I stumbled across your advice column entirely by accident and I'm really happy I did. You see, I've been having a really rough time with life the past few years and it's been increasingly difficult to keep from dwelling on suicidal thoughts. I am scheduled to begin therapy next month but I am afraid I cannot make it that long. You see there are quite a number of problems in my life right now but in an effort to keep this from becoming a novel, I'll shorten it to the major three.
The first is that I don't know what to do with my life (career, financially, education). I'm twenty-three years old, and I live with my parents again after losing my housing situation. It feels like I'm stagnating, I have no education beyond my GED, and I've only been able to work dead-end jobs that don't pay enough to go back to school. I've considered loans/grants but I'm ineligible for most everything due to a poor credit rating from a prior apartment eviction. Also, since I dropped out of college once before, I can't get most financial aid options.
Even then, I don't know what I'd do, I have really no exceptional talents or marketable skills. To make matters worse, I'm only into a few subjects(science, history, geography) and I usually fail at everything I'm not interested in. Thus even finding an applicable career path has been difficult. I've considered being a pilot too but the high cost of flight school has shied me away from it.
Since I live with my parents, my bills aren't too bad but I still don't make enough to really do much else other than buy the occasional video game and go out to a hookah lounge on the weekends. I have no idea how to move forward from this point. It feels like all options lead to failure or a worse situation.
My second issue is that it's becoming increasingly difficult to deal with my real life issues due to my propensity to escape into an imagined fantasy in my mind. I won't go into extreme detail on this because I've covered it at length in a journal on my FA (http://www.furaffinity.net/journal/3377543/) but suffice it to say that I've began worrying that I'll die before I accomplish anything due to how badly I neglect my own health/hygiene/etc. in lieu of these mental escapes.
The third thing that is a major cause of my depression ... and this is rather difficult to discuss is my certainty that I'll die alone. The reasoning might surprise you actually. It's not that I'm physically unattractive and overweight(both of which are true but not important) the problem lies with elsewhere. I've noticed over the past few years that I'm not physically nor emotionally attracted to human beings at all, either gender. I've slept with both, but I have to imagine something else for it to be enjoyable. I'm incredibly ashamed to admit that I'm a zoophile, I've never done anything in real life because fear of legal repercussions but I've found that animals are the only thing I'm attracted too. I try to like people but I just can't find anyone attractive, and it's not for lack of effort either. It just doesn't happen.
I'm going to wrap this up for fear that I'm rambling and have gone on too long but I'm lost, and every day it seems like death is a preferable option to this existence. I just want to know why I feel these things and what to do about it. So far nothing has helped, even when I used to be in therapy and on heavy drug prescriptions. These aren't the only problems I have but they are the major ones I need to tackle before my life can move forward, at least in my mind. Any wisdom you can impart would be tremendously appreciated.
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What concerns Papabear immediately is your thoughts of suicide. Before you do anything else, Towyn, I want you to call a suicide hotline. You can find one in your state by going here: http://suicidehotlines.com/. I am glad you are going back into therapy, but you admit here that you need help now, so please call one of these numbers. Not next week, not tomorrow—TODAY.
Next priority: start taking better care of yourself. One of the things that can make us feel bad, mentally and emotionally, is poor health. I want you to promise Papabear to start eating a healthier diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in sugars and fats, and to start exercising. You don’t have to go to a gym, just start by walking. Increase your distance each week. Hiking alone can do wonders for you.
Next, you do not mention if you have a spiritual life at all. Life is more than money, career, health, family and hobbies. Happiness comes from a healthy spiritual life as well. Papabear will not dictate which path you choose (in my mind, there are many paths to Spirit and God, not just one) but it is a vital part of mental and emotional health that you need to add to your life.
Next, money and career. Papabear knows what it feels like to think that one has no skills (heck, I’m an English major, one of the most unappreciated skills in America) and to feel aimless. But, everyone has some interests, likes vs. dislikes, in their life. If you didn’t, you would be a cypher with no personality whatsoever. Perhaps you can take one of those interests and find some volunteer work to do in that field. Volunteer jobs can bring immense personal satisfaction—and guess what?—they can also lead to a new career. For example, when Papabear volunteered at a zoo, there were several volunteer docents there who later got jobs in administration or even as zookeepers. Another example might be theater. Do you have a community theater group near you? You could volunteer working on props, costumes, the office, or whatever floats your boat. With some experience under your belt, this could lead to a paying job, as well. Volunteer work is always a bonus on any resume.
Another option is the military. Papabear doesn’t know what your feelings on this topic might be (and I am very opposed to war and killing), but it is very true that the military can do a lot for you in terms of your character, your health, your sense of discipline, and your education. It might be worth considering in your case, but only after you have a better grip on your mental health.
Also, there are a number of government training programs you might look into for help with a career. In Michigan, for instance, there is the Michigan Works! program. If you let Papabear know what state you live in, he can help you find a similar program.
As for your fantasy life, well, this is very understandable as well. Many people retreat into a fantasy world to escape from a tough life. Fortunately, you have apparently not done so to the point where you have lost your grip on reality. You realize that fantasy is fantasy, reality is reality. Papabear feels that if you can improve the other aspects of your life, then you will need your fantasy world less and less. It is okay to have a fantasy life, but not one that takes over your life so completely.
