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JenniferLynne

Regret Over "Lost Years"

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Hello, my name is Jennifer and I'm new here. I'm 42 years old and I was diagnosed with depression when I was 12. I also have a whole host of other medical and mental health issues: Tuberous Sclerosis, LAM Disease, Stage 3 Kidney Failure, a heart arrhythmia, a seizure disorder, severe anxiety with agoraphobia, OCD, and I was also diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (which for some reason my doctors and therapist can't agree on. One doc will say I have Borderline, another says no, then another says yes, and another no.) I have a lot of doctors.

Anyway, I am on Social Security Disability. One one hand I am very appreciative because it relieves a lot of stress and holding down a job is impossible for me, medically and mentally. BUT I cannot get over the crushing regret that I have over doing NOTHING with my life. NOTHING. I'd say predominately from 2000-2016 I have done nothing to advance my life. So from 26-42 is a complete waste - 15 years of my life that I will never get back. I want so bad to do something with my life. Work ... go back to school ... travel. Also, I have been grouchy, anxious and depressed because my life has been such a waste. How my son has grown up and still talks to me, I don't know. He's 19 now and in college. He lives with me. It's just the two of us. I have tried to be a good mom to him, but with my medical/mental issues, I know he has struggled. Another regret of mine. 

Please ... any advice would be great. I feel like I'm drowning here with nothing to do but dwell in my thoughts. I do try to read positive books (I just got finished reading the whole bible - from Genesis to Revelation). And I've read self help books. I watch TV. Pray. But with anxiety and depression my creeping thoughts ALWAYS come back. Meds don't help me ... I've been on so many through the years. (Another reason they think I may be Borderline ... truly, Depression meds have NEVER worked for me). I think if I could let go of the regret of all the lost years that would help a lot. I feel like that holds me back. I did apply to go back to college this fall -  so I look forward to that. BUT I just pray that I can handle it with the anxiety. I don't know if I can but I really, really want to at least try. I have to do SOMETHING with myself. I just sit at home all day, every day. I feel like I'm rotting away with nothing to look forward to but even more wasted years. I want to get my degree that I never finished. I want to work. And I want to be productive!!!!! And happy.

For me and for my son. I want him to have something to be proud of me for

                       Thanks for all advice, Jennifer

Edited by JenniferLynne

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Hi JenniferLynne, 

I read your post and well, :console::console::console:. you have a child, and I'm sure people have told you before, but that's amazing in itself and look, he's going to college! not everyone gets that, you've raised someone that will contribute to society in a positive way and keep the line going... AND!! you're about to as well. 

college will be the place for self-discovery and your re-birth. it's where you will learn about things and pursue those things that you are passionate about. it's where you will network and meet new people and you never know, you may get your calling. 

i know that's how it was for me. i went to college, law school, work crap jobs and after 13 years of schooling and 2 years of just meandering about you just reach a point where you just accept that it's life and that the grand thing about it is that you were able to live it and live now. life is it's own journey and not many people get to live. i dont know i'm rambling. but i see positive things happening when you start school. and hell yes! you can do it, you can try and you will do it! the natural motivation and excitement of learning about things you like will give you the momentum. 

you know i got schooling  and i really didn't find my purpose until i started working for a non profit. it pays what i made in college, which is nothing but i like the fact that i can share my knowledge and the information i collect with other people that need help.  so even if you don't necessarily find something when you finish school, don't despair as life is full of surprises. 

have you thought about volunteering or working for a non profit? NAMI- the National Alliance of Mental Illness is a good organization and has chapters all around the country. or just for an organization that calls to you?

one thing that i did regret but at the same time i was a bus commuter to college and couldn't do much... was getting involved with things on campus. Networking and collaborating is really big. connections is big bc after college, getting those jobs IS about who you know. i know it should be merit-based. but i've had all the qualifications on paper just to be rejected, especially getting jobs at the county, state, federal level. it pays to schmooze. that's my 2 cents. 

Edited by ejc

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Thanks for the reply! I was in college 20 years ago and was actually in pre-law. But now ... I think I'm just going to go to be an Historian. What I will do with it when I graduate will depend on several factors: 1. My health. My kidneys are crap and so are my lungs. So we'll have to see how the progression of those two issues factor into things (I hope and pray the DON'T factor into it for many years) and 2. what area of study I choose to focus on (civil war, British history, Scottish History, Napoleon etc) and where that leads me. If I get my Masters I will be in my mid-late 40's when I get started in my new career. I pray I still look young enough that people will want to hire me!

