Ask Dr. NerdLove: How Do I Rebuild My Life

Hey Doc,

Here is the skinny: It seems like time is running out and I am scared to death of turning thirty.

I went to community college and wound up with a few different degrees I ultimately did not pursue. I was frustrated that I had not found my calling. I’ve held the exact same steady job for six decades.

I settled. I went to work, came home, and finished up on autopilot. I remained at home to help pay bills so that my mother could afford the mortgage. I had not dated, had not built a community of friends, and went through exactly the exact same routine. I became miserable, tired, depressed, and fought with anxiety. I cut when I could not handle my feelings of loneliness. My life was going nowhere and that I tried suicide.

I went to counselling off and on and proceeded to find a general doctor. The pill I had been given to take care of my mood disorders literally changed me immediately. My anxiety went away immediately and indications of my depression lifted. I felt confident and unstoppable.

I did not realize what I was doing at the moment. I spent several times the quantity of money I had in savings across multiple credit cards and cards at a really short and destructive quantity of time. I had been inappropriately pursuing a relationship with somebody who already had a child and a steady boyfriend. I had been out of control.

The medication gradually ceased working despite gains in dosages. My depressive episodes gradually came back and that I had gained an unbelievable amount of weight. Afterward, I started to reckon with what occurred.

I had been misdiagnosed. This year I have learned I am bi-polar along with the pill I had been given was not what I needed. I felt good — too good — all the time and did not understand that was not normal.

{I {} know if should blame myself, the pill, or a little bit of both for my lack of self-control. |}

Doc, I feel so far behind and so incredibly lonely.

I am turning thirty this autumn. I spent lots of my twenties trying to determine what the hell was wrong with me and blew up my life in the procedure. Meanwhile, I am seeing colleagues have fulfilling relationships with one another, have kids, and live fulfilling lives. And in my manic state, I have damaged lots of my own relationships together.

I feel like I must catch up to my peers. I’ve set up plenty of expectations for myself I can not possibly meet. I must be in an apartment with x date. I must have x paid off by x date. I should be financially secure. I feel like I must fix everything all at once. I feel like when I had a few more years, I would not feel as much pressure.

I am working on service and learning how to control what I could. I found a new therapist and continue to work together weekly (without medication that’s difficult but so it goes). I was connected with a fitness trainer who has helped me lose thirty pounds and forced exercise a regular part of my life. I have been sober for six months. I am slowly trying to fix relationships with my peers. I will be volunteering shortly to help me get out of my mind, meet new people, and possibly live for something outside myself. I applied for college on a whim and am now in the process of seeing if I get approved. If I don’t I will find another job to repay my debts.

It is going to be a couple of years before I could get my life together. Settling my debts and repairing my credit will take quite a long time. However, the prospect of getting it all together well after turning thirty is eating me up. I am already making a great deal of sacrifices, like not spending a lot of anything on myself or having free time to explore hobbies.

I’m unsure how to approach making friends, relationship, and living in relation to this. A whole lot of meetups in my age group revolve around social drinking and I am not touching alcohol at the moment. I can not keep waiting to have it all together before I start searching for somebody, because then I will always be waiting. Dating right this very second is not the perfect time, but when? How do I get new and interesting experiences when I am going to be broke until my debts are repaid? How do I do any of this when I am working on a lot else?

How can I construct the life I need without beating myself up or burning out in the procedure?



I think you’re taking a look at things the wrong way, FE. You are not missing time, nor are you behind everybody else. You have been trying to correct these foundational issues in your life which have been sitting in your center and waiting to detonate as a bomb.

There is no question this has been a rocky procedure, but that is not your fault. You’re misdiagnosed and given treatment for a disease you do not have. That, sadly, is something which often happens to people. Many mental health disorders can mimic one another and many have what are called comorbid conditions — conditions which often occur alongside those key conditions; this may make diagnosis and treatment incredibly tricky. You’re bipolar, not miserable, and the remedy which you had been given meant that you’re prone to manic episodes. Again: that occurs. And if I could be perfectly blunt: you are incredibly lucky. There were people in my life who had bipolar illness who would only take their antidepressants because they loved the feel of being on a manic high… and they suffered from the effects of the way those highs impaired their judgment.

However, you made it. You figured out things, you pulled yourself out of this spiral and you are beginning to rebuild your life. That is not something to be ashamed of, that is something to be proud of. You should not be ashamed of this, you should take pride in how you have yanked yourself back from the brink and all the progress you have made. I mean, look at what you tell me towards the end of your letter. You are working with a therapist, you are getting fit, you are clean and sober, you are volunteering and being financially responsible. That is so goddamn amazing that I am in awe, FE. I am unbelievably proud of what you have achieved, and you should be too.

And holy hopping sheep shit my dude, you are doing so before you are 30? That’s wonderful. You are not falling behind the sport, you are setting yourself up for an remarkable life.

