The mental health thread

Many of the things you mention apply to myself, the main difference being l am nearly twice your age and find Dylan’s words apply, “With no direction known, like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone.” I have been in a quandry since l returned to Oz 5 years ago. There are things l need to do, to break out of the cycle l am in, but lack motivation. At your age a whole world of opportunity and options awaits you, including a return o/s. Explore those options, choose one and go for it. From the sound of things you are not content being here and have nothing holding you here.

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I had a old school mate they traversed the world for a number of years (kayaker), picking up odd jobs here and there mostly in tourism and moving from about the place with the seaons.

He was ski instructor in canada, worked in iceland and Norway in tours, plus many other jobs, just taking things on as they came.

He was in a similar boat late 30’s considering moving back to Australia, with basically nothing but memories and a few bits and pieces he picked up.

In the end he started his own business from scratch and offers ski, snowboard lessons and kayak tours in Norway.

some of the most interesting people don’t have life figured out before they are 40.

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I’ve faced similar issues at various points in my 55 years. I’ve never been very ambitious or had any clear idea of what to do with my life. After being diagnosed diabetic at 28, it really hit me that life is short. I had no kids, mortgage, or other commitments, so I went overseas a couple of times, backpacking around for 6 months or so. Loved it, went and gazed at the world’s biggest mountain, among other things, and came home with no money and that similar emptiness you mention.

Having only trade qualifications in a dying industry (printing machinist), I decided to go to uni in Townsville to get an education at the age of 32. It was a deliberate choice to get out of Melbourne where I had too many distractions and a not so healthy lifestyle. While I only committed to a 4 year degree, at the end of that I got the opportunity to do a PhD in Brisbane. Even though I now had the tertiary education I’d sought, I didn’t have any better ideas, was offered a scholarship, so took it. 8 years of study all up, and I was motivated to succeed in that from start to finish, because I was interested in the subjects and topics. Also met some great people, some of whom have become good lifelong friends.

Towards the end of my PhD, I unexpectedly became a father at the age of 42. That really did change my outlook and grounded me in more ways than one. There was no way I was going to be an absentee father, so the vague plans I had of working overseas in academia got shelved. I’ve worked in academia here instead, just taking opportunities as they were presented to me, rather than actively chasing them. I still lack direction, ambition and motivation. That makes it difficult in academia today, as it’s become very competitive, and everyone with a PhD who stays in research wants to be a professor. Except me. I’m not prepared to do the (unpaid) hours, or play the game in the way it needs to be played for promotion and security. Hence, I have no tenure, only short term contracts. I’m currently staring at potential unemployment in the next few months, and not for the first time. That’s unsettling. My kid just started high school, so I’m not moving anywhere for another 6 years at least. By then, I’ll be not far off retirement age. His mum and I split a couple of years ago, which I think was a catalyst for some depression which I continue to struggle with. However, the relationship itself was depressing in other ways, so I’m glad to be out of that.

When I was a teenage apprentice printer, I said to one of the older tradies “I’m not going to be a printer for the rest of my life”. He said, “yeah, right, what else are you going to do?” I couldn’t answer him, but I knew that what I’d said was true. If I was asked the same question today, I’d still struggle to answer it. I’ve long accepted that I’m not really ambitious or driven towards a clearly defined goal. I’m an introvert and I sometimes lack confidence and motivation. That’s okay. But I’m very aware that I need to be doing something that’s constructive and fulfilling. The guitar-making course that I did about year ago was great in that respect. I didn’t want to finish it, so I’m going to go back and build another one later this year.

So, maybe you can try something new that interests you. That can be either for work or recreation. I don’t mean just something you can use as a distraction, but something that genuinely motivates you to follow through and give you a sense of achievement. It’s hard to be positive at times, but even small achievements can be satisfying and can help to build a more positive frame of mind about life in general. Look outside the box, and don’t be afraid to take a risk.

*This is just my experience. I’m no psychologist. I also don’t always take my own advice!

