Starting Over: A Volunteer's Perspective

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kim_and_dogsI have discovered how difficult it is to start over.  I remember feeling so excited and adventurous when I first moved to Boston for school and that I acclimated almost immediately. Then again, I had to live on campus with others going through exactly the same thing and I was fortunate to have a roommate from the same area I lived in growing up.

It was different when my husband and I moved 3,000 miles cross country with no solid landing ground on the other end-– no job, barely anyone I knew, no established community of any sort. It felt isolating.

I felt so discouraged and had no motivation to do much of anything. In addition, I felt overwhelmed by all the worries in my life – money, bills, food, my car registration, and other stressors. I let all this debilitate me. There would be days where I would not get out of bed or have any desire to do so, at least. I did feel numb inside for a while, having no desire to do anything, even things I used to love.

It took a lot of self-determination, a lot of positive self-talk and my choosing to seek support from close friends back in Boston who were really encouraging that got me going again.  I cannot say I am feeling 100% better, especially when I want to go out somewhere and become discouraged as I remember I don’t really have any friends here, but I can offer some insight that really helped me get through the tough transition to my new home. I hope that my experience and suggestions can offer some ideas and comfort.

  • Find something outside of yourself to focus on for a small part of your day; something that motivates you to get up every day (i.e. children, pets, siblings, spouse, etc).  For me, this was my pups. I have two high maintenance pups who obviously need love and care just as a baby would. As awful and unmotivated I felt, I always needed to get up to feed and take my pups out to go potty and to exercise.  Also, no matter how discouraged or down I felt, my pups always found a way to cheer me up.
  • Find something you love to do, more than anything, and do it as much as possible. Especially, if this involves that something outside of yourself you can focus on. (i.e. Taking your kids to the park, spending craft time with them, meeting with a friend, volunteering at a pet shelter, etc).
  • Take on one challenge a day, something you are uncomfortable with, and do it once a day (or however much you feel can push yourself to do so) until you feel like it’s no big deal doing it.
  • Talk to people you know and trust, write, blog, twitter, Facebook, be creative in letting out inner anxieties, worries, fear, and pent up energy.  I realized the more and more I retreated inward, the more I boiled on the inside. Meaning, I was more prone to explode at little things when I did not have any kind of an outlet for myself. I felt alone so I thought I had to handle all my issues on my own and that was dangerous for myself and my marriage. When I found a church I liked, I signed up for all kinds of activities and small group meetings to get myself out there and release all my pent up energy. Not only do I have a good grasp on my inner peace now, I found some great people to connect with in the process.

I can definitely attest to how difficult something can be when yor first attempt it, but don’t be afraid. The worst thing is that that something does not turn out the way you expect, but it could be better or it could be worse. Do not let yourself suffer silently. With organizations like Families for Depression Awareness that offer great resources, training webinars, tools and an active online community through Facebook, there is always someone, somewhere you can turn to even when you have no idea where to start.

--Kimberly, Families for Depression Awareness volunteer

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