Big Life Changes part II: what's causing my depression
September 18, 2019 5:15 PM   Subscribe

After deciding not to relocate, the wind's gone from my sails, and I'm confused as to why ?

The post from a few days ago.

Thanks to all the people who gave great advice on that last thread and thanks for continuing to read. Since posting, I have formally bowed out of interviews/applications with recruiters out of state. While feeling a little disappointed about not being able to relocate us, I saw the importance and advantages of sitting tight for a couple of years, and re-assessing once the baby has some miles on her/him. I sat down with my wife and told her how I felt, she understood and it was a good talk, so we're still looking forward to our first child.

Over the last ~two days though, I have felt super shitty. Low energy, low interest in anything, and for a lack of a better word, just sad. I look around me and our area, at work, wherever, etc. and I just see a place I have no love for, and the people who kill themselves everyday to live here remind me of frogs in a slowly boiling pot. Our dog acted out the other day at the dog park, attacking two different dogs, and that made me really angry at the dog! Along with making my depression worse. My wife seems sympathetic, but I don't need to put any of my bullshit on her, she's the one having the baby and dealing with the morning sickness, et al while still going in to work everyday.

I keep thinking it might be mild PTSD reflux from a toxic 7-year relationship I had with a borderline, that I originally moved here with. While they have faded some, there are still a lot of bad memories from that terrible time. They're like background noise, because it feels like I'm reminded by familiar places or just by living here still. I'm at the same job this person made me go crazy at, I somehow managed to still show up, all during a really messy break up (restraining orders/lawyers were involved). I don't know if it's solely this or just feeling sore about the job/relocation thing too.

Work itself has slowed down due to product/scheduling changes, so I am basically just showing up, not doing much, getting paid for my time. Sounds like a dream, but it sucks. Idle hands, etc. Hence the reason for wanting to leave in the first place. I'm actively looking around our area for something different, but it's difficult because I've got a niche profession :/ Also, my attitude goes something like this: 'yeah this could be a cool job, but we're still in an area I'm staring to honestly fucking hate.'

I worked with a good therapist in the past (before and after the bad break up above). Unfortunately, he semi-retired shortly after our last sessions, and I've been fine since, not feeling any need. But I wish he was still available, because we have a history, and I think I might need to talk to somebody. I just don't want to have to start all over again with that shit, it feels like I just need a tune-up.

I don't know people, as always, thanks for reading and thanks in advance for your ideas and thoughts.
posted by kilohertz to Human Relations (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, I get it. You don't love your town, and you thought you found something new and exciting. It was exciting! Day dreams and fantasies (affordable real estate! easy access to the outdoors!) can be very compelling. You made a decision based on logic, not emotion, and now you're feeling a loss of possibility. I also wonder if part of this is that the baby coming along makes you fear you are going to be even more settled into your town, so it's starting to feel more permanent (even though it doesn't have to be).

You mentioned that relationship in your other post, and I do think you're right that you might still need to do some more work in therapy to move past that--or to figure out what else is going on. You said your therapist is "semi-retired." Do you have a way to reach out to schedule a couple of visits? Seems like it's worth asking if you have current contact information.

But here's the deal: do go to therapy with someone new if you can't reach your old therapist. You don't necessarily need to re-hash the entire old relationship. Starting with someone new might be healthy, really, because you are in a different place: you are in a good relationship with a baby on the way, but you are feeling stuck, and it feels pretty awful.

Also, it's good to give your wife the attention, but I think it's also okay to tell her this is a good decision but you're still sad, and ask for a bit of emotional support.

Finally, this is your first kid, right? There are so many things that are going to be so much harder to do once you have a baby (you'll be so tired). So, what if you take on a project to try to like your town? Look at some tourist guide for interesting places to eat and visit, and do a few different kinds of things. Have you been to the best museum? Eaten at the interesting, new restaurant? Taken a class in something like cooking or some other hobby? Learning new things together is super healthy for long term relationships, so maybe you and your wife can take a day together and do some sort of interesting activity. Just anything to get you out of this rut and distract you for a bit. Good luck.
posted by bluedaisy at 5:32 PM on September 18, 2019 [15 favorites]

Sometimes a big potential change falling through can make you feel twice as stuck in a rut as you did before. You think “well, I didn’t get that job/relationship/house, so now I’m going to be stuck with this same exact life I have now, and the version of me that I am now, for the rest of my days and ugh!!!!”

