Crawling up from rock bottom.

My life has been a fairly odd journey thus far, and I'm having trouble getting along recently.

I'm currently 24, and am attending a community college for Network Administration. I work part time to make ends meet as a cashier, and I am ashamed to admit I live with my father still. I'm having a really hard time communicating with him. I'll try to explain how this all started, though.

When I was 14, I moved away from Moncton, where I had lived all my life, to Cincinnati. I lived a fairly typical life there. Life was tough, but fair, and I didn't really get along with my mother very well. My favorite story to tell when describing my relationship with my mother is the story where she asked me if I was gay for about 2 months straight, several times a week, almost daily. I denied it on every single occasion, but she reassured me that she loved me and would accept me regardless, and that I could trust her. Eventually, she caved and admitted that she likely would have kicked me out had I said "yes", since she "Didn't raise a fag". There wasn't a lot of trust or love in our relationship.

Fast forward to college. I met this girl, and fell in love. It was startling how immediate the attraction was; like a "Love at first sight" kinda thing, if you'll forgive how cheesy it is. I swiftly fell in love, and dated her for two and a half years. I even moved in with her, and my mother moved back to Ontario. I was happy, for a bit. However, something tragic happened in her life which kind of shattered her perceptions of things. I was ignorant; I was working 30 hours a week while going to school full time for my Bachelor of Science in biology, so I wasn't as attentive as I should have been. She barely even mentioned it at the time. About a month later, she left suddenly, and without explanation. I had to move back to my mother's in Niagara Falls, a region I had never lived in before. I enrolled in a local university and tried to start things back on the right track. I failed. Miserably.

Going back to University was a struggle for me. I barely attended class, I skipped assignments, I practically only ever showed up for tests. In the first quarter of my fourth year, my last year, I failed. I failed hard. I passed one course the whole quarter. I began to spiral out of control, but couldn't turn to anyone. In my grief from having lost the only woman I'd ever really loved, I'd lashed out and pushed away all my old friends; my parents were of little use, since I didn't trust them. I had to internalize this. From December until October of the next year, I lied about my life to my mother at home. I told her I was still attending school, that everything was fine. I mostly wandered around the town, on foot, aimlessly when I should have been going to school. I even said I'd graduated when I hadn't. I spent about six hours a day aimlessly wandering around town for six months living a lie. I had frequent panic attacks wondering when I would be found out. It took almost a year of this before I decided I had to come clean or just end it already. I decided to confess to my father, living in my hometown of Moncton. He was shocked, but agreed to let me live with him. I hopped on a plane to Moncton without so much as saying a word to my mother.

I began attending courses at a community college here, working part time to make things work. I live at my father's house to save money. I eventually confessed to Mother what had happened, too. My father has been... Understanding, I suppose, of things thus far, but I have a hard time living with him. He's the type to let sleeping dogs lie. He'll pretend nothing is wrong in order to maintain the status quo. This is really hard to get along with for me, since I require change to happen, difficult though it may be, but am too despondent to actually put forth the effort to change things much myself. Problem is, I cannot directly open up to him, and he constantly deflects my signs of stress or recurring depression and shuts them out. I have gone by weeks without so much as speaking to him, yet he does nothing, never asks if I am OK or anything.

I am a week away from graduating, but honestly, I don't feel accomplished at all. My birthday is on Father's day this year, and what really triggered this depressed episode tonight was that I didn't work that day. I had it off. I really hoped I'd work that day.

Being in Moncton, logically, was my only real option. I couldn't live anywhere else and go to school, but coming back here has been an awful experience. I hadn't seen my father's family since I left, including his new wife (my step mother) and her children. They were around my age, maybe a tad older. Since it's father's day and my birthday, I'll be expected to be nice and courteous to them, and they to me. But I hate seeing them, because they knew me when I was 14; they can see what a failure I turned out to be, and it burns me up that they're all thinking it all the time but never say it. I wish I never came back here, where I have to explain to people I knew from back when I was 14 why a 24 year old me is working as a cashier at a grocery store. I feel such intense shame, considering I was a straight-A student. I prided myself on being a genius, but I've failed to achieve anything in all my life.

Having read all that, do you hate me? Because I sure do. Typing this has been a struggle. I cant go back and proofread or correct because it has been so hard to type in the first place. I hate what I did. I hate that I was so weak I feel despondent when she left. I hate that I let my life become this. I hate that I abandoned my mother without a word. I hate that I still have no friends. I hate that I have to look in the mirror every day and realize that nothing is getting better; I'm still the failure I always was. I hate that I have been working so hard to graduate this stupid community college course, only to realize, a week from having it done, that it means NOTHING! It changes NOTHING. I can't stand it. I hate it that my father prefers to pretend nothing is wrong with me despite all the evidence to the contrary. I hate everything.

