The end of the year is supposed to be a joyous time to reflect on accomplishments and set new goals, but I'm just having Saturday night sadness and Sunday night scaries over the next year.
This year really hasn't gone the way I thought it would on a lot of levels. 2022 had everything going for me: finishing school, getting a job, establishing financial independence, moving out, coming out, and getting mental health support. Instead, everything except for the first two happened for me. While I did finish school and get a job, it's looking like I'm poorly suited for the career I spent a lot of time and money to get. I have had to move back in with my parents, and cost of living means I'm not going to see independence anytime soon. Instead of coming out, I don't think I belong in the queer community at all anymore. Though I made some attempts to get into therapy, it mostly reinforced my fears and previous poor experiences with mental health professionals, and I feel like I'm even less likely to get the help I need.
Because of how this year has gone, I have a lot of dread about the upcoming year. I know the best thing to do is practice gratitude and try to find good things that have happened this year and not worry so much about next year. But saying it is much easier than doing it, especially when I feel like I barely have enough energy to just get through the day.
Anyways, I hope everyone else is having a good end to their year and looking forward to the next one. If you're not, I hope you found a little bit of comfort that someone else is also struggling with the "most wonderful time of the year."
Hey Raffles -- I just wanted to chime in and tell you I'm feeling a lot of the same feelings. 2022 was one of the hardest years of my life and I also had lot of plans for myself that simply did not happen. One thing I can relate to heavily is struggling to get on your feet with a career change. I graduated from my master's program and have had a really, really hard time finding a job. This was my worse fear about going back to school and it actually happened, which has made it difficult to not see this decision has a huge, expensive mistake. I have a bad habit of not going after stuff because I do not deal with rejection well, and this whole experience has enforced that behavior. I've needed to rely on a lot of people to get through life, both emotionally and financially, and it's made me feel so helpless. I also went through a very sudden and very painful break up. It's really enforced a lot of negative thoughts I have about myself. While I did eventually find employment, it's very similar to what I was doing before graduate school, and that's also making me feel some complicated feelings. I admit that I am going into the new year a little but more optimistic because of the job, but at the end of the day I'm just...scared. I could be totally misattributing this quote, and I'm totally paraphrasing at that, but author/essayist Joan Didion once said something about experiencing grief that really stuck with me. It's that grief is about the things we lose, but also thinking about the possibility of continued loss. All the things we could lose in the future. Though things are on the up for me ever so slightly, I'm kept up at night thinking about what new horrors, misfortunes, or even tragedies I'll experience after this year where I couldn't catch a break. So, all this to say... I get you. I'm hoping sharing this reassures you feeling grief and fear at the end of the year is normal, especially having a year with so much resistance in your attempts to move forward.
Something I want to suggest, that I'm implementing into my own life going forward, is setting extremely attainable goals or priorities for the next year. I'm trying to embrace small wins and finding the satisfaction in my effort, happiness, and progress rather than just the results. A series of small wins toward a something is a big win. For example, coming out -- perhaps next year "coming out" could mean just telling one person, rather than being out to everyone. Maybe it's two people. It doesn't have to be so all or nothing. Does that make sense? Do you think this could help?
I'm really sorry to hear that things haven't gone the way you'd hoped after grad school especially with the other things that it sounds like happened on top of that. I'm glad that you've found a glimmer of hope going into 2023.
As for setting small goals, I am trying to do more things that I like just because I like them and trying not to put pressure on myself to be good at them. I tend to push myself too hard and get upset with myself when I can't attain my goals. So I guess in a weird way, my big goal for 2023 is to not set big goals? I just want to do things for the sake of doing them or just because they're fun and no other reason.
Instead of coming out, I'm probably going to start working my way backwards by asking the three people who were supportive to go back to she/her. I think it will be easy once I start. I just have to pick someone to start with.
I'm really confused about a lot of things in life and questioning a lot of things about myself.
One of these is whether or not I'm a toxic person. I am not sure I know the difference between attention-seeking and help-seeking. So do I have problems and find help, or do I want attention and find problems to receive that attention?
The second is related. I'm not sure I know the difference between a support system and emotional dependence. I know that I have overused a support person in the past, and I am determined not to do it in the future. (My current solution is to cut off my access to support people; whether or not this is a valid way of protecting those people or emotional self-harm is another thing I have to figure out.)
Last is a combination of the two issues stated above. Receiving help makes me feel guilty, maybe because it first makes me feel better. (The classic philosophical question of "can it be a good thing if it also makes me feel good, or do I do it because it makes me feel good?") I'm not sure what healthy help-seeking and receiving looks like. When is it valid to seek help? When is it just for attention? How do I know if my problems are real or just made up?
