Stuck in a rut and only half living

I had a difficult childhood with emotional neglect and abuse, a breakdown at 11 and then sexual abuse, but as a result of a long period of private therapy I now feel real and able to connect with my own feelings as well as with other people. However I'm still struggling but feel guilty sometimes about writing here as I'm so much luckier than many people. I have a caring husband, lovely house and garden and enough money but still feel stuck in a state of self pity and inertia.

I left school without any qualifications but at 40 went back into education and am now highly qualified in several different areas. Years ago I took voluntary redundancy from teaching within Further Education and trained in the NHS as a psychotherapist - I was lucky someone gave me the opportunity to work unpaid with patients. However after qualifying for national registration I discovered that I wasn't eligible to apply for paid work within the NHS because I don't have a health qualification such as nursing or clinical psychology (it's madness - it was ok for me to work unpaid for 10 years but not to apply for doing the same work but paid!). I became very deeply depressed after that, it seems so unfair, the long training and battle to get accepted as healthy but even that got me nowhere. I looked for other places to work as a therapist but without success. Eventually after being very depressed for some years I did an art degree and technically I'm now self-employed as a freelance artist, but after a bad fall 3 years ago I haven't been able to find the motivation to paint again. I feel stuck in a kind of limbo state of doing nothing except buying and selling on e-bay, writing on websites such as this one, and watching dvds. I feel like I've opted out of life because of finding the repeated struggle and disappointments too much. Now I'm 63 and have no idea what to do with the rest of my life. I sometimes think about voluntary work but feel so angry about the idea of not being paid because I am so very well qualified and experienced, also the kind of opportunities are not really me, I'm more of an applied thinker than hands on helper. It's a bit of a viscious circle and I can't seem to find the motivation to do anything about it. Sometimes I think about joining the gym or taking up painting again but I can't quite make myself do them. I'm no longer deeply depressed and can experience pleasure now in a way that I couldn't before, but I feel as though my heart's not in life any more. My GP suggested a mild antidepressant might help but the side effects were so awful that I weaned off them and won't take drugs again. I see a therapist every week, we're lucky not to have money worries so I go privately, so I realise how much luckier I am than many people who write on the website, but how can I shift this state of inertia. I've been angry, been distressed, been depressed, and now I'm just stuck.


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15 Replies

  • Hi there Rose,

    So sorry you feel like that. I know how you feel about opting out of life, I would do just that if there was a way to pay the mortgage at the same time. I call it "crawling under my rock to hide".

    There are ways of pursuing a career as a "therapist" without working for the NHS. I work for a private organisation, which as part of the service we offer therapy, both residential and community based. Maybe looking at private organisations might be a way forward for you, especially if there is a specific area you are interested in working in.

    Until recently anyone could set up a private counselling practice, without any qualifications, but that has changed (is changing). I am not sure exactly what qualifications you need since the changes, but I would imagine you would be ok. I think there are colleges offering "granny" qualifications for people who just need to update.

    It is funny how we all feel our problems are so much less important than everyone else's yet we all suffer from the same illness, and circumstances are triggers, not the cause.


  • Hi

    Thanks for replying which was kind. Yes I looked at private organisations but didn't manage to find any vacancies, last week I goggled without finding anything, I'm not sure where to look - I was a member of BPS but their ads require chartered clinical status, I was a member of UKCP and BAPC and they are probably the best bet for finding vancancies, I've just lost all belief in getting anywhere. I was UKCP registered but it's lapsed although there's apparently not a problem with re-registering through a different organisation, the one I trained with has folded as have most in the region. Granny qualifications! I don't think any of the colleges offer therapy, only counselling which is different. I'm psychodynamically trained with experience of Cognitive Analytic and Family therapies. The areas I worked with most were child abuse and trauma, also general issues with focussed therapy although I'm best with people who need deeper work because they lack the capacity to be and to feel real, because that's what I was helped to work through myself.... I am apparently caught in a catch 22 situation, in that you need social work underpinning qualifications for many voluntary bodies, they like to cover their backs. The realistic options for me seem to be smaller charities or student counselling as I was teacher trained, but I haven't managed to find vanancies with those. Also I tend not to do well at interviews, if I worked on a voluntary basis I would probably get snatched up because I'm good the work but at equal ops interviews I'm rubbish, I even tried interview training but found that didn't help. I tried freelance via yellow pages and leaflets but it seems there's little call for therapy where I live because people don't have the money. It's now 8 years since I worked as a therapist although it feels like yesterday! I still miss the work.

    I agree about circumstances being the triggers and not the cause. However I don't really think of my depression as an illness, just a set of feelings and an identity which results from my past experiences and is so very difficult to shift!

    Thanks again, any ideas will be really wlecome.


  • You seem lovely Sue, I'd hire you!! :)

  • Thank you for such a lovely comment! Suex

  • Just want to say, well done to you for not giving up, you sound like an amazing person. What happened in your past was not your fault, why should you let it ruin your life. You only get one life I think you are wise not to take antidepressants. They can become addictive and cause horrible side effects. I really admire your strength and hope you carry on looking forward, not back Good luck to you for the future

    Best wishes

  • Antidepressants are not addictive. Their side effects, although inconvenient and irritating, are not horrible. When I feel like I've had enough of them and want to stop taking them, I remind myself of how fortunate I am to be living in an age when these medications exist and are available to us. I also remind myself that although these drugs are far from perfect, their benefits far outweigh the risk for side effects. I truly believe that if not for these drugs I would have commited suicide a long time ago.

  • Oh, thanks to you too. I agree about antidepressants, medics are quick to prescribe them and they do have their uses but if it's possible to manage without then I think that's always best. Thanks again,

  • Sue, don't dismiss the work you do on here! I have read quite a few of your comments on here and really appreciate your balanced and thought provoking comments. You really do appear to have followed up all opportunities and I am afraid I don't think I can help much except support the statements that others have made. Take care

  • hi sue i hope you can find some work considering all the experience you have been invaluable on this website.

  • Hi Sue,

    There's a couple of websites you could try: for paid jobs (10s of 1000s of jobs go on there each day) and for voluntary work

    it seems a shame to let your skills go to waste, and for you to be isolated from people.

    "However I don't really think of my depression as an illness, just a set of feelings and an identity which results from my past experiences and is so very difficult to shift! " This is really perceptive and i agree. Everything about who i am and what has happened to me and and what I've done caught up with me and, Bam!, I'm depressed as I cannot cope with it all :(

    take care, dan xxx

  • Thank you all for your supportive comments and I will follow up the ideas danx

  • Have you thought about writing a book Sue?? write well.

  • Hi

    Thanks for the compiment. I used to think about writing and extending theory from clinical practice but not now and I'm not especially good at imaginary writing, i.e. fiction. Shame.


  • i think you are a pillar of support on here sue

  • Oh thank you that's a really nice comment! This website is almost like group therapy!! Happy New Year. Suex