My son is studying Environmental Engineering. He enjoys it. He suffers depression too; just not to the degree that I have it. My anxiety seems the bigger issue for me, usually. I do hope I can handle school, I dropped out once before in 1995 because my anxiety was too bad. Even today, I have a hard time out in public. Agoraphobia is a problem for me. I think I'm just really disgusted and p***** with myself for letting it have such a hold on me after all these years. I'm beyond tired of it. I've tried to break the cycle and it just does not let up .. chronic costochondritis, pseudo-seizures and real seizures and a heart arrhythmia are all directly linked to my anxiety disorder per my neurologist and my neuro-psychiatrist.

But enough about my Biotching and moaning. I'm so pathetic. Maybe I just need a kick in the pants

Thanks for your help and your kind words! :)

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Hello Jennifer,

I'm in a crappy mood but I don't feel like being quiet, so I won't have much to say/add, but it'll be something... I hope.

I'm 20 and am pretty much in the same boat... paddle glued to the floor -- I know the feeling. Instead of agoraphobia, I have anthropophobia (fear of people... yikes I know, sucks). So in a way, I can relate to you there, though I don't know the details of agoraphobia. Would you mind sharing in detail what it is? I can't give much advice there seeing as I'm not your age to have the experience. I used to be pretty wise (old soul), I think I've grown too old (mentally) to even be wise now, I'm just too tired to think. I'd say your life wasn't a waste, though. You have a son who is chasing his dreams in college. I'd say you did something right, wouldn't you? You deserve a medal in all honesty. 

The past... it's never a good idea to stay too long in the past or it will consume you. I've experienced regret, but you have to learn to be at peace with the fact that what happened, happened and you can't change the past. The only thing you can change with the right effort and help is the future. I think  the problem we all face is finding the physical outlet for growth. Compared to you, I'm a kid (are you sure you're 42? you look 24 :shifty3:) so I feel I can't say much to help your situation (I also don't really know how to talk to women/ladies whichever you prefer -- ugh I sound stupid -- I never know the right things to say and it gets awkward as you can see). It sounds like to me you already have the passion for moving forward, you've applied for a college as well (online or campus?), so that alone is something to look forward to if you're serious which I strongly feel that you are. But in the meantime, I think getting to know you more beyond all of the depression and so forth would help get things into perspective. Do you have any hobbies or talents? You mentioned that you want to be productive, what interests you? what do you think about? excluding anything that has nothing to do with interests specifically. 

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I'm 21 and feel like I can empathize a little. I obviously can't relate to all your issues, but I also feel like I've wasted years. I've only been vaguely aware of my depression for about 5 years, though I'm sure it began much sooner. In these 5 years I have thrown away many opportunities and find not hating myself for it very difficult. Now that I've left college the opportunities are scant, and my lack of "experience" and connections makes finding a job tremendously difficult.

I don't know if I recommend getting a degree in history. That's what I did, and where am I now? Sitting alone in my parents' house. I liked history and research, but jobs for historians are scarce. You seem to have your finances in order, though, so perhaps it's not as big of a problem for you.

I agree with Third Eye Seeker that letting go of the past is important. Not easy, but important. I think in order to let go of the past we need a present and future. For depressives, the present is bleak and the future bleaker.

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I'm sorry you're having to deal with these issues and feelings. They're not your fault. You've certainly done something meaningful with your life. You raised a son who's in college. That's no easy feat and something to be proud of.

But I empathize with your feelings. I've dealt with my own feelings of "lost time" before and I've found them to be hard to overcome. They are also largely unproductive. After all, I can't change my past. All I can do is move forward. Certainly regrets can be useful to help us learn from mistakes. The danger, though, is when we ruminate over our regrets, etc... That's wasted energy. Unfortunately, rumination is a common complication of depression and it can be really difficult to break out of the cycle. One of my previous therapists once said, "I've never had a patient who said to me: 'I'm really glad I worried about that. Worrying helped.'" She wasn't right about much else but she did nail that one. Worrying (or regret) won't help. So try not to let it have power over you.

But if you can use regret as motivation to change some aspect of your life, it can be helpful. I've done this myself and it worked for me. Try to focus on your accomplishments and positive aspects of your life. It may be difficult because depression wants to keep you from realizing what a great person you are.