Because of the above things, I've asked to be placed on a ban until February. Hopefully that will give me some time to figure some of these things out. If anyone has tips on how to work through what your own intentions are, let me know. I hope that I will be able to interact with Scarleteen (and the rest of the world) in a positive way, but until then, thank you all so much for everything. Have a great new year, and I'll probably see all of you in February.
(If you'd prefer answers just from staff and volunteers or this is for any other reason not something you are okay with, I totally understand that and feel free to let me know or just ignore this)
I just thought that since I see myself in pretty much everything you have written and asked, it could be helpful if I share some of my thoughts. And if nothing else, it might be at least comforting to know that you are not the only one with these feelings.
First of all, I'm sorry you're feeling like this. It can be really exhausting to question all your thoughts and acts and consequently those of others as well because you feel like you're just manipulating them to get attention, it's not, at least from my experience, easy to break out of this cycle but I believe it's pretty much possible.
When I first shared concerns similar to yours here, Heather replied with something that has really stuck with me. Unfortunately, I don't remember the exact words but it was something along the lines of "I don't think that seeking attention is what you're doing but even if it was there doesn't have to be anything bad about that. When I see someone asking for attention I see someone who wants (and deserves) to be taken seriously, someone who wants to feel heard and seen, someone who wants to be recognised as who they really are"
If say a pet or a really small child came to you and tried to get your attention in some possibly annoying way, you wouldn't probably tell them to go way. They might just not know how to express their needs.
Another really helpful thing that people here helped me to learn is that acts often matter way more than intentions and thoughts. Sure, what we think affects what we do so it's not entirely separable but our acts are what actually affects and changes the world around us and thankfully, they are something that's way easier to control. Our minds endlessly produce thoughts, both "good" and "bad" ones and they're often contradictory - like when we think we are manipulatively seeking attention or needing and deserving help. And that the first thought came to your mind doesn't mean it's true or that it's how other people see it (and when it comes to deciding if we are overusing someone's help it's ultimately up to them to decide). I'll use a metaphor - when you're writing an exam, you don't get points for what you think but for what you actually write on the paper. So no matter what your intentions for asking for help are, my personal opinion is that what really matters is that it can make you, and other people who are happy to help, feel better.
As for questioning the "realness" of your problems, I know how awfully feeling like this sucks and unfortunately I don't have any easy solution for this. But what I think can be helpful to remember is that when something feels real it in fact, at least for us, is. Feeling is how we perceive the world around us, we translate it into feelings and thoughts. And there can't therefore be a more 'real' problem than feeling bad. So, at least that's how I see it, the only prerequisite for needing help is simply not feeling good.
Another very useful thing I like to keep in mind when I start overthinking something too much is that I can't always forcefully think around everything and find the one and only right answer. And this needing help/seeking attention dilemma might definitely be one of those problems. What I think is that because these feelings of inadequatenes comes from us, they can't be all resolved by a change in how we interact with people - for example by being banned here. Our minds will always keep producing reasons for and agains and it's therefore highly unlikely you will suddenly stop and think "Oh, now I suddenly understand, I was just seeking attention and I feel absolutely fine from now on" or "now I see everything I did was okay, all my intentions were clear and I need and deserve help" (even if I wish you would feel like that because that's what I think is true).
I know it's easier said than done to let go of trying to figure everything about us and our motives out but I also think that if we manage to do that at least partly we will have a lot of free energy to dedicate to other things.
Lastly, in case it helps to hear, from what I know about you the last thing I would think you are is a "selfish attention seeker". You seem to me like a really self-aware and thoughtful person who cares a lot about others and someone who I admire for all that.
Sorry this is so long and I haven't answered all your questions. I just wanted to share some thoughts with the hope that at least something of what I wrote makes sense and is helpful. And if you or anyone else would like to correct it or comment on it, feel free to do so.
Thank you for taking the time to reply. It is quite comforting to know that there is someone out there who gets it, but I am sorry that you get it because it's not a fun thing to know.
I think that all help-seeking requires attention-seeking (see: babies crying), but I do wonder when attention-seeking becomes harmful and whether or not I'm qualified to make the distinction. I think that a lot of my fears come from the time in the past where I overburdened a support person. While I do take responsibility for this, part of the problem was that her boundaries were poorly defined. That's why I'm so hesitant to take people up on offers to help because I fear that they won't set boundaries, and I'll end up pushing them away in the long run. It's why I'm so caught up in determining the validity and need level of my problems because I don't want to exhaust help over the small things so when I actually need help I can't get it because it's too much like the boy who cried wolf.
In the end, I know that you are probably right. There isn't much to be gained from questioning intentions, validity, and desire for attention/help, and preventing myself from accessing this help isn't likely to fix anything. However, I think it's just a way of reassuring myself that I am giving others space from me and to prove that I am not dependent on receiving help from others.
Thank you for your kind words and insights. I hope you are staying warm this winter. Until next time!
