Moved back home, depressed. Where do I go now?
June 13, 2012 11:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm trapped in an untennable situation and am unsure how to get out. After leaving school for medical/depression related issues, I've been forced to move back home with my family. I have a couple of options that look somewhat promising in terms of escaping, but I'm paralyzed and don't know which way to go. Help? Typical snowflake stuff within.

So I spent two years at college and found it massively unpleasant. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, I was forced to live in the dorms regardless of the fact that I'm 26. That lead to me feeling isolated and unable to make friends. I'm visually impaired and dorms made the most financial sense thanks to government assistance. If I'd lived somewhere off campus I'd have had limited aid opportunities. I thought it wise to aim for as little debt as possible. So I felt socially unfulfilled, and if you mix that with a general disdain for structured environments it creates a pretty intense mix of depression and frustration. I did fine initially, but over the two year period I became more depressed and my GPA started to plunge.
Fast forward to spring semester of this year. I was in therapy but still hadn't attended classes in at least a month. Started on Lexapro. Between therapy and meds I thought things were improving, but they weren't. Had a girlfriend that helped keep me at least a touch positive, but that collapsed. I really wasn't in any position to be dating anyone so it's okay in retrospect. However, that also piled on the stress. Between a low GPA, the breakup, frustration with my place in life,and severe depression I had a huge breakdown that culminated in my being placed in psychiatric care for a couple of days. I wasn't suicidal, but some good simeritans took it upon themselves to try to get me help. I did make some remarks. At the time I thought I wanted to end things but I was definitely being melodramatic and those sort of gestures are way out of character for me. The effort was appreciated, but it only made things worse. Now I've got medical bills unpaid, school bills unpaid, a serious lack of transportation and autonomy, static with my family, a load of self-loathing, and a seriously bleak outlook for my future. I went off the Lexapro and do not currently have a therapist.Those services were provided by the school and as I am no longer a student I can't use them. Facilities are limited where I live. Also, visually impaired so I can't drive. My sister is 31 and doesn't have a license. My mother has a junk-heap of a vehicle and cannot drive far enough to get me to some kind of facility. I feel trapped and terrified.
So here are my options as I see them. Feel free to propose new ones, shoot down some, recommend one of them, or whatever.

1. There is an organization in my state that aids the visually impaired in independence. They do everything from job placement to helping find residence to teaching clients to cook. It's pretty comprehensive. This is probably the right answer, but it is also the most uncomfortable for me. Chalk it up to pride and fear. To take advantage of it I'd have to work through vocational rehabilitation. They provided the lion's share of funding for my schooling and I'm anxious about dealing with them. I don't have the best councilor in the world. He wasn't clear with me about some policies. Over the last couple of years that's lead to some strife between us. So to do this I'd have to go to him and first explain that I've wasted a profound amount of public money on school. Then I'd have to ask for more. The program is something like six months worth of my time and would definitely get me out of here. I know it's pathetic but I'm scared to death of making that step.

2. I've played around with the idea of working from home to build up some funds. I'm unsure of what that might involve. My only marketable skill is writing. I've started looking at markets, going rates, and books on the craft itself. I certainly have an indefinite amount of time to work with this if I so choose. I'm not certain how conducive this environment would be to working, but I'm willing to take a shot at if if there's a snowball's chance in hell of my success.

Those are the only two options I've been able to throw together. I feel really lost here. Where do I go? Is there some other option I've not thought of? Is there something I can do to build my confidence in general so that I'm not so scared and anxious? I understand this is all a little unfocused, but I'm a total mess. I'm stuck working through each individual day without any greater view of my future. Where do I start to put all the pieces back together?

TL;DR: Dropped out of school due to depression. Blindness leaves me feeling trapped. Back at home in an unpleasant situation and needing some direction to get my life back on track. I'm 26 and male from the US for what that matters.
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, this sounds awful. I'm so sorry.

I would not recommend doing stay-at-home freelance work if you are already suffering from depression. It's a lot of work to attract decent-paying clients. You'll just be stuck in your house. At this point in your life, committing yourself to a profession where you need to make (and enforce!) your own schedule would be sort of like treating two sprained ankles by taking up ballet.

There's nothing pathetic about being scared and anxious to approach that organization you mention. It's very, very, very understandable. This is stressful. It's hard to reach out. It stinks. However, no matter how awful your counsellor is, the reality is that nobody on this planet who is worth knowing thinks you wasted any money by trying out college and leaving when it wasn't right for you. I don't think your counsellor will care in any negative way. Even if he were to say or do anything inappropriate, you should just silently laugh at him, as he'd be the pathetic one, not you.

As hard as it may be to believe now, the reality is that people who hear your story are instantly understanding and willing to help. More people than you realize have troubles with depression and disabilities, and anyone who has worked in higher education for any length of time has heard dozens of stories like yours. There's plenty of help out there, and you should check it out!

