May 8, 2017 at 9:12 am #148483
I’ve been reading this blog for a while as a means of coping with some awful stuff that’s happened to me. Today I’ve decided to reach out on these forums because sometimes it is very helpful to hear the support of strangers. My story is a bit long so bear with me.
So, as it stands today I am officially done with college. This was my fifth and final year and it was by far one of the most difficult times I think I’ve ever been through in my life. The past ten months have changed me.
Late last summer I was finally getting the help I needed with my mental health issues. I decided to stay in therapy even though I was scared to and was reaping the benefits from that. I began daily meditation practice. I started on a low dose of antidepressants that changed my life for the better. Things were on track. This all changed very fast.
The trouble started early last year when some terrible news had come to light. My girlfriend came to me crying and told me that two people who I thought were friends had sexually assaulted her. Of course I believed her and supported her right away. The rest of my friend group decided to either not do anything or make excuses for the two perpetrators. Total rape culture stuff. In the process of standing up for what’s right I lost almost my entire social circle. I should note that these people are a very toxic, codependent, drug and alcohol addicted group of people to give context. Clearly, they were not capable of making the right decision.
Quickly both my girlfriend and I entered into a deep period of depression and anxiety just trying to survive emotionally, let alone get up and go to work and school six days a week. Family troubles sprung up at home (we live at her parents house) and her parent’s passive but depressing alcoholism was in the air all winter making things more complicated.
Not long after the new year it became apparent that my grandmother was very ill. In the course of a few days she went from being stable to on her death bed and I had to race down from New England to Georgia to say goodbye. Up until this point I’d never experienced the death of a close family member. My grandmother was like a second mother to me, especially since I am estranged from my mother.
I had to take my sister and her new husband with me down south as well. On the trip it also became very apparent that my sister has descended deep into mental illness along with her husband who enables her drug abuse (I’m not a doctor so I will not diagnose but delusional and warped sense of reality type of disorder anyway, possible schizophrenic stuff combined with drug abuse). Long story short we had a falling out because my sister was so delusional I eventually lost my patience with her and told her I was upset. Since then we have not spoken because she took my frustration as a betrayal and won’t really talk to me.
After all of this I felt like my whole world had collapsed. At this point I had been working and studying steadily with almost no time off since I started in late summer. I started to turn to Buddhism and its teachings. I found serious solace in that. It doesn’t always make the pain so easy though.
Things have been very hard. I was mentally checked out of so much of the school year and almost all the time at work. My workplace is a bit toxic as well, my boss is a workaholic. Nothing is ever good enough for him. But I still found the bright side and tried to enjoy the job because I like the people I work with. But the two people I formed good bonds with just left.
Now I am at the end of the school year. I just finished last Friday. I am done with my undergrad. All I have to do is go to commencement now. I have become so fragile and burned out. I told my boss my plans to go to Europe the other day. I just want to get on the plane and fly out of Boston as soon as possible. My girlfriend and I have been planning for a year to go to Europe for six weeks this summer and everything is all booked. Our dream is to live a travel lifestyle. Our European trip is our trial run to see if we’d like being permanent expats. After that we’ll come home and save to go on a work and holiday visa in Australia. We can’t wait.
I’m reaching out because all of this has become so normalized that I need to write about it and send it to some people who don’t even know me. Sometimes I feel so hollow and fragile after all that. I’ve been through a lot in my life before this too. But this was particularly bad. How do I go on? How do I trust that things will be ok? How do I recover? What do I do?
Through listening to Buddhist lectures I’ve learned that I’ve got to let go of fear and just let things happen. Which is what gave me the strength to follow through with my Europe plans and remain steadfast through all of this. To graduate from college and quit my job without much certainty as to what I’m going to do when I get back. I’m just trying to trust that no matter what happens, things will be alright. But I feel like hibernating in a cave for a year before coming out again.
On top of it my car has broken down and now I feel pressured to spend money to fix it that I don’t have. My intuition tells me the best choice to wait until I come back from Europe. I will know my financial situation better and not make a hasty or rash financial decision. After all, I all I have to do is get to work two days a week for the next 5 weeks or so and we have an extra vehicle.
Has anyone else had a comparably terrible year? As the Buddha taught, all beings suffer, so I’m sure I am not alone. But the routine has become so rigid in my life out of necessity that I forget to stop and realize how intense all this was. I’m an emotionally sensitive person. Sometimes it feels as though the culture I live in (Northeastern USA) is very hush hush about these things. You know, pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Mums the word, keep going. But why? Why should I pretend? It doesn’t mean I’m sad 24/7. But this was some serious stuff. I just need clean break.
Anyways. This was part ramble part story part I don’t even know. I’m very nervous about sharing this in a public space. But I feel that I need to open my heart. Thank you.May 8, 2017 at 9:43 am #148491
You had a horrible year but you functioned very well, considering, graduating college and making reasonable choices. I hope you find comfort in that you are capable this way, capable of facing difficult times and functioning effectively.
Naturally, when you feel burnt out, you want to hide, so to rest. You are very tired. Nothing but resting is going to take care of this tiredness, exhaustion. So make that happen, resting.
Before you do anything else, rest.
I agree that you shouldn’t pretend that you are fine, that all is okay, etc. What you are doing here, on your thread, is a good thing, expressing how you feel and how you have felt for a while.
I suggest you let your girlfriend know that you need a period of calm, asking for her cooperation in this regard. Sharing with your partner is a good thing, but at this time, while you are burnt out, it is better that she doesn’t share more distressing issues with you unless necessary. It is also important that you don’t interact with difficult people at this time, unless necessary and to the extent necessary.
The trip to Europe sounds good. But rest some before leaving.
anitaMay 8, 2017 at 10:03 am #148497
Thank you so much for your reply, Anita.
Your words are very encouraging and help me. I suppose I am quite capable. I never really realized that because it’s all felt so awful. I agree with you that I need lots of rest. I think I will share this with her, I think we both need that from each other. I will make sure that in the coming weeks I put rest and self care above all other priorities. There will be lots of sleep, meditation and ginger tea in the future I think.
ToddMay 8, 2017 at 10:11 am #148505
You are welcome, Todd. I like your clear thinking. Post again, anytime.