I’ve got a great job lined up (military), I recently graduated from high school, have my own car, and I’m very self-sufficient. My whole life is ready for liftoff, but I can’t help but feel depressed. I have a girlfriend of one year (we had our anniversary yesterday), my high-school sweetheart. For the last couple of months, as the day approaches that I’ll have to leave for the military, whenever I’m not with her I can’t help but think that our relationship might not pan out. We started out a great couple, and still are ... I just don’t know why I feel this way. I don’t think that either of us will cheat in my absence. She’s not bugging me in any way, and I feel like a lucky guy to have her with me. But whenever I’m at work or at home and not with her I just can’t shake the feeling that she might not be the one for me. I really don’t know. This is my first relationship, and hers. I haven’t felt this depressed since I was diagnosed with pediatric depression. I’ve felt great since I came off of the medication two years ago to get into the military, even better than when I was on it.
Now I can’t shake the feeling that everything is going to go wrong in our relationship. I don’t want to lose her, and since she’s in school still (senior), I really don’t want to mess up her life by leaving her. She’ll still be in school when I leave for basic. I said at the very beginning that ‘‘people shouldn’t be looking for flings ... they should be looking for someone to spend the rest of their lives with,” and I still find that to be true. She could be the one, but I can’t tell right now because I don’t see her every day and spend nearly as much time with her as I did when I was in school. She’s a great person, and her family is fun to be around ... I can’t see any reasons that I wouldn’t want to be with her. I’ve always been a loner and prefer time alone to myself — but too much time gets me thinking about her and our future. The only time I’m free from this feeling is in my sleep or buried in my video games and hobbies.
— Friendly Neighborhood Internet Guy
Dear Mr. Friendly,
Do you by chance shoot people in these video games? That totally makes me feel better. So much better, I understand why I personally should never own a gun. It is a good thing that you have a release and escape from the stress and anxiety of your life. Sleeping is good, but avoid letting it become an escape that exceeds a standard night’s sleep or a practical disco nap.
You might check in with a doctor since you have a history with depression. He or she should be able to talk to you about ways to cope with anxiety and depression that don’t involve medication.
You are about to make a big change in your life. Leaving for the military is not a small step or commitment. You are proud and excited about this, but it’s also normal to be a bit anxious and even scared. It is the same for most people about your age who are leaving home for school, the military, or a new job. The sudden realization that you are responsible for yourself is a subtle and yet profound shock. You wanted to be independent for a really long time and recently started making the decisions, but now you have to live it. Sink or swim (and maybe vomit). These feelings are likely to affect the way you perceive most everything in your life, especially a romantic relationship.
It is plausible that you and your girlfriend will drift apart now that you can’t spend every day together. Maybe you’ll fall in love with a pretty, young Yeomen or she’ll join a punk band while attending community college and do the same. You have entire lives to live. If you’re not sure how you feel now, my advice is to not propose to her before leaving. Stay honest and treat her well no matter what you or she decides down the road. Your future will arrive on its own; you do not need to have an answer. At least not yet.
Much hope for a lighter weight on your shoulders,
Your Uncle Mat
Uncle Mat answers questions about relationships, sex, pets, and art.
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, myspace.com/yourunclemat,
or check out the Dear Uncle Mat Page on Facebook. Your true identity is safe with him.