Life's a Mess
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14-02-2014, 06:41 PM
Life's a Mess
I'm in a really really dark place and feel like I have nowhere to turn. I'm in a relationship that feels stagnant with a man my family hates because of his atheism. I'm in the middle of pursuing a PhD in Chemistry and my research is going nowhere. My boyfriend's research is also hitting a wall and the combined stress of grad school projects gone awry, coupled with external pressure from my family and internal stress from my ongoing battle to re-define my life post-catholicism while keeping the atheism a secret from my family is just ripping me apart. It's ripping us apart.

We'r struggling with communication- when he stresses out, he withdraws and gets sullen and irritable. He plays computer games, watches sports, listens to podcasts- all things that completely extricate me. I resent him for it. I want to help, I want to talk, I want to work with him to soothe his stress because I understand it- I'm a grad student too. But he just shuts me out.

This leaves me feeling alone and frustrated, because I'm dealing with my own project and feelings of inadequacy regarding my progress on it. I go to him with my concerns, he's supportive, but he expects me to get over it- leave work at work and enjoy being home at home. Funny, when I tell him the same thing, he blows a gasket.

We have been together almost three years, have lived together for two, and the way we communicate stress is the only thing that gives me pause about the viability of our relationship. I don't want to just assume it can't get better than this.

I don't have anywhere to go with this. I can't talk to my family about it- they want reasons to hate him and I don't want to give them ammunition. I have one girlfriend, but she's not the best advice giver and I don't feel comfortable airing my dirty laundry to someone my boyfriend and I are mutual friends with.

I feel like I'm failing all over the place. My research sucks, my relationship sucks, my family doesn't know who I am anymore (and wouldn't accept me if they did) and I just want to quit everything. It's valentine's day and I'm contemplating just biting the bullet, breaking up with my boyfriend, getting in the car, driving until I'm out of gas and then just wait for nature to take it's course. I feel like I'm just in the wrong place everywhere and I'm dug in too deep to get back out.

My parents are planning on coming to visit tomorrow beacuse I'm turning 25 next week. I don't want to face them with the happy face of "everything's great!" when in fact everything has gone to complete shit. Their answer to everything is more church, prayer, and probably some confession. That's not the answer, but I don't know what the answer is.

I feel a physical ache, right where my heart is. I'm breaking. I feel like the bottom has fallen out of everything I thought I knew- I was so confident in my relationship. I was so confident in my career choice. My enthusiasm for both are floundering. I don't even know if anything can be fixed.

I'm thinking of making an emergency therapist appointment on Monday, but I need to get through the weekend.

I just needed to vent.

Thanks for listening.
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14-02-2014, 06:56 PM
RE: Life's a Mess
I'm so sorry dear, this does not sound fun. Hug

My advice: sit him down and let him know it's going to be a serious talk. Let him know that he is making you feel isolated (throw in that you don't think he is doing it intentionally, but it's how you feel). If he tries to brush off the conversation, or escalate it to an angry level, try to reign things back to a calm conversation. Share the feelings you've shared here with us. Let him know you need to be heard, and work on this stuff, or you're gone. Sometimes your partner won't realize how bad things are until you let them know that it just isn't working, and that you are almost at an end.

If you try these things, and he still doesn't want to discuss it in a healthy manner, or take your feelings seriously, I don't see any reason to continue to be miserable with him Hug A three year relationship would not be easy to end. I truly hope you two can work this out.

As far as you two being stressed over your work loads, try to pick one or two nights a month where you two put in an effort to do something strictly fun, just the two of you. No work talk, no talk of responsibilities, just fun! Put it on the calendar, and stick to it (but don't pass up fun if it presents itself in the mean time).

I'm sorry you don't have people close to you to vent, and talk about stuff with. Pm me if you ever need to talk, or vent. I'm on skype too. Smercury44

Heart Hug

I hope that the world turns, and things get better. But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that, even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you, or kiss you, I love you. With all my heart, I love you. - V for Vendetta
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15-02-2014, 05:35 PM
RE: Life's a Mess
For what it's worth...
My fiance and I have been living together for about two years as well. Things have been tough lately and neither of us is very good at communicating rationally when we're upset, so we went through a really really dark patch recently.

But it can get better. We finally sat down and talked to one another (after the dust settled from a truly epic argument about nothing...) and both got some things off our chests. It's not a cure-all and there will always been rough times and miscommunication, but just making that effort helps.

Your boyfriend honestly sounds a bit like me. When I'm really stressed out or not feeling great about life, I kind of shut down. I will spend solid days on my computer, or watch three seasons of a tv show in two days, and pretty much do everything I can think of that doesn't involve getting up or talking to anyone. I know it frustrates my partner, but that's not the goal. I have a hard time dealing with things sometimes and need to take time to just be a blob and shut down my brain. Sometimes it goes too far and my inertia gets the better of my mind (see also: how I nearly flunked out of college). And sometimes if someone interrupts my 3-day bender of self-pity and lethargy I get very mad, not so much because of them but because breaking out of that quiet time just reminds me of everything I've been shutting out all at once. The number of times my boy's asked me if I want to run to the store and I've started grumbling about bills and laundry and how much I have to do... If my feeling's right and your guy is a lot like me he's not trying to shut you out or ignore you, he just can't deal with his own stress in a healthy way let alone even begin to help you deal with yours.