It was nice for me to write down those thoughts too so I'll drop here a few more in case you would like to read them as well.
Firstly, I don't think basing your whole judgement of your personality on just one experience with one person is serving you. Even if I didn't know anything else about you, solely from statistical point of view, what you said about overburdening that person says to me way more about the incompatibility of your needs and what she could offer at the moment rather than about your alleged 'innate inability to distinguishe help and attention'. Of course I don't know anything about that person or what actually happened but people are so diverse - everyone has different and ever-changing needs and wants, different ability to set and respect boundaries, different types of communication... what might have been too much for someone can be absolutely okay for someone else, what is okay once might not be okay the next time etc. I don't know how to distinguishe help and attention seeking, I'm not ever sure there is a clear, always applicable,way to do it, I guess it'll mostly depend on how it makes the person feel.
That's why, and it's one of the most important things I've learned here, an ongoing, two-sided, open conversation is crucial in all kinds of relationships. And it's not your task to 'telepathically guess' all needs and boundaries of your support people or anyone for the matter.
That's why I also think that when you are worried about asking too much from specific people, a helpful thing to do can be directly asking something like "Thank you so much for the help, I appreciate it. I'm just sometimes worried about asking too much from you, would you please let me know if you ever need me to adjust something?" And if you're afraid someone might not want to set their boundaries out of too much 'politeness', from my experience people are way less likely to do that in a written communication.
And lastly, I understand why you might want to 'save' your support people for more serious problems, but another way to look at it might be to see 'asking for help' as something that needs practice. For me personally it definitely works just like that, it can be really daunting for me to share 'bigger' things at times when I'm not able to share even the small ones. Plus, not only does sharing strengthen trust and therefore all relationships, I believe it can be also really helpful to learn by asking for help how different people respond to different things so you'll know who might respond most positively and in a helpful way when you need it the most.
Also, it might not be true about everyone but as a rule of the thumb I believe it's safe to say that those who are the most worried about being selfish, toxic or something like that, are also often those who are the least likely to be like that.
Anyway, I hope you are doing well too and wish you all the best in the New Year!
Thank you 42 for your thoughts and that you Sam for restoring my account.
I took the month to think, and I’m still pretty lost. I’m not sure if help is something I can receive from here/anywhere, so I am trying to turn my attention to being the best possible ally that I can be. Just because it didn’t work out for me doesn’t mean that it can’t work out for others. I hope I can become the kind of person who makes people feel validated and seen.
I’m trying to find as much comfort in that as I can, but it’s hard. I feel detached all the time, like I’m experiencing everything second-hand. I’d call it gender dysphoria, but it’s more generalized. I’m not just uncomfortable with having a female body and being perceived as female; I’m uncomfortable with having a body at all. It’s overwhelming to think about the kind of daily maintenance that a body requires (food, sleep, showering, all that). It’s hard for me to imagine how things are going to get better when things are the way they are right now and won’t change for at least a few years.
On top of all that, I broke my wrist bones last week. My job requires me to play multiple instruments, and I can’t play any of them for at least 6 weeks. Because the break extends into the joint, there is a real concern that it may become arthritic. That means I might have to relearn how to play all my instruments with limitations, and that could really limit my ability to succeed or even be accepted into grad school.
But the worst part is that I can’t do my sports which was the one thing that I could look forward to and was bringing me joy. I’ll be out for 2-3 months and when I return, I’ll have lost all the progress I made. Last time I broke a bone, I ended up with significant tendon damage, and it took me 8 years (maybe could have been 6 if covid hadn’t happened) to recover all of it and improve. This sport was also my summer career plan and potential part time job next year. I’m pretty worthless now as an athlete, so that dream has died. Yoga was my typical back up, but I can’t do any poses on my hands (see down dog, table top, plus others that use hands on the ground for stability). The sport that is really open to me is running, but I really hate running.
I really thought that I’d hit rock bottom in October and stayed there, but apparently I was wrong. My end of year fears came true plus some.
Hi Raffles, welcome back.
I am so sorry to hear about your wrist bones, ugh, how frustrating! Are you able to still go to work and do other things, or are you on leave?
You know--sometimes things get a lot worse before they get better, it's like bad thing after bad thing happens and we feel like we can't catch a break, but eventually something really good will happen (and/or the string of bad luck will end, at least for a while). When I'm going through that, as I am right now, I try to keep that in mind. It's more of just trying to stay optimistic while acknowledging that what I'm going through freaking sucks and is unfair. Both can exist. Do you feel like there's room to try looking at it that way? If not, it also can help to find little things that aren't as bad, and acknowledging those. For me right now, it's that despite everything bad, some good new movies have come out this year and I've been able to watch them, and it reminds me that there's still enjoyable things I can do, if that makes sense.
I am at work. I broke it on the weekend, so I didn't even get to use a sick day. I'm not great at my job now that I can't demonstrate things, but oh well.
