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  • #382787
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Richard:

    You are welcome, and please keep posting and updating, as you have done yesterday. You mentioned a few times in your thread that you suffer from a mental illness. I am wondering: what is your personal definition of mental illness, and how are you, as a mentally-ill person, different from other people who are not mentally ill (?)

    “This site and you all are an invaluable resource”- maybe the following quote from the founder and owner of this wonderful site, Lori Deschene, will help you when you have another rough day, such as the one before yesterday:

    “If you’re giving your all but it takes all you have just to get through the day, it doesn’t mean your best isn’t good enough. It means life is just that hard right now. Be good to yourself. You need it”.

    anita

     

    #383522
    Richard
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    You ask a good question.  I am not sure what my personal definition of mental illness is.  I guess it is the tendency more often than not to be in a negative thinking mode.  Whether that is anxiety or depressive thinking or a combination of the two.  I feel like I am in a negative thinking mode more often than not.  At least that is the case for the past 8 or so months.  That is not to imply that longer than 8 months ago everything was bliss.

    I know that is not the most robust definition, but that is what comes to mind right now.  A person who is not mentally ill if more often than not in a non-negative thinking mode.

    As an example…Today I had an interview for a position I was actually going to pull my application from because I am no longer interested.  However, I went ahead with the interview to learn more about the opportunity, as well as for the practice.  I feel like I did ok in the interview…but going into it as well as after I felt disheartened.  I feel disheartened because I feel like I am never going to find and land a good job.  I feel disheartened because I feel like my doctorate prepared me for nothing.  I know I am not the only person looking for and struggling to land a fulltime job.  My guess is there are people who are struggling but are still able to remain optimistic.  If an opportunity does not work out they might think, “That is ok…a better opportunity will come around!”.  Even though I know I only need one good opportunity I feel like it will never materialize.  I am in a negative mode of thinking, as opposed to a struggling, yet remaining optimistic and determined mode.  I hope that makes sense.

    Switching gears…thank you for the quote you shared from Lori Deschene.  I appreciate it.

    Richard

    #383535
    Richard
    Participant

    UPDATE: I had a brief reprieve of my depression and anxiety last week. It started with a breakdown. Last week Monday (July 19) I broke down crying while on the phone with my dad. Prior to my dad calling me I had just received an invite for a job interview. Not sure why, but that email, along with my overall mental and emotional state these past several weeks, triggered a flood of emotions. You would think I would be happy about getting an interview, but instead I found myself in a downward spiral dwelling on the uncertainty of my future and my employment. I called my dad and broke down crying on the phone. I told him I do not want to feel this way anymore. He did his best to be there for me. I eventually told him I had to go because I had to calm myself down. I had to calm down because I was heading to a friend’s house in preparation for house and pet sitting for them. I felt down that evening and Tuesday (July 20) morning. I had my interview in the afternoon and I felt like it went ok. I do not feel as though I have performed poorly in any of my interviews so far. That is not to say I feel like I hit homeruns by any means, but I felt like they all went fairly well. That is a plus considering how I feel as of late. However, I find myself questioning what I want to do for a career before, during, and after each interview and it really stresses me out. After the interview I went to my friend’s house to begin pet and house sitting. I was at their place from Tuesday until this past Sunday evening. It turned out to be a great distraction. I know caring for pets can have great therapeutic value and it did for me. The owners normally crate their dog in the evenings, but I let her sleep next to me. Yesterday was the first day I was no longer pet and house sitting and I immediately noticed an increase in my anxiety. It was palpable.

    Since my last update I have had 3 interviews with 3 different employers. One today, which I am no longer interested in the position…and to be honest…I am not even sure why I applied for it in the first place. I think I applied because I did not have any applications out there that were still open. The interview last week Tuesday was for a job I was initially excited for, but found myself losing interest in. The other interview took place on Thursday, July 15th and consisted of 3 separate interview sections, each about 45 minutes long. I felt like the first two sections went ok. I felt like I struck a level of rapport with the interviewers and answered their questions effectively. The third part was with the person to whom the position will report to. I had a number of points about the position, as well as my own background, I wanted to clarify, so I used the opportunity to ask quite a few questions. I wanted to make sure I had a clearer idea as to what the position would entail. It is a new position with a lot of ambiguity. I am a bit worried my questions may have made me come across as unsure about myself and my abilities. But…I felt it important to get clarification about certain aspects of the role so that both sides could make a better decision. I also clarified my background. Some interviewers talked about statistics and I wanted to make sure the person who the role reports to knows statistics is not in my background. Nor is it something I really want in a role beyond descriptive statistics. While again I felt it important to clarify my experience, I have been worrying it made me appear unsure about my abilities. I was not in an ideal mental state leading up to or during the interviews, but overall I felt like I did alright all things considered. I did not leave any of the interviews any more excited about the opportunities than what I went into them with. That is rather disheartening. I want to have an interview that when it ends I leave thinking, “I HOPE I GET THIS JOB!” in excitement and not desperation.

