm wondering if that could be related. The traumatic stuff happened around the ages of 7-9.

Can anyone relate?

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There is no one here whose age matches poor body - at most we're four years younger. We're okay with it most of the time. We're likely a more extreme example of what you're talking about, though.

It's pretty common for childhood trauma to make development go all weird. Trauma makes things get "stuck" at that age but life keeps going so you adapt as best you can around it. So the aspects of you that were affected by the trauma didn't get to develop. That's how things go.

It doesn't mean that they can't get unstuck, although that tends to require therapy.

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I have a fundamental issue with my actual age (44) and what I naturally feel like.  I would guess that I feel like I'm in my mid to late 20's and never got older in numerous ways.  I've never really had trouble getting a job, it's keeping it long-term that's the issue.  I've had prolonged periods of unemployment  as long as I can remember.  I can't seem to dress myself in what or to look like what I think is more my real age, though I don't look like a teenager thankfully.  I realize it's a different era, but I just don't feel like I think I should at this age and I can't figure out why it's so difficult.  I also have a VERY hard time even coming to grips with being 44 though you'd think I would have had plenty of time to get used to it on my way to this age.  And I feel like I act like a child a lot when I get upset.  I have a quick temper and prone to non-violent rage at times where the only things that suffer are walls, doors, or furniture.  I'm fed up with this part of me though so this will be changing very soon.  I can't help getting mad but I can definitely help how it's being expressed and I know that now.

All of this is complicated by at least 2, maybe 3 big things: 

1.) I'm bipolar 2 but only correctly dx'd last fall - only then did my life start to make sense so I'm sure this is the correct dx;

2.) prolonged alcohol and drug abuse since age 15 - became a full blown alcoholic probably 5-6 years ago and only very recently put down all of that junk for good,

3.) my new discover from recent dx of PTSD, almost certainly complex PTSD, mostly from a rough childhood with parents who were either huge alcoholics and physically abusive or stable mostly but prone to meltdowns and vented extreme emotions at us kids instead of a therapist.  This new dx brings a ton of new questions but seems to explain a whole lot too.

The bipolar and PTSD probably led me to the substance abuse (with genetics to assist - thanks dad!) but they all have a hand in my stunted maturity I'm sure.  I have to make a concerted effort to remember what my real age is so I don't act like a fool or anything else.  I've clearly been bipolar since at least my teens - looking back I can see the patterns clear as day now, so obvious but I had no clue at the time, just knew I wasn't right.  But not finding out until now really upsets me a lot because I know I could have changed so much of my life for the better with that knowledge.  Even 10 years ago when first dx'd depressed, if they had bothered to ask me more questions or take a serious look at my history, I think it would've been obvious to the trained eye.  10 years is a long time and I've messed up a lot of great opportunities in that time. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say but I have to believe I would be better equipped today to handle being 44 had I had the bipolar information sooner.  Oh well, what's life if not unfair? 

 

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I went to treatment 10 years ago for alcohol abuse after I drove drunk into a light pole.  After 15 days of hell in jail of course. 

In one of of the group sessions the counselor mentioned that brain development can stop when the drug abuse starts.  

Once I quit drinking heavily, I slowly started to recover and progress. 

But I can definitely relate to the feeling of being younger than I really am.  I started abusing drugs when I was a junior in high school.  I stayed at that age and mentality for a long time. 

My friends when I had some, always thought of me as an ornary kid. 

I still feel younger than I am (34) but I feel I have matured a lot.  I don't get drunk anymore, I drive safely, etc.. 

I would like to have a real job and career, I'm tired of shitty jobs for shitty pay.  But my brain is damaged from what I used to do and from what I inherited.  I do good when I work but once the winter comes around I'm paralyzed with depression.  I've quit so many jobs without notice when this happens.  How am I supposed to explain what I'm going through to an employer?  Mental illness is so stigmatized that it's just not worth the extra trauma. 

I'm sorry you are going through this, just know that it can and will get better in time.  At least that is what I am praying for. 

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yep i feel at least 10 years younger (or less depending on who I'm hanging out with)...I think MI or trauma (or both) can sort of "stunt" your growth emotionally. Much of my 30's were a blur and I can't remember much (psych meds, parties, mundane jobs, hospital, various relationships, netflix series...) By age 35 all my friends had totally matured, had kids, bought houses, and became managers at their job and I'm like....well...it's still been a slow uphill battle for me. sigh.

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I'm 36 but I feel like I'm 20 something. Sometimes adulthood feels like an extension of childhood just with higher numbers.

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I've always felt both younger and older than I am. In some ways like a kid who's still trying to work out how to live, in other ways like an 80 year old filled with pessimism and weltschmerz, who's thinks he's seen it all and none of it was worth the effort. Mental illness can deny you those milestones that others depend upon to define themselves as an adult. I don't have a career or a marriage or children or a mortgage though I have spent many pointless hours considering life and death and the meaning/meaningless of both. Which isn't something you can put on your CV.

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I also feel I need to be taken care of. The other alternative is not letting anyone take care of me or get close to me. I still have to find a balance.
It's kind of weird to be 3-4 years and older than my age. That's happened my entire life.
My need to be taken care of turned out in an abusive relationship that lasted 2 years and a half, and another six months of stalking. He told me he was taking care of me, but he was just controlling and stalking me practically all the time. Now, in adittion to my childhood trauma, I feel like I'm the same age I was when I started that relationship, 'cause I don't remember the last three years of my life.
I think I'll try acting as a healthy coping mechanism for that. I went to a voice acting workshop this year and it was great.

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Posted (edited)

yes, i'm surprised and disappointed every time i look in the mirror. i feel about 32. i'm more than 20 years older than that,  but there are times when my kid is absolutely in charge, she's about 3 1/2 and terrified and desperately needs to be taken care of. then i have the teenager; she and the kid both want attention, but by adolescence, it no longer matters if it is good or bad. bad works, and there's the whole button pushing of others to get my needs met. my teenage self is a bit of an asshole. 

Edited by WytchyWoman
bad punctuation

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