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This is what I think of being like an Iceberg. It’s slow, but it always gets where it’s going.

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I have no interest in that, either.
Happy to just be able to focus on my own work without needing to juggle all the other stuff.

At some point I’ll probably get out of research and into industry, but I’m a little bit like you, happy to just take opportunities as they come.

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It’s so good reading the posts here.

You think ‘oh it’s just me’ only to realise how many stories there are, and these are only by those who wish to share (which is fine).

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What a metaphor! Leaving out the Titanic bit, yes, I’m gradually melting into the sea of humanity.

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Thanks for sharing. It’s nice to know i’m not the only one who feels like they’re a disaster at life. You’ve achieved a lot though, well done.

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In this day and age can anyone really define what’s a distaster in life and what isn’t? I certainly can’t. I say as long as you’re not a ■■■■ person to people around you and make other people worse off because of your actions, don’t worry about it. There are plenty of opportunities to start and stop again and again. I’d hazard a guess that even a lot of people you think have it all worked out and are on the ‘right’ path perhaps haven’t and aren’t.

Try not to be too hard on yourself as it sounds you are at this point in time. Think of the experiences you’ve had that others could only dream of and not have the means, health or guts to do!

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No probs, that’s what this thread about. I don’t feel like I’m a disaster, though. There are times when I think about how I could or should have done more, or done things differently. But life goes on, and I try to look forward more than back.

Also, what Em said ^

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What fantastic responses!

@CyberBomber made a lot of sense but the education point really stood out. You’re never too old to choose a different path.

The openness, honestly and acceptance in this thread is heartwarming.

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I have had days like this. I still do but they are, mercifully, fewer and farther between. But they do happen.

I have essentially packed up my entire life and shipped it to the furthest continent away three different times. Once at age 25 (away), the second at 32 (back), and again at 42 (away). The first time I was engaged, the second time married, and the third time with two children in school. Each time gets simultaneously easier and harder, because each subsequent version has involved more people, more financial stress and exponentially more logistical issues, yet offset by experience, maturity, and existing social nets from before.

It has always been very difficult for me to ever get a full sense of continuity; I have essentially started from scratch three times, albeit with some small social structures in each place. I am something of a homebody who has always been more comfortable staying home and spending time with family over going out socially and making friends; it has never been easy for me at the best of times.

So my life in a lot of ways feels strangely solitary and nomadic.

More than anything else, there is a definite feeling of a split in my own loyalties and in what I am. I have been a citizen of two nations for nearly 17 years now, and I’ll be honest, I still aren’t 100 percent sure which one I belong to anymore.

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Every single person has a perpetually shifting and twisting narrative as they work through whatever this - life- is, Souly. Whether we choose to express and share it, or not, it’s certainly not “oh it’s just me”.

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The thing that has become increasingly hard for me is to truly live in the moment.

I look back at my 27yo self (more than 2 decades ago) and am so envious as to how carefree I was. Then came the sudden shock of being rejected for Aussie PR and getting ‘kicked out’ which totally threw me for a spin. I don’t think I ever really processed it and the complete lack of certainty it led to. The sudden death of my Father 8 years later too is something that caused deep, deep trauma that I still have. In fact, I dream of him most nights even 13 years on. I dipped my toe into therapy to process the PTSD (thanks to my super-understanding mrs who is a big believer in mental health) but the first few sessions left me in such a mess I gave up.

And now, I feel I am super prone to unnecessary anxiety about the smallest things and just catastrophize (?) every thing. Having a very stressful job doesn’t help either.

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Sorry to hear about your struggles DM. It won’t help much but what you describe is extremely common. ‘Therapy’ takes many forms, perhaps it’s worth exploring a little more to find someone that you connect with that can provide a less traumatic experience.

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Completely agree and am keen to take that step…

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Dad came home yesterday. Back at chemo today. New formula. Positive vibes.

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Anybody had any luck seeing a naturopath or nah?

Don’t waste your money.

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