It's rough to tackle all this without professional help. You've got some brass taking this on! Are you sure that there are no mental health services where you life? If you'd like to memail (or anonymously email) my account with your location, I wouldn't mind taking a gander to see what's available for you.

Best of luck.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:10 PM on June 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Go with option #1. I hear you about it being scary & difficult and pride-swallowing. Many, many good things come from doing the difficult thing. You will personally & emotionally grow, and it will probably even help your depression.

And good luck with the depression, please get regular exercise and do things you enjoy everyday!
posted by honey badger at 12:11 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Can you go for option #1, but ask for a different counselor? It may be worthwhile to see if you can sidestep some of the "requirements" in order to get a modified version of the services they provide. They probably don't have any more interest in putting you through unnecessary vocational training if just a few bits of assistance would do.
posted by xingcat at 12:38 PM on June 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

First, please understand I hate, hate, hate giving advice. Instead, I try to share my story, share info, think out loud, and brain storm. You need to decide for yourself which bits of it might be useful for your unique situation.

I am not blind but I am visually impaired and medically handicapped, plus my two adult ASD sons still live with me. I quit driving more than four years ago and gave up my license earlier this year. I went through a divorce some years back and ended up living with my parents for nearly a year in my early forties. It was really hard. I was very ill at the time. I got my first ever full time paid job (after two decades as a homemaker) just about the time I was well enough to work. I had that job for about five years, while I continued to work on my health issues. Getting well when doctors said it could not be done destroyed me financially. I am currently deeply in debt, homeless and trying to declare bankruptcy.

I left my hometown in January, setting off on foot with my two adult sons. We crossed the country, walking ten to seventeen miles a day and catching rides, some of them really long. We temporarily stayed in a small town in Texas and considered some other places. I ended up in San Diego in late March. They have sufficient services for the homeless and a sufficiently walkable downtown that staying here while dealing with a few things has been working out okay for us. There are soup kitchens and other services which help me stretch my very limited income, the weathe is fairly homeless friendly and some of the laws and local culture help make the situation more bearable.

I did initially do some freelance writing online to get some money coming in. That did not work out long term. I have continued working on the health issues. With getting healthier, I am gradually getting more productive. I am trying to develop my websites and figure out how to monetize them. Given my incurable medical condition, I think an online income is my only real hope for a long term solution.

It seems to me you should consider moving to a more pedestrian friendly location and/one with good public transit. Consider going somewhere with more services so you can get your needs met without feeling so much like a burden. Look into dietary changes and other lifestyle changes which might help control your depression without drugs or with fewer drugs. And then figure a out what will realistically work as a long term solution for you given your specific impairments and set about to arrange it if at all possible. That is essentially the path I have followed. Things have been gradually getting better. In spite of being homeless, my life is less of a mess than it used to be andthe finances are slowly improving instead of steadily getting worse.

Best of luck and I hope some of that is helpful.
posted by Michele in California at 12:47 PM on June 13, 2012

I think for you, right now, option #1 (and getting a different counselor if at all possible) is the best thing for you. Being trapped in the house all day is toxic.

Michele in CA also raises a good point: when you are ready to live on your own, why not pick a place where it's easy to get around without a car? Most coastal places meeting that description are forbiddingly expensive, but away from the coasts, you would likely be able to find a city or town where you could live independently without relying on someone else for a ride.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:25 PM on June 13, 2012

There are lots and lots of people who drop out of college for health/depression reasons. You are one of them. It's not shameful and you didn't waste anything. It just didn't work for you. If your counselor gives you a hard time, try to get a new one, because that's some shitty counseling. Tell them college didn't work, you don't have transport, but you want to find a situation where you can work and be more independent. Maybe a roommate situation could work for you?

Writing is a bitch to make a living at, more now than it ever was, honestly. Is there anything else you'd like to do at all? Teach, help others, anything? You will have better luck at keeping your independence if you can. I hate to say that, but you have to eat and pay rent.
posted by emjaybee at 7:08 PM on June 13, 2012

I vote for #1. Those six months will pass no matter what you do with them, so you might as well spend them building opportunities. Even if you can't get a new counselor, you'll surely get support from your peers and other resources at the program. Also, i imagine there must be some psychological resources there--it might be a good way to get your meds/therapy on track.

I have found that feeling stuck and hopeless is the very best time to take a big leap. It's scary and stressful, but it also seems to reset my brain. Besides,there will surely be other people in the program who feel the same way you do, so you'll benefit from those friendships.

Good luck, and be brave. I think you'll be glad you did, and regret that you didn't.
posted by elizeh at 8:08 PM on June 13, 2012

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