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Infatuation and mental health(26 Posts)
This is a follow up thread to my previous one (http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/2516481-Unrequited-Love-Help), where I talked about an infatuation I have with my university lecturer.
Since I wrote that thread, my mental health has spiralled. My infatuation with my lecturer is as strong as ever. I have talked it through with my counsellor, although she didn't tell me anything I hadn't already told myself. Every time I see him I am so overwhelmed with both desire and what I feel is love, but know is not truly, that it is frankly frightening. I have absolutely no intentions to stalk/harm/cause him upset and discomfort, in any way. Rather, i'm taking out of my anger and frustrations on myself. My anxiety has risen to the extent where I am rarely able to go into the communal kitchen in the accommodation I am in. I eat maybe three small meals a week and along with the excessive amount of painkillers I take, i'm surprised I haven't yet collapsed. I have lost an excessive amount of weight, which is particularly concerning as I was already very slim beforehand. I get frightened looking at myself in the mirror. I've also started cutting up my arms and legs with anything that will possibly do the job. I frequently have very loud and dramatic crying spells and panic attacks, which means my flat mates avoid me like the plague (not that I blame them), as they can obviously hear me through the thin walls.
I want to see my doctor again, but I am not able to before Monday. Very obviously the antidepressants I am on are not working. The only thing that provides me with some happiness is glimpsing and talking to my lecturer, although obviously this is coupled with extreme sadness. I theorise that my infatuation has manifested as a result of my depression/anxiety. I keep a firm grasp on it, although I know it's futile (and that even if I was to be in a relationship with him, it would obviously be extremely unhealthy), because i'm afraid that if I lose this hope, I will lose everything.
I am completely aware that I am obviously very sick, and that maybe deferring my time at university would be wisest. But I do not wish to do this. One, I would be separated from my lecturer (although logically this would be for the best). Two, I am a slightly late started (i'm 21 and in my first year), as mental health issues in the past meant that I completed my A Levels later. The subject I am studying is my passion and I cannot imagine not attend university, and wasting my years doing nothing, while everyone I know carries on with their life. Three, I am, frankly, frightened to go home. I will be at the end of this week for Christmas holidays and even that fills me with fear. I was initially excited for university, one reason being that I was very unhappy with my home life and lonely (despite having friends), and I thought university may rectify this (although obviously it has not). Going home will be cement what I know is true - that I find unhappiness wherever I go. I often feel like I will drift through my life, unable to find happiness. Maybe even that happiness is impossible for me.
I honestly do not know the point of this thread, or what advice i'm looking for. Maybe i'm just looking for sympathy, i'm not sure. But i'm open to any advice anyone might like to give.
I'm sorry you are feeling this way SolidSnake. I've had that kind of infatuation and now how awful it can be.
I agree that your infatuation is a manifestation of your depression. I found that if something happened to make me feel vulnerable, even if I'd been fine for a while, the intrusive thoughts and obsession with him would return tenfold.
Obsessing about him was like a mental habit comfort blanket. Although it was intrusive, horrible and upsetting to be that obsessed, it was a distraction from whatever it was that was making me feel vulnerable.
I can't say that have massive wise words to say only that:
* - I agree that you should see your GP asap - but maybe explore being referred for other psychiatric talking type therapy - rather than counselling or anti-depressants. Supposedly anti-depressants shouldn't be prescribed other than for moderate to severe depression and GPs often over use them because of demands on psychistric services.
* - Do some exercise. I know if you are down it's the last thing you feel like doing, but if you can make yourself it will do wonders for you. Try to force yourself to either start with some walking but the best thing is some cardio that will distract you - a spin class or something where there is an instructor giving instructions you have to concentrate on.
*- Try to hang on to the fact that this will pass. The chances of you still feeling like this -either depressed or obsessed with this man when you are 70 are zero. The same is true of 10 years time; 7 years time. It may last a while and when you are in the grip of it, it feels there is no way out - but depression is not a permanent state nor is infatuation. Keep telling yourself that. One day at a time.
* - Try to see your infatuation as a mental comfort blanket and maybe it won't seem so scarey. Once you get past the longing feeling, being infatuated with someone is actually not so bad - provided you don't act on it - because it gives your life a bit of drama and colour. Try to see it for what it is and laugh at it. One day you'll look back at this man and he'll seem unattractive/dull/crappy job in comparision to your current bf and you'll wonder what you ever saw in him! Honestly - I promise.
