Help: My life is a rut but I feel too sad to get out
March 7, 2009 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Lost my current life and all of my friends: how can I let go and move forward?

It all started last autumn, when my best friend returned from taking a break from school. I didn't mind much that she was spending less time with me. She was simply making new friends. Then she told me that she had abruptly broken up with her boyfriend to start dating... my long-time secret infatuation. Because I had never revealed this directly to anyone, I could not express the grief that I felt. They broke up abruptly though, concluding with my friend quitting school entirely. I was left very upset by this and have not seen both of them since.

I am 23; I recently changed my major so my school friends are all graduating this Spring, and are all currently in love, too busy with degree projects or their greater social lives to make time for hanging out.

Most recently, I found someone that I really wanted to get to know but he disappeared before I got up the courage to make the first conversation.

I try to think clearly and realize that I haven't one person I can confide with or spend time with regularly. People don't usually warm up to me, and because I had almost no friends for 5 years up until college, I am socially out-of-practice. These recent losses feel that much more momentous for me.

I was advised into take a semester off and quite frankly, it isn't relaxing at all, since I spend more time alone than ever. I'm compensating by taking extracurricular classes and attending public gatherings, but I pretty much encounter the same group of people from school or those outside of my age group. The experience of trying to find a job was a dismal one.

So recently, I have been taking bus trips out of town just to walk around and to think, or not think, because I end up crying sometimes. I feel unmotivated and I know that next semester will be challenging with me moving into a difficult living situation in a city I dislike, in a school I am taking forever graduating in with much younger peers. In the back of my mind, I feel inclined to take off and start my life over somewhere far away, so that I won't be constantly reminded of this place and the people I loved and have lost.

What should I do?
posted by Hina to Human Relations (31 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Before you make any major changes like moving away, I suggest you see a good therapist. It sounds to me like you might be clinically depressed, and if so you should be treated for it before you make any decisions about your life.

Best of luck!
posted by cerebus19 at 7:41 AM on March 7, 2009

I echo what cerebus19 says. Because these changes were so momentous, you certainly could be depressed. It's treatable. Please talk to your family doctor and student counsellor about these feelings. I believe they are very normal in the circumstances you describe and you may need some help to deal with them.
posted by kairab at 7:52 AM on March 7, 2009

Hina, I unfortunately do not have anything to contribute to this thread, but I wanted to let you know that I am subscribing because I am in a very similar situation (almost identical, actually). You are not alone!
posted by ascetic at 7:52 AM on March 7, 2009

I totally agree with cerebus19. A good therapist can tell you if you are combating depression and give you tools to work through it. It's also an excellent idea to avoid making any major changes/decisions until you feel a bit more like your "old self." Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 7:53 AM on March 7, 2009

This definitely sounds like depression, particularly the part about moving somewhere and starting over--I went through that in college, and tried it, and it doesn't work as well as it sounds. Instead, you're lonely and miserable and you're REALLY all alone because you're in a new place and you don't know anyone.

I'd also recommend therapy--it doesn't mean they'll put you on drugs or anything, but you'll have a totally unbiased, nonjudgmental person to talk to who can help you sort out your hurt. It's really worth it.

Good luck to you.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:55 AM on March 7, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks cerberus19, but unfortunately therapy is out-of-reach since it isn't covered by my insurance. I have spoken with a counselor, the same one that advised me to take a semester off. He didn't diagnose me but said that I deeply lacked strong family/social support.
posted by Hina at 7:56 AM on March 7, 2009

If you're comfortable with saying what city you're in, people might be able to help you find cheap or free forms of therapy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:14 AM on March 7, 2009

About 12 years ago I was in the same boat as you (and probably about the same age). I went away to Myrtle Beach, SC to work in one of those boardwalk cafes. I worked 16-hour days (from 4 PM to 9 AM), 7 days a week, for about 2 months, and when I left, the owner had ripped me off about $1200, and I became a bit crazier (and bitter) watching all those vacationers who were pretty much my age having a great time, while I had to work all the time.