I'm sorry to hear that you are going through a hard time. I'm not sure I really believe that things can/will improve. People have been telling me "it gets better" for 9 years at this point, and, well, here I am. I've doing what you do and try to survive for the little things.
I hope it's okay that I'm jumping in here. It really seems like a difficult time. I'm really sorry that you're going through this. Your frustration over this injury and the limitations that come with it is totally valid. I would be feeling the same way if I were you. I just want to let you know that during this time, it's critical for you to be patient with yourself and let your body heal. I know that there are many things that you will have to worry about in the future, but thinking about this right now can add even more stress to your body. I really recommend that you take time for some self-care if you can. Sometimes very detrimental injuries can mess with your mindset about things, even more than what you're used to. I've totally been there and this is why self-care is important. Just take the time to slow down, breathe, listen to some music, watch a movie--you know? Things that'll take some stress off of your healing body!
Also, if you have not already done so, definitely have a conversation with the higher-ups at work about this injury. I hope they will be accommodating!
Hello! I'm (mostly) over being stressed about the bones being broken and in a cast, especially now that I'm allowed to start using that hand again. The thing I'm really concerned about is the rehab. The last time I broke a bone and tried to return to the sport, I came back too quickly and ended up with further injuries. I know it's no use to worry about that part now, so I'm researching and saving it for when it is time.
I do have present day concerns. Stressful events (like breaking a bone) can trigger an episode of alopecia, which I really don't want. I don't want to feel even worse about myself and appearance than I already do, and a new bald patch wouldn't help. Related, I am worried about staying in shape and being active while I'm benched. It's bringing up old issues with body image, weight, and appetite.
I haven't spoken to my higher ups, mostly because there isn't much that they can do. I most likely don't qualify for short-term disability (and wouldn't want to for resume and financial reasons). It's not practical to have an extra person with me because, in their eyes, as long as I can talk and instruct, I'm a perfectly functional employee.
I am trying to keep up with other things I like, such as cooking/baking, watching television, and attempting to learn a language. Now that I can't do my usual hobbies, I feel like I have both not enough and too much time, and I'm not sure what to do with it. Mostly, I want to rest and take a nap, but my above worries get in the way of that. I really just need my life to go on pause for a week so I can mentally catch up with everything that's happened and plan for the next month.
I know this didn't really tie into a lot of what you said, just needed to type it all out.
Hi again! It's totally okay, we're here to listen!
I'm glad to hear that you're focusing on being patient with yourself and letting your body take the time to heal. I think that's really what I wanted you to get out of my post, so it's no problem that you spoke about other things. This is really why I think self-care is so important, as it can keep your mind off of stressful things and hopefully reduce any alopecia episodes. I don't know much about alopecia, but I'm really sorry that it makes you feel so negatively about your appearance. I know this is easier said than done, but it might help to keep your mind off of this, especially since the alopecia episode hasn't happened during this injury. Again, I do want to express how important it is to let your body heal, so staying active (especially in the upper-body region) may not be the best idea. I think you mentioned running in your previous posts, have you taken up on that yet? I'm sure there are other lower-body exercises out there that could work as well. Have you looked into that? What are your thoughts?
I get what you mean about your situation at work. If you feel like it's not necessary to discuss this with your higher-ups, then I totally understand. However, if anything gets overwhelming, difficult, or really impacts your quality of life at work--please let them know. I'm sure you don't want any more stress so communication is crucial!
I really know what it feels like to want to put your life on pause for a little while. You mentioned that all you want to do is rest and take a nap but your worries get in the way of that--have you ever tried any meditation exercises to help clear your mind and fall asleep? I'm not entirely sure if you've had a conversation with someone on here about this before, but I know from many people that these exercises can help. When I was recovering from a major surgery a couple of years ago, I was constantly in pain and could not naturally fall asleep, so I relied on certain meditation exercises and sounds to help me sleep. If you want any recommendations, just ask! I also know that if you have an iPhone, there is a setting that can play relaxing sounds (rain, ocean waves, white noise, etc.) to help you sleep, so let me know if you are interested in that!
Please take care and feel better. I hope this recovery goes smoothly and your mind is at ease.
I had a mild episode of alopecia back in October, but it hasn't fully grown back. I haven't had more than one spot (that I'm aware of) at a time since my very first episode when I was 7. Fingers crossed that my luck holds there.
I'm not doing any upper body things, besides the things I'm allowed to do to maintain range of motion in my shoulders, elbows, and fingers. I'm doing lower body and core at the gym. I really hate running, but I've been walking a lot and I might go hiking before it gets too hot. I don't want the cast to get too gross, though.
I've been pain-med free for the past few days, so at least that's manageable. I did yin yoga (slow, hold poses stretching), and that was a good mental break. I plan on doing it again tomorrow.