    One more update…the weekend (July 17-18) after my 3 part interview I was obsessing over how I was going to manage moving if I got the job. I literally was online looking at apartments, pricing movers, and considering various other options. I became super stressed. Stressed to the point where I was searching moving stuff on my phone because I could not sleep. It is crazy. I was obsessing and stressing about a move I may very well not have to make because I might not even get the job! Yet it was all I could seem to be able to think about.

    As always, thank you Tiny Buddha community for listening.

    Richard

    PS. As of writing this post, I have yet to hear of any decisions regarding the positions I interviewed for. Now I am trying to focus on finding additional opportunities to apply for and trying to stay positive.

    #383538
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Richard,

    you say you’re in a negative thinking mode more often than not, and that it’s hard for you to be optimistic.

    One reason could be that in your childhood, you experienced a sense a failure and hopelessness in the relationship with either of your parents, e.g. if you tried to make your mother happy but you never succeeded. This is just an example, doesn’t mean it refers to you. But a sense of hopelessness about changing the parent, or changing the relationship with the parent, is often in the background of feeling hopeless and depressed as adults.

    #383539
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Richard:

    I think your definition of mental illness is a fitting one: “the tendency more often than not to be in a negative thinking mode… anxiety or depressive thinking or a combination of the two“. Using my own words, based on reading your definition, being mentally ill means to spend too much time feeling miserable! (not including when in situations of famine, natural disasters, urban violence, etc.)

    In your recent 2 posts/ update, I see three factors that are fueling your anxiety and depression:

    I feel disheartened because I feel like I am never going to find and land a good job“- this is the Pessimism Factor.

    I feel disheartened because I feel like my doctorate prepared me for nothing“- this is the Regret Factor, isn’t it?

    “the weekend (July 17-18) after my 3 part interview I was obsessing over how I was going to manage moving if I got the job. I literally was online looking at apartments, pricing movers, and considering various other options. I became super stressed”- this the Overwhelm Factor.

    Do you agree with these 3? Are there any more, and would you like to expand on just one of these factors, the one you think is most distressing to you?

    anita

    #383890
    Richard
    Participant

    Hi TeaK,

    I think part of my sense of failure and hopelessness might be tied to my problematic relationship with one of my brothers. I am the youngest of 4. I have one brother who is 12 years older, one sister who is 8 years older, and another brother who is 3 years older. My brother who is 3 years older than me was rather cruel to me growing up. He routinely made fun of my weight, physical appearance, and intelligence, among other things. He used to tell me I was the stupid one in the family. This was not easy to hear. Especially given that he was valedictorian of his graduating class and my sister was salutatorian. I actually have nightmares to this day about him and how he treated me. I had one just a few weeks ago. In it we were in my parents’ basement and I was yelling at him asking him why he has always been mean to me. I probably have similar nightmares about him every month. We do not see each other very much anymore…we are separated by a few states. We are cordial when we see each other and occasionally exchange a random text here and there, but that is the extent of our relationship these days. I have journaled wondering what my life might have been like had I had a more supportive brother growing up.

    I want to get past my past hurt. When I have seen therapists we have never really dove into my past because whatever is currently going on with me is so pressing we focus on that. Uuuuughhh…I have told several people I believe the way I am today mentally and emotionally is rooted in my childhood. Just not sure how to begin to heal from things that happened so long ago.

    Thank you for your reply.

    Richard

    #383891
    Richard
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    I agree with the 3 factors you identified. I am definitely feeling pessimistic, especially about my job search. I definitely feel regret and find myself wondering what my life might have been like had I never pursued my doctorate. And…I am definitely feeling overwhelmed. I find it crazy to think how obsessed and overwhelmed I felt about moving for a job that I was not even offered!