You poor thing, you are really going through it right now - your distress is very clear.
I would describe this as an emergency - I think you really need to see a doctor today. Have you got a friend who could support you - do you have any RL support at all?
Also, can you give an indication of where you are in the UK? Not asking to be nosy but so I can direct you to some sources of support.
Please keep talking x
Do phone your surgery this morning for an emergency appointment. You must be completely honest with the doctor to get the help you need.
Oh sweetheart, this is so tough for you.
First things first: in spite of all of the emotional turbulence you feel, you are not floating free of all contact with reality. You know that you are actually ill. You are even self-aware enough to realise that your illness isn't caused by your love for this man; rather, your infatuation is a symptom of the illness. There are plenty of older, more experienced women on this site who couldn't be that insightful about their situation.
As you know, you're not in love with this man. You don't really know him. You're in love with an idea of him that you've built up in your head, a idea that is also a personal ideal of masculine perfection. Those are the most difficult infatuations to break because the person is actually perfect for you - because you invented them!! In saying this, I am not at all diminishing what you feel. What you are suffering is like a more grown-up version of the absolutely driving love we have as teenagers for male pop stars or boy bands: in an odd twisting of our usual expectations, it is so strong precisely because it's not real. Fantasy can be incredibly powerful and dangerous in this way!
I think you should see your GP as a matter of priority because it sounds as though the medication you are on is really not working. (How long ago did you commence taking these drugs? Because it can take 6-8 weeks for a medication to 'settle in' - and some antidepressants can make anxiety much worse in that time). When you visit your doctor, you need to be completely honest about how bad this is, and how much you need help. Also, there should be an academic who is responsible for your personal and pastoral wellbeing, and I think you'd benefit from talking to them about the anxiety and the emotional issues you are having (you don't have to mention the infatuation if you don't want to) and ask for an urgent referral to the counselling service.
Leaving home can be a very disruptive and disturbing time. You're surrounded by new people, new places, the demands of a new course. You're finding out who you are, away from your parents. You eat differently, sleep differently, and it can be difficult to find a rhythm that makes you happy. Most students in their first term struggle, which is why most first year tutors have shares in Kleenex . Don't think that because you've not gone to uni and been instantly ecstatic in your new life that you are somehow destined for a lifetime of unhappiness. That's simply not the case.
Finally, I'm not sure that taking a break from your studies is always the best solution, particularly if home isn't a very caring or welcoming place. But I also don't think you should worry AT ALL about being a 'late starter'. I realise that there is this push to make people feel that if they don't get through the education system as quickly as possible they are 'lagging behind', but that's simply not true. Actually, the people I know who have truly wasted time have been those most in a rush - because they've got to the age of 30 on a treadmill and then realised they hate their career and they want to do something else! Everyone has their own rhythm and pace, and thankfully many of these lead to success and happiness.
Thank you for the replies, everyone.
I went back to the GP and was prescribed 20mg Fluoxetine. I'm pretty much using all the therapeutic services the uni had to offer (in all fairness, everyone involved are wonderful and are trying their hardest). I have support from my family (who are aware of my depression/anxiety, but not about my self harm and infatuation), and a close friend.
I do keep trying to remember that these feelings will not last forever, although obviously it can be difficult! I think loneliness can often be so destructive.
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Well done snake. It took guts to go and talk to your GP. I hope that once the Fluoxetine kicks in, you'll feel much better (it can be a bit of a bumpy ride for the first 6-8 weeks). Glad you have real life support from family and friends as well as your uni.
I hear you on the loneliness. This might be the root of the problem, but the good news is that it is something that you can address - maybe next term, once you're feeling a bit more stable and secure.
Sending you hugs.
I've just seen this - thank you for updating Snake. I'm so pleased you managed to get another appointment and I hope the fluoxetine helps
Thank you everyone.
I am pretty much at the lowest i've ever felt. I think about suicide often. I wake up and find myself disappointed. My Mother is to pick me up in the morning to take me home for the Christmas holidays, and I am terrified. The thought of returning home scares me in a way I find inexplicable. Everything which was once a light in my life has either gone out, or has been replaced by sadness.
I even met with my lecturer today to discuss my upcoming coursework. By all means, it was a professional success. We spoke for an hour and he told me that I had raised points that he himself had not even considered. But I was at the same time overcome with the knowledge that not only can't this man ever love me, but regardless would more than likely never love me anyway, even if circumstances were different.
Not a moment goes by where I don't feel an extreme emotional throbbing in my chest. I wish that all of it would stop.
I feel for you as this sounds awful. I was in a similar situation in my first year of uni and It honestly feels like you won't recover and that these awful intrusive thoughts won't go away, but they will! The brain is a wonderful things; for all the hell it gives you when you are clinically depressed, it can heal in spectacular fashion as well.
It's hard to see the wood for the trees when you are feeling like this, but you are strong, incredibly articulate and very self aware (as a previous poster mentioned). You have all of the tools at your disposal to get through this.
What I will tell you is that there is no shame in just holding your hands up and sayIng, "do you know what, I'm not ready for this right now" and heading home until you are stronger.
You have an illness; like anyone with an illness, you deserve time to rest, recover and regroup. You deserve it. I'm going to repeat this again: you deserve it.
I was 18 when I first went to uni and I wasn't ready; I had monstrously bad depression and anxiety and it was hell. I came home at 19, anorexic, suicidal, and convinced I had thrown my whole life and future away.
What I did was come back to familiar surroundings, get a boring job I could do in my sleep and spend three years growing, changing and recovering.
Going back to uni at 22 was brilliant as I was healthier, happier and appreciated it loads more. Age is irrelevant in terms of uni, you'll be happier doing it a little older because you will be healthier and in a better place.
Take some time to rest and give yourself a break, you've made a heroic effort to get through your first term but it's just not the right time. No one is going to judge you.
About the love for your lecturer...oh, I've been there! It's such a powerful, all encompassing thing isn't it. Making a break from him is the only way you can get free of these intrusive thoughts and feelings. Trust me, I've done it and it's the only way. You'll be really surprised how quickly you start to feel better afterwards.
Anyway, you deserve better than this. Do what's right for you and ignore that voice in your head that tells you you're a failure and that you will never be happy; that, my dear, is the depression talking.
I'm 30 now, started my career at 25 and have never looked back. Yes, the Fluoxetine is still a big part of my life (getting smaller) but that's a small thing in comparison to before.
You can do it.
I'd love to try and help more if I can. PM me any time.
I also spent my early teens and till mid 20s getting totally obsessed with various men, so approx 15+ years of it in total, now struggling to find a boys name for my son as so many are names of people I used to be obsessed with! I think it is definitely a symptom of anxiety and depression and very common, though at the time I felt it was only me and I was very lonely with it. I just wondered if going part time might be worth considering and perhaps non communal accommodation? Could you spread 1 academic year over 2? Might give you a bit of breathing space to focus on your health or perhaps the opportunity to do something different alongside eg part time job or voluntary work. Or perhaps if changing accommodation not possible a microwave and mini freezer and kettle in your room if that is allowed? You could stock up on healthy ready meals perhaps? Just ideas. It is very hard living in communal accommodation sometimes. Is there anything you can do to try to distract yourself over Xmas? I think my years having obsessive crushes made me to drawn to romantic dramas from an early age and I think I found them therapeutic, to see a happy ending must have been inspiring and reassuring for me (don't watch Tess of the D'urbervilles!!). I don't mean to sound flippant, it just helped soon bit I think, just an idea. Hope you feel better soon x
Sending you some unmumsnetty hugs snake, I've been there: i became obsessed with a male friend (and ruined that friendship) whilst depressed at uni. I know the bleakness of thinking life will never be ok.
My advice is to try and do nice things for yourself: listen to your favourite music, watch good tv, do some exercise (definitely helps) and don't put pressure on yourself to make any big decisions. If home is an unhappy place for you is there any chance you could go somewhere else for a few days to just rest and recover a bit: a friend or relative's, or even a cheap European city break. The christmas i was at my worst I went away on my own to an Eastern European capital, slept a lot and just pottered a bit. It may not work for everyone but there was no pressure on me to conform to anyone's expectations and it gave me time to clear my head. Sometimes you need to step off life's merrygoround for a few days.
Am feeling a bit better at the moment. My doctor seemed to think that I was badly reacting to the duloxetine and it was contributing to my self harm/suicidal thoughts (especially as my depression seemed to spiral out of control when I began to it). I am hoping that I will begin to react better to the fluoxetine.
But thank you everyone for your concern and kind words, it honestly means a lot. It is also reassuring to see that other people have been in a similar position to what I currently find myself in, and have battled it and come out the other end!
You said "Everything which was once a light in my life has either gone out, or has been replaced by sadness."
