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May 23, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Personality

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Trapped

Question:

I feel trapped in my life.

I have a large student debt (50k), a three bedroom house to pay for each month, a car payment, a full-time job, and credit card debt (I am already in a debt management program). I have a teenage son who is not prepared or emotionally ready to become responsible. I have experienced weight gain likely due to stress and I smoke. I am diabetic (Type 1) and I have zero energy to tackle these issues. I feel absolutely drained and hopeless. I make O.K. money, but not enough to make a difference in the debt issue. I'm in a relationship that is ok but not my ideal. I feel that I'm settling for less than what I want and deserve.

Under normal circumstances I feel reasonably good about myself and my choices. I have enough life experience to know that tackling everything at once is not realistic or effective. But I feel that my choices are limited and my future is bleak. I need to make some changes and I often think that a major one would kick-start my motivation, but I'm afraid to lose my housing (it's very reasonable) and my son is also a major consideration. He needs to know that he is taken care of in order to grow. My frustration is that I feel stagnant. It depresses me to the point where my energy level is almost nil.

I feel like I have no financial future and the romance department is very second rate in terms of commitment. I guess I'm looking for some realistic suggestions that won't compromise the little security I do have.

"No way out", 37-year-old woman

Answer:

Hello!

Thank you for writing to us here at Queen Dom. I'll answer your letter line-by-line. Makes it feel more "conversational" this way.

I feel trapped in my life.

Let's start with this. "Trapped" isn't a feeling, it's a thought. And it could be an accurate or inaccurate thought. The feeling that you have while you are trapped might be sad, angry, afraid, guilty, ashamed, whatever. But you do need to notice the feeling while you have a look at whether you actually are "trapped" or not.

I have a large student debt (50k), a three bedroom house to pay for each month, a car payment, a full-time job, and credit card debt (I am already in a debt management program). I have a teenage son who is not prepared or emotionally ready to become responsible. I have experienced weight gain likely due to stress and I smoke. I am diabetic (Type 1) and I have zero energy to tackle these issues. I feel absolutely drained and hopeless.

The first thing to consider about feeling "drained and hopeless" is the physical or medical state you are in. I wonder what your doctor says about the diabetes, your weight, and your breathing. It may very well be that these feelings are far more related to your medical problems than to the debts and what you think about them (the "trapped" feeling).

The first thing I'd do is get a thorough physical evaluation from medical doctors who specialize in diabetes. Don't just settle for one doctor's opinion. Get a second opinion if you don't end up with a good understanding of what is physical and what is emotional. You could also see someone who specializes in weight medicine and someone who knows a lot about the lungs. As a former heavy smoker I know that I often had thoughts about being "stuck" (trapped) and exhausted ("drained"), and all of this cleared up when I finally quit. Even if you continue to smoke for a while, you deserve to know the degree to which your symptoms are related to poor air intake, etc.

I make O.K. money, but not enough to make a difference in the debt issue. I'm in a relationship that is ok but not my ideal. I feel that I'm settling for less than what I want and deserve.

When you borrowed the money for your education, you must have had good reason to believe that you could repay it after graduation. Are you only frustrated because it is taking you longer than you expected (like it does for everyone I've ever met), or are you truly overburdened by the debt and near bankruptcy? (It matters a lot. If there really is too much debt you'll need to come up with a new financial strategy. If you are just dissatisfied about having the debt and how long it is taking you to repay it, the whole thing about money might just be some "explanation" you are trying to come up with related to your physical and psychological symptoms (trapped/drained/hopeless). When we feel stuck while feeling so bad we try to AVOID seeing something that is rather obvious to the people around us (maybe the diabetes and the way you eat..?), and we come up with many other different "theories" to explain to ourselves why we feel the way we do. The financial thing is a real problem, but it doesn't necessarily make someone feel the way you feel. (Believe it or not, others with similar financial problems feel angry about them, or sad, or scared, or even happy most of the time. We all have our own usual ways of responding to real problems emotionally.

Under normal circumstances I feel reasonably good about myself and my choices.

What's not "normal" for you about your current circumstances? The debt has been with you for quite a while. Your relationship has a longer history. Your son is a teenager who has been around many years at this point. If you usually feel good about yourself under these circumstances, why don't you feel good about yourself right now? --- Something happened back when you first started to feel "trapped" and my guess is that you haven't identified it in this letter. Did you have a major disagreement with someone when you started feeling so bad this time? Did someone mistreat you? Did you mistreat someone else and feel bad about it? Please try to find the "Moment" when things felt so bad and talk to a good therapist about it.

I have enough life experience to know that tackling everything at once is not realistic or effective. But I feel that my choices are limited and my future is bleak. I need to make some changes and I often think that a major one would kick-start my motivation, but I'm afraid to lose my housing (it's very reasonable) and my son is also a major consideration. He needs to know that he is taken care of in order to grow. My frustration is that I feel stagnant. It depresses me to the point where my energy level is almost nil.

Again, look FIRST for physical causes for your low energy. If you get a change in medication or some other good care about your physical problems the "stagnation" might go away. If this doesn't work and you can't figure out when you started feeling so bad (last paragraph), see a good therapist so she/he can help you.

I feel like I have no financial future and the romance department is very second rate in terms of commitment.

When we answer letters like this, therapists need to do a lot of "guessing" and, of course, we could be very wrong in our guesses.. But I think this is the third time you referred to your relationship problems *without saying anything very clear about what's wrong*.. Could it be that something bad happened between you and your partner the day you went from feeling pretty good about yourself to feeling like you are feeling today? Maybe you are blaming yourself for something that is the other person's problem primarily, or for something that is a mutual problem that could be worked out if you didn't just keep blaming yourself for all that's wrong. (Certainly being in an uncommitted relationship - if you want a commitment - can be a huge problem in itself.)

I guess I'm looking for some realistic suggestions that won't compromise the little security I do have.

Here they are: 1) Be SURE you have a good diagnosis and the best treatment plan for your physical conditions. Get second opinions if you aren't confident in the first doctor's plans for you. 2) Notice the effects of the overeating and smoking, yes, but also think of ALL physical contributors to how you feel. Think about whether you eat or sleep or drink too much or too little, etc. And when you notice you've just done one of these things, notice how you feel in the next few hours. Do you get depressed? Do you feel extremely low energy? Something else? 3) If #1 and #2 don't help, see a good therapist! (Same advice here. Don't be afraid to "shop" for the therapist who is a good match for you, who seems to understand you well, etc. And also find out right away if they are familiar with the emotional effects of diabetes - and whether they have an M.D. they can talk to about this if needed.)

Hope this letter helps!

It's been really good talking with you!

Tony Schirtzinger

This question was answered by Tony Schirtzinger.

For more information visit the site or contact information page on QueenDom.

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