Friday, March 16, 2007

My world of stress

I have a very "colourful" past, and my family/life has always reminded me of an overly dramatic soap opera. I have also spent the majority of my time crying about it. If anyone knows how to have a good self-pity party, it would be me.

I am 18 years old, finishing off my first year of university as a biochemistry major with a possible psychology minor. I have managed to fall ridiculously behind in all of my courses and labs, and I'm only hoping on passing. I am getting 9 hours of sleep on average per week, and having one measly meal a day, and I'm definitely not anorexic, but right now whatever I put into my mouth, just wants to come right out.

My father just came out of a surgery and recently had a heart attack. My mother's emotional/psychological state is very unstable considering last year's incredible betrayal/infidelity, which happened for a second time. My kid sister resents me for leaving her with the "crazies" as she calls them, and is also very unsure about her life/self at the moment.

I am expected to be the "great fix" for both my mother and my sister, which I don't mind really, because I love them, but I don't think they see that I am also under a great deal of pressure. They seem to believe that I can somehow manage everything without falling apart. My father has started discussing financials with me as if he won't be here tomorrow, and it scares me because I am so not ready for this.

People in my dorm are also giving me a very hard time. If they're not making fun of me right outside my door, I can hear them playing loud music or "partying" until all hours of the night, literally! I mean from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., smoking marijuana or screaming strange profanities and what not outside my door. Then they ask each other "do you think she heard that, how could she not?" as if they want to get a rise out of me. Well, it didn't happen.

Oh, and besides that I am constantly subjected to hearing a play by play of my neighbour's sex life, and it's not pretty. It certainly makes me wonder why all of these people who had relatively normal childhoods are going wild, while I, having had the past that I did, with a history of sexual abuse (which I am slowly beginning to get over, without therapy for the time being), and then some, still manage to keep my morality in check? Or perhaps, I'm a prude, and too uptight to understand this whole concept of being carefree and taking it easy.

I also don't have a single friend in this world right now. I used to think I did, but now it seems they're only around when they need something out of me. And the others who I thought were my true friends recently rejected me, making it very clear that we were to only be acquaintances because they simply did not have the time to make an effort at a friendship with me. I guess from my point of view, considering how pathetic me and my life is, no one wants to stick around. Oh yes, and they also betrayed my trust by telling others personal and intimate details I confided in them about my life, saying it was not a breach of trust but that the importance of my emotional safety trumped "keeping a secret."

Also, I recently went from being somewhat agnostic to being Christian because these friends of mine got me interested. Sometimes I wonder if that's all our relationship ever was, a way to get into God's good graces. And of course, they were also the ones who told me that the only way to help myself was to learn to be happy, because it was a choice, leaving all the drama in my life behind. I can see now that perhaps it was easy for them to say, because they haven't been where I am at and have been for a very long time.

Despite all this, I'm unusually calm compared to my usual self. I haven't reacted to a single thing in my life, and am continuing on as if life is perfectly dandy. I haven't cried, freaked out, blown up in solitude or at someone, haven't stopped waking up to go to class every morning, (provided I am sleeping through most of my morning lectures) am still hopelessly trying to catch up on everything, fix other peoples' messes, and still smile at the people in my life at the end of the day, as if I don't have a care in the world. And they seem to be buying it!

How do I make sense of the drama in my life, and fix it? And secondly, you know how that saying goes: If life gives you lemons make lemonade? Well, currently I'm left wondering if my new found behaviour is indicative of me making lemonade... or is it just my denial?

Lemonade or denial

Dear Lemonade,

You're right! You do know how to throw yourself a pity party :)

All snarkiness aside, you obviously have a lot going on in your life and no support system to help you out. All of these stresses are causing you to not take care of yourself properly. And let me point out an inconsistency here: you HAVE cried. You have broken down. You're not the person you were. And no one should be expecting perfection from you even while all of these things are going on.

The first thing you need to do is seriously consider getting counseling. Most universities provide free sessions, but sometimes you have to wait a few weeks for the intake appointment. I think you really need this to help sort out what going on with your family, your school life and your personal life even if it requires you to shell out a little money.

While you're waiting, it's time to make a few changes to take things to a less intense level. You may consider dropping a class. At the very least, tell your professors that you're having some personal and family issues. See what they can do for you to get you through the rest of the semester. Then talk to your residence director about moving. I know the kind of people who live in your hall (I used to be a resident assistant), and they make living in dorms unpleasant. It's time to start over on less of a party hall. And I don't really know what happened with those so-called "friends," but I think you have other things to worry about right now.

As for your family, you need to tell them that you're seeking help because you're overwhelmed. They will need to lay off if they've been relying on you for some things. In regards to your parents, you can't solve their marriage, but you can be supportive of your father as he makes his plans. Those are things he needs to manage, and I suspect you're mature enough to be there and know what he's doing.

You aren't making lemonade here, you're drowning in it. Now you've got to be the one to pull yourself out. And once you do, stop taking responsibility for things that others need to take care of.

Good luck.

Aunt Amy

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