How do I pick up the pieces from here? What can I do? I can't believe that Canada, a country that prides itself on having free Medicare for it's citizens, has so few mental health options for those who need it. I feel helpless. Medication for depression is not covered, I can't get to a psychologist or therapist since I can't afford it, and it's 130$ a month for meds to make my emotions feel "balanced".

If you've read this far, I commend you for tolerating my horrible grammar and sentence structure as I attempt to vent at 4:00AM while at one of the lowest emotional points I have been in the past two years. You must be a saint, or derive some kind of pleasure from seeing it.

tl;dr: I'm a shut-in who is about to graduate, frustrated that my degree means nothing and upset because I am so introverted now that I cannot relate to people, and my father is well-meaning but inconsiderate which makes him hard to live with since he does not actively strive for change on my part.

Ask me anything if you need clarification on this mess of garbled text.

Alright. I've been there. Dealt with enough well-meaning but utterly useless or even destructive "advice" to last me several lifetimes. Mine might be that way too, it's for you to decide.

My advice, for an immediate action? Take up a new hobby. You seem like you're caught in this loop of self-loathing. You need a distraction. I don't know what's to do around there, go swimming, go cycling, go hiking, I dunno, but get something and do it for a few hours once a week at least and keep to the schedule even if you feel like you can skip a week after the first three. Just get out there, you need to clear your mind, and to do that you need to step out of what you're surrounded by, you need a different environment for that. And with a clearer mind you'll be more able to keep focus on setting your affairs in order without being dragged down by details again.

Secondly, note that there's no single thing that makes your life go up and down. There's no one mistake you can point out why you are where you are, there's also no one thing you can fix and suddenly it's all flowers and sunshine. Don't bang your head on the wall, those things tend to be sturdy and usually it's your head that breaks before the wall does.

Honestly, you have someone who lets you live with them - that isn't rock bottom. I'm not telling you to stop complaining because you've got it easy, clearly you haven't. But some perspective could help you.

Before I say anything else, I should acknowledge that I understand that there are mental health issues here, but that I don't fully understand how much impact they have as I don't suffer from any myself. And I live in the UK, so health care costs aren't something I directly account for.

First: there's nothing actually wrong with being a cashier - it's a job and I certainly don't think less of people who do it. Why would I?

Second: you're only 24! That's really young! You've got all the time in the world to make changes. But you have to want those changes to happen - it isn't your father's job to make you change (refer to previous statement about you being 24). You are an adult and the onus is on you to control your life as best you can. I didn't finish uni until I was 24 (late starter), and my first year of work following that was call centre work which paid the bills and not much else. Now I work for myself and have my own home (mortgaged ofc). My point is that 'achieving nothing' (which actually isn't the case) by the age of 24 means nothing.

A fresh start sounds like a good idea - so much easier said than done, I know, but being in your hometown appears to be actively bad for you. All I can suggest is that you pull your socks up, save some cash and find a new place to settle down. Or just bounce around the place for a bit. Again, you're only 24!

Hi OP.

I understand that you're at the stage of life where there's a lot of expectation placed on you - not least by yourself. Your life thus far has likely been a linear progression of boxes ticked, academically, but one of the things I feel school doesn't prepare young people for is failure. In your case it's not even truly failure, it's a setback, a plateau, but compared to the linear progression you've come to expect it's a calamity.

Relax. Your situation isn't so strange or abnormal at all - in fact I'd be confident in saying that there have been plenty of people who have faced greater disadvantage and made a success of themselves at a much later stage of life than you, although I doubt that's of much real consolation. From your point of view, being 24 means you're a geezer. From the viewpoint of the rest of society, you're a kid. A kid with options and possibilities. If you can, find some old people to talk to, you might get a different perspective on things. I remember a few years back, I was a bit older than you, and at my grandfather's wake. I was talking to one of the old boys there, a chirpy young fella of about 85, and he had me and my brother fixed in conversation, telling us over and over how young guys like us had the world at our feet, how we should get into politics and change the world, how we "had it made". He was beaming with pride, virtually with tears in his eyes. At the time my brother was unemployed and I was a (literally) starving student again, but that really changed my perspective on what opportunity and success really is.

In a nutshell:

It's never too late. As long as you have breath in your lungs it's never too late.

Don't compare yourself to other people. Be in competition with yourself and become the best version of yourself that you can be.

History will remember your successes, not your failures. And so should you.

Do what you want, man. Finish your studies and see where they'll take you. Get a job, work hard, play hard. Meet people. Play sports, learn a language, meditate, write a novel, lift weights, whatever. If you're really stuck for things to do you can always join the army and have fun for a few years. Just remember that the world is an interesting place and your life is worth living.

