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    My anxiety and depression came smashing in like a tidal wave this week.  I am in the midst of a difficult job search having completed my Ph.D. last winter.  My degree took a very long time to complete (8 1/2 years).  I thought by the end of my program I would have a clear idea as to what I want to do for a career and my life, but I do not.  Last January I really struggled with anxiety and depression to the point where I was hardly sleeping.  I was able to eventually calm myself down.  My job search continued to be frustrating in large part because I do not know exactly what I want to do and I have yet to find an opportunity that truly excites me.  However, I was able to sleep better and stay fairly active.  Fast forward to now…about a week ago I returned from a week long visit with my parents.  I more or less completely unplugged during my time with them.  When I came back to my place last Sunday I could feel my anxiety and depression creeping back in.  Then at the start of this week my mental illness smashed me in my face.  I have only been able to sleep a few hours a night, and that is with OTC sleeping pills, and my heart is somewhat racing throughout the day.  Yesterday I had a brief phone screening interview (30 minutes) for a job I applied for.  During the interview I found myself  feeling scared and depressed.  The opportunity sounds less like what I was hoping for.  They asked me back for a second, much longer interview in a couple weeks.  I felt severe panic I think for a number of reasons.  1) I want an interview that leaves me excited about the opportunity and not the opposite.  The interviewers were very nice, but I do not know that the work is something I would enjoy doing.  And I am afraid of being in a job that I find to be miserable. 2) I am terrified I will never find something I am truly interested in.  I cannot stay partially employed (I work an on-call gig occasionally) forever.  I have a partner who I love completely.  She lives half way around the world and my securing a fulltime job is a huge hurdle we are trying to overcome.  3.) I quit my last fulltime job almost 9 years ago to pursue my doctorate because I did not feel fulfilled.  Now I am terrified I did it all and will still end up feeling unfulfilled.

    I have been crying a lot these days.  I have been trying to meditate, take deep long breathes, and distract myself, but nothing seems to be working, at least not for very long.  I feel hopeless.  I am 42 years old and have struggled with anxiety and depression most of my life.  I have seen therapists, taken medications, and have read numerous self-help books.  I want to be a stronger person.  I do not want fear to control me.

    Not sure what I am looking for with regards to my writing this on this forum.  In a small way it is just a bit helpful to share it with people even if just virtually.  Anyway…thank you for listening.


    Dear Richard:

    Combining your two threads, you shared that you have struggled with anxiety and depression  most of your life. At about 33, you did not feel fulfilled at your full-time job, so you quit it to pursue my doctorate. You did not have a clear idea at the time as to what you wanted to do for a career, and how you would use your degree- but you figured that by the end of the program, you will figure it out. The doctorate program was grueling, and you often thought about dropping out, particularly some 3 years into it when you “felt completely lost and was so anxiety and depression ridden.. barely sleeping”.

    The program lasted longer than you anticipated: 8.5 years and ended in the winter of 2020-21. In January 2021 you were wrapping up an internship, after which you were going to be unemployed. You still had “no clue” about what you were going to do, and your anxiety intensified: “Nights and mornings are particularly difficult.  I wake up in the middle of the night with a sense of dread and hopelessness.. when I wake up my heart is racing, and I begin ruminating”.

    Later you calmed down somewhat, but none of the opportunities you came across excited you, and so, the job search was frustrating. Fast forward to a week ago, your anxiety and depression intensified once again.

    In my last reply to you back in January, I wrote to you regarding the origin of your anxiety being in childhood: “I am bringing these things up because although what you are already doing (taking a walk outside, reading certain books, doing CBT exercises, listening to a sound machine at night, etc.) is very helpful, gaining insight into how things came about-in the long run- is necessary for healing”.  You did not respond to that post. Maybe you didn’t read it. More likely, you didn’t want to look that far, it was inconvenient. Maybe you felt better and you didn’t think it useful to examine the past.

    Problem is, when we had a troubled, unresolved childhood, it keeps chasing us no matter where we live, what we do for work and what degree we earn. We keep re-experiencing the same emotional experience of childhood, which in your case is your personal mix of anxiety and depression that you are well familiar with. You had therapy, but clearly it was not enough- you needed more quality therapy. You still do.