Prioritize. There's a lot that needs to be worked on - your relationship with your boyfriend, your relationship with your family, your relationship with yourself. You can't try to fix them all at once, or all by yourself. My first instinct would be to tell your family you're just too busy to spend time with them right now (I don't know you, but it sounds from this like they're just causing a lot of totally unnecessary stress and drama that you don't need right now), take a day to do whatever you need to to make yourself feel more relaxed and happy, then have a nice non-confrontational sit-down with your boyfriend.

We all have crap times. And from someone who's tried it more than once, I can say that throwing in the towel and running away won't help you any in the long-term. Life takes a lot of hard work (families, relationships, education, all of it) and sometimes it is totally overwhelming. I've thought about packing it in and running off to stay with friends, but then I've realized that I'd still have all the problems with myself plus no job, house or any of the other things that keep me at all grounded in reality. But sometimes I do find it helpful just to take a bit of time away from all that stress, whether it's sinking into a tv marathon or going out for a few drinks with the boy. After that, though, I realize I need to come back, sort my head out, and work for the things I care about.
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18-02-2014, 05:10 AM
RE: Life's a Mess
(14-02-2014 06:41 PM)FlightedChemist Wrote:  I'm in the middle of pursuing a PhD in Chemistry and my research is going nowhere. My boyfriend's research is also hitting a wall

Welcome to the land of the PhD. This happens to almost everyone doing a doctorate and it can be really depressing. You need so much passion and dedicating spend years of your life on a single project and the very nature of research is to find out things that you don't already know. This means that you don't know in advance how to get the results. The effect of this is that come the middle of your PhD you've been at it for a long time with nothing to show for it. You will hear the same story from so many people, I'd say the majority of people, who have done a doctorate. You start off enthusiastically, end up wondering whether you have made the right decision and finally end up glad that you did by the end (in most cases).

So next time you are worrying about a lack of results, just remind yourself that this is an inherent part of doing a doctorate. I'd say more so than with the research you do as a post-doc because at that stage of your career you need to concentrate on iterative safe research because of the constant pressure to bring in funding.
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24-02-2014, 08:22 PM
RE: Life's a Mess
Hi everyone- I feel like after a post like that I should leave an update. Thank you all so much for the responses.

I'm feeling a lot better. We talked and everything's fine. Sometimes I'm more sensitive that I need to be with things and sometimes he's more insensitive than he needs to be. I think everyone hits a wall with their PhD and I need to ride that out.

On a positive note, we've been working very closely with a PitBull rescue in our area (it's our volunteer thing- it's kinda replaced a church community for me since I left Catholicism and I find it incredibly rewarding) and have been biding our time in finding the right dog to adopt ourselves. We can't really adopt quite yet- need to find dog-friendly, affordable housing which is no easy task in our city- but this weekend, I think we found "the one"- a runty, snuggly little boxer-mix puppy with big, sweet eyes. It's not official yet, but the rescue is willing to hold him until we find our place. Almost simultaneously, we got a lead on a GREAT place with almost everything we were looking for in an apartment (including pet friendliness!). We'll be looking at the place tomorrow and if all goes well, we'll have a move in date set by this weekend and we'll be able to bring our fur-baby home.

Thank you all again. What a great community.
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24-02-2014, 10:03 PM
RE: Life's a Mess
If she doesn't want to talk he should not be forced to. People deal with stress in different ways some are better on their own.
I suggest you keep doing chemistry and wait till your family will stop being so cunty.
Also don't pretend to be happy if you are not happy. That would be dishonest.
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02-03-2014, 02:11 PM
RE: Life's a Mess
Being male, I can offer this...

When men get stressed out, anxious or depressed we do tend to withdraw. You must realize though, that its not a case of wanting to bottle it up and ignore it.

When I've suffered bouts of depression and anxiety, I wanted nothing more than a sympathetic ear to talk to... But there's this inhibition that often stops us from letting it out. In my experience, its bringing the subject up that's most difficult, rather than talking about it.



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04-03-2014, 02:56 AM
RE: Life's a Mess
Glad you are out of that dark place, where you now know an exit exists. Keep in mind how you found it this time.

Wish everything goes well with you. I know sometimes it won't, but your resilience will help you out.

Want something? Then do something.
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04-03-2014, 04:36 AM
RE: Life's a Mess
(02-03-2014 02:11 PM)Paranoidsam Wrote:  When men get stressed out, anxious or depressed we do tend to withdraw. You must realize though, that its not a case of wanting to bottle it up and ignore it.

I actually agree with this. It is a learned social behavior, but it's true nonetheless.

Occasional TTA returner then leaverer.
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