But when you work 16-hour days, you don't have much time to feel sorry for yourself. When you are living in a new town, you go into survival mode, so you spend your time doing other things, other than feeling sorry for yourself. But in those 16-hour days, I learned that I deserved better than what I was doing, I learned about real priorities, I learned to appreciate my blessings, and I became confident with my new abilities in being able to "set up shop" all by myself in a new town somewhat successfully.

When I came home, life didn't change automatically, but with this new confidence and new outlook, I looked at living differently. And the decisions I made clearly were different.

I am assuming that you are female, so there are probably precautions you need to take that I as a male take for granted. But if you have the opportunity to start fresh, I say take it!

Now, actually, is the time that summer camps start accepting applications. Here is another great opportunity to go away. You might be a bit older than the other counselors though. Being able to take care of children was a great confidence booster for me. Perhaps it will be the same for you. And your room and board is paid for!

When you have confidence, that real, inner confidence inside of you, you won't rely on other people to make you fulfilled. Don't get me wrong, I still get lonely and wish I had friends and still fall into ruts, but having real confidence allows me to overcome the blues more easily than before. And the same will be the case for you.

Just remember above all - this is just a rut you are in. Your life will get better, I promise. You are doing all the right things so far. Keep your head up and keep yourself busy. Get that confidence you rightly deserve. You will break out of this funk.
posted by bitteroldman at 8:27 AM on March 7, 2009 [6 favorites]

Oh boy, this sounds so familiar to me - I think on some level feeling this way is a general symptom of being in one's early twenties.

Though it won't solve everything and probably won't make you feel better right away, throwing yourself into some project or other is probably the best thing you can do. It's what's working for me anyway - keeping my schedule full is pretty much the only thing keeping me sane sometimes.

The fact that you're still affiliated with a college is a very good thing, because there should be plenty of opportunities to do things with student clubs and so on (I've found social dance people to be pretty welcoming, for example).

Personal projects can be good too, if you feel up to them. Spring is coming - is there a community garden you can snag a plot in?

If you're in a bigger town or city, maybe you can find some place to become a regular at. Just the routine of going some place to sit and read the paper around other people can be comforting - and after awhile you might start to get to know the other regulars, too.

bitteroldman's advice is great too - crappy jobs are a great way to keep your schedule full and your mind distracted.

And do look into free/cheap therapy options. They're out there. (And lest you get too anxious about the "depression" label, I found it comforting to think of my distress in terms of an adjustment disorder instead - made it feel more temporary).
posted by bubukaba at 8:31 AM on March 7, 2009

Sounds like you need therapy but I'm jumping in here to tell you that dumping it all and moving to a new place and starting over is absolutely an option. There is a giant world out there, full of interesting places and people, and life is too short to get stuck in a place you say you hate for more than a little while. I've moved many times and always find it an invigorating adventure.
Even if you never pack up for Tajikistan or Paris or Pittsburgh, knowing that it's an option can be freeing, I find.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:31 AM on March 7, 2009

I came in here looking for something else, but I was compelled when I saw your question. I feel I've been in similar situations, several times in my life I haven't had peope to confide in. I moved to cities where I didn't know anyone three times. I started a course at Uni where I didn't make any friends at all cause they were all 10 years younger. I lost my girlfriend and the whole city kept reminding me of her constantly, but I decided it was my city, too... and I'm still here. After five years, recently somebody made a comment about how confident and outgoing I was and how I should be aware that other people don't have it that easy. I was totally shocked, because I realized people were actually seeing me like this; I'd still be seeing myself from this other side... but it's true; I now have loads of aquaintances, some good friends, one or two even that I can confide in, and even a god-child! It's so totally different from the crushing isolation I was suffering in the beginning... and many times, in other places I've lived. Anyway, here's a few things I did.

