Tag Archives: mental health

From The Neverending Story, Atreyu tries to pull Artax out of the swamp.

“Artax, how many times do I have to remind you that the TPS reports get put in the BLUE binders? Not the green binders. A little focus next time, please.”

Hey, Captain and Co.

I spent the past two years of my life being really depressed (and, honestly, who knows how long before that — I was only diagnosed last year, but I’ve felt pretty awful for as long as I can remember), and, through some supportive parents and medication and an awesome partner and therapy, I’ve been slowly climbing up out of it.

A year ago I was in university, but I was too depressed and dropped out. Then I spent a few months focusing on getting to a place where I could function again. Last summer, I was part of a program designed to get me back in the working world, but that fell through when I had a really awful panic attack and the program coordinator kicked me out for being too “unstable”.

Then, by some stroke of luck, I managed to get myself a job. I promised myself I would thrive there, because I wanted to live with my partner and be independent. I’d had enough of being treated like a baby who needed constant care. And, for a long while, I actually succeeded! Things went really well — I got a raise, my co-workers and bosses seemed to like me, and I was able to pay for my apartment and develop some new skills and hobbies. 

Recently, I went through another rough patch. My partner and I had some issues that needed working through — there were noises on both sides of potentially breaking up — and it was just a very stressful time. My performance at work suffered because of this (It’s been extra hard, since they recently moved and are only in once a week, so work has been very chaotic and disorganized), and my bosses pulled me in to talk about that. I promised them I’d do better, and since they talked to me, I have been doing a lot better at work! 

Only, because my eternally-absent bosses haven’t seen my improvements (someone is still complaining about me, for reasons???), they’ve taken me off the schedule and I’m 99% sure they’re going to fire me.

I just don’t know what to do any more. I just want to get back to normal, but I can’t. I want to be independent again, but I can’t seem to succeed at that.

I dunno; I guess I respect your opinion and need some advice about what to do next. Y’all are smart and usually know what to say.

I hope you have time for me.


For a short, sweet question this answer got pretty long and rambly.

What I want to help you with is some small tricks that will maybe help you handle depression better plus some small, mostly cosmetic changes you can make so that you appear to be keeping your shit together at work (whether or not you actually feel like you are keeping your shit together).

I don’t know how to tell you how to feel normal again or get back to ‘normal.’ I don’t know what normal is for you. I don’t know what you do next, or what you want to do.

But I do speak “corporate boss” and I can help you (and maybe others who are in your same shoes) keep your job until you decide you don’t want it anymore, and if you can’t keep this one maybe this will help you keep the next one.

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Oh Captain, my Captain!

I need some help. Last year, I was in an abusive relationship. My ex raped me repeatedly and often manipulated me. When we were together, I became close friends with another guy. Guy #2 eventually owned up to having feelings for me, and I found myself in a very awkward position. Wherein I was dating a terrifying man – who I later learned was a sociopath – seven years older than me, but was attracted to my close friend.

Fast-forward to February of 2012. I broke up with The Ex, who then proceeded to harass me, guilt-trip me, threaten suicide, and spread rumors about me amongst mutual friends. Unfortunately, being in a very not-good place mentally, I blamed myself and spent a lot of time trying to make him feel better, which he took advantage of.

A few months later, I started dating Guy #2. The ex began harassing both of us brutally, but #2 and I made it through.

But he’s having a really hard time handling my past. He blames himself for my abuse, because he thinks he should have talked to me and asked me to break up with The Ex sooner. But I think he also blames me a little bit, even though he won’t say so. Once he said “it’s a hard story to believe” and another time, we had a big argument – we almost broke up – because he was “disgusted by” it and sometimes couldn’t look at or touch me.

I just feel like he’s not trying. I really want this to work out, because I trust & love him. But things are getting worse, to where almost every time we’re alone, we start fighting about it. He’s depressed, but won’t talk to anyone. I’ve started seeing a counselor to work through my issues, but I feel like our relationship would improve if he did, too. He says him talking about it would be a waste of time, no one can help him, I don’t understand because I’m not in his situation… etc. But every time I ask him to explain, he just says he doesn’t want to talk about it.

Sorry for rambling; I’m just worried. Maybe we should break up, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I just don’t know if our relationship is as important to him as it is to me.

I guess what I’m asking is, how can I talk to him about how much he’s hurting me? How can I convince him that talking to someone, even if it ends up not being helpful, is at least worth a try?

Frustrated and Confused

Dear Frustrated and Confused:

I think your current guy was probably a helpful force in getting you out of your old relationship, but you do not owe him the rest of your life in return for whatever he endured at your ex’s hands or the assistance & comfort he provided.

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Dear Captain Awkward:

I need some advice on being a decent human being.

My wife and I have been together for 8 years, married for 5. She has severe depression and anxiety. She’s been in therapy since before I met her, but her illnesses still hit her pretty hard. I do as much as I can for her — earning an income, taking care of the chores and cooking, always giving upbeat feedback.

She hasn’t had a full time job in a few years, but she takes on a smattering of freelance projects because she says her career is the only thing that makes her life meaningful. Unfortunately, it’s a huge struggle for her to complete these projects — generally she’ll start them the day they’re due, and I’ll have to sit with her for moral support and try to take care of as many aspects of it (printing, mailing, etc) as I can without any professional training.

Most days she sleeps in late, spends the day messing around on the internet, and then tells me about how stupid and worthless she thinks she is. I can usually get her to a point of resolving that tomorrow she’ll wake up on time and I’ll help her make a plan to get some work done, but that generally doesn’t happen. Getting out of the house helps, but the process of getting her to get up the nerve to go can be exhausting.

