Something doesn’t feel right in my life right now, but everything seems to bother me so I can’t figure it out. Here are a few things that have happened; maybe you’ll see something: It started a few months ago when my boyfriend of five years started acting really different. He’s in the Army, and he’s deploying to Iraq in September. He told me he loved me and wanted to marry me but he needed some alone time to not be so stressed before leaving. Well, he started not answering my calls or texts, and I just can’t seem to find him. This hurts me so much. On top of that, I can’t concentrate in my job, my boss seems to have become more of a dick, snapping his fingers and barking orders like I’m a dog (and he’s not even paying me well), and he doesn’t want to give me a raise. I work in retail so I have to constantly help customers and talk to them and be nice when they’re being assholes, but everybody pisses me off by doing the minutest thing — even walking into the store when I’m busy pisses me off! I’m not eating right because I just don’t get hungry, and when I do I don’t want to eat then, either. I’m never in the mood for anything, I start crying for no reason sometimes, and I have the pressure of helping my parents with bills so there’s constant arguments about money. I realize this may sound whiny, but the way I feel about these things are starting to worry me. Is there anything I can do to not be so sad and angry all the time? Thanx!
— Losing My Mind
Dear Losing Your Mind,
You are not crazy, just depressed. A lot of people experience depression, which can feel as though the world is (or you are) uncontrollably deteriorating. First, take a lot of deep breaths and know that you will be OK. Perspective is everything when handling depression.
Next, please consider seeking professional help as soon as possible. You can contact the Family Service Association at (210) 299-2400, or visit their website at family-service.org. You can also call the United Way helpline at 211; they offer referrals as well as trained crisis counselors if you are having an immediate issue and need someone to help you over the phone.
A professional can help you assess the nature of your depression and decide upon the best way to treat it. Whether or not you should also see a doctor and consider medication is a decision you and your therapist can make together.
In the meantime, a good offense is the best defense. Create a support structure; it’s important for making it through this tough time. This is often best started at home, but since you described conflict with your folks, I recommend you reach out to your friends and extended family. Also, try to get a little exercise each day if possible — the more exuberant the better — but even a 15- to 30-minute walk can help your mood. Endorphins in your bloodstream (and the time away from the daily grind) will help ease the pressure you are feeling, and it should help with your appetite as well. Low blood sugar can increase your feelings of anger and sadness; I find that fruit and trail mix are easy to eat when I am upset and don’t want to eat. It can be difficult, but it is extremely important to eat.
Look for a new job in your free time, too. You don’t have to actually change jobs right away, but considering your options will help to make work feel like a choice rather than a trap. In fact, any positive action toward a better future will counteract the sense that you have no control over your life.
It is hard to say what might be going on with your boyfriend, but as long as he is completely shutting down communication, you are simply wasting energy in his direction. Write him a letter. Let him know how you feel, but then return to focusing on the things in your life you can change.
Finally, each morning when you wake up, take several deep breaths, and try to think of nothing. Then pick out a song to sing to yourself the rest of the day whenever you feel bad. It’s hokey, but it works!
Much love and hopes that some well-deserved levity will be coming your way,
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.