First of all, when I didn't know anybody, there was a volunteer run organisation in this city that I joined. I left them after two years or so, when I'd found enough friends, but got a lot of love out of them. It was an 'alternative' cafe, but there's other organisations here fixing bikes, running soup kitchens, etc. and there will be in your area. Also, I joined a martial arts class and got one friend out of that. My email contacts to very old friends sometimes kept me going, too.
Then, I still have a lot of network from the first job I had in this city, and I've found one of my best friends in my new job. I suppose it helps that it's all postgrads and PhD's working there, people on my wavelength. What I totally recommend is making your own music. I started to learn an instrument and soon found people that were interested to play, work on music together, and hang out. If you pick up a guitar, write a couple songs, and start going to open mic nights, you'll soon have a casual social hangout. I'm also aware of music groups such as community choirs here, and while they're a bit too amateur for me I've tried it and singing is very liberating. Might not be your bag, but in your city there will be plenty of all kinds activities. You're at Uni? Join a society! Now, I might have joined massage society mostly for getting laid (it worked, though chocolate society would have been even better) but I did in fact get a cool friend out of it. The best things are swimming and running that I do with friends. Maybe if I had to move to another city again I'd find some club for amateur runners. Basically, find activities which build complicity between you and potential friends or aquaintances.

I'm glad because people will weigh in with better answers to your actual question, but here's a few options for you already. I suppose one thing that has made it difficult to find friends, was always that I was too depressed to be attracting people (I mean there's people attracted to suffering but really avoid those) - depressed because I didn't have any friends! It's not unlike the situation here where you need a bank account to rent a flat, but need an address to get a bank account... it's cruel, but you mustn't come across as desperate. Also some people only want "functional" friends, ie people to go bowling, drinking, whatever. And that is fine as well. Last but not least, if you see it as a statistics problem, the more opportunities you create, the more chances you will get to check out people, just keep browsin 'em - finding cool people takes time, but when you do, you will know intuitively and they will stick. Until then, confide in your journal, and look after your inner world, so you'll have good things to share with others! I'm off to find that question from yesterday about finding it difficult to have conversations... (actually maybe you'd find that one helpful too?)
Good luck, stranger on the internet. You'll become sweet again. Also, forgive me for saying it, you're really young, plenty of time for you, no rush (;
posted by yoHighness at 8:31 AM on March 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

Echoing that you have signs of clinical depression. Hopefully you can connect with mental health services in your city.

I recall this being prevalent since well before now. I entered the words "post college" into Google and the first term that came up in auto-complete was "post college depression", where I found lots of links to postings about it, a few of which seemed valuable. It seems to be very prevalent on the web.

I have no intention to trivialize your situation - in fact, I hope to encourage you and ascetic that you are not alone and other people are dealing with it as well. Maybe there is something blogged or published on the web that could help.
posted by buzzv at 8:34 AM on March 7, 2009

I think bitteroldman is right--work, especially work in a new environment, might be great for you. There's a reason why some retirees work part time, and it's not always purely financial--work forces us to socialize with people we normally wouldn't, and this often a good thing.

It all started last autumn, when my best friend returned from taking a break from school. I didn't mind much that she was spending less time with me. She was simply making new friends. Then she told me that she had abruptly broken up with her boyfriend to start dating... my long-time secret infatuation. Because I had never revealed this directly to anyone, I could not express the grief that I felt. They broke up abruptly though, concluding with my friend quitting school entirely. I was left very upset by this and have not seen both of them since.

You should call up your best friend. It sounds like she might be hurting, too--two abrupt break-ups, losing her best friend (and probably never being told why), and dropping out of school? Ouch. Seriously, call her and ask her to go to Fridays with you or something. Remember: you never told her about her infatuation, so (it sounds like) she probably didn't mean to hurt you, and may have not even known she was hurting you. Time to make amends.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:38 AM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite] long-time secret infatuation...

...disappeared before I got up the courage to make the first conversation...

...I am socially out-of-practice...

Sounds like you need professional help, or else you'll be setting yourself up for the same situation with new characters if you run away. If you do decide to run away, my advice would be to run away to a small town at least so you aren't just a face in the crowd. Good luck.
posted by furtive at 9:01 AM on March 7, 2009

4thing bitteroldman.

