I hit that point when I was about 17. Back then I started putting all of my energy into finding the 'answer'. "I'll crack this in a few months. Its just a case of looking in the right place. All I need to do is find the key, and I'll be sorted".
I thrashed around for a while, sure I could find it in a few months. At 17 I thought "I'll be over it by 21.". At 21 I thought "I'll be over it by 24". At 22 i saw a therapist. She was crap - I felt worse.
At 24 .. I got over it. I got laid. A lot. My anxiety disappeared. I was cool as fu*k. It didn't seem to make me happy, but hell I carried on - I was the daddy. At 6 months, the CBT had really really kicked in. I started making buddies and my older relationships got better. This DID make me happy...things started to shift .... but on top of this, I loved it - I was getting all the attention and approval I'd always craved. I figured "hell I'm better". Haha!
SO I cold turkeyed the meds, I stopped the therapy. "You're not ready to be discharged - I still think you rely too much on approval" said the therapist. "Oh really", i thought. What did I care? I had all the approval I needed. So I quit. I moved away, Life was calling ..
Within a year, i was fuc*ed.
The bottom fell out. People didn't seem so approving anymore - but I still craved their attention. I still craved the sex, however little it had sometimes meant to me. At 25, I thought "I'll be over it by 27". At 27 I thought "28 ... surely .. soon ....".
Now I'm 29. I have been totally alone for a year - no friends, no girls. Just squeaking by at work. I had a review last week - it was worse than I could ever had envisaged.
So after a year of black depression I have finally returned to therapy. I realise now I was addicted to approval. I felt good only because my high mood and confidence (due to meds and belief work from the CBT) meant I could GET approval. If I didn't then it was ok, I felt very little pain. I had therapy and meds to boost me up - a willing cushion whenever I fell. But there was one little crack I hadn't fixed - and cracks always get bigger.
A year totally alone is a long time for thinking. Thinking of the ways that maybe I never really 'recovered' because I never learned how to rely on myself. Never learned that happiness cannot come from other people - because it US that has to decide whether their view really MEANS anything to us. Never learned that my new found 'skills' often translated into arrogance. Never learned that the most important persons approval I need - is my OWN.
I'm beginning to feel the depression lift again - but this time it is with a sense of calm, not a sense of conquering the world. I know I can survive alone - I've done it for long enough. I don't need people to survive, i can find my own way in life. People bring sparkle and colour every now and then, but that doesn't mean if they're not there, things need to be black and white on the inside.
With real friends, when the colour does come from the inside, from respect for each other and not just the desire to be the best - thats when relationships start to become real. And when they matter.