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A long road… approaching a dead end?

by convict

I’m a twenty year old in college… and there’s a lot that’s happened in the past few years that has made me question life in its entirety. Prior to my senior year in high school, my father was diagnosed with lung and esophagus cancer. It was a difficult struggle to see the dramatic changes my life took in terms of my family, friends, and my responsibilities. I took it upon myself to acquire a job and help with the family. I fought and struggled and did my best to help with the family in hopes that my father would get better. I haven’t seen my dad in two years. He passed away in April of 2007. For all my efforts, they were in vain. I was happy that my father didn’t suffer anymore, but at the same time, I was devastated for my loss. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the things I’ve seen such as watching someone I love slowly wither away.

I chose to go to a college close to home to be able to see my family and help them. In the beginning, my time at college was fun and a new life experience. However, after three long years at my school, I despise the place. I hate its environment, the people, and the dynamic of my school. I took this past spring semester off of school to figure out my life, to figure out what went wrong. My college life does not compare to my life at home. I tried changing things and was always hoping for a better future, but I doubt it will get better.

A year ago, I met someone incredible. In every way she was what I always wanted in someone else. It was incredible and probably the happiest time of my life. For the lack of a better word, it was perfect. A few months with her and I left for a “vacation”. I use the quotations because it was a trip forced upon me by my family. I never wanted to go. During that “vacation”, she left me for someone else. Rejection and breaking up is a part of life I understand that and although it hurt, it couldn’t amount to the pain of the unforeseen consequences of my previous involvement with her. The day I came back from my “vacation”, she cheated on her boyfriend with me. This proceeded on for this past year, with every attempt to stop it. Knowing it was morally wrong but unable to deny my emotions for her. I hate myself for my mistakes and couldn’t accept myself anymore. I made several attempts to end my life in Fall semester, which terrified me to no end. I reached out to my friends and family, but there advice in my time of need was perceived as judgmental and harsh. I sought help from my school and was committed to a psychiatric ward for a week. I was there for help, but felt like a prisoner. I finished my fall semester at college with a 3.0 cumulative GPA and a 3.31 GPA for the semester. I made the Dean’s List for the second consecutive semester, but I was in no way proud or happy… I was miserable.

During my time off, I sought to better myself… and find happiness again. To find what went wrong and more importantly, who I was. My thoughts of suicide constantly came in and out of my mind. At home I enjoyed a nurturing atmosphere and did my best to achieve peace within myself. I saw a psychiatrist every week and did my best to deal with my losses. The day of my father’s death I couldn’t take it anymore. I travelled by mass transit to his grave which was an epic journey. I had a knife in my hand to my neck and asked if things would be okay and if they would get better. By some miracle, the town air siren went off stopping me and grabbing my attention. I believed my dad was talking to me and telling me that things would get better, but I told him this would be the last time I fight and go on.

For the next few months I fought on, but felt numb to everything, to the needs of others and myself. I just couldn’t bring myself to feel anything anymore. I didn’t enjoy the feeling of being numb. I felt like life wasn’t worth anything if on the inside I felt dead to all emotion. During this summer, I found myself back where I was a year ago. I finally thought that life was going to go up instead of constantly remaining at rock bottom. However, I was wrong. I was wrong to believe in miracles and I feel utterly lied to, betrayed. I’m angry with my family, my friends, and feel utterly alone.

I believe there are higher forces in this world we don’t understand nor can we comprehend. I’m not a bad person and I do my best to help others and be kind. After everything, I find myself questioning life and its value. How can I continue to fight for my dreams, when I feel like I’ve lost everything? I want to give up after this long journey. It feels like I’ve reached a dead end… and there’s no point in walking this road called life anymore.

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Struggling To Survive 7/28/2009 - 10:29 pm

Dear Long Road:

I will offer just a few thoughts, and I hope others will also chime in.

You’ve had several major losses over the last few years, and the impact has naturally hit you hard and plunged you into a depression. Losing your dad, half-losing your girlfriend, losing your enjoyment of college — no wonder you’re down.

But you haven’t lost your grades. That’s amazing! Many depressed folks can barely write their names, they are so tired. So hang on to that. You have great strength of will and purpose, and a strong intellect.

But remember, just as it took a while to get depressed, it takes a depressed brain a while to recover. If you are not getting well fast enough, ask your current therapist or counselor for a referral and get some anti-depressants — if those don’t work — try others.

You haven’t reached a dead end — just a detour, and you are slowly finding your way back to your path.

If the town siren went off while you were contemplating suicide at your dad’s grave — consider it a positive sign that you are still needed on this earth.

Surveys show that many people get messages from dead relatives — they see them or have dreams about them. If your dad was telling you to live, take that message seriously.

Now about being angry with your family and friends — it’s hard sometimes, but people who have never had a clinical depression often don’t know what to say, or they say the wrong things. Be as patient as you can.

Consider finishing college — you’ve only got another year and a half, right? — and then going to a grad school that you really like. A whole new life is probably waiting for you there.

Cordially,
Struggling to Survive (been there)

convict 7/28/2009 - 11:34 pm

Dear Struggling to Survive,

I have my grades and I don’t have my grades. I have an extra year of school because I took spring semester off. I did make up some of the credits with summer classes. After the first session, though I couldn’t do it anymore. I feel like I’ve lost my will and its too hard to continue… I’ve also lost my girlfriend. I feel like for every gain it inevitably results in loss. I just can’t picture myself continuing on like this. I was never the type to give up and now I feel as though I am at that point. My cousin lives with my mom and myself. Hes almost forty and basically a bum. I don’t want to wind up alone or a useless entity, but I don’t see myself having the will to continue on. I feel as if nothing is in my control and the only thing I can do is to end it all. I’ve been telling myself things will get better, but at every prospect it just winds up worse. I feel like life is slapping me in the face at every turn.

