Relocating and rebuilding as a depressed person
August 11, 2013 6:16 PM   Subscribe

I absolutely need to move. I'm feeling very stuck in my father's suburban Texas home. I've been in Colorado for the last week and I don't want to leave. I feel that this is a place where I can be healthy and take control of my life. It's so beautiful. But I'm overwhelmed. I need some guidance, I'm willing to make a lot of sacrifices to relocate to Colorado but I don't know how to make it happen.

A little intro to me: depression has been a life-long struggle. I grew up in a conservative town in a conservative (and dysfunctional) family. Which isn't me -- my life would have been a lot easier if I were a different person. But I'm not, and to complicate things my parents didn't really believe in depression. My struggles have always been framed as a personal failing and deficiency. At this point, I'm on an SSRI but have no therapist. I did just buy Feeling Good but haven't been able to read it yet.

How I got here: I took care of my mother while she was experiencing terminal cancer. I had a hard time adjusting to life afterward. My father, to his credit, has provided support and tolerated me living in his house. But it's gotten to the point that I never leave the house, which is no good.

So. I need to get a job. My father has suggested he'll help me get a place to live if I can find work (I'm assuming he means he'll pay my deposit and assist me in getting stuff here, as well as pay for short term temporary lodging). But it's very overwhelming. I run out of spoons (see: Christine Miserandino's Spoon Theory of illness) before I can make any progress. I don't know where to start, or really what I should do to secure employment. And then I have to find somewhere to live.

I functionally have zero work history and never graduated from university. I've held jobs in the long ago time and am confident in my ability to work. I just don't know where to start. It's been a long time since I've had real employment. I am obese, but have no other physical deficits that would prevent me from doing labor. I ought to be able to make it work -- I am technically inclined, a quick-study, and enjoy helping others.

I guess what I'm asking for is some tips/resources to help me get to a place where I can feel like I belong. Eventually I will want to finish my education or at least get some career-oriented training (I wouldn't mind going to nursing school and know I could get an LPN pretty quickly, though there's the small issue of an unpaid semester that I took at a university). But first things first: employment, then residence.

Nothing's set in stone and I'll consider any advice you're willing to share with me. You can tell me I'm crazy for thinking this is a reasonable course of action.
posted by polyhedron to Work & Money (25 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
So, is the question how to find a job in one city while living in another? That's a tough one given that you are looking for entry-level positions. If your need to move is not immediate, you might consider getting a job at a major retailer where you currently live -- think Target or Safeway or Petsmart or another employer with locations in Colorado. Then look into getting a transfer 6 months or a year down the line. (Naturally, do not tell the hiring manager you are planning this.)
posted by Wordwoman at 6:25 PM on August 11, 2013

Response by poster: I'm in Denver right now and can stay at an extended stay for about a week. But getting a job like that and transferring does seem like the most likely solution.
posted by polyhedron at 6:28 PM on August 11, 2013

Response by poster: Except that as a person with refractory depression, struggling with his sexuality, and living in a mormon household, my current situation makes working at a local strip mall for six months a potentially impossible task. Not to be defeatist.
posted by polyhedron at 6:36 PM on August 11, 2013

Best answer: What about applying for work at a ski resort? There may well be a wave of hiring in ...probably October at resorts, restaurants, and other places in ski towns. Disclaimer: much depends on the weather.
posted by salvia at 6:37 PM on August 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

I totally agree that seasonal ski area work may be just the right fix. It's short-term and temporary, but some of those jobs even come with housing, and if you do end up finding it's not a fit, it's just for a few months and may give you enough time to develop leads for longer-term things. Also, sometimes those kinds of jobs come with a good social component of other people whose lives aren't settled yet and are available as friends, partners, playmates, listeners, etc.

Just wanted to encourage you to give this a try. Those feelings that you've found a place you really belong are important. They are sometimes the healthiest part of ourselves throwing out an anchor to something that they need. Listen to it - try to make it work. It may really be transformative for you.
posted by Miko at 6:39 PM on August 11, 2013

I don't see how your situation precludes you from working, and if I were in your situation, I would love the opportunity to spend 40 hours of the week outside my house.