What tends to explode that feeling is a big life change. Sometimes these are unexpected—your marriage ends out of nowhere, or your boss comes in with an offer to open a new office all the way across the country, etc., and suddenly a year later your life is something you never would have guessed. But you have a CERTAIN HUGE life change that you know is about to come blow up the rut you’re in—you’re going to be a parent. That will completely change your life. Your life will feel different, you will feel different, even your neighborhood and job will feel different.

Stew now (and frankly it’s normal to feel bored and annoyed with your life sometimes, and especially normal to feel irritated at your dog sometimes too!) but know change is coming like a big storm right around the corner.
posted by sallybrown at 5:40 PM on September 18, 2019 [7 favorites]

I think it's normal to feel down & disapointed after you started looking forward to something. I have a lot of the same feelings as you: hate living in the Bay Area, been at my job too long, would love a fresh start. I had a job I was interviewing for that was really starting to feel like a life raft and then I didn't get it and I felt really bad about it. It's totally normal to feel bad when you think something good might be coming and then it's not. I think being honest with yourself and owning your feelings will also help you get past them. I think it's ok to be honest with your wife too. I understand not wanting to burden her but you should be able to talk about this stuff without it making a big dramatic scene or presenting it like something she has to fix for you or deal with. Now would be a good time to focus on her and what she needs & what the baby will need. This way you can get out of your own head, have something to do, and try to minimize stress later on.
posted by bleep at 5:44 PM on September 18, 2019 [4 favorites]

If this were me it would be due to the space left by an external motivator after vanishing.
posted by rhizome at 5:55 PM on September 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Well, I mean...though it can certainly be exacerbated by life events, depression is medical/chemical. Instead of talk therapy, have you considered seeing a psychiatrist to figure out if there is a medical route to addressing this?

Also, not to pick on you, but calling someone "a borderline" is...not great. You might not care about being nice to someone who abused you, which is 110% fair, but there are people on MetaFilter who have BPD and while I don't claim to speak for them I know it can be hurtful to be referred to that way.
posted by capricorn at 6:03 PM on September 18, 2019 [14 favorites]

It sounds very much like you’re mourning all of the possibilities you were entertaining. That would be normal.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:43 PM on September 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

I don't claim to speak for them I know it can be hurtful to be referred to that way

I don't speak for them either but I still know that about as many people like to be called "a borderline" as like to be called "a gay," "a female," "a bipolar," "a poor," or any other dehumanizing misuse of an innocent adjective for pejorative purposes. people without those qualities will just have to find another way to feel superior to those with them.

usually, people who leave their exes with significant trauma have some actual bad characteristics you can use for shorthand. "abuser" and whatnot. when all you have is demographics or disorders to fall back on for insult, it fails to persuade.
posted by queenofbithynia at 12:23 AM on September 19, 2019 [7 favorites]

I think this sounds very natural (and I was one of the posters suggesting you stay where you are for now). Of course you’d be a bit disappointed that the Fresh New Start you we’re looking forward to is no longer an option. Instead you are faced with Same Old Shit.

But guess what. You’re actually not. In a few months life is gonna be upside down. You’ll see your job, your home, your pet, your life in a whole different way. You just can’t imagine it or look forward to it the way you were with “new job new town”.

Be kind to yourself. It’s ok to feel disappointed. Give yourself dedicated space to really let go of the old dream and maybe daydream about the future where you are, with a new addition to the family.

But tell your wife just once that’s you’re feeling this way. Not to dump it on her, but just to explain your mood and she doesn’t get worried you’re not excited about the baby or something like that. She needs to know that it’s you, not her and you’re on the same team with this decision and everything else . I don’t think she can hear that last part enough.
posted by like_neon at 2:16 AM on September 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

Take a Fresh New Start right where you are. Pretend you just moved to town. Look for new places, new sights, new sounds, new experiences. You've got a little while before the baby shows up, take advantage of the lull to do all the things you thought you might enjoy but never got around to, that you almost certainly won't with a baby in tow.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:47 AM on September 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'd also say it sounds like a little more counselling would be useful - doesn't have to be a long term commitment, but you're dealing with a lot of transitions (or thwarted transitions/awaited transitions) and even short term counselling can help in those circumstances, especially if you're keen not to add to the burden of your nearest and dearest by offloading on them in detail.