    Hi Anita,

    Thank you for both of your posts.  I do believe I have unresolved past trauma from my childhood.  I struggled with my weight all my life and was picked on as a kid for it.  My dad who has been my hero many times even said a very mean comment about my weight when I was in grade school.  I am the youngest in the family.  My second oldest brother was particular mean to me growing up.  He regularly ridiculed me for my weight, told me I was the stupid one in the family, along with many other cruel comments.  I for the most part avoid him now, which is pretty easy because we live about 10+ hours apart.

    I want to move past my past and heal.  I am not sure how.  I am considering seeking out a new therapist, but it is a bit difficult to do so right now for financial reasons.

    Again, thank you for your posts.


    Dear Richard:

    You are welcome. I am so sorry that you were ridiculed for being overweight- it hurts when it is done to an adult, it hurts way more when it is done to a child. I know how it feels to be ridiculed(I had severe facial tics which as a child, for which I was made fun of). I will reply to you further later. Feel free, if you would like, to share more about your childhood experience. I would like to know more. I will be away from the computer and back to your thread on the morning of 4th of July!



    Hello my friend,

    My name is Wind in Vietnam. I would like to gently share some ideas and questions with you. Everything I share is only to invite your curious quiet contemplation within yourself. If you choose to. After share, everything depends on you to choose this or that.

    Sometimes the door to escape all troubles and suffering is so close my friend, but what blocks each people from walking through it? Because though they may say, They Know. They understand. They can not give up their story that binds them inside to an illusionary self created prison to practice everything.

    I share..

    When was the last time you sat down face to face with yourself and everything in your life before you ran to old habits for an imagined temporary feeling of safety?

    Do you think that when the Death appears, it will care about all your study, wanting, hoping, needing, anxiety, depression, worry, your dreams… and show compassion and time with you?..

    Do you think ‘the time’ is beside you like the friend, waiting with you in all your suffering and wanting?

    Suddenly the Death appear, do you think you can hold and bring all your PhD, doctorates, dreams, worry, anxiety, tablets, wishes and wants through the door?..

    The Death care about your study? You are important with the time and Death?

    My friend… questions are for you to patiently face and contemplate if you choose to. Why the difficult question has value? Because from the question creates occasion for everything to open.

    Now you are the man of 42. Can you answer, what is the law that controls each and every Soul that comes to the life? Why at 42 you are still here but many did not even get past one hour of life?.. What law controls?

    A story..

    One day the man plants a fruit tree in the ground.. A special tree he chose. He like so much. He dreamed of the tree becoming so big and beautiful and many fruit. Each day he water, take care.. Always checking every day its height. The leaves.. Everyday he watching, wanting it to grow. He begins impatiently. Inside him he sees the imaginary tree so big. He begin praying to make it grow and everything will be ok. Inside, he begin all sorts of suffering in the wanting. He can not sleep, always checking, worry something wrong.. He think, why not growing? Is it sick? Too slow, too slow….

    My friend… In this small example story.. Did you see you?

    What is the mistake of the man?

    His mistake is he did not see that the tree must follow the law of tree. That everything takes place according to the Law and on the time, with enough details and conditions, everything appears. Not early or late, but on the time.

    What is the cause of the suffering? From grasping in imaginary outcomes.

    In each imaginary outcome from grasping at what is or not and what if… Each person did become like the man running through the desert trying to keep a piece of ice in their hand.

    The door to escape is to drop all grasping in the wanting. Have you ever tried to catch the space around you in your hand? You will only most certainly tire yourself out.

    From imagine, everyone did invite the appearance of all kinds of illusionary trouble and sickness.

    Now you are the man of 42.. You good mind, study.. do everything for your life.. But you did not understand anything about yourself. And the purpose of the life. Means, in the grasping, you mistake with you.

    What is the nature and root purpose of any job, from a President to a Beggar? Only to earn for ones life. Everything else is only the appearance. And so.. when we lose ourselves to the appearance of the life, we begin to lost ourselves inside.

    Whether the man is happy with the tree growing or angry with the tree not growing does not change the Law of tree. So what happens inside the effect or grasping and wanting? You lose yourself to your emotions that become like strings controlling a puppet. From your dominating emotions attached to the grasping, you volunteer your Soul into slavery. You lost the time becoming attached to the prison of KEEPING. Keeping false ideas, thoughts, opinions, fears.. That develop into all kinds of different names..

    My friend..

    Each persons life is like the fruit tree. And the name of the law that controls each tree is the cause and effect law. No one can know what fruit will or will not appear until it appears. Fruits equal effects.

