Struggling With My Life

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

This year has been very rough for me. In the summer I decided to tell my doctor that I am depressed. I have been depressed for the past six years due to my dad’s suicide. My doctor decided to refer me to a psychiatrist for psychotherapy.

The university I go to has had several problems making an already difficult experience worse. School has been very stressful and I am falling behind on the workload. Usually when I go to school I act happy or at least normal but I can’t do it anymore. I don’t even have the energy to fake a smile. People at school are constantly asking me what is wrong.

I also have issues at home because I live with my mom and her husband. They treat me like an object and my mom’s husband calls me “roommate” (which is actually one of the nicer things he calls me) because I am not part of the family. When I’m at home I get blamed for everything and if they’re having a bad day they yell and take it out on me because they know I can’t do anything about it. Whenever I argue back they threaten to kick me out and I can’t afford to move out because my tuition is very expensive. When I am at home I go straight to my room and stay there because I can’t handle them anymore. Every cut I have made on my body was because of them.

I have never been this depressed before. The only reason why I get out of bed every day is because of school even though it is stressful. It has been a dream of mine to get into this very competitive program at school. I am so confused because I love the program I am taking but I also want to give up because I am doing really badly in some of my courses. It seems like I have issues with school or personal problems every day, I feel like everything in my life gets screwed up and it is because of me.

This week I went to see my psychiatrist for psychotherapy for the first time. It was very awkward and I felt very uncomfortable. I was so nervous I didn’t take off my coat the entire time I was in there. I barely talked and stared out the window for most of the session as he typed away on his computer. He brought up some things I didn’t want to talk about like my dad’s suicide and said we could discuss them later. The thing is I don’t want to go back. I know I don’t talk a lot so this is going be an issue and even if I do talk I don’t get how this is going to help me. He said I have depression and I should continue talk therapy and take antidepressants. I told him I didn’t want to take antidepressants so he told me to think about it. By the end of the session I guess I looked a little unimpressed because he asked me if I was coming back and I replied I don’t know.

The next day I had class I just sat there staring at my binder. I couldn’t focus because I was so depressed. My friend noticed and I told her I was having a bad day but she didn’t buy it so she asked again in the hall and I told her about my depression. While we were in the hall the teacher walked by and asked if I was okay but I just brushed her off. Well, yesterday my teacher sent me an email saying “Are you ok? You are very quiet in class. If there is anything bothering you about the class please speak with me. I would like to speak with you anyhow Please make an appt for next Tues after class. I will be meeting with some Level 4 students and I can meet you right afterwards”. I don’t know what she wants and it is making me really anxious. I really hope I don’t have to explain to her what has been going on lately because it’s very personal.

I don’t know what to do anymore. I feel like I am failing university and all I want to do is give up. I use to have suicidal thoughts to escape my reality but now I have a very strong urge to do it. Every time something goes wrong I want to kill myself. I don’t think I want to die but it just seems like it would be easier and no one is going to miss me so who cares. I know I should phone the psychiatrist and make another appointment but I am scared that this is my last option to make things better and it isn’t going to help.

Please give me some advice because I am struggling with my life.

A. I think it is important that you try to talk about your issues with a therapist. I cannot tell if you are uncomfortable talking about your issues in general or if you do not like your particular therapist. If it is the latter, then consider making an appointment with another therapist. You do not have to keep the same therapist. If you find someone who you like and trust, then you may have an easier time discussing your issues. The right therapist can make all the difference.

As I alluded to above, a large part of being helped requires that you be willing to share your thoughts and feelings. The depression you are experiencing is understandable. It makes perfect sense. Many people would feel the same way. You lost your father to suicide. Losing a loved one, especially in such a tragic manner, is one of the most difficult experiences in a person’s life. I suspect that you have yet to properly grieve the loss of your father. In addition to your father’s death, your current living situation is stressful. The stress associated with your living situation is negatively impacting you at school. You are suffering emotionally and you are struggling to function day-to-day.

My biggest concern about your letter is that you are contemplating suicide. You need to know that there are many ways to handle the issues you are facing. Suicide is never the answer. People often feel suicidal when they feel there is nothing left for them to try. If you examined your situation logically, you would see that you have yet to try treatment. You went once and barely spoke. Help is available. Psychotherapy helps millions of people. You can be helped too, if you give treatment a chance.

What if you had a friend who was struggling with issues in her life? What advice would you give her? What if she wanted to end her life? You would probably beg and plead with her not to do it. Why? Probably because you would see that she could be helped and committing suicide would be an absolute tragedy. It is difficult to think clearly and logically when you are in the depths of depression. Thinking about it from the perspective of a concerned friend may help you to better understand why suicide is never the answer.

My advice is that you try to attend psychotherapy appointments and change therapists if needed. Force yourself to go if you have to. It might take a while to feel comfortable about opening up in therapy and that is okay. Not everyone comes into therapy ready and willing to share their life’s story in the first few sessions. It takes time to build trust between a client and therapist, just like it would in any other relationship.

If you are actively suicidal and strongly considering harming yourself then please call 911 or go the emergency room immediately. If you need someone to speak with or are feeling overwhelmed don’t hesitate to call the suicidal hotline. Their number is 800-273-8255.

Lastly, I must reiterate this to you: suicide is not the answer. Suicide is a human tragedy. People who have attempted suicide and lived often thank God that they did not die. Usually they see that life does improve for them. They see that help is available. Life can get better for you, just like it did for all those other people who like you were convinced that it would not. Learn from the people who nearly died from a suicide attempt and lived to witness an improvement in their lives.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Nov 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Struggling With My Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/11/23/struggling-with-my-life/

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