I've found that as a shy person myself, the number of friends I made was often simply a function of how much activity/time I shared with a particular group of people. I was never able to make friends through bars or club activities, it was always at school or work. Whenever I switched schools or workplaces, it was generally difficult to sustain old friendships because there wasn't enough common experience to share and discuss. Throwing yourself into a job like camp counselor could be effective.

The mid 20's is often a tough transition time, it's easy to think that you've made a lot of false starts, that you're falling too far behind, becoming an outsider... too much time spent reflecting on this in solitude can build into momentary panic, and crying jags that well up from out of nowhere.

If you're feeling down, call a local distress line (it's what they're there for -you don't have to be standing on a 10th floor ledge to call). The people answering those phones can be angels. They might be able to point you to a local therapy resource that is free or more affordable.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:58 AM on March 7, 2009 a school I am taking forever graduating in with much younger peers.

You might appreciate some perspective on this; not everyone graduates from university in four years at the age of 22. At most schools, there are a good number of people in your situation who are graduating later than "usual" for whatever reason. I am in much the same situation that you are; I've been out of school for a year and am going back to switch majors the semester after my cohort is graduating.

There's no reason you can't connect with other early-twentysomethings. As well, assuming your university has graduate studies, you won't have much trouble finding people a few years older than you, either. I understand how depression/complicated life situations can make one feel older and more battle-worn than they really are. But guess what? 23 is not old. If you join a cross-campus extracurricular group I'm sure you'll find interesting people at least three years in either direction.
posted by thisjax at 10:07 AM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

A.) Everybody needs a therapist. EVERYBODY. That said, if you can't afford one, you can't afford one. (Though you should check through your school before giving up - they can often put students into touch with low cost or no-cost mental health resources.)

B.) You're 23. That's a transitional time for a lot of people. It can be rough. But your not hopeless. In fact it sounds like you're pretty introspective and thoughtful. Those are qualities that people look for in friends.

C.) Everything feels like doom and gloom right now and this is probably completely valid. But it will get better. You will have other friends and loves. It's just a matter of time.

D.) Put yourself in places where you can meet people with similar interests. You're 23, it sounds like you've got some free time... maybe there are some volunteer opportunities out there where you stay busy, meet people, and do something meaningful with your time. It's also a good time to take up a new hobby or expand on an interest... preferably something which gets you out of the house and lets you meet other people.
posted by wfrgms at 10:14 AM on March 7, 2009

You write that you are out of social practice, but can't afford professional help. I second bubukaba's suggestion that there might be other resources available to you that you're not aware of. Calling a therapist's office and explaining your situation might be one place to begin to investigate. They might be able to direct you towards a resource you can afford.

I agree that it sounds like you might be depressed. About 10% of the American population is depressed, so you are definitely not alone, and are among millions and millions of other people that are working through the same struggle. You might try a Google search for depression support groups in your area.

In addition to help, lots of fresh air and sunshine if you can find it is a good first stop. For where to start with a lack of skills, I recommend the Bill Murray movie, "What About Bob?" as a good place to begin. The most important thing is that you take baby steps. Baby steps are small, but you take one, and then another one, and then another one, one step at a time. Before you know it, you've gotten somewhere, but don't worry about that. Focus just on the one step at a time.

This kind of sounds like AA's one day at a time. AA is an organization that author Kurt Vonnegut recommended highly. Vonnegut says that more than friendship, we are longing for community and that AA is very good at creating this type of community. Volunteer groups can be an entry point into community. I agree with YoHighness's suggestion about volunteering. You might try public volunteer groups like Toastmasters, Lion's Club, or finding a welcoming religious church in your area.

It can be hard to get out of the house, but it can be an upward spiral if you do. It won't solve your problems, but it will probably help. A little sunshine and fresh air leads to more sunshine and fresh air. Physical activities around the house can be very helpful. Positive, constructive activities are very good like doing the dishes, exercise, cleaning, and taking care of yourself through grooming. Just having a tidy living space might help raise your spirits some. Investing time in yourself is one way to begin an upward spiral which might make you feel better (see this link for an interview with Nikki Giovanni).

