My entire life is up in the air
June 21, 2010 8:50 AM Subscribe
I feel empty and unfulfilled in every major aspect of my life. Please help me see a way out.
posted by anonymous to human relations (12 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Just to get this out of the way -- I'm already in therapy. I've been in therapy off and on for 15 years and it has definitely helped. But it seems to be taking forever. My partner and I are in couples counseling too and have been to two sessions.
I've tried SSRIs and I didn't like the sex drive side effects. I've tried Wellbutrin and it gave me terrible acne (still have the scars from an attempt at Wellbutrin last fall) and made my hair fall out until I'd been off it for a few months.
I put myself on St. John's Wort and L-theanine about three months ago. I also take Vitamin B and D. I haven't noticed any side effects. It definitely helps my mood.
So, here is my situation. I'll break down each life area and make it as brief as possible.
1. Career: For years I was utterly devoted to writing. I wanted to be a novelist and refused to have any "fallback plan" except menial office jobs. I actually managed to make a decent living as a journalist/tech writer for about five years, but when the US economy blew up all that were available were content mills that paid pennies, so I've taken what I've been able to find since then --office jobs. I now have a temp position that I've had since Feb 09, but it's going to end in three weeks. I haven't been able to save any money and I feel completely at sea about what to do next. I now resent my writing because it didn't "work out" and I never want to do it again. I'm ready for a completely new career.
2. Education. I'm overeducated. I have a master's degree in women's studies and most of another one in creative writing. I am over $50K in debt but the payments are manageable.
3. Relationship. I have been in a relationship for six years with a younger man who I love tremendously, but a true sense of partnership is missing, due to the age difference and being at different levels of emotional maturity. I often feel lonely and misunderstood in this relationship. We're in counseling to figure out if we should split up or make a long-term commitment. He's focused on his career right now and the relationship doesn't come first for him, but when I ask him point-blank if he wants to split up he says no, that he loves me. As for me, a big part of me wonders if my current depression is actually because of this relationship not meeting my needs for connection and intimacy. But, because he's willing to work on things, I haven't decided to leave. I did leave him last year but I moved about a mile away and lived alone, and we continued having a relationship under those terms. Leaving him made me practically have a breakdown. I couldn't sleep right for months and almost lost my job, and I'm afraid that would happen again if I left him again.
4. Family. I was always adamantly child-free, but then my sister had her first baby, a boy, last year and I've been questioning my reasons for not having children. They were all fear and ambivalence based, and sprung from a lack of self-confidence and a tendency I had to withdraw from others. One thing therapy has helped me with is to get in touch with my nurturing side. I didn't even know I had one, and now it may be too late for it to make a difference. I am probably too old to have my own child now, so I talked to my partner about the possibility of adoption and he unequivocally said being a parent is not for him. In fact, he couldn't believe I had changed my mind. I can hardly believe it either. I thought I would never want kids. I have realized that I have much more love to give than I ever thought was in my heart. I have been reading the AskMe threads about children vs. childfree lives, and people have said they would not have been able to become a fully-fledged adult without parenting. And I definitely feel like I have arrested development and I'm so ready to move on to the next level of growth. For me, that has more to do with cultivating healthy relationships than it does with the career success I thought, as a younger woman, would be ultimately fulfilling.
5. Environment. I live in a city with a particular vibe that just doesn't fit me. I moved here with another partner 10 years ago from a smaller college town where I felt more like I fit in. I've met a few friends here, but for the most part, this town is filled with the type of people who really enjoy a 24-7 party atmosphere and don't particularly need to be out in nature. There's a certain personality type that predominates here -- extroverted, superficial, and on the make. My partner is reluctant to move, though. This is his hometown. And I've stayed here far longer than I ever intended, because of our relationship.
This all seems overwhelming, and I fight feelings of incompetence at adulthood and decisionmaking all the time. I think it's the depression talking when I have those feelings of being a failure at being a person, and that I've never made a good major decision in my life. I'm really fighting those thoughts with the CBT tools my therapist gave me. I talk to my Mom about these issues a lot and she's incredibly supportive and even offered me to come stay with her if I leave my partner and this unpleasant town. But while a complete life makeover seems appealing, changing every single major aspect of my life seems incredibly difficult. I'm introverted, highly sensitive, and emotional, and change tends to trigger episodes of depression. I will work with my therapist on these issues, but I'm seeking the hive mind's thoughts and support too.