I don't mean for this to come off as insensitive, just that's how I'd handle the situation, and we're all different.
posted by Precision at 6:40 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In thining a little more about the ski area idea, and your interest in becoming an LPN, what about pursuing a short-term course as an EMT or Wilderness EMT? These jobs are always in demand at seasonal resorts, and they'd be in line with your career path, but you don't need a university degree or enrollment to get this cert.
posted by Miko at 6:45 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: you might also do some research to find out what temp agencies or call centers are in both places. entry level tech support/billing/customer service is a place where i saw a lot of people who had limited schooling (i'm a high school drop out and got hired at my first tech support job when i was barely 18) and who were needing something that paid slightly more than retail. if you can follow and relay directions, if you have a good speaking voice and can remain calm - you're already mostly there. a lot of these places allow transfers (if you pay moving/relocation costs).

for what it's worth - i'm a queer woman who was raised mormon and who struggles with depression. getting out of my parents' house was even more helpful and necessary than i knew at the time. i've never conquered my depression, but i have been able to manage it for years at a time. sometimes i backslide, but it is never as bad as it was when i was living at home. you can't get better when you're under (even lovingly meant) constant gaslighting.

i agree that a ski resort is also a great idea! there are pluses and minuses to both - ski resort : immediate move out, but no safety net if you can't work the hours you agree to. retail/call center with a transfer a year down the road : safety net and the ability to save 6-12 months of paychecks without having to pay bills, but emotionally a difficult prospect.

i found that one of the few qualities that mormonism gave me that i could take into my post-church life was the journaling skills - you might find writing out some of your reactions to your time in colorado and to this thread helpful in sorting out what is a depression/anxiety fear and which solutions/problems are actually insurmountable.
posted by nadawi at 6:48 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I bet you could find a TON of work providing personal care to the elderly, or disabled. You do not need to be an RN to do that kind of work. You can absolutely put caring for your mother during her illness on your resume, and give your father as a reference, or perhaps talk to your mother's doctor and see if they would be willing to provide a reference for you as a caregiver.
posted by cairdeas at 6:53 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks guys, the ski resort/EMT ideas are appealing. I think I'll get a hotel for the week and try to make some contacts to that end. Much love.
posted by polyhedron at 6:53 PM on August 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

For example...
posted by cairdeas at 6:54 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: cairdeas, good point. I will look into that as well.
posted by polyhedron at 6:55 PM on August 11, 2013

if your upbringing was anything like mine, you might be better suited for elderly care than most. it seemed like because of all the volunteering (we usually had one or two "adopted grandparents" at nursing homes who we brought sacrament to/hung out with/etc) i was far more comfortable in those type of situations than a lot of my non-mormon peers. also, i find if work feels like service it helps me with depression and anxiety - like, who cares if the shirts at the gap get folded? but when someone is actually depending on you, it's easier to find that motivation on the bad days - at least for me.
posted by nadawi at 7:01 PM on August 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

I totally identify with the "need to get out of here" feeling. However, it can be deceptive, so give it a good hard analysis. For example, why/how would moving to Colorado provide you more metaphorical spoons? The excitement of living somewhere new can give a legitimate boost, but it does at some point wear off. This can lead to an inherently ceaseless pursuit of that high you get from starting out in a new place, and cause you to bounce around counter-productively from place to place (I speak from experience). Think about whether what you love about Colorado is its specific Coloradoey aspects or if it's just the freshness. (It could be either; I can't tell you your own answer. But it's dearly worth consideration!)

Have you considered moving to the nearest big city (Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, whatever)? It sounds like you would benefit strongly from moving out of your dad's direct purview but also to some extent from continuing to have access to his emotional and material support.
posted by threeants at 7:09 PM on August 11, 2013

Oh-- my apologies. Somehow I missed that your family is dysfunctional. I misinterpreted that you had a generally good relationship but were starting to feel limited and antsy. In that case putting some significant distance between you and your father could be a great step. The first part of my comment is still worth thinking about, though.
posted by threeants at 7:12 PM on August 11, 2013

Best answer: The important thing is that now you have a real goal - find a job and place to live in Colorado. Hold tight to the knowledge that you can make this happen - it is doable and you will find a way to do it. The only reason to give up on this goal is if you find an even better one. Do not let depression or adversity convince you otherwise.