    I think the factor that is distressing me the most is the pessimism factor. I have regret, but at the same time I realize I do not have a time machine so I cannot change the past. I feel overwhelmed at times, but I can recall many times where I felt in control. However, pessimism seems to be the most constant factor. At times I fall asleep only to quickly awaken to a racing heart and fear that I will not find and secure a good fulltime job. I have read quite a few articles about job searches and depression/anxiety and often they conclude by saying one’s job search will eventually come to an end and you will find employment. However, I find myself thinking I will be the exception. Or that the employment I end up in will be in something I have absolutely no interest in. Occasionally I am able to shake the feeling, but then it returns, sometimes with a vengeance. Today has been one of those days. I have struggled to get myself up off my couch. Replying to these posts is about the first productive thing I have done all day. I told my partner I am exhausted with my job search. I look for opportunities basically every single day and spend time trying to figure out what I want to do next.

    My guess is there are other factors fueling my anxiety and depression…I am going to give it some more thought and will post more if/when things come to mind.

    Thank you for your reply.

    Richard

    #383896
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Richard,

    you’re welcome. I am sorry about your brother bullying you so mercilessly. How did you parents react to his bullying, did they try to protect you, i.e. discipline him?

    #383897
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Richard:

    My brother who is 3 years older than me was rather cruel to me growing up. He routinely made fun of my weight, physical appearance, and intelligence, among other things. He used to tell me I was the stupid one in the family…I.. have  nightmares about him every month..  pessimism seems to be the most constant factor. At times I fall asleep only to quickly awaken to a racing heart and fear that I will not find and secure a good fulltime job“-

    – when you were a child, your brother was cruel to you. You wanted the cruelty to stop. You tried in many child-like ways to make him stop being cruel to you. Every time you tried, you hoped that the bullying will stop, and every time you hoped- you got disappointed, day after day, year after year. So you learned to no longer hope, and instead-  to expect the worse. This probably where you developed your pessimism.

    Pessimistic about your brother treating you respectfully => Pessimistic about getting a suitable job.

    Scared about the next time your brother will bully you, heart racing => Scared about not getting a suitable job, heart racing.

    anita

    #383902
    Richard
    Participant

    Hi TeaK,

    I do not know if my parents knew the extent to which he bullied me.  I remember once in my mid-twenties I was really struggling.  I called my mom and broke down on the phone.  I told her what I was dealing with went all the way back to when I was a kid and I began to tell her some of the stuff my brother would say to me.  She said had she know he was saying things like that she would have stopped him.  I remember saying on the phone to her “how could you not have known!?!?!”

    My parents are definitely not perfect, but overall I believe they did the best they could and were and still are good parents.  However, when I look back at my childhood there are a number of things I did that I think should have been red flags to them that something was up.  For example, I went from being on the A honor roll throughout junior high to not even making the B honor roll my first quarter of high school.  I stopped being involved in extra curriculars.  I stayed home on the weekends instead of getting together with people.  I stopped going to my brother’s sporting events with my parents and instead stayed home.  When my brother got his drivers license and started driving to school I continued to ride the bus instead of riding with him.

    Part of me thinks my parents may have just thought I was going through a phase that I would grow out of or perhaps that I was just shy.  I do not know.

    I have been talking to my dad daily lately as I have been struggling with my depression and anxiety.  I know both of my parents would do anything for me.  I just would have liked them to have been more cognizant of what I was feeling growing up and possibly have gotten me some professional help.  I have been tempted to tell my dad about the cruel things my brother used to say to me growing up, but part of me feels like it would make him feel like a bad dad.  I do not want him to feel that way because I do not consider him to be that.  He is just human and has always tried his best.

    Thank you again for the reply.

    Richard

    #383903
    Richard
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    I think that could definitely have contributed to my pessimism.

    I remember when my sister’s oldest daughter was about to being kindergarten.  My sister told me she worried about her daughter being picked on at school because she was a little heavier.  I remember telling my sister that she could not prevent her daughter from being picked on at school and that most everyone gets picked on at some point.  I told her what she could do is make sure her daughter comes home to a loving and supporting home.  And…if any of her daughter’s sisters picked on her to put a stop to it as soon as possible.  My advice was rooted in what I would have liked when I was growing up.

    Thank you again for your replies.

