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Feel like I am drowning again, can't see which way to go

(35 Posts)
SneakyHateSpiral Wed 10-Jul-13 21:17:07

I'm in a high pressure, stressful situation at the moment. I can't see it lasting for longer than six to eight weeks but I had a breakdown last year and whilst my mental health has been improving it is still very fragile. I don't have anyone to talk about this, DH is sympathetic but frustrated that it can't be fixed easily. I lost all my acquaintances after my breakdown and have no real friends as we have moved around so much for his job.

I don't feel as low as I did last year, but I'm sitting here alone in floods of tears and I'm really unhappy and can't think how to fix it. I feel like such a burden, I'm not really being a good parent right now and I just want to run away as fast as I can. I had counselling last year which helped, but I'm not entitled to anymore, can't afford any more and didn't really gel with the counsellor at my local surgery which is who I would be assigned to.

I really thought I was doing so well. I just want someone to hold my hand and tell me its all going to be OK, but I'm so introverted and aloof no-one would ever think of doing this in real life. Please someone, tell me what to do.

Bluestocking Wed 10-Jul-13 21:18:50

Poor you. <hugs>
Can you tell us a bit more about what's gone wrong?

SneakyHateSpiral Wed 10-Jul-13 21:26:41

I had my third driving test yesterday, third in just over a month. It took my a long time to psych myself up to learn to drive (I have had anxiety disorder for a while, bubbling along at a low level for a while) so started with an intensive course at the end of May. I failed on silly things and everyone has been so angry with my instructor (my test was on a road that I had never been down before, despite 60+hours of lessons with him). I had to tell him he wasn't needed again today, find a new instructor who would take me in our car (more confident), prep our car, make loads of phone calls (nightmare for me) and book a new test. It was horrible.

In September I start a PhD. I have been out of academia for ten years and am terrified. My perfectionist side keeps telling me I am going to fail as i have been out for too long and I am terrified of juggling driving lessons and study so I have to pass before then which is hugely stressful.My perfectionist side wont let me stop driving and take a break. DH is constantly changing his diary to fit in lessons and practice and its costing a fortune. PLus DS has to go to nursery in order for me to start a PhD and I have been a SAHM for 10 years and am strugglng to cope with the guilt as well.

so sorry, so sorry, thats really long.

Bluestocking Wed 10-Jul-13 21:31:39

Please don't think I'm being unsympathetic - I'm a longterm suffere from
Are you on any meds for the anxiety and depression?

Bluestocking Wed 10-Jul-13 21:35:55

Ack, stupid iPad!
Please don't think I'm being unsympathetic, because I've been there with the crippling anxiety and depression. Have you been or are you getting any treatment apart from the counselling - are you on meds? I ask because your situation doesn't, on the face of it, sound unusually anxiety-provoking.
How old is DS? If you've been a SAHM for ten years, I assume he's your youngest - how many children do you have? What does your DH do? When you say he is frustrated because things should be easily fixed, is he frustrated with you, or with external things like the driving instructor?

SneakyHateSpiral Wed 10-Jul-13 21:38:04

No, no meds.

I was offered them last year after I broke down in the doctors office, but I have really bad reflux, a mildly herniated stomach and IBS and the doctor said they could inflame those conditions. My whole family are anti-tablets as well and talked me out of using my prescription. The doctor booked me in for counselling really really quickly and I started to feel better and improved over time. I reached a plateau but honestly I was happier than I have been since I was 11.

I am a little calmer now I have got it out, but getting so low has really frightened me.

SneakyHateSpiral Wed 10-Jul-13 21:46:11

No other treatment either, I do deep breathing, positive visualisations, meditation, mantras and other things which have worked brilliantly so far.

DS is almost 4, DD is 8. I had PND and PTSD after both of their births, both went untreated for 6 years. I am not a very good SAHM, very socially awkward, very introverted, lacking in patience. I couldnt work when we lived abroad as I didn't have the visa. Got pregnant when we returned and then in the words of DH 'went bonkers' with anxiety.

DH is a scientist. High pressure, long hours, lots of overseas travel and away regularly. He is a very practical person but he went through a lot with me over the last five years, I have been incredibly hard work and we have come very close to splitting although we are much better now. He has health problems of his own. He doesn't understand why i get so worried/anxious/unhappy over simple things.

