Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2011 8:02 pm
Dear Annie: I had a fabulous time in college. I was president of my sorority, a peer mentor at our advising center and active in many organizations. I also was granted many awards and honors. I loved rushing around with little sleep and juggling many things on my plate. Now my life is a different story.
I struggle with severe clinical depression and debilitating anxiety. After graduating, I took a job that pays well and I met a great guy. On paper, my life sounds pretty good. But my job makes me miserable, and I dread going into work. There are few compliments and a ton of complaints. We work six days a week, which leaves little time to maintain friendships. When I get home at the end of the day, I feel like a failure, and all I want to do is curl up in bed. Downtime creates anxiety, which triggers my depression and leaves me crying all day.
I realize I cannot go back to the halcyon days of college and that it is unhealthy to keep looking backward. But I feel as if I am grieving for the life I used to have. How do I move on? I am on antidepressants and am seeing a counselor, so I am working on treating my depression and anxiety, but I still feel hopeless. — Wish There Was a Time Machine
Dear Wish: The problem with having an idyllic life through college is that at some point you have to enter the real world, which isn’t nearly as supportive and affirming, and expectations are often unrealistic. If you have never faced true adversity and developed coping skills, it can be overwhelming.
You are on the right track. You know you can’t live in the past, and you are seeking help for your depression and anxiety. While you search for a more fulfilling job, please realize that overcoming a challenging situation can be tremendously rewarding, and each time you succeed, it will become easier and more satisfying. Hang in there.
Dear Annie: How do I get a 65-year-old male to shower and get a decent haircut? My husband retired from the Navy after 30 years of service, so he should know how to keep clean. It has been at least a month since he showered, and his hair hasn’t been trimmed since February. I can hardly stand this. — Showerless in Sheboygan
Dear Showerless: Many men become lethargic and depressed when they retire, especially if their identities are strongly tied to their jobs. A sudden lack of hygiene is also indicative of depression. The armed forces offer counseling services to retirees, although your husband may no longer be eligible. Contact militaryonesource.com (1-800-342-9647) to find out. Otherwise, please ask your doctor or clergyman to refer you to someone who can help both of you deal with his sudden change in status.
Dear Annie: You printed a letter from “Lonely in the Deep Woods,” who was not interested in spending Sunday brunches with her grown children or her husband’s. She preferred to use the time to be with her husband alone. I completely agree with your advice. She should cherish that time with her husband, grown children and grandchildren.
Many years ago, my in-laws began having Sunday dinners with their three grown children and all the grandkids. We called it “lunner” because it was after lunch but before dinner. It has been so rewarding, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything. The adults update each other on what has been going on, and the grandkids get to know their cousins. It only takes a couple of hours.
My children have gotten to know their grandparents, aunts and uncles better, as have we. And it has created rich memories that my children will have forever. I hope when my kids marry, we can carry on the tradition. — Sundays in Oregon
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 8.25.11