    Behavior is the most important detail. Behavior with yourself in each moment. As each idea, thought, action becomes the seeds for effects tomorrow or another time. But no matter what.. effects always come right without discrimination.

    So from your grasping, your wanting of this and that… What will be your effect you invite?

    Stay in the purpose of your purpose and cut the habit of grasping. And……….. Everything will take place.

    Relax with your life. The life. How is too relax? Relax means to see everything as it is and accept everything as it is now. You see that like the tree, the life is always moving and changing on the law. That all possibilities appear on the time. You either begin wake up and practice to create space inside by removing all false obstructions, for these possibilities to have the right conditions to grow and develop..

    Or… from your grasping in fears, desires of imagine.. of wanting.. you grow weeds that suffocate the space inside.

    My friend.. No one can imagine that all they need is the courage to NOT KEEP.

    KEEP, may have many different appearances but the effect is always the same. As, what you keep, keeps you. Now at 42… You must (must means if you choose to) begin wake up and see the limit of all things and the deeper value of the life.

    Even if I wrap my body around the tree in fear or happiness.. Does not change the Law of tree.

    I borrow an example from early in my life to describe idea… As my Father died.. when he knew he was going to die at 26.. He said, ‘It’s ok’

    Inside Its ok, has the big lesson my friend past the appearance. Means, inside the nature of Its ok, is a complete acceptance of ones life. Its ok mean, we are not against the circumstances of our life. We accept everything that is or is not and peace and balance in any situation that comes or not come.

    My friend.. from 2 small words you can see the great value if you can quietly inside and put the idea beside your life. Whether the job appears now, or a year.. Its ok my friend.  You only stay in good purpose, good behavior with yourself in each moment. You do everything good in prepare and courage and confidence in each step… Then you will see, that everything will take place.

    Must courage to get of the wheel of habit like the mouse run and run.. But did never go anywhere. The wheel of always a slave to emotions. And begin see everything from another corner. The space of awareness. Awareness burns the dark inner clouds of emotions. The life has many appearances.. but all suffering regardless of the appearances come back to the emotional attachment to grasping in the life.

    Not one tablet, not one worry, not one moment of lost sleep, not one imagined outcome… can add one second to your life my friend. I have… I am.. I want… are all small prisons for the Soul.

    All attached to emotions…that run deep like the roots of a tree.

    Begin to overcome yourself by opening your hands with the life. Begin practice gratitude in each action. as gratitude creates the space for balance in the acceptance of your life. The value only appears in the positive action.

    All your fears, are the effect from your View. As by the view you use, so it exists exactly. Grasping in the appearance of imagine, dominated by emotions we become like a person searching for keys in a dark room.

    Where is the light my fiend? The light is your awareness. Awareness needs energy. You have awareness but not the energy because your so busy with your emotions, which are like a thief that continuously robbed you in broad daylight  but you did not see.

    These words can not save you. Do not attach to the words but focus on the content inside.

    As……Only you can save you or destroy you.

    So I share..

    You must courage to begin drop all grasping. Drop all grasping does not mean we lost purpose. But inside the purpose we see the limit of the life. Of all things. The movement of the life.

    We see at the same time, that the purpose of the life is to pay and receive equal with our cause and effect. To practice to grow up our Soul and awareness and overcome everything. To release the grasp on illusionary objects and outcomes that become our false idea of real and continue to lead the soul deeper into confusion.

    My friend.. Now at 42… If you can quietly with ideas. You have the great occasion before you. The life always has 2 faces…  That is the law of the physical space we live. When everyone stands in happy, means sad waits. Everyone says, I love, means hate waits. Everything feels so good, means the face of bad waits.. All from emotions attached to a discriminative View.

    When you have the courage my friend to face to face with YOU. You life. Not an imagined life from, WHAT IF. And begin fresh steps towards putting everything down inside. Letting go of all grasping attached to false thinking and ideas.

    Put down the inner discriminations and judgements of everything is either good or bad and just see everything as it is.. And practice inside the idea of ITS OK.

    You can not imagine… the possibilities that will begin to appear inside. They were always there… just like the Sun is always bright.. even when obstructed by dark clouds.

    Now is the good time for you to begin forget an imaginary past and bring your eyes back into your own eyes to see everything that is right now. To awake in each step.