If you do need to go home for a little while before moving back to Colorado, make sure you have a clear plan for how you are going to move forward. Going home will be hard and you don't want the depression to use that as an excuse for giving up.

htidid did just did a brilliant post on how to create of list of achievable goals that can be really motivating.

So, if you are back in Texas, some practical, incremental items might be
- find out where you can get help with a job search (local unemployment office may offer counseling and resume help)
- call the place. Make an appointment. Go to the appointment. etc.
- write a resume to use for seasonal work in Colorado
- find websites that you can monitor for job postings (they may not have the right jobs yet but you want to know where to look)

also I would suggest that you include exercise and any other form of self care on your list. Exercise in particular will help you feel better and also build your endurance for working more hours so you should view it as not just "good for me" but also something you are doing to get ready for your move.

Good luck!!!
posted by metahawk at 7:14 PM on August 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: threeants, I respect that. The truth is I've known I need to get away for a long time. Austin didn't work out for me but my circumstances are a lot different now. For a fleeting moment there was an opportunity to move in with my brother, but he's in med school in Houston and needs to focus on his life, living with me probably isn't the greatest thing anyway.

And well, I don't have a label but living some sort of genderqueer carefree lifestyle in Houston is a lot scarier than being myself 16 hours away. I'm approaching 30 and living in the closet. I don't really know what it is I fear -- my mom is dead and my dad already thinks I'm crazy for my liberal tendencies. He's the understanding one.

Colorado is nice because it's not oppressively hot and there are mountains! Mountain biking in Texas is kind of a joke, and a definite misnomer. I used to dream of Oregon/pacNW, but really this is as close to "home" as I've ever felt. I've only been skiing once but I loved it and I much prefer intense cold to the heat I've lived in.

You guys have been a lot of help and I don't feel quite so helpless. I've got some ideas for the week and some goals for the near-to-short term. THANKS!
posted by polyhedron at 7:24 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Gotcha. Just remember that self-work is self-work no matter where you are. Do manage expectations that moving to Colorado (or anywhere) will let you suddenly emerge as a fully-actualized GQ person. It's really rare that a complicated personal issue you're working through will simply lift as the result of changing one simple variable. It's easy to frame challenges in terms of proximity when you've got designs to relocate, but usually, in my observation/experience, Escapism Airlines can and will allow unlimited baggage on your trip if you don't actively do the work of unloading it.*

This is totally not to necessarily say you shouldn't move! Good luck-- it sounds like you're really well-positioned and well-spirited to improve your life measurably.

*is there an AskMe award for most tortured metaphor?
posted by threeants at 7:40 PM on August 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: All I can say is that when I was struggling with some hopelessness, stuck-ness, boredom and depression a lot of people said to me "Well, you'll be the same person there are here so don't expect this to fix your problems." And it did not fix my problems, but I was far, far healthier and happier because of moving - not only because it makes one feel better to take positive action to improve one's life, but also because conditions, social mores, and relationships really were different in the place I moved to. It is always worth a try and, when you're stuck and depressed, it is usually far easier to talk yourself into doing nothing than talk yourself into doing something. Making a move like this is a different thing from escapism or running away. We will all have work to do on ourselves whether we stay or move, but places really are different and that work can take a different shape, and in fact be a lot easier, when our surroudings support it. OP, I really encourage you to keep working on the idea!
posted by Miko at 8:02 PM on August 11, 2013 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, I've successfully run away from situational stuckness-bordering-on-depression at least twice, so I support the idea of moving, especially when you have a good feeling about a certain destination. Your surroundings can have a huge impact on everything from your daily habits to the social and career opportunities you come across.

My caution would be that moving to fnd a job hasn't generally been easy IME. The time I did the ski resort thing, the three of us camped out and lived out of our car until it got too cold and muddy, then slept on the floor of this ski bum's bedroom. I got a depressing job at a bagel shop. They got jobs at the resort right away, but the snow didn't come so the resort didn't open for months, meaning no hours at work, meaning no paychecks for them. We ate a ton of bagels. They got day labor jobs on road construction sites when they could. It was kind of depressing for us all, and we started to bicker. And, I've moved without a job maybe three or four times, and this was one that felt LEAST disorienting, because we all did get hired pretty quickly, and we had one another.