[edit]
For a bit of extra context: I failed my first degree, ended up changing courses on my second, have worked in retail, as a lifeguard, McDonalds grease monkey, barman, and childcare, lived with parents up to the age of 26, and have to date changed fairly fundamental life plans at least three times, restarting my location, social group and career from scratch each time. We're all just muddling our way through life, there's no "correct" way to do that.

I want to start this off by making it entirely clear that I'm not trying to be mean or downplay your feelings or your situation. Having said that, I feel that I need to also make it clear to you that if what you wrote is what your consider hitting bottom then you live a very charmed life and I envy that. Though to be honest perhaps hitting rock bottom is what you need. You're circumstances while unfortunate are not that bad if you really stop to consider them with fresh eyes.

You need to recognize that the days of your parents owing you anything are long gone. You are 24 now. Your father is no longer obligated to let you stay with him. You may think he doesn't care, but if he didn't care, he would not be letting you live with him. He likely has his own problems and issues that he doesn't feel comfortable burdening you with and probably doesn't want to feel further responsible for your issues on top of that. Cut him some slack. He may in fact be the only person in your corner.

Your mother sounds like a piece of work and I wouldn't waste any further emotion on her. It's obvious that unlike your father, she is fishing for reasons to legitimize her desire to disassociate herself from you.

There is no shame in being a cashier. Given the state of things in the world right now, I would consider myself lucky to have a job at all. Sadly success for your generation will look a lot more modest than what it looked like for our grandparents generation. That doesn't mean that life has to suck. You just need to embrace a more realistic view of what success is.

Hey OP. So I'm basically you, to an almost haunting degree.

I'm a 24 year old who lives with his dad and works at a deli supermarket who doesnt have a great relationship with his crazy mother. I'm also introverted and bla bla bla. My dads also identical to yours. He left me to rot in my room with severe depression and anxiety for years and would just bring me food and pretend everything was fine, I know what its like.

I know people that are doing way more with their lives, I know people with important careers,married. I have family that is a year older than me and are self made millionares. Here I was unemployed getting a degree in something I didn't care about, I hated myself. I had well meaning family that always wish I lived closer to the millionares because I could "be helped" by them. You know that kind of "help" were you setup the worthless person in a decent job so they feel like they are worth something because you have to look after your moron family. That hurt the most honestly. That side is all gifted geniuses. Nasa engineers that put Neil Armstrong on the moon kind of people(one of them actually did that).

I used to do the same thing as you. Torture yourself thinking your the worst piece of loser crap. Everyone is better than you and your not worth anything. They look at you with pity, that deadbeat(You say to yourself). That's the kind of stuff I'd tell myself. One day I just realized I couldn't do it anymore. Life is a long stupid journey and being miserable and hating yourself isn't going to change it, I TRIED IT DOESN'T WORK. Sadly nobody gives a crap whether you succeed or not in the end of it all. All you've got is you. Not everyone figures their lives our straight away, I didn't and I haven't. Some people never do, that's just a sad fact of life but a sobering one.

I've realized now though the secret to finding happiness. Well my mom technically found it but now I see it as she does. You have to become an extrovert and mingle with people. Do charity work, join groups for things. I know how impossible it sounds as an introvert believe me I'm still working my way up to doing it. But she was a miserable person whose life was going nowhere for basically her entire life. Then she actually went out into the world. She joined AA, joined groups, got involved in her church a lot(Im not saying join a church but a big community) and started meeting people and making connections. She went from having a car with a full tank of gas and TEN dollars in her pocket with no home to having a nice home a mile away from a well paying job with a boss that loves her to death and frankly everything in her life has become amazing. This was a woman who we honestly all thought was going to just die in a gutter pretty soon 2 years back. Now she lives a better life than most people I know lol. That's all it is, it's people. That's your key.

Also, to be fair to your dad, his way of dealing with things is remarkably like the way I've known people with depression deal with things - pretend there is no problem. All I'm saying is that you might not be the only sufferer, and maybe recognise that he has his own cross to bear. It doesn't mean he doesn't love or care about you, only that he is maybe not in a position to take on something else.

I can relate. I'm 22. In recent years it's been increasingly difficult to talk to my friends or even people close to my age, because every time I do, they'll have reached another big milestone in life that I have not. Whether it's a serious relationship, a job, college degree, etc. They are always moving on ahead in life.

I know I'm still young. But when you haven't accomplished much at this age, you began to realize that you're behind and time isn't exactly on your side anymore.

Idealistically, we shouldn't compare our lives to others. Compete with yourself and no one else, press forward at your own pace, not the expectations of others.

The best method is to take small steps, don't focus on what you haven't had or done all together, but set a goal to achieve one at a time, it looks less daunting that way.

 

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