    I share from sincere experience. You must choose. You continue to push up your story of difficult to be your illusionary prison of real. Lost in the circle of talking and repeat.

    Or… you begin focus on clearing and cleaning everything inside and put down your attachments to wanting. Begin the courage to break up everything. Like a fire burns a forest of all dead wood and creates the fresh occasion for the new to appear.

    Everything wait for you my friend. The life wait for you. Your possibilities wait for you. All you need to practice is to release your strangle hold on all your grasping and wanting and needing and imagined outcomes and come back to yourself in sincere acceptance of NOW.

    Once there was this Lion. She had a cub. She was starving and the cub too. Each day she was hunting but kept missing. After miss, she just rested quietly under the shade.. wait for tomorrow.. days passed.. she kept missing.. starving.. But, after miss.. always relax in shade. Save energy. On the time, when everything connected.. She caught they prey. Her situation change.

    Like you my friend.. Do not scare…

    Must courage to peace in the unknown. peace in the uncertainty. Courage in the not knowing. Drop all grasping.

    So.. on the time when all the right right conditions and details appear.. You are ready with the energy you need to do everything equal with the occasion. Confident. Balanced. Faith from your positive actions.

    Its ok. Everything will take place. It is your duty to overcome you. That is the duty of the man to overcome everything.

    My friend.. These ideas should only be seen like strange rocks on the path of your life. To curious, to see, pick up, understand and practice is always your free choice.

    As each life, depending each person courage to self perfect = each destination.

    I wish you good luck.

    Thank you so much,









    Hello Richard,

    From my experience, the reality of a job is rarely as described at interview.  You have another chance to secure this full time position yet you are putting obstacles in your way.  Take this one day at a time.  If you are lucky enough to be offered this position grab it with both hands and then commit to doing it to the best of your abilities.  If you want an interesting job, then be interested.  Your fears are based on “what ifs”.  These are just imagined fears.  What if it works out well, what if it turns out to be your ideal job, what if another job within the company comes along that does excite you – right place, right time.  There are endless possibilities.

    Begin by living in the “now”.  Live one day at a time.  That’s all you can do.  That’s all any of us can do.  Count your blessings.  That fat kid has a Ph.D.  Congratulations.  The best way to answer your critics is to rise above it and make a success of your life.  You have intelligence and you have love.  WOW.  There is no magic potion to cure all your woes but saying thank you for all the good in your life is a wonderful place to start.  When you meditate do you light a candle and play soft music.  Do you have a focus – a mantra, a flower, a candle flame.  The word “Om” is universal or repeating “I am at peace”.

    Depression is the opposite of expression.  Express yourself in your own terms.  Writing is a wonderful way of letting your grief out (grief caused through a mentally abusive childhood) or any other angst that you may be feeling.

    In Reiki, we have a connection symbol.  Meditation is about connecting to your inner self.  Knowing yourself on a deep level which may also lead to knowing what your life’s purpose may be.  We are called human beings yet very few of us know how to just ‘be’.

    I hope you can find your way through your current difficulties.






    Dear Richard:

    I wrote to you yesterday that I will reply to you further today. But I don’t have much to add. I know that you know of all the possible solutions to what troubles you, you mentioned them all, from sound machines to exercise, to therapy and more, and you read many self-help books. I’d say that what you cannot get from all of these is physical touch. Your girlfriend/ partner lives half way across the world. Maybe you (and her) prefer it this way somewhat (?), but still, if only you had someone to hold you when you feel anxious, to put her arms around you.. if you could feel her face against yours, see her smile from up close, that will probably help you.

    I hope that you feel comfortable to post whenever you want to, if you do. I wish you well!



    Dear Richard,

    what sticks out to me reading your posts is that you mentioned your father several times, both in your previous thread and now, but you haven’t mentioned your mother. May I ask what’s your relationship with your mother? Is she still alive?


    Hi Peggy,

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

    You make a good point about the reality of a job is often different than what is described in the interview. I had that experience with my last fulltime job. The interview made it sound great. There were a lot of things conveyed that had me excited. I spent 5 years at that job and next to nothing that was conveyed within the interview materialized. It was quite frustrating. I am guessing the opposite could happen as well. That is, a job might not sound very appealing in the interview but turn out to be great. The particular job I interviewed for is an entirely new position.