Sometimes mental outlook is affected by diet. One person I know recommends eggs as being good for the brain to help out with this. I've found that caffeine and sugar rushes/crashes can have a negative effect on mood as can getting too many starchy carbohydrates such as pasta/mac&cheese/bread, and not getting enough protein.

As a place to begin, I might also recommend Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. It's a classic and has a lot of helpful advice, which we learn to take in baby steps. You don't have to run away from everything or confront all of your problems at once. If nothing else, remember Bill Murray's advice: focus on the baby steps. You can do it!
posted by SocialArgonaut at 10:24 AM on March 7, 2009 [3 favorites]

23? My friend, you've got plenty of time. Last year, I was in the same situation - that is, utterly alone in an unfamiliar town. Today, my social calendar is overstuffed. Here's some recommendations, based on what I did to break free.

- Socializing sounds like a challenge for you, so you're going to trick yourself into doing it. It also sounds like you value and enjoy education, so we're gonna use that to pull off the trick. When selecting your next round of classes, talk to your potential professors and find out the degree of group work. Whichever class has A) value for your career goals and B) a heavy collaborative aspect is the one you ought to pick.

Now, right away, you're in a situation where you're going to have to interact with people - your choice is gone, so insecurity has nothing to influence. Better yet, you're socializing with a purpose - your conversation topics and activities are already established by the task at hand! At this point, your social mission is very simple. When out-of-class study sessions are scheduled, bring something to simple and delicious to these sessions. I swear, sharing food and laughing together is 90% of all human interactions. Keep this up all quarter and attend any and all class mixers. School is very fertile ground for friend-finding, as you've got shared interests and shared activities built right into the normal order of the day.

- Join Facebook if you haven't already. It's kind of an obnoxious site, but its a boon for socializing. People you never thought you'd see again will find and friend you. Join your school's network as well as the area's, and use Facebook to find events with open invitations. Attend as many as you can muster. Go to shows and lose yourself in the crowd. Don't force yourself into conversation if you feel the panic coming on, but do use these outings as practice in being comfortable within groups.

- Keep your eyes open for fun community events that suit your interests. Sort of like the above items, it's all about gently introducing yourself to the world and vice-versa, as well as putting yourself in situations where conversation topics are provided and shaped by the purpose of your gathering.

- All the standard advice always given for depression is always given because it works. Tune up your diet and increase your exercise. You might find that you're not as depressed as you think. Seek professional help if possible - check w/ your school, as many colleges offer some sort of mental health services.

- Get to know co-workers. Like school, work provides a useful social framework. Furthermore, the shared struggle of a job can deepen a personal connection in a hurry. As with school, attend any and all events and parties that spring from your workplace.

- Quit putting so much stake in how your relationships with people play out. Intense expectations are the cause of much desperation and disappointment. TV and movies have fucked us all up, have us all expecting these Big Huge Romances and Significant Connections. Real life ain't like that - connections between people cook up slower and sweeter than anything in movies. People are amazing and fascinating and sure to do whatever they please, no matter what you hope they do. So enjoy their warmth and company and light within them and don't try to douse that light by holding them to a script you've got in mind for them. Be grateful for those you connect with and don't despair at those you don't - no one connects with everyone.

You're gonna be fine. I know you don't feel it, but you're so young - if you're in your early twenties with no obligations or restrictions then, frankly, I envy you. You're at the perfect place to build a new social reality for yourself and you've got absolute freedom to pursue it however you please. How exciting! What an amazing journey lies ahead of you!