Based on that, I'd suggest you create as much structure for yourself as possible: a job or school / a training, a place to stay, a schedule to call [home / a friend] once a day or once a week... I'm a bit worried that this whole thing could be pretty stressful, which is never good for mental health, so I'd try to plan out as many pieces as possible.
posted by salvia at 12:44 AM on August 12, 2013

Best answer: LPN is an Excellent idea.

To get employed quickly though, get a CNA first. CNAs are hugely in demand and can be employed all over the freaking place. Arapahoe Community College has a program that should be dirt cheap. It's one semester and it's part-time. You may even qualify for student loans. Normally I wouldn't recommend them, but in this case it would be very inexpensive and a great way to set you on your feet.

Once you have a CNA, you could work a swing shift, and you can work in a hospital. Then enroll in the LPN program at the same institution.

You can get housing easily enough.

Go down there TODAY! Talk to a counselor and the Financial Aid office, you might be in class in just a couple of days!

They have shared housing posted on their website.

Good luck.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:59 AM on August 12, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Go to the Denver Workforce Investment site and see all of the amazing help they offer. There is a likelihood that the LPN is covered under their WIA grants.

You'll need to talk to an employment counselor. Don't bring up all of the family stuff, though - with them, you'll want them to help you tweak your resume and your online job seeker profile, as well as helping you find programs that might be exactly what you need.

If you feel that your depression is going to have significant workplace impact, contact the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Department of Human Services might be a great one-stop shop for getting yourself squared away for self-sufficiency. You're not likely to qualify for every program, but there may be some help for you there.
posted by batmonkey at 10:43 AM on August 12, 2013

Agree CNA is a good first step. Often takes just a semester. And if wherever you settle has a local hospice, become a volunteer there. This will expand your skill set, flesh out your resume and increase your networking opportunities. Also, long-term care (LTC) jobs are always available. They aren't for everyone, so if you have the special personality that warms to that kind of work, you are valued.

On a separate note, Colorado Mountain College is a community college with several mountain campuses. Some of them have residential campuses (Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs come to mind). If being a full-time student and living in a small dorm environment suits you, you might check it out. It may not be too late to enroll and get a spot, but it would have to happen fast for the fall semester!
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 10:57 AM on August 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

FWIW, EMT is also one semester, pays about the same as a CNA, but I think the work is more interesting.

There is something lifegiving about Denver, at least for me. I have lived a lot of places (including decades in Houston!) and I loved Denver. I felt somehow supported by the mountains. And compared to Texas, the summers are pleasantly mild.
posted by jeoc at 7:01 PM on August 12, 2013

A little bit late, but a friend of mine who lived in the Denver area through her twenties has some good suggestions:

"Anyway, I do have a few resources (if you're still interested in passing 'em along). Denver has a thriving genderqueer community (in my experience). If the poster is looking for ways to spend the day, do some great volunteer work, and hang out with one of the most well-connected delightful transguys I know--check out the Denver Zine Library. It was founded and is still run by Kelly Shortandqueer, who is also on the web and super responsive to email, snailmail, whatever. Really, he's great.

"Depending on the age of this person, Rainbow Alley might be a good resource--it's connected to the LGTB Center of Colorado ( and has great resources for folks under 21. The Rainbow Alley folks used to be very good on their gender rhetoric for both trans and cis folks, but I don't know who's there now.

"Also... I'd have to say the Tattered Cover has been a great place for someone with gender issues, not a lot of work experience...and a plucky, can-do attitude to working for minimum wage. I remember a coworker (and dear friend now) once saying that if she wanted to be called 'Captain Underpants' and a fabricated pronoun scheme, we'd hardly bat an eye and do it without any fuss. This was a few years ago, though).

"To respond to a suggestion another commenter made--I have not heard that ski resorts are particularly embracing of non-conforming gender presentation, but that info is 10 years old.

"Another great organization to get involved with is the Colorado Anti-Violence Program (CAVP: They provide a lot of support for LGTBQ folks in mostly DV situations, but also do other support/outreach/etc. Just going to the office and meeting with them would be worthwhile (plus they're next door to a place that makes amazing pie)."

Also, do check your memail.
posted by nat at 5:12 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

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