I am gonna degree with you, guy: I did not begin coming to my own until I was in my late 20s. I needed to go through some dark shit to get to where I am now and while yeah, I wish I’d my 20s otherwise, all that lead me to the place in my life, right here, right now. And I could complain about what I did not do in my previous… or I can focus on creating my present and my future amazing.

Everything you want more than anything right now is self-compassion. You had a rough beginning and that is fine. You’re more than your worst day and you are not defined by your worst errors. You’ve got the ability to be so much more as you’re proving right now. All it is doing is blinding you to the awesome progress you have made and the brilliant future you are setting yourself up for. Yeah, it may feel as if you’re supposed to strike these numerous milestones in your 20s… but you know what? You are going to be in a much better position to hit them than you would have been then. Take it from me: your 30s are like your 20s but with much more experience and better charge. That’s gonna open up some broad vistas for you, FE, in case you simply take the chance.

Listen to Jay-Z and recognize that 30 is the new 20. This is not the end of your lifetime. It is not even the start of the end. This is the end… of the beginning.

Make sure you write back and let us know how you are doing, FE.

Very good luck.


Hi Doc,

I am a woman in my late thirties that had been burned very badly in a cooking accident four decades back. We’ve had sex only a couple of times in the years since the collision, rather than once in the previous couple of decades. We’ve been in couple’s therapy for many months now to work on this matter, but I am frustrated with the speed of things. Not only do I not need to engage in sexual activity, but kissing, cuddling, hugging and even casual physical touch make me incredibly uncomfortable. I miss this, but even more I feel an overwhelming quantity of guilt for denying my husband even the most basic physical touch. It seems cruel but I can not help it! My burns are largely on my chest and chest so that they are front and center once we are intimate and I feel that may be contributing to the situation. I am not in pain but my skin is very sensitive and my husband forgets this occasionally, which is another problem. Add to that the trauma of my treatment, when I had been trapped at the hospital, always being poked and prodded in horrible ways.

I honestly do not understand how to proceed. Our therapist needs to do is talk about my self-esteem in abstract ways but I desperately want concrete suggestions for how to get over this. I wish to rediscover the degree of familiarity that we had before I was hurt but it seems hopeless because I am no longer the person I was before I the collision. My spouse is endlessly patient and understanding, but he’s a human being! It is not fair to either of us that we’re stuck here. Please assist.



I am so, so sorry this happened to you Untouchable. Feeling like you are cut off from intimacy with your spouse can be bothersome. When even small things such as simple physical touch is off limits for you — for whatever the reason — then it may feel as if you’re totally isolated and alone, even if you’re surrounded by people. It is made all the worse when you are unable to get that easy, casual intimacy with those you love. It’s awesome how much things, like feeling your spouse’s hands on your back or having the ability to put your head on their shoulder, can mean so much… and just how much you do not realize this until you are cut off from it.

Regrettably, some of those issues are far beyond my paygrade; like I am often saying, Dr. NerdLove isn’t a doctor, he is a loudmouth with a site. A few of the things I’d suggest are things you should definitely run by a real medical professional first. It might be doing things to relieve the physical symptoms of stress could make life easier for you; even if it is legal in your area, smoking marijuana or a few edibles might help calm your anxiety enough for at least informal caring contact with your husband. I realize that occasionally beta-blockers are used to assist people with PTSD too and that MDMA also shows promise; it could be worth your time to determine whether you can be a part of a study for the consequences that those may have on recovery from injury.

Another thing that immediately springs to mind will sound a little bizarre, but stick with me: you may want to incorporate kink in your life. If, as an instance, you end up triggered by lack of control, then it might help to set up things so that you’re absolutely accountable for . If your husband is, say, tied to the bed and not able to move his legs or arms. Then you are capable of not only initiating contact but controlling how much, how long and how much everything goes. And while being tied up might look like a lot just to, say, have the ability to break your head on his chest… which may be a way to bring a degree of touch and intimacy back into your life together as well as increase your feelings of control and agency. Likewise, having him be tied up and blindfolded may provide you the confidence to become physical in a way you haven’t been able to enjoy since then. After all, this might indicate that you have all the control, not only of your own body but his.

If this seems like something you believe is worth trying, see about locating a munch locally or look in the feminist and female-owned sex stores locally. They frequently have lectures and workshops about intros into kink, role-play and other areas of a power exchange that may be exactly what the not-a-real-doctor ordered.

But the other thing I wish to bring up is the therapist. 1 thing that we often forget — or never realize — is that if you are able to advocate for what you want from the therapist. While coping with your self-esteem is important — learning to see yourself as more than your scars can be enormous — if what you want are ways to become intimate with your spouse, then request it. And if it feels like your therapist does not know you or is not fulfilling your needs… you may find another therapist. It could be worth your time to see the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists’ site ; they have a referral directory which can assist you in finding a sex-positive counselor or therapist in your region who might be a better match for you and your needs at this moment.

You are lucky to have your husband, Untouchable, and he is lucky to have you. I hope you can find a few ways to overcome this impasse and discover ways to recover that affection and intimacy you have been missing.

And please, do not be afraid to write in and let us know how you are doing.

Very good luck.


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