Every local friend I have came either from school, work or a gathering that sprung from one of the two. I haven't had a free weekend in months. And to think that eighteen months ago I would go days at a time w/o speaking to another living soul. You can do this too. Start with a little nudge out the door and you'll be stunned at how far you can go.
posted by EatTheWeek at 10:35 AM on March 7, 2009 [17 favorites]

I discovered that the link to the depression support groups above didn't work because "htt" somehow escaped the copy/paste feature. Take two: this link should work better.
posted by SocialArgonaut at 10:38 AM on March 7, 2009

Start with a little nudge out the door and you'll be stunned at how far you can go.

I second EatTheWeek's suggestions. Good stuff. Focusing on the positive is the way to go. It's hard sometimes, but it comes with practice.
posted by SocialArgonaut at 10:47 AM on March 7, 2009

I've found that as a shy person myself, the number of friends I made was often simply a function of how much activity/time I shared with a particular group of people. I was never able to make friends through bars or club activities, it was always at school or work. Whenever I switched schools or workplaces, it was generally difficult to sustain old friendships because there wasn't enough common experience to share and discuss.

This pretty much sums up my entire social life, and possibly the OPs as well. I don't think I've ever been able to make a friend outside of school or work.

I'm in my late 20s but also going through a rut, and like others above I found that keeping myself busy helps. I write out my to-do list every Friday night and Saturday morning at 7AM I get up and start on that list (otherwise I lay in bed, sleeping on and off until about noon, dreaming about what I'd like my life to be). It also helps to do exercise when I get up, otherwise I feel a strong urge to go back to bed. The list has some of the same boring stuff every week (laundry, clean, etc), but I try to add other things that are appealing to me - learning, researching, etc.
posted by SirOmega at 10:48 AM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Since it doesn't look like anyone has mentioned sliding scale therapy after your follow-up, I wanted to pop in and say it might not be out of your financial reach to see someone, at least a couple times for a sanity check about your current feelings and how to make some plans for yourself. You might be able to find something through your university or another nearby school where you could work with a student or recent graduate for a significantly reduced cost. If you're in Chicago, I can make a recommendation (MeMail me).
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:49 AM on March 7, 2009

I agree you should try to find therapy, but in addition, try giving friendship with those outside your age group a try. I am in my 20s and those I socialize with range from about 5 years younger than me to mid 40s.

Broaden the pool.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:51 AM on March 7, 2009

Are the counselors at your university not fully qualified psychologists? I'm under the impression that most, if not all universities have well-developed networks for depressed students, since they're so common on college campuses, and they should have doctors and counselors and group therapy sessions for dealing with this kind of thing. Definitely look into what your school has to offer. (Disclaimer: this sounds like Captain Obvious talking so I apologize if this isn't an option for you.)
posted by Dr. Send at 11:39 AM on March 7, 2009

Response by poster: It makes me so hopeful to hear from people that have similarly experienced this and survived (with gusto!).

To answer Dr. Send, my school's mental health office is tiny and has 2 counselors; they are qualified, but I no longer have no access to them since I am taking a semester off (I am banned from school facilities). I was referred to local psychiatrists but I feel i a little intimidated to call them especially knowing that I cannot afford them.

To answer cmgonzalez, I sing in a choir in which I am the only person there under 40 and unmarried. There used to be someone I thought I could relate to, but they left. I felt like quitting then since everyone seems to talk about church wherein I am not religious and only come to sing. On a brighter note, I took the advice of EatTheWeak & SocialArgonaut today and stepped outside for a bit right after posting here, and guess what, I ran into a schoolmate who wants to come sing with me (hurray).
Crossing my fingers for tomorrow...
posted by Hina at 1:52 PM on March 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

I was referred to local psychiatrists but I feel i a little intimidated to call them especially knowing that I cannot afford them.