In terms of dealing with these big, life-changing (or not) shifts in life, I like Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart. There's a concept in there about the fact that, inevitably, at times, it feels like life falls apart - but then it comes together again - and then it falls apart - and so on. There's an ebb and flow to life that can be difficult to deal with, but despite how awful it feels when things fall apart a bit, it's not, in fact, unbearable or permanent, it's something everyone faces, and we can get through it. And things will come together again - maybe when the baby arrives; maybe when your disapopintment at not moving is less acute; maybe when you decide to move at a later date. Nothing is permanent, for better or for worse.
posted by penguin pie at 4:40 AM on September 19, 2019 [3 favorites]

If it's only been two days, I think this is actually pretty normal. It would be weird if you never had any bad feelings about Tough Adult Decisions(tm). In this case, you're compromising your desires for the wishes of your wife, and in the face of a really big life change which, you're probably seeing, is going to impact on your ability to make decisions.

And during pregnancy that can be especially hard because the third individual involved is largely theoretical. Like...I have made many decisions now for the good of my family/sons, but my sons are lovely interactive people who bring me joy every day, not a round belly and a set of future possibilities.

So if I were you, I'd embrace feeling bad for a few days. Make a note on your calendar for two weeks down the road to check in and if you're still feeling bad, that's probably more in need of intervention. In the meantime, maybe you and your partner can embark on a project to fall in love with where you are. This is a great time to discover or rediscover the hidden inexpensive finds in your area...that great library reading nook, awesome park/trail, favourite inexpensive restaurant, great little gallery...whatever it is that brings you joy.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:20 AM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

it would be strange if you *didn't* feel this way.

For me, when I'm facing down something really stressful and scary it makes me exhausted. I want to sleep and sleep. So I'm guessing the pregnancy is bringing up some of that paralyzing feeling for you.

Plus you were amped up for a change and you're not getting it, so that's deflating.

Plus being underworked/bored at work is, paradoxically, super demoralizing -- nothing can get met to the "why am I even here?" stage faster than having nothing to do at a place where I can't leave.

I am guessing that the intrusive thoughts about your ex are a function of your feelings of stress and resentment. Brains do that, like "as long as I'm feeling anxious, let's just dredge up all the associated anxiety-provoking crap in the memory banks." Doesn't mean it's significant, necessarily.

Be patient with yourself. You made a choice for your family's near term well-being because you're a responsible partner. You'll be revisiting that choice before you know it. Right now just take it in small chunks.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:47 AM on September 19, 2019 [5 favorites]

That move a couple of years from now? You can prep now by researching cities and neighborhoods. Start a folder on your computer. Honestly, I think a good well-planned move probably takes that long to prepare for.

You're going to have much less time with the baby, too. You can also make a list of resources and points so that you of the future can research more efficiently.
posted by amtho at 9:07 AM on September 19, 2019 [4 favorites]

You were looking forward to Big New Exciting Thing and now it's not going to happen. Feeling bummed and demotivated is 100% expected after that.

Give yourself a short period to mourn all those happy daydreams. Then shift gears to finding new things to be excited about that don't involve that level of disruption.
posted by Ahniya at 9:50 PM on September 19, 2019

Some people excel at buckling down and making the best of things, keeping an eye toward the future. Others have a lot of trouble plugging along in life when their hearts aren't in that particular life. You sound like the second type of person (so am I)—and it's especially hard because you tasted the possibility of a situation you could potentially be whole-hearted about. It's painful! And neither approach is wrong, FWIW.

The good news is that this buckling down is also where the growth happens (just as those who look toward the future at the expense of the present could grow by leaping into a life they could love right now).

Struggle through for a bit, make sacrifices for the sake of your marriage, weather the upcoming baby storm, and then look back one day at the long winding, happy-sad journey that led to wherever you end up.

Of course, depression is a whole separate thing that you can't be expected to just buckle up and endure. So finding a new therapist is a great idea.
posted by gold bridges at 1:13 PM on September 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

« Older Best lens kit for phone camera   |   Best Bag Vacuum for cats Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments