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To be scared of a new life

5 replies

EffervescentElephant · 18/11/2019 14:43

Hello wise vipers - I have NC but am a real person, longstanding poster, somebody at an existential crossroad and I'd like to hear your thoughts.

I gained some fame in writing/publishing and had a career built on my professional practice as well as visiting lecturing, paid fellowships in UK, EU and USA, and several writings published in a semi-popular subject.

The uncertainty of such career, however, coupled with the intensity of the job was much damaging to my mental health and I fell into a deep depression from which I am beginning to emerge only now following months of hospitalisation, therapy and medication.

It is as if the intense, creative use of my brain that was making me such a prolific, original thinker was also poisoning me and sending me into a downward spiral of over thinking, hyperactive brain and incessant thoughts that would keep me awake for days on end. I could never switch off. I have been living for years in an adrenaline-fuelled universe of write-write-write, where I never stopped, and in which I crashed and burned. When one publicly known, even at the low level I was, there is always an element of seeing yourself to others and I wanted myself back.

After much painful self-analysis I decided that for my mental health's sake I needed to do some big changes. So I have refused new book contracts, lectures requests and paid work. I have severed academic affiliations and resigned from two international projects and a major research projection the UK. I have de facto, committed professional suicide hoping for a rebirth.

I have now found a new job using my married name to hide from my former career, a less well paid job and nowhere as prestigious as my former occupation, but a job which I hope will make me happier.

Suddenly, however, I no longer know who I am. My identity was very much connected with my profession. I was an 'expert', one of the few people who are acknowledged authorities on a topic - and I find myself starting again from zero. And moving from relative affluence to reduced financial circumstances.

I am not totally sure what I am looking for by writing this post, maybe to be the subject of the traditional AIBU "tough love" and to be told that these are first world problems and that I need to get real and stop being so self-indulgent.

Or, more positively, maybe I am hoping that somebody will be so kind to write to me that they also started again, that they fled from what they thought was their chosen path, to find another path, another life.

Thank you for reading so far, and I'd be grateful for any advice.

OP posts:

EffervescentElephant · 18/11/2019 14:45

With apologies for the typos/autocorrect.

OP posts:

Livebythecoast · 18/11/2019 15:20

I think it's perfectly understandable what you're feeling and you're possibly mourning your old life/career despite the negative impact it had on you.
Just because it was perhaps a bad time doesn't mean you won't miss certain aspects of it. Your 'status' has been removed and that must be hard to deal with.
Not quite the same but many years ago I worked in the ambulance service taking 999 calls. I absolutely loved it and I felt important. This is before call handlers had prompts of giving advice. Mine was all from my knowledge and training. It became my life. The team I was in was amazing and I regularly did overtime and not for the money - purely because I adored it. However, after many years it started to really get to me and I heard and saw some horrific things (we used to go out with the paramedics occasionally). Eventually I left. It was all too consuming and took over my life. I mourned it though, for a long time and it took ages for me to accept that i was no longer 'important ' which makes me sound really conceited!
I'm sorry, I have no advice apart from giving it time. I hope your new job gives you some direction and purpose.


EffervescentElephant · 18/11/2019 16:04

Thank you so much for replying @Livebythecoast, I think it is a little like joining a cult, isn't it? One's identity is all consumingly absorbed into one single thing, and then that changes and one is left somehow empty. I can imagine for you who were working, literally, with life and death, it must have been an all-encompassing experience... like being a real life Angel.Thank you for sharing this experience, you did not sound conceited at all.

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Livebythecoast · 18/11/2019 16:43

Yes, we all socialised together too - I literally lived for my work and colleagues. Not healthy really.
Have you thought about just writing for pleasure? Like a little hobby, no deadlines, no pressure,. You're obviously talented and if you enjoyed the writing aspect then it could be just for you and turn it from a negative experience into something positive and pleasurable. It's just a thought.


EffervescentElephant · 19/11/2019 09:09

Good point livebythecoast although even just the idea of writing makes me feel sick at the moment! It takes so much out of me. But this may change as times go by. Give it time was an excellent suggestion. I am focusing on getting better mentally and still being able to support my family financially at the moment.

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