Not necessarily true. They may offer sliding-scale fees which are adjusted to your income. If they don't, they know others who do. It's worth calling them.
posted by heatherann at 5:23 PM on March 7, 2009

Good work, Hina! Keep at it!
posted by EatTheWeek at 3:07 AM on March 8, 2009

I, too, experienced this. When I was 16, I stopped attending my local high school to do independent study through an online university, mainly to try to get a better education (I did, somewhat, for those curious) and so I could work and save up to come to Australia. When I left my high school, it only took a couple of weeks before I was very much forgotten by my peers; and a few months later, my best friend of three or so years stopped coming around or caring as well. At 16/17, it was incredibly hard to try to look ahead, pay attention to school and work, so I could achieve a dream I had set my heart on; doing that, without friends, at an age where friendships are psychologically your whole world was not easy. I felt very much alone. (I am also an only child, so that didn't help.) I was very depressed at times. There were unfortunate family issues, too.

Looking back on things, I think I survived that scenario for two years because I had a goal and because I had a good many online friends. So, the first thing I suggest is figuring out what dreams and interests you have, if you aren't clear on that already. You can make both online and offline friends this way, as well as develop yourself for hobbies and/or your career.

The next thing I would suggest is that you gravitate toward something creative, even if creativity is not something you usually tap into. Being an artist, I feel I produced some really good work (for my skill level at the time) during my "alone time." It being good work is only mildly important, however. Just doing something creative allowed me to vent and then, later, to reflect. It was an excellent way to come to terms with what was happening.

I haven't read all of the above comments, but if someone hasn't recommended this yet, I will. Do consider moving. Why not? Pack your belongings, drive to another college town, transfer yourself, meet new people and start from scratch. You may just be a drive away from the best friendships you'll ever have.

Sometimes a place where we've experienced a number of bad things comes to represent those events. It's not logical, but it is part of our subjective view of the world. We superimpose our feelings on objects, people and places all the time. It's not always "okay" to do this, but sometimes if it's not really harming anything, I think people should just let it happen and allow themselves to move on. Your irrationally disliking and/or resenting one place in a world filled with millions upon millions of places doesn't really matter.

If you feel like moving would feel refreshing, a chance to start over more positively, then do it. You're young, you're capable of doing it--and if you want to, you should.
posted by metalheart at 5:06 AM on March 8, 2009

I am sorry you are having such a hard time. It sounds like you’re feeling really isolated and powerless. I commend you for reaching out through this medium. It was a brave and smart way to ask for help.

One of the most difficult aspects of what you describe is the lack of a support system. Clearly, you are grieving…and that’s totally understandable under the circumstances. But running away from your feelings and starting over somewhere else doesn’t always work (as peanut mcgillicutty pointed out). Wherever you go, there you are, as the saying goes, so eventually the feelings come back up to be dealt with.

I have three suggestions for you:

1) Consider contacting your former best friend (for the reasons PhoBWanKenobi mentioned). To get close to people, you have to risk letting them really know you and see you, warts and all. That’s what builds trust and real friendships. Tell her what’s been going on with you and that you miss her. Even if it feels awkward and weird and even scary, the worst that can happen is you’re back at square one, right?
2) Seek out sliding-fee scale therapy, either through your college or local faith-based organization (already covered elsewhere, so moving on…)
3) Consider contacting your local RC community (

Reevaluation Counseling communities teach people how to reclaim their ability to heal from old hurts by discharging their feelings in a supportive, confidential environment (instead of suppressing them, dismissing them, or endlessly analyzing them, as most people are taught to do in our society).

One of the best aspects of these places is that with just a little effort, you can quickly develop a network of supportive people with whom you can trade time—for FREE. It can feel hard and awkward at first, because MANY people struggle with isolationist patterns of behavior (making it hard to ask for help), but as someone who has been in both traditional therapy and RC-based activities, I can honestly say that my life only started changing for the better once I did the latter.

It is UNBELIEVABLE how much better I feel about things now than I did before, and how much bigger and more enjoyable my life is. I had a ton of old baggage to work through, and God knows it’s been a long process, but reclaiming yourself and your ability to find joy in life is worth it. You deserve to be happy. Best of luck to you, my sister. You will figure this out.
posted by Sal Monella at 12:10 PM on March 8, 2009

try this: one brick

I think volunteering in a social atmosphere might get your mind out of your own head.
posted by bananafish at 10:58 PM on March 9, 2009

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