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Question
Posted by: Indigoblue | 2019/01/27

Career/study crisis

Dear Doc I am 41 and decided 3 years ago to resign from my job and study full time for my degree. I took money from my pension fund to look after myself Btw, the job I had caused severe stress/anxiety and depression that it was only a matter of time before I would most likely would have resigned. So I did my first two years at varsity, but beginning of last year my mum fell ill, had to have a hip replacement and had a heart attack a few months later. Was I not at home, she most likely would have died. I decided to take a year break from the studies as I was just feeling exhausted for some reason. I just was tired all the time, very anxious and had terrible physical symptoms. I am on 9 different meds included in those for my depression, anxiety, interstitial cystitis and neurodermatitis. Due to unforeseen circumstances, I could no longer finish my studies this year full time. My mother fell ill again and has a major back operation scheduled. I decided to look after her as with her other two incidents, no family, friends or my dad could look after her (My dad is still working but hardly makes ends meet). I feel guilty because I am now at home, my finances are a mess, my health is declining and my mum is also not doing well. Of course my parents cannot look after me as I am a grown man and I am now planning to find a full time job and finish my degree part time. The thing is that I have suicidal thoughts when thinking about looking for a job, because I am Caucasian, only have 2 years worth of a degree and a gap in my studies. I am so anxious that my meds are not working anymore and I feel like a complete failure. My friends say that I am done with and can forget about getting a job. At least I have 20 years working experience and I might not have a degree, I have done many specialised IT courses. My skills are a bit rusty though. I will soon lose my medical aid as I cannot afford it anymore. The other evening I drank 10 Arem sleeping pills and 20 Tramadol pain killers. I wanted to die. I cannot handle the stress of the unknown and the struggle I will face to get a job. I didn't die, woke up the next morning and am still alive. I don't know what to do anymore. I feel like a complete failure and deadbeat. My passion is oddly not IT, but medicine and alternative health which I can do a course in (I have been offered the opportunity). I will be seeing my pdoc, but only once coz he is expensive. I really need some sensible advice or just direction.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink
- 2019/01/28

Hello indigoblue,
As one gets older, and especially in an economy where it's hard for anyone to get a job, unless one is very wealthy, taking courses simply because they interest us, and where they don't lead to a high likelihood of a job, is an expensive hobby.  One can learn a lot about all sorts of things one finds interesting, as a hobby.  Similarly, studying part-time is often an advantage, specially when giving up a full-time job and its reliable salary and perks is like jumping off a bus it may be very hard to climb back on.
But, you made what seemed like good choices at the time, and there is no value in blaming yourself if unpredicted other problems made this not work out the way you expected.
If you are seeing a psychiatrist ( maybe also a psychologist while your medical aid still works ) ask for a clear diagnosis, a clear treatment plan for the future, in writing, so you could try to carry on with that after medical aid, through a GP or a provincial clinic. Check with SADAG for a depression/anxiety support group near you.  Check for affordable or free counselling availability
You are not a deadbeat or loser, but you are significantly depressed, deserving proper care.  Stay clear from thoughts of self-harm : a you've found, it only make things worse, and there are far better options around.

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