It took me several tries with different therapists and meds before I found something which worked for me. The meds cleared the fog and allowed the therapy to work. Not all drugs and therapies work for all patients so it may take time to find something which works. It may mean firing your therapist if you find they're not helping you. 

That's probably the biggest "advice" I would give. The only other thing I might add is you are a person. You're not defined by your anxiety or depression or any other conditions you may have. You are you and that you is great. Try to forget the labels.

In the meantime, this is a really good community with lots of support. We'll be around to listen and help if we can.

Peace

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I'm sorry about your experience. I can relate as well, although I'm only 25 I feel I've already waste a few good years and fear that the next few decades will be nothing but bleak.

Depression is truly an awful disease and it's just as unfortunate as any other illness a person can suffer. We can't take back the past, but we can try to make use of the time we have now, the present is the only thing we can experience. I hope you keep fighting the good fight, the way I see it is that even 1 year of happiness in a lifetime is worth it. We are progressing too, so your options will become greater in the next few years. Stay strong!

Edited by axl617

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11 hours ago, JenniferLynne said:
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Hello, my name is Jennifer and I'm new here. I'm 42 years old and I was diagnosed with depression when I was 12. I also have a whole host of other medical and mental health issues: Tuberous Sclerosis, LAM Disease, Stage 3 Kidney Failure, a heart arrhythmia, a seizure disorder, severe anxiety with agoraphobia, OCD, and I was also diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (which for some reason my doctors and therapist can't agree on. One doc will say I have Borderline, another says no, then another says yes, and another no.) I have a lot of doctors.

Anyway, I am on Social Security Disability. One one hand I am very appreciative because it relieves a lot of stress and holding down a job is impossible for me, medically and mentally. BUT I cannot get over the crushing regret that I have over doing NOTHING with my life. NOTHING. I'd say predominately from 2000-2016 I have done nothing to advance my life. So from 26-42 is a complete waste - 15 years of my life that I will never get back. I want so bad to do something with my life. Work ... go back to school ... travel. Also, I have been grouchy, anxious and depressed because my life has been such a waste. How my son has grown up and still talks to me, I don't know. He's 19 now and in college. He lives with me. It's just the two of us. I have tried to be a good mom to him, but with my medical/mental issues, I know he has struggled. Another regret of mine. 

Please ... any advice would be great. I feel like I'm drowning here with nothing to do but dwell in my thoughts. I do try to read positive books (I just got finished reading the whole bible - from Genesis to Revelation). And I've read self help books. I watch TV. Pray. But with anxiety and depression my creeping thoughts ALWAYS come back. Meds don't help me ... I've been on so many through the years. (Another reason they think I may be Borderline ... truly, Depression meds have NEVER worked for me). I think if I could let go of the regret of all the lost years that would help a lot. I feel like that holds me back. I did apply to go back to college this fall -  so I look forward to that. BUT I just pray that I can handle it with the anxiety. I don't know if I can but I really, really want to at least try. I have to do SOMETHING with myself. I just sit at home all day, every day. I feel like I'm rotting away with nothing to look forward to but even more wasted years. I want to get my degree that I never finished. I want to work. And I want to be productive!!!!! And happy.

For me and for my son. I want him to have something to be proud of me for

                       Thanks for all advice, Jennifer

I also feel like I'm totally wasting my life, and it is the absolute worst. It's totally aggravating my depression... but it's essentially the opposite of why you feel that way: For the last 9 years, I have felt trapped working jobs that I don't want to do. I have Major Depressive disorder, and can never even come close to financial stability, so I have had no choice but to work jobs I do not want to do. This aggravates my depression, as I know over a dozen career paths I would like to do, have gotten excited about, started working towards them, but the bottom line is anything that requires any kind of qualification, that also interests me, is forever going to be financially impossible for me, at least for over 10 years, and I'm at my breaking point now.

I have set the bar lower, and seriously have thought of/tried everything, but no matter what I have no choice but to see my life waste away working a job that I don't want to do. Working consumes me, I really can't accomplish anything while also working. For the last 3 years I have felt a growing need for time away from work in general. Not a vacation, but a good few months to reset, figure myself out, and get on the right track. The more time that passes, the worse I get. People have tried to help me, but there is really nothing that is going to heal this other than time, being how ever long it takes for me to suck it up that I'll never get to accomplish what I would like with my life, for at least 10+ years(probably never), even though I'm at my limit now.

People work half as hard as me at something they love and get more than double the money for it than I do. Most school kids just have to worry about what 1 career path interests them, pick those classes and stick with that, maybe change once. I've been through that process to a certain degree over a dozen times. I am working through pain at jobs i hate, actively seeing it tear me apart, when I desperately need a break, but there is no adequate financial assistance, and it is unacceptable by virtually everybody I cross paths with. Even working part time results in me being questioned by people I don't even know.

Despite my situation, I understand your point of view. It's not that I don't want to work, I just don't want to waste my life dedicating it to work I have no interest in, when I constantly see other things I would much rather be doing, but can not due to financial reasons.

I wish you luck, I know I didn't really help you here(sorry). It's just ironic that I feel the same way as you because I am working, and you do because you are not able to.

I guess we could go through the extreme trouble of doing what ever it took to entirely switch identities/trade places, but I don't think my wife would be very happy about that.

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1 hour ago, George1 said:

People work half as hard as me at something they love and get more than double the money for it than I do. Most school kids just have to worry about what 1 career path interests them, pick those classes and stick with that, maybe change once. I've been through that process to a certain degree over a dozen times. I am working through pain at jobs i hate, actively seeing it tear me apart, when I desperately need a break, but there is no adequate financial assistance, and it is unacceptable by virtually everybody I cross paths with. Even working part time results in me being questioned by people I don't even know.

Yes! Yes! All of the yes! That's precisely how I feel. I have no idea what job I want. I got a degree in history because I like history, and I assumed there would be a job to go with it. But I've found almost nothing, and most things requires "experience" which I don't have. To get this "experience," I need a job, but to get a job, I need "experience." It's awful how people treat part-time workers. In customer service I was sweating and stressed under lots of expectations and bullying from my boss, and somehow the customers treated me like I was useless and lazy. I guess we just shouldn't let them bother us. And we have depression to ice our cakes.

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Hi Jennifer,

Welcome to the forum, my favorite place to be right now.  I hope you stick around and try to connect with people on here.  Reading through the threads can also give some insight and connection.  You will find that a lot of people on here have been struggling with mental illness for a long time, and I'm sorry that you've had to go through so much with all of the diagnoses.  I have been clinically depressed basically my entire life.  I just knew at a young age that I thought differently than other people, and it was something that never went away, and was something I didn't REALLY start working on for a long time.  I have been diagnosed with boarder line personality disorder.  At first it sounded like a big stupid name, and I also knew the VA was just trying to diagnose me with something that wasn't PTSD so I couldn't get a service connection.  BUT, a lot of the pieces fit for me.  I guess my suggestion to you is to do some research about it, and do some soul searching.  My son is 9, and him and brother are the only two positive things I have going for me right now.  I also feel the guilt of not being 100% for my son.  But I've learned that as long as I'm trying with everything I got at 100%, then I should be satisfied with the way things are.  There is literally nothing else you can do after you've given it your all, so don't sell yourself short.  I used to live with zero regret.  I also don't have any kind of anxiety, I am not scared of anything.  Both of those facts are character flaws.  So in my eyes, if you have a little regret, it's probably healthy.  It shows me that you want to get better, and I truly hope you do.  In the meantime, I hope you stick around and make some friends on here as I have.  I hate to say it, but this place was a last line of defense for me.  Often we can not tell what would of happened if things happened differently.  But I think if I didn't find this place, I may have lost this eternal battle.

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 Hi Jennifer

I can relate to some of your thoughts.  I am over 40 and feel that I have wasted a lot of my life. Like you I have a range of medical conditions, including depression.  I have been financially and emotionally dependent on my parents, and I hate this. I'm not sure that I have any words of advice, just to say that you are not the only one feeling this.

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I'm so excited for you that you're thinking of going back to school to finish your degree. That will give your days structure, and give you a purpose because you will be working toward a goal. Sometimes I miss being in school because I liked the structure so much. 

Hang in there, and if you feel like you could benefit from talking to someone, Focus on the Family is an organization that offers FREE phone counseling with licensed counselors (seriously!). If you call 1-855-771-4357 you can talk to someone! Just make sure you call between 6a-8p Mountain Standard Time. And if no one answers, you can leave a message so someone can call you back. Hang in there! You can do this! 

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