Finally, as for your zoophilia. Zoophilia is considered a sexual deviation and, of course, is for the most part not accepted by society, and there are also many laws on the books criminalizing it. There is a minority of people who feel that zoophilia is okay and that animals can sometimes even consent to sexual intercourse with humans. While Papabear is not a zoophile, he is not going to make a judgment on you one way or the other. However, I do recommend you include a discussion of this topic with your therapist as it is clearly weighing heavily upon you.
Towyn, you are dealing with more than your fair share of issues here, and Papabear sympathizes with you. I suggest you try to not tackle everything at once, but do so in small, digestible bits, starting, of course, with your thoughts of suicide. Those take A priority.
Please write again soon and let Papabear know how you are doing. And call that hotline!!!!
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[Note: Towyn wrote Papabear back that day, and we continued the dialogue....]
I really appreciate your expedient reply, though you touch on some other issues I didn't elaborate on in my first email.
Due to a very traumatic event when I was three I am very hesitant to try new foods, in fact I haven't eaten a fruit or vegetable since. My diet is limited to a very small handful of things I will eat. It's something I've been dealing with for the past twenty or so years. Basically what happened was that food was forced down my throat at a daycare until the worker tore my esophagus with a fork and I nearly died. Had to be flown to a hospital and spent a while in intensive care, ever since I've been terrified of eating strange foods and even being offered food provokes a fight or flight response.
On spirituality...religion and I have a very strained relationship. You see, my parents divorced before I was born and my mother and father differ greatly on the topic. My dad is a fundamentalist catholic and my mother is non-religious. I grew up with my mom but when I was younger my dad convinced her to send me to a Baptist Christian school. I hated it because they based their doctrine on fear of god and subjected me to horrible things because I was a non-believer until I relented. It took me years to finally shake my faith and ever since I've been a stout atheist and very wary of any spiritual teachings. Being the science buff that I am I don't see how an all-powerful all-loving creator could make a world with so much suffering and a people who are so imperfect. I also don't see any evidence of a 'god' figure anywhere. I'm not intolerant by any stretch I just never responded well to religions after what happened to me.
Though on the suicide topic...I've had the local hotline on speed dial for months now. I'm not in those moods all the time, but when I hit a low, it hits hard so I'm well aware of my options when I get those feelings.
With my full time job I really don't have much time to volunteer, I need my income to pay for my car/insurance/rent/phone etc. The only real things I'm interested in are sci-fi, reading, flying, exploring, and tabletop role playing. So my career paths are limited and I'm not sure if they would financially be able to support me. I'm bothered by this because I don't want to live with my parents forever but any financial gamble to try a career path is risky. That risk is what keeps me from moving forward. If I fail I'm stuck here longer.
My zoophilia is a whole other ball park, it bothers me horribly that I don't feel anything towards other human beings, I've never dated and I'm saddened that I'll never experience that companionship in my life. At least it seems that way. I'm also hesitant to discuss that with my therapist, it's hard enough to type, let alone speak it. So I've been bottling those feelings up.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and respond, you have no idea how much it means to me. Even my parents tell me I need to "stop being a bitch" and "buck up". It seems like no one understands what I'm feeling and no one can tell me why I feel this way.
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Okay, well, let’s try and tackle these one by one again. First of all, Papabear is glad you have a local hotline handy, and that kind of removes the worry that you conveyed in your first letter that you had no one to talk to until your therapy started in a month.
On the topic of religion: interesting that you and I had a similar experience. Papabear’s father was a Southern Baptist while his mother was an agnostic. I, too, came to the conclusion that organized religion actually did more to make me feel bad about myself than good. For some people, they will still find comfort in the big religions. That is their choice. I prefer to pursue growth in my spirituality, which is a big difference. You say you are interested in science, and that is wonderful, but science and the material world are not everything. For example, a doctor can dissect your body and figure out how your blood is pumped and your synapses work, but he cannot point his scalpel and say, “Look, here lies the spark of life, that thing that animates all living things.” Not all scientists are atheists, you know. You ask how a perfect loving God can create such a flawed world and flawed people? Well, one answer would be the concept of free will: that if god made us all perfect we would, really, have no choice but to do things perfectly. Therefore, we would have no freedom. Another explanation is that God is not perfect. Oh! Blasphemy! Don’t tell the Church I said that! What I mean by this, though, is that I believe that our universe is imbued by Spirit, and that this Spirit is evolving through states that progress from nothingness and dissolution toward perfection and enlightenment. The world is not perfect now because God isn’t done evolving yet. There’s a lovely quote in the recent film “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” where the innkeeper says, “Don’t worry, it will be all right in the end, and if it is not all right, it is because it is not the end.” Love that.
Next topic: jobs. Okay, so you say you have no time for volunteer work, but it also seems you are held back by fear to pursue other jobs. You do not mention whether or not you tried programs in your state that help you find work and learn about training opportunities. Papabear still feels you need to look into that.
Food and Health: Papabear, of course, didn’t know about that traumatic event with the food. Okay, that is something you have to talk about with your therapist, as it is really beyond the scope of this column and Papabear’s qualifications. That said, the food issue has nothing to do with exercise, unless you have also had a traumatic experience at a gym? Try exercise.
Zoophilia: This, too, is a subject you need to broach with your therapist. You say you are afraid to do so, but, hon, that is what the therapist is there for! Believe me, they have heard this stuff before, and probably much worse. Don’t hold back with your therapist. Everything you tell him or her is confidential, and you are preventing them from helping you by not telling them what is bothering you.
Good luck! Write again if you need to.
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