    Richard

    #383906
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Richard:

    You are welcome. You gave your sister an excellent advice, showing caring for your niece, wanting your niece to have the loving and supportive home that you didn’t have. It is sad how many children (all the way into adulthood) are being picked on/ made fun if for  being heavier- I wish it never happened!

    anita

    #383911
    TeaK
    Participant

    Dear Richard,

    I remember once in my mid-twenties I was really struggling. I called my mom and broke down on the phone. I told her what I was dealing with went all the way back to when I was a kid and I began to tell her some of the stuff my brother would say to me. She said had she know he was saying things like that she would have stopped him. I remember saying on the phone to her “how could you not have known!?!?!”

    Exactly. Didn’t your brother use to tease you in front of your parents too? Or he was careful to do it only when they weren’t around? Do you remember ever complaining to your parents about him, or you thought they would notice it by themselves?

    In any case, that’s pretty severe that they haven’t noticed, and that your mother only found about it when you were in your mid-20s. By then, the damage was already done, and even though your father is very supportive now, there’s still the little boy inside of you, terrified of your brother and feeling totally alone and helpless. You’d need to work on his healing…

    I just would have liked them to have been more cognizant of what I was feeling growing up and possibly have gotten me some professional help.

    Right. They haven’t noticed that something’s going on with you when your grades dropped, you became withdrawn and stayed home most of the time. They should have noticed it, even if you didn’t say anything. Perhaps their excuse is that they had 4 children to take care of, although by the time you were in junior high, your 2 eldest siblings were already adults and required less attention… So I don’t know what the reason was of their negligence. But don’t be afraid to spell it out: they were negligent. It doesn’t mean they were bad parents altogether, but they failed to notice that their son was suffering.

    I have been tempted to tell my dad about the cruel things my brother used to say to me growing up, but part of me feels like it would make him feel like a bad dad.

    Right… it seems you’d rather protect your father from possible pain than protect yourself from pain…. maybe that was the reason why you were reluctant to complain to your parents about your brother’s bullying – because you thought that by telling them you would cause them pain and distress?

     

    #384137
    Richard
    Participant

    UPDATE: My anxiety and depression have been better the past few days. I have been sleeping better. I have also been sleeping in my bed instead of my couch with the tv on, which I tend to do when I am really stressed or depressed.

    However, today I received a text from a former boss who is also a friend and one of my job references. She told me she was contacted about one of the jobs I applied for. I immediately felt a surge in my anxiety upon reading her text and also felt panicky. The job is with the college I graduated from with my phd. I was almost going to pull my application from consideration because the more I read the job announcement the less I wanted the role. I think I applied more or less because I did not have many open applications out there for consideration. I was dreading the interview, which was last week Tuesday. I was glad when the interview was over. I actually journaled that day about how it is not a job that I think I want, nor do I feel qualified for. It would be doing similar work as I did before pursuing my doctorate. A big reason I took the leap of faith and pursued my phd is because I felt incredibly unfulfilled in my professional career and I wanted/needed a change. I think I somewhat applied out of fear of not finding anything else, so I fell back on applying for similar work as I did before being a graduate student.

    Part of me was hoping I would not be contacted for a second interview. I even thought about contacting the chair of the search committee to tell him I was no longer interested in the opportunity. I still have not been contacted for a second interview, but the text from my friend saying she was contacted about the position filled me with panic. I journaled right after reading the text…I wrote about how even if I get a second interview that does not mean I would be offered the job…and even if I was offered the job I can always turn it down. Yet, I filled with anxiety. It felt like the progress I made with my anxiety and depression over the past few days vanished.

    Again…I am just putting this out here to somewhat get it out of my mind and to express some of my feelings. As always, thank you to those who listen. I appreciate it.

    Richard

    PS. I apologize for not always replying to replies, as well as for not always replying in a timely fashion. I am trying to reply as often as I can. Please know that I greatly appreciate everyone’s thoughts, questions, and advice.

    #384139
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Richard:

    You are welcome to vent anytime, you don’t have to answer questions or to reply in a timely fashion, not here. This is your thread, post whenever you feel like posting, vent about anything you need to vent.

    You started your recent post with your anxiety and depression improving in the last few days until you received a phone call. It would be a good thing if you learned- through time, patiently- to be less reactive to events in your life, such as the phone call today.

    anita

     

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