I don't think he is irritated with me, I think he blamed the instructor but I have internalised some of that irritation and blame. My instructor has been pocketing £40-£80 a week for driving me in a big circle around town, arriving late, leaving early, giving me no feedback, no maneovre practice etc and DH has been pushing and pushing to give him the heave ho, but I am terrified of conflict and gave him more chances, was very torn between the two of them. My new instructor seems very nice but its too much change to the status quo in my head and has completely tipped me over the edge.

Bluestocking Wed 10-Jul-13 21:46:25

I'm really glad just writing it down has helped. Starting a PhD is a big, big deal and I'm not surprised you might be feeling some trepidation. But the university wouldn't have offered you the place if your supervisor hadn't truly believed you are capable of doing it and succeeding.
You don't need me to tell you that you don't need to feel guilty about nursery for DS.
And if you can manage and feel well without meds, that's fabulous, but taking meds does not make you a failure - and it's also not a permanent thing - plenty of people have needed a period of time on meds to get back onto an even keel but have then been able to stop taking them.
Good luck and remember there is always, always someone here to talk to!

Bluestocking Wed 10-Jul-13 21:51:12

Your DH sounds very solution-focused! This is fine in the lab but not necessarily very helpful in one's emotional life.

SneakyHateSpiral Wed 10-Jul-13 21:52:26

And I am so angry with myself for not ditching him before, for wasting so much money, for being a SAHM for so long, for not standing up for myself ever, for not being able to say no, for choosing to have kids, for letting my parents down again and again and I feel so so sick at walking through that test centre door and walking through the door of my new supervisor.

I just want a quiet, no pressure job, something simple so I can build up confidence, but DH says waste of my skills, parents say must be the best, must succeed, must achieve, must beat other people, what a waste of all the money on that top university degree, what a failure.

I do want a PhD, it just came from nowhere like a dream come true and everyone keeps telling me how amazing it is, how brave I am, how things like that never happen usually and that I must be so clever and its like stepping back ten years to always having to be academically overachive (have 11 GCSES and 4 A-levels for this reason). I just want to hide for a bit.

SneakyHateSpiral Wed 10-Jul-13 21:56:24

Thank you so much for listening and replying, Bluestocking, its so good to know that there is someone out there listening.

DH's work are paying the fees (condition of him staying on at his workplace) so it doesn't feel 'earned' iykwim, which I know is ridiculous, but I have been sworn to secrecy about it as its highly irregular so I can tell no-one about where my funding is coming from, not my fellow students or even school gate mothers.

StickEmUp Wed 10-Jul-13 21:58:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SneakyHateSpiral Wed 10-Jul-13 21:59:37

Yes! Solution focused sums up DH utterly.

He went through a stage of asking 'Are you happier today?' and I felt like I was being plotted on one of his bloody graphs!

Thats made me laugh actually which is good.

Bluestocking Wed 10-Jul-13 22:05:06

You poor love, it sounds like many people in your life are putting you under a lot of pressure.
The situation with the funding is awkward. I work at a university and I can understand that this would be tricky because your fellow students etc will be interested to know how you are being funded. Can I suggest that you and DH come up with an acceptable and believable story which you can then stick to? Even if it's something like "a relative died and left me enough to pay the fees, she knew it was my dream to do a PhD, aren't I lucky?". If you don't have a story, people will pick away at you, and the rumour mill will go into overdrive. If you have a believable story, no-one will think twice about it.

SneakyHateSpiral Wed 10-Jul-13 22:09:16

Hi Stickemup,

thank you for your message. What you say about the instructor is true, I just have to move on from 'I will pass the test in this car with this instructor' in my head. My new instructor is a middle aged lady who was immensely reassuring and kind, as well as happy to take me in my own car (but I got six knockbacks from other firms first). It was enormously unpleasant telling the first instructor I didn't need him anymore and he texted back 'your money to waste, won't pass so close to the test'.

I am still reluctant to take the tabs, I had weeks of (sorry tmi) pooing and vomiting blood at one point and it has really messed my digestion up so I am on a very limited diet atm. If I still feel like this in a week I'll go, but I think I just needed an outlet, I tend to bottle it up and bottle it up until it all gets too much. That is something I should work on I think.