She is also convinced that none of her friends care about her — though she has more and better friends than I do. She’s very intelligent, so she has an exceptional ability to rationalize and explain away any evidence I present to counter her thesis that “I am a horrible stupid person who nobody likes and who is probably just faking my problems because I’m stupid.”

The reason I’m writing is that this should not be a big deal for me — she’s not hurting me, I’m not the one who’s depressed, I do get out of the house for work and to see friends. But I find that as much as I love her, and as much as I love spending time with her, there are times I start to feel frustrated, start to wish her depression wasn’t a shadow hanging over everything I do. I know that’s not OK, and most of the time I can keep my focus on her rather than on me. But it seeps through sometimes, and I worry that it will affect her or that I’ll slip and say something like “let’s not make plans — tomorrow you’ll probably just sleep all day anyway.” 

Do I just need a kick in the pants?

Overwhelmed Husband (#429)

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Hey Capt., 

Cliff notes. My sister got pregnant three years in a row, giving birth to three healthy babies by c-section. With baby 1 she was put into bed rest almost immediately and I was assigned to make sure she didn’t jeopardize her or the baby’s health. This was a difficult task only made worse after the birth because it meant an additional 4 weeks at the least. Around 2 weeks into that time I broke down sobbing. My sister threw me out and my parents let me have the morning off before insisting that I return to make sure my sister hadn’t hurt herself. 

Continuing into the next two pregnancies I was told I had to stay with my sister because my parents were afraid for both her mental and physical health. This involved me sometimes driving 3 hours daily back and forth to my sister and her husband’s apartment. Where I was welcome by my sister but resented by her husband for being there and also for not doing enough while I was there. 

I am realizing that I was depressed. Slowly over the last few years I’ve been trying to recover. And I’ve felt like I have been. (In part thanks to this blog.) 

Now my sister is pregnant again. It’s been the easiest pregnancy yet. When I told my mom I was not going to do what I did before she said that yes I would. I felt like I had been slapped. I tried to tell her no but she told me it’s family. I told her a little desperately that if she didn’t want me to resent that baby and my sister even more than I already did she wouldn’t make me. She just repeated the family bit. 

That was a little over a month ago. I am depressed. My sister, who had already spent christmas at my house, wanted to spend the week following new years here as well. I told her no, and I told my mother I can’t do it. I am depressed and I just can’t face it. My mom offered to pay for me to take off for a few days so that my sister can come and spend the time here.(My Mom and I live together.) She says that she understands that I am depressed but she thinks my sister is too and she might need to come up to get some relief. 

Captain Awkward, I am being asked to leave my own house. I am being hounded by my mother to find a quick fix for my depression. And I am sincerely at a loss. Can you help me? 

-Just empty.

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Do not go to anyone who works from a booth. (Photo by Kevin Dooley; click for Flickr original.)

Do not go to anyone who works from a booth. (Photo by Kevin Dooley; click for Flickr original.)

Hello Captain Awkward and Awkward Army,

I have been in and out of therapy off and on for the last decade or so. I don’t want to give my entire life history, but I will summarize by saying that I have clinical depression, and have anxiety that hasn’t been formally diagnosed yet but which has been plaguing me for years now, and my siblings and I were raised in a one mostly normal parent and one parent with unacknowledged Borderline Personality Disorder household.

In the past, I’ve had some relatively good-for-me therapists, and some less-good-for-me therapists. I am trying to figure out what makes a good therapist overall, and how to tell sooner than several sessions in whether or not they will work well with me. My mostly normal parent has agreed to help me pay for said therapy for the foreseeable future, so I don’t necessarily have to stick with whoever my (crappy) insurance will allow. I’m VERY good at subconsciously and consciously steering away from uncomfortable topics, so a big important thing for me in therapy is a therapist who will help me not get off track, and who will ask me questions.

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Thanks to everyone who came to yesterday’s gelato-eating and gab session. The best part was sitting at the table and being able to identify who was there for the meetup by their 1) excellent fashion choices 2) friendly demeanor and 3) carrying-of-books. I’m sure we’ll do other Chicago-based events, though as a reminder, you don’t have to wait for the team of Logic/Awkward/Machine if you want to plan something.

Today’s questions involve some gross bathroom problems so they are going behind a cut in case you’re reading this at lunch.

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Ron Weasley holding a wand.

“Girlfriendio! I said, ‘GIRLFRIENDIO!’ Bollocks, why isn’t this working?”

Greetings captain! 

No matter what I do or say, I can’t get a girlfriend. I’m 18 years old, and I have never hugged, kissed, or been liked by a girl. I have never been on a date, or had any real chance of getting a girlfriend. I’m mildly autistic, I have ADHD, and am EXTREMELY socially awkward. I just want to be able to make a girl like me, and I don’t care how. Here are some side questions: 1.) Is there any way that I can pay a girl to like me? (I have a bit of $) 2.) Are there any drugs that will cure my social problems? 3.) Are there any “tricks” that I don’t know about? 4.) Do I have any hope at all?

Here is my dating profile: [[REDACTED]]

I just want to find a “miracle cure”. I’m tired of trying so hard, only to fail constantly. I deal with my emotional pain by taking Adderall (Amphetamine Salts) (I have an RX, but I buy more from friends). Adderall seems to be the only thing that will bring me a feeling close to “being loved”. I will continue to abuse amphetamines, opiates, and xanax until I get a girlfriend. I don’t care if I’m addicted, because it’s the only thing that brings me happiness. 


Dear Desperate Dude:

Holy shit, bro. Slow your roll. And/or your troll.