Feeling hopeless

Topics related to physical, emotional and psychological forms of pain and suffering

Feeling hopeless

Postby invierno » Tue Feb 02, 2010 1:53 am

Hello All,
This is my first post on this board. I read A New Earth a few months ago after some intense changes in my life forced me to seek help. This is going to be a very long post so I apologize in advance. I am so desperate to talk to someone about what I'm going through and I would be grateful for some insight.

This is my current life situation: I'm 31 years old and have suffered depression for most of my life. My live-in partner recently ended our relationship just as I was graduating from college (I was an older student). I've been unemployed for several months and face insurmountable debt from student loans. I made the decision to temporarily move back in with my parents for financial reasons. This would be fine except for the fact that my mother's lifestyle is seriously wreaking havoc on my sanity.

Here's a little backstory: About 7 years ago, my mother's therapist encouraged her to quit her job because she was miserable, she was in her early fifties at the time and had been heavily medicated for depression, borderline personality disorder and other health problems. At this time, she basically "gave up" on life, and now identifies completely with her depression. She spends most of the day chain-smoking and eating junk food in front of the television with the curtains closed. She rarely showers, rarely leaves the house (save for doctors appointments once every few months,) and is totally sedentary.

I do whatever I can to be supportive and I constantly try to cheer her up, but now that I've been living with her for several months, I've had 3 nervous breakdowns and despite constantly reading and re-reading passages from Tolle's books, I can't find peace within myself. The biggest obstacle is having to deal with my mother's lifestyle. I am the type of person who really needs to have peace and quiet for a good portion of the day, but most of the time I can't hear myself think because she has the TV volume up so high that I need to wear earplugs all day long just to drown out the noise. I have tried asking her to turn down the volume but she refuses because it's one of her only vices. In addition to the constant noise factor, her chain-smoking makes it miserable to breathe inside the house.

My family can't talk to my mother about any of this. Every time we've tried, she immediately gets defensive and then manipulates the situation by making us feel guilty for being honest with her. She'll say stuff along the lines of "I'm sorry that I'm such a terrible mother". She refuses to listen because she desperately needs to cling to her depression, and her unhealthy lifestyle is the only thing she thinks she has to live for. I think deep down she feels guilty for compromising our health and perpetuating a physically and emotionally toxic household environment, but she's in such deep denial that she always finds a way to justify it.

Which brings me to my own set of issues. Every day has become a struggle to get out of bed and apply for jobs and do the basic everyday tasks that need to be done. Right now most of my time is spent fantasizing about moving out of my parent's house just so that I can breathe clean air, have a quiet environment so that I can meditate and be productive, and not have to constantly witness my mother's self-destruction. I feel like my own depression has gotten infinitely worse, to the point where I feel so trapped, isolated, and helpless that I can't see a way out of this mess. I feel as though my pain body keeps gaining momentum by feeding on my mother's pain body.

I have tried so hard to accept the situation and be Present and free myself of egoic thinking, but I haven't been able to do this for an extended amount of time. I have no access to quiet space for letting my mind rest. I would love to take a meditation class but I can't afford to. In short, I can't remove myself from the situation because I can't afford my own place, and yet I'm so afraid of what I'll have to do in order to get there. The jobs that I would qualify for are so few and far between right now. I'm afraid to apply for certain jobs because I'm terrified of how others will perceive me. I recently turned down an interview for a minimum wage job at a grocery store because I was afraid that someone I knew back in high school might see me working there. My fear of being seen as a failure is so profound that most of the time I feel paralyzed from taking action.

I know that Tolle would say to look inside myself for the answers, but I think it would really help if I had some support to help me get there. Maybe some of you have felt this hopeless and were able to find the right pointers to help you break free. What would you do if you were in my shoes?
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Re: Feeling hopeless

Postby Sighclone » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:30 am

My response will be mainly conventional, not nondual. Get a copy of Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits of Highly Successful People" - he reminds us that we should manage the things we can control. Your living situation is not pleasant -- I assume you do not pay rent, so can't request some peace. But you can leave the house and go to a library or some other quiet place. If you cannot stomach the idea of working for minimum wage, I can understand that feeling, but it is purely egoic. What exactly is going to happen to you if you are bagging groceries for an old high-school acquaintance? Are they going to punch you? Are they going to play some kind of ego-trip on you? Are they going to be sympathetic? Might they actually offer you something better to work at? Will they quietly nod your way, and think how difficult the recession is? Will they look right through you? As you read this, of course, you have no idea at all what they will do. Or if they will even recognize you. If you are unwilling to take that risk, then you get to keep the consequences, grinding poverty.