Bluestocking Wed 10-Jul-13 22:09:30

It's quite possible that your DH is plotting your mood on a graph - it would indicate his concern about you!
My DP (not a scientist) is a great one for offering me a solution to a situation when all I want to do is blather about it for a bit and let off steam. It's taken me a long time to realise that he doesn't want me to shut up, but he thinks he's being helpful; and him a long time to realise that sometimes he needs to just listen and keep his solutions to himself.

DevonCiderPunk Wed 10-Jul-13 22:09:48

Hello Spiral (great name.) I'm sorry that you're going through a bad patch. When you've had a breakdown before, it can be even more frightening to have very bad times. Well done for speaking up on here.

It's a shame that you're not getting any support with managing your mental health, though. Sometimes charities like Mind or Rethink Mental Illness have services that you can self-refer to. Worth a look? I quite understand the "battling on alone" thing as have been there myself, but getting connected is an important part of feeling better.

DevonCiderPunk Wed 10-Jul-13 22:12:04

BTW your first instructor sounds like a colossal knob end. grin Well done for getting rid, especially since it was so triggering for you to do so - I really hope you can look at that as a success, rather than something else to beat yourself up about.

StickEmUp Wed 10-Jul-13 22:13:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bluestocking Wed 10-Jul-13 22:15:24

YY to Devon's description of the colossal knob end driving instructor and well done to you, Spiral, for finding a new instructor who fits the bill so well!
MN is a great place to let off steam. Do you have people in real life you can vent to? Or is your RL persona cool, calm and collected?

StickEmUp Wed 10-Jul-13 22:16:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SneakyHateSpiral Wed 10-Jul-13 22:17:53

Bluestocking- I'm not a very good liar, could I just get away with saying I am self-funded?

DH is big highflyer at the university, he has four or five phd students and postdocs, all of whom know me and know I am coming to the university (and are looking forward to it) and I know quite a lot of staff and faculty members already so am very conscious of standing out a bit and not feeling like a normal student, on top of my age and ten years out of academia. I'd be much happier to just slide into the background but DH's students are planning on seeking me out etc.

CinnamonAddict Wed 10-Jul-13 22:24:43

Here's another hand to hold. It is going to be ok.

It doesn't matter where the funding for your pHD comes from. You will be doing all the work and should be proud of it.

You may need more therapy, even if it costs a lot. It does sound as if the stress is mounting and you could do with a bit of professional "sorting" of the main issues, anxieties etc before you embark on new things.

You don't have to overachieve, just be you! You are clever and will do well.
One thing at a time, first the driving test. Sounds very stressful and I'm sure it drains a lot of energy.

Scientist husband aah wink can be quite puzzled when it comes to mental health, not understanding the nature of it unless they have personal experience (that goes for many people).

I'm sorry you found you had no real friends after your breakdown. But you can make some new ones?! I sometimes think of all those mums I've met in 14,5 years of having children, some I've only met for coffee once, others i have met occasionally, and a few have turned out to be the best friends ever. Not many, maybe 3 in all those years. But those are ones to lean on, whatever happens. They're not easy to find, but they're out there.

Bluestocking Wed 10-Jul-13 22:25:06

Yep, definitely say you are self-funded. Make sure DH knows that's the story too.
It sounds like you have a ready-made community of friends in your department - that will be fun. You will be a member of the Students' Union too - Freshers' Week beckons!

SneakyHateSpiral Wed 10-Jul-13 22:25:40

Nastiness like that shocked me, I thought we were getting on well, but I deleted it immediately and have tried to put it out of my mind.

No, no-one to talk to. My mum doesn't do 'weepy stuff', her female partner is lovely but everything gets passed on to her two daughters, my dad is a huge part of the problem (I am a huge disappointment to him), his wife is a mad french bitch from hell (gave me sexy underwear as my 'congratulations you gave birth present' and told me my husband would leave me if I didn't continue to put him first). We have moved a lot and I have run out of energy to make friends.

I am very much the aloof, cool, calm, sarcastic personality in real life. I have been taken advantage a lot in the past (one woman got me to look after her three year old when I was 41 weeks pregnant) so I find it easier to keep a distance.

I will look into the places you suggested Devon, but childcare is a real issue for the next few months until DS starts nursery, all our spare cash is going on driving lessons.

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