Seeking New Identity
June 5, 2014 10:18 AM Subscribe
Somedays I feel like I don't know who I am anymore due to complicated life decisions. How do people find a personal identity with ongoing depression/mental heath problems?
posted by chrono_rabbit to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
When I was younger I was able to define myself by my role such as student or location. Now that I am older I realize that despite my best effort I feel like I've lost my sense of identity. Some times I read old journals and I recall being the anxious and unhappy person I was then but now I feel like I've not improved in any way.
I've been in therapy on and off for around 6 years from counselling in high school to college. I first was accepted to a local large state university after graduating college. I thought at the time it would be positive since I had grown up in a insular HS environment. I didn't expect my mental health to decline rapidly until my 2nd year where I had to take a medical leave. During my time off I tried to restructure my life around therapy and new medications. For 1.5 years I did part time work and prepared to transfer to a local city college.
I decided I would study Business and it was a smaller college than before and I could go home at the end of the day. Two unsuccessful years later I'm leaving the 2nd college due to worsening depression and low grades. I'm back to where I started 2-3 years ago. I'm aware that many or all of my HS classmates graduated or moved on with their lives. I feel like a useless failure at 22 years old with no job experience or college degree.
I did attempt part time retail work at a clothing store but I quit shortly due to my anxiety around the environment. My mother has considered my mental health issues and suggested I start preparing myself for a new job selling health insurance in 1 month. I have ambivalent feelings towards her suggestion because in the past I had followed her advice and I ended up unhappy and conflicted. She has a very "all or nothing" approach towards her ideas about careers and can be critical if I decide against it.
In fact over time I wonder how many of my ideas were not actually my own or but influenced by her persuasion. I'm having difficulty separating myself from my mother and considering alternative approaches to career due to this issue. I talked to (online) friends about how they chose college majors or future careers and some of them basically mentioned they were good at it or they were always interested in it on some level.
I feel like I am being ungrateful since my mother obviously cares about my well-being and future. I know she is under a lot of stress from her business and being a single-parent in general with 2 children.
I do not plan to rely on my mother for my entire life for financial support yet I feel trapped in my situation. I am attending weekly talk therapy and a psychiatrist once a month. I do find it helpful and am grateful that my mother has invested time, energy, & money to improve my mental health. Right now I know college loans will be coming since I left last semester and I know my time is short.
I have spoken to my therapist about these issues and he suggested I take a wider perspective on life. However, there are times when I fall into a dark place and I just feel like sleeping for days due to my inability to make decisions.
I can say I like art or reading books but I don't see myself finding a viable career in pursuing my hobbies. Right now my current self-identity is based on depression/mental health issues and feeling lost & useless.
Basically, I'm asking how do people have find a new identity away from their job/schools/family/location? For many years I identified myself as a "student" and now I'm lost after leaving college incomplete. I know that my future is limited due to not having a college degree and I feel extremely disappointed in myself.
I know it sounds odd to ask a bunch of internet strangers about how to find a career but I've lost touch with all my friends over the years between transferring schools and busy life in general. Thanks.