Your mother is unlikely to change. People are props for her poor-me story which she energizes daily, and she is undoubtably mentally ill, which is very sad. My mother was bipolar -- quite tragic until the Lithium pulled her out of it. Your goal is to escape.

Wish I could help more -- welcome to the forum.

The nondual comment would be "find out who is suffering, who is that in there, suffering away. Not why does he (she?) suffer, there are a million reasons. But exactly who is that who suffers so?"

Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce
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Re: Feeling hopeless

Postby macbeth-7 » Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:19 am

I understand what it is like to live with mentally ill people. Both my parents and sister have been hospitalized for mental problems. The families' pain bodies will keep you mired in depression. Part of your depression is probably anger at your mother and rightfully so. However I didn't realize this for a very long time, and when I started expressing my anger it helped me a lot. Also, it is important to realize that
when you are stuck, it is because you haven't forgiven. Who haven't you forgiven? My answer was myself. How difficult this was and still is.

Another thing I needed to hear that not everything was my fault. There are inherent flaws in the world and part of depression is not separating from what you cannot help. If you can't get a job in your chosen field it is partly because of circumstances in the world. I agree with all that sighclone said, I think this is very sound advice. I am only adding some additional thoughts. I hope you find some peace. I am sending positive energy your way.

Also, could you find a spiritual group of like minded people. Join a meditation group. And try to walk outside as much as you can.
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Re: Feeling hopeless

Postby Onceler » Wed Feb 10, 2010 2:18 pm

Sounds tough! All good advice so far. I would only add that you practice short moments of awareness as much as possible. I personally know that this is hard when one is depressed, but they add up to clarity and can give insight or energy to activate when the time is right. Those who are depressed need small goals. Feel your emotions; anger and depression briefly with awareness. Don't try to change everything at once, in fact don't try to change, just bring awareness into the picture as often as possible. Awareness will move you. Awareness will change you in whatever ways are needed.

I have a totally bizarre image: how about sitting on the sofa and watching tv with your mother? Just join her, eat junk food, and watch tv for 30 minutes and see what happens? Do so with awareness....
Be present, be pleasant.
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Re: Feeling hopeless

Postby Sighclone » Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:24 pm

Right on comment, onceler...thanks for being a steady "presence" here!

Andy
A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce
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Re: Feeling hopeless

Postby samadhi » Thu Feb 25, 2010 12:13 am

I really feel for you, certainly very challenging situation...some great comments here. I especially liked the suggestion to join your mum for half an hour as she watches TV. Bring total acceptance to her, and accept the seemingly unacceptable. At the same time, set the intention that you are going to find somewhere else to stay. Are there any friends that could put you up for a while? Or maybe even just to let you get away for a few days at a time. As for the job, feel the fear and do it anyway. No ego indignity at being seen in a grocery store (I've been there, done that I can tell you) is worse than what you've been experiencing at the moment. The fear is always so much more painful than the feared event itself.

It does pass, it will pass. Such a situation can make or break you - you get to decide which. it's a wonderful blessing that you have access to Eckhart's teaching and this forum. You can be there and allow the pain and discomfort to come up, and give it attention as you would a distressed child. You can try to surrender and accept the unacceptable, knowing that it WILL change, for change is the nature of life.

My love goes to you. Onwards and upwards my friend.
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Re: Feeling hopeless

Postby anne » Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:51 am

As one who is sensitive to the energy of others and needs quiet contemplative space, in your situation I know I would need to leave and find somewhere else to stay.
Is there anyone who could give you a loan to help you move? Often it is possible to find a share house with others who also value quiet space at a fairly low move in cost. Another way is to take a low paid job in order to have the funds to move.
All work is valuable and there is much strength and grace in working at something with integrity. What others think means nothing. You know why you are working there, to provide something of immense value to yourself.
Some environments are just too tough for our current level of practice and the one you describe is one of the toughest I could imagine.
Through circumstances some years ago I was led to move in with my parents until I found a place and as my father suffered anxiety and the experience of bi-polar I found it too tough. Once I moved I really came back to living the way I needed to.
may you know the peace you are
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