This does sound like really black depression, possibly sharpened by a bad reaction to the meds you'd been given. I was put on antidepressants for a while after becoming depressed when long-term sick, and I had a terrible reaction to the particular variety I was given. It was like being stuck in an unceasing rhythm of terrible thoughts, from which I couldn't escape. Once I came off the drugs, this slowly lifted, and colour came back into the world. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and you can make it through.
I think with your lecturer, the advice to get a break from him is good. I suspect that part of the reason he has a hold over you is precisely that he is inaccessible and something inbetween a father figure, a teen idol, and an idealised boyfriend. I think lecturers are a particularly heady mix, because you have an element of closeness (showing someone your writing is very personal), an element of performance (the person up on stage giving forth), an element of authority, and also intelligence. However, you don't really 'know' the person from those things - what you have is a set of your projections. Thinking about why you might be projecting so forcefully in this way might be useful to you in breaking out of it - perhaps this is something that goes back to your relationship with home, and also to a need for approval and affirmation from someone who has those qualities, rather than from within yourself?
We are moving this to the Mental Health topic at the OP's request.
Just thought i'd update.
Truthfully, everything has been 'same old'. I am going to see my GP on Monday in order to talk about my medication and possibly adjusting it. My appetite has disappeared completely, and I can barely stomach to eat anything. I often feel weak, extremely tired, shaky and surreal, and have awful heart palpitations. I do have moments where I almost feel 'manic' and that i'm able to do almost anything - followed by periods of deep sadness where I question the point of living, inevitability of death, and the like. I understand medication isn't a miracle answer, and that I also have to find it within myself to improve my wellbeing, but it's so difficult to do so when I feel burdened continuously with the feelings of hopelessness and dread. I've become deeply paranoid and have started to believe that it's all a conspiracy of fate - which is deeply illogical, but I find some strange comfort in it.
grundrisse You are spot on with your reasoning for my infatuation with my lecturer. Sadly to say, that my feelings for him have not began to dim over the holidays. The thought of both staying away from him, and seeing him, cause me great emotional pain on equal levels. I think it's tricky when a desire for someone goes beyond sexual - when it becomes mixed with admiration and adoration, it is a tough beast to tame. I'll never make my feelings abundantly clear to him - I respect him (and myself) too much to put him in such an awkward position - and so, I need to learn to 'get over it' so to speak, and stop punishing myself.
Back at university and already things are not looking good. I so desperately wish to make connections with others, but at the same time I am filled with contempt and push everyone away. I am overcome with anxiety at seeing everyone again and entering into that routine, and a big part of me doesn't want to leave my room. I feel I am so weak-minded.
You're not weak minded at all, you're struggling to overcome all sorts of physical and mental obstacles. That is exhausting. Whatever else you do, be kind to yourself and feel proud of the steps you've taken to get help.
Fluoxetine isn't a walk in the park either, I felt awful for the worst 6 weeks, lost my appetite and had awful anxiety. That should hopefully improve but if not go back to the GP.
You're very self aware about your infatuation. I was very much like this as a teen and probably would have carried on like that if I hadn't met my now XH (if that makes sense). I still, at the grand old age of 48 know that the potential for that is still in me, I've just learned how to ignore/knock it on the head. Your post was so articulate that it brought a real moment of realisation about myself, for which I'm very grateful.
For you, it's definitely a symptom of other underlying issues, a coping mechanism which you fully recognise to be counterproductive and escapist.
Finally, you're the same age as my oldest daughter and she has suffered a lot of anxiety since starting uni. She finds the traditions between home and away very difficult. Hang in there, ask about student counselling, go back to the GP and be very kind to yourself. Take care OF.
OP...unbelievably I was sober when I typed this!
Thank you, MostInept. I'm feeling the same way with the fluoxetine, currently. I've been on it for five weeks, and i'm due to see my GP again in two weeks.
I've been contemplating withdrawing from university temporarily. I'm not sure if this would be beneficial or not. My motivation lessens each day. I philosophise constantly about how pointless life is... I've practically given up eating. My therapist sets me goals for each week, and even simple things like going into a communal kitchen for 10 minutes is too much for me and I end up in tears. I think I should be more open about my struggles, instead of keeping it to myself.
I think i've reached breaking point. I don't think I can feel much worse. I feel that I have no one in the world. I do not wish to stay at university and I do not wish to return home. My infatuation with my lecture slowly begins to intensify, as it is the only thing that brings me any kind of feeling other than despair. I wish it would go away. I am so absolutely lost.
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