    I have been out of the fulltime workforce for almost 9 years. I worked 20 – 30 hours a week as a graduate assistant and eventually a graduate intern while pursuing my phd. I was responsible for some sizable projects and initiatives while I was a student. However, it has been a long time since I had a fulltime job. Although my phd often felt like a fulltime job in and of itself. When I did work fulltime I had a tendency to become all about work to a point where it negatively affected me. I am worried about that happening again, especially if it is a job I do not even enjoy. That worry is compounded by the fact that I do not really know what I want to do. Eventually I will need to get over my fears and just do something.

    Regarding my meditating, I usually meditate using the app Insight Timer. I have been considering practicing with mantras or affirmations. I am trying to live in the “now”, but am struggling to do so.

    Regarding my knowing myself at a deep level, that is something I have been striving for over the years. At times I feel like I have made significant progress. But then depression and anxiety come rushing back in like this past week or like last January and I feel like I take a giant step back. Uuuuugggghhhh. What is frustrating is I have gotten back to a “good” place numerous times in my life. But when depression and anxiety hits this hard it is like I cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel. One day at a time I guess.

    Again, thank you for your kind and thoughtful reply.



    My mom is still living and my relationship with her is good.  For most of my life I lived relatively close to my parents…within an hour drive.  9 years ago I moved to another state and now live about 7 hours away.  Since I moved away I primarily talk with my dad on the phone.  In many ways my dad and I have grown closer since I moved away.  That is not to imply we were estranged before because we were not.  But, we talk a lot more now.  My mom typically lets my dad talk to me because I think I am the only sibling that talks to him on almost a daily basis.  My mom said he really looks forward to us talking.  My dad has been pretty huge during my darkest times since I moved away.  Last winter he was calling me daily just to check on me because he knew I was struggling.  A couple days ago we talked for 2 hours and probably would have talked longer but the battery on his phone was almost dead.  About 5 years ago I was about to drop out of my doctoral program.  I actually went home for winter break and took dress clothes with me because I was intending on looking for a fulltime job so I could quit school.  During that break I was having a really difficult time sleeping…very similar as to how I am struggling this week.  While I at my parents that winter I would usually fall asleep super late at night on their living room couch watching tv.  My dad would actually stay up with me until he saw me fall asleep.  He said he did not want me to be alone.

    That was a long winded response to your question and I ended up telling you even more about my dad being there for me.  In a nutshell, I have a good relationship with both my parents.  They are not perfect, but they do the best they can.

    Thank you for your post.



    Hi Anita,

    I agree, it probably would be helpful if my partner were here to hold me.  We want to be together.  A big barrier to us being together is me landing a decent fulltime job.  In a number of ways that is compounding my depression and anxiety because I want us to be together, but I am struggling in my job search.  She is in a job she does not like.  I do not want her to come or move here only to find me in a job I do not like.

    I have actually been considering getting a weighted blanket to see if it would help me sleep.  Of course it is likely no substitute for a human being, but the power of embrace, whether real or simulated, can make a big difference.  I have a big heavy pillow that I sometimes lay on top of me.  It seems to help a bit.

    I am usually not a very outwardly physically affectionate person.  When I see my parents I more or less lean in for a hug but I do not really reciprocate the embrace.  Not sure why.  I do remember about 5 years ago when I went home on the edge of quitting my phd program I did give my dad a full hug.  He actually thanked me for it.

    Again, thank you for your posts.



    Hi Wind,

    Thank you for your thoughtful and in-depth reply.  You have given me a lot to think about.



    Dear Richard:

    I have the feeling that a part of you does not want to live with your girlfriend in close proximity (in the same country, the same apartment/ house), that a long-distance relationship feels safer to you than a close-proximity, physical relationship. Is there any truth to this?



    Hi Anita,

    I want to be with my girlfriend.  She means the world to me.



    Dear Richard:

    “I am usually not a very outwardly physically affectionate person.  When I see my parents I more or less lean in for a hug but I do not really reciprocate the embrace”- this made me think that maybe you avoid physical affection not only with your parents (and with others), but also with your girlfriend, by maintaining a LDR for years.

    “She is in a job she does not like.  I do not want her to come or move here only to find me in a job I do not like”- if she moves to your part of the world and lives with you (1) she will not be sacrificing a job that she enjoys, (2) the two of you being physically close can make life easier for you and for her, and the two of you will be more likely to find jobs that you like



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