Is it Possible to Sustain Well-Being and Joy Despite One’s Circumstances?

Dear Liz,

I am a woman in my upper 40s. I have a job that has very good health benefits. Also, it pays enough to support my family. The issue is that I am very unhappy in my work environment. Sometimes, or I should say, often, some of the people are hostile. This has caused me to wake up many nights upset. At times, I feel alone and stuck. I stay at the job because I know that I would not realistically be able to find another one like it where I can support my family. I know this probably sounds like such a cliché, but when I look at myself in the mirror, I do not see a happy, joyful person. I see someone who is tired, stressed, and has aged tremendously. The years are going by and I am afraid of never finding a peaceful work environment. It is hard because of the many hours spent at work, and then I find that my poor children see all my unhappiness.

Thank you for reading this. Many blessings to you. Continue reading

How Do I Start Caring Again?

Shortly before the COVID-19 global pandemic forced us all to shelter in place, I received this write-in.  Truth be told, I put it aside, because I had no idea how to respond.  Over the past two months, tucked away at home, life as I knew it gone in an instant, my own demons began to make appearances—anxiety, existential dread, grief—sure, some days felt liberating, but many others unraveled me.  I must acknowledge that the column to follow is no exception to the insight: we teach what we need to learn.

Dear Liz,

How do I start caring again? What I mean is that as a rule, I find I don’t want anything, and if I do sort-of want something, I don’t care that I want it. I do like my Sunday mornings out for breakfast as my only me time, and “Oh hey, you want join me…okay…” Or, I may need to buy a car part to make my car better, but “oh, you need money to get a hotel room so your daughter can tour the college she has been accepted at…okay, here is $150…whatever…doesn’t matter…I don’t really need it…”  Hell, I don’t really need anything, or really anyone. Continue reading

Fear of Relapsing Into Isolation and Pain

Dear Liz,

Recently, I have been internally going in a downward spiral. I have been waiting for, and dreading this moment to come, as I have been in this state before. The world seems to keep turning while I am invisible and stationary– stuck in one moment in time. No one can see it because it doesn’t seem like I am in as bad of a place as I was, but what they can’t see is that I am. No one has ever been able to really see me. Even I have trouble seeing me. I’ll have to have a few more sit-downs with my gingerbread person before I’ll be able to see myself and the good that I carry. I’m not sure if there is a question to pull from this. Maybe since I am more aware of my symptoms I can ask, how do you stop a relapse from ruining a portion of life? How do I get myself up and going every day, if only mechanical body? At the end of the day, I am the only one who will have my back. I have no one to take the pain away or to walk and talk with me every day. The only person who can do that is myself. What are some ways to get to the point of holding enough self-love so that I am able to walk with myself every day? 

I realize there are no right or wrong answers to my questions. I know whatever you have to say will be helpful. Thank you, Liz. Continue reading

Mental Illness and Medication: Will Drugs Change Who a Person Really Is?

Dearest Liz,

Being natural has been a priority in my life for quite some time. Call me an earthy, crunchy granola, hippy if you will. This sparks a question that runs through my mind now and then. I understand that medications for various mental illnesses replaces chemicals in which the brain lacks. However, does this change who a person truly is? I am currently studying psychology and can understand most of the science behind it, but there is something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s almost like a spiritual point of view. I hope this makes sense! Sincerely, Wanderer Continue reading

Am I too Broken to be Fixed?

Dear Liz,

I am lost. I decided to start counseling because I was afraid I was getting depressed again. I was depressed back in high school and while my anxiety affects me every day, I thought that depression was in the past until about two months ago. I’ve only gone to two appointments so far. At the second one she asked me about my history of depression, and I told her about it and said that now I have little bouts, like 2 or 3 days a month. That day was a good one. Today is not. Do you think it’s possible to be depressed sometimes, or is it my own anxious self over thinking? And more importantly, how do I avoid letting these feelings affect my life too much? Tonight I have put off doing an assignment I know I can do well and even enjoy and even now at 3 am, I feel so distant from it while also feeling guilty for putting it off. I feel as though I am like a bent tool never to be fixed. I could work properly if someone took the time to straighten me out, but that’s too hard. I’ll probably wake up tomorrow and think that this was melodramatic… In fact I feel melodramatic just rereading what I’ve wrote. Basically, I’d like your advice on how not to dwell on the bad times, and how to own up to the mistakes you make during them. I don’t want to let down my friends or teachers, but when I feel depressed, it is so hard to do anything.

Sincerely, Hopeful

Continue reading

Moving Beyond Loneliness and Despair: Death is not Real

Dear Liz,

Recently, I am struggling with the fact that I don’t feel as though I belong, not only among my peers, but in all aspects of my life. Along with this, I am afraid that I am battling severe depression, but I don’t know where in myself I can find the courage to get help. I have a hard time getting out of bed every morning, because I know that when I do, I am just going to be dealing with the same demons that create my life and make it hard for me to go to class, or to go home, or to work. I have no idea how to find what I need to feel better, because no matter what I do I am so unhappy. I want to go home and want to take a leave of absence from school, but I don’t want to be with my abusive mother and I don’t want to fall behind in school because I only have the next year to finish.  I use that goal to get myself through because for some reason when I think about finishing school, I think that all of these problems and feelings will go away. But at the end of the day, I’m up all night dreading all of these things. What do I do to make it through this?  Continue reading

Depression as an Opportunity for Emotional and Spiritual Transformation

Dear Liz,

So over the past few months I haven’t felt like myself.  I’ve realized I’m not the happy, outgoing girl I used to be. I barely ever hang out with friends, and when it comes to making a decision on something simple, I tend to get overly frustrated and break down. I’m afraid to talk to my mom about this because it may not even be a big deal to her. And in the past when I have struggled with my weight, both my parents would tell me I’m too skinny and yell at me to eat more. I don’t know if that plays a role in this situation, and my happiness—I just want this feeling of helplessness to go away. I don’t know how to tell my mom, and need some advice.
Continue reading