Sincerely,
Long Road

Struggling To Survive 7/29/2009 - 7:16 pm

Dear Long Road:

It is very natural that you are feeling this way. When a person is depressed, every defeat or loss is another blow, and amplified by an exhausted brain.

I definitely suggest that you talk with your therapist, and explain that you are exhausted, and perhaps need a medication change. You’re in a lot of emotional pain, and may need a different medication.

Also, look around for a depression support group — either in your geographic area or online — talking with others in the same boat is a big help.

Remember that you’re still very young and just developing the psychological and spiritual muscles you’ll need for the lifetime ahead.

Dark times are eventually succeeded by good times. I have lived a very long lifetime and have seen this over and over again.

The best use of a dark time is to build intellectual, emotional and spiritual strength, so when the good times come again, you’ll be able to take advantage of them.

Please don’t compare yourself to your cousin. He has his life and choices and you have yours. You are two separate people.

With regard to the loss of your girlfriend — that is very hard. When one is young, one suffers acutely from the loss of love. But more love is waiting for you.

If you die now, you may never meet a nice woman who would have been a very good match for you. You may alter her life, perhaps for the worse, because you were not there to meet and marry her.

She is waiting for you, somewhere several days, weeks, months or years in your future.

I know of a number of attractive older single straight women who say that their “time never came” to get married. They feel that they never met their soulmate.

What happened to their male soulmates? Perhaps their male soulmates did not live long enough to meet them? Would you want your possible soulmate to be permanently single because she did not meet you?

Also, what about your mother? She just lost your dad, correct? How will she cope with losing you?

She’ll be devastated. She’ll blame herself. I know you wouldn’t want to hurt her.

And what about your dad’s dreams for you? You seem to have been very close to your dad. What was he hoping that you might do in life? He certainly didn’t want you to die young. That would have upset him a great deal.

Consider living, and doing things that would make your dad proud of you.

I notice that you seem perhaps somewhat surprised at the misfortunes you are experiencing — perhaps you had a very happy and succesful life before all this started?

And you are surprised and saddened because you could do nothing to prevent your father’s death, the loss of your girlfriend, and your depression?

You are perhaps used to high achievement and control of events? You feel as if nothing is under your control any more?

Many people in the Western world grow up believing — usually unconsciously — that everything is under our control.

Understand that human beings exist in cycles — bad cycles are almost always followed by good cycles. Bu we don’t always control when the cycles arrive.

The bad cycles are like boot camp in the military or a grueling apprenticeship in a craft. They are here to train us, so that we will grow stronger, and perform better during the good times.

I have met almost no one who has not had major, undeserved misfortunes in their lifetimes. It is the human condition.

But the good news is that if we put our energies to surviving the dark times, we enjoy the good times more.

You speak of having “no control” and that therefore you must “end it all.” This is a natural reaction of frustration and despair from an achievement-oriented personality.

I would suggest that you do have some control — you can choose to live. You can choose to return to your studies — ask your school if you can study at home for a while, or find a school in your area that will let you do that.

You have control — you can start dating again. If you don’t find the women in your area interesting or attractive, you can transfer to another undergraduate school, where you might be happier with the campus, and meet women there.

You will not end up alone or a useless entity. You have been successful in the past and will be successful again in the future.

Life is like whitewater rafting, and you are temporarily caught in the rapids. Consider using the intelligence and will power you show in your postings to steer yourself gradually away from the rocks into a calmer part of the river.

Here is a website you might find of interest — it contains podcasts, mostly by young people, on why they considered or attempted suicide, and why they decided against it:

http://www.lifeline-gallery.org/

Consider getting that paddle out and pushing yourself away from the rapids.

If you would like a list of postive websites and books that deal helpfully with recovering from depression and regaining control over one’s life, just post here that you would like a copy, and I will post it for you.

Cordially,
Struggling to Survive (been there)

Beth 8/27/2009 - 2:15 pm

Dear Long Road,

REgarding your year of on-again, off-again with your not-girlfriend. You’re young. That’s when you’re supposed to make mistakes. You didn’t cheat on anyone, she made the decision to be with you – her choice, her indiscretion, her moral compass is off-center. You are probably still grieving the loss of your father. You are also struggling to grow and mature. You are looking for love. It is no surprise that you and she did what you did. People change so much from the age of 16-18, 18-21, 21-25, and 25-30. You won’t believe it until you go through it, but it’s true.

I agree with Struggling – if your counselor is not helping you, find a new counselor. Speak with your counselor about anti-depressants. I was on anti-depressants for about 14 months and they helped me tremendously after I went thru a similar situation. Now I am drug-free and in charge of my life.. (But anti-depressants are not for everyone.)

Stick with school. It will help you improve your life situation, and can take you places you might never have believed imaginable.

You may feel alone a lot of times, and feel that NO ONE ELSE has ever been through what you are going through – and of course you’re right. It’s your life, no one else’s. But, pick yourself up, dust off your smile, and get involved. Join a club, go to church, get outside and go for hikes. When your life gets you down, do something totally radically different from what you usually do. Spark your inner strength and help it grow.

Wishing you all the best years ahead!
BWS

Find your strength inside, then you can find someone to share it with.

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