I am unemployed, my business is failing miserably and I have no friends or family to talk to

Tell Me About It: I am mentally in a terrible place, the walls are closing in and I am in a thick fog


I am mentally in a terrible place, the walls are closing in and I am in a thick fog, which won’t allow me to concentrate, eat or focus on anything. I feel envious of goldfish for having a concentration of two seconds as I currently don’t.

I am unemployed, my business is failing miserably and I have no friends or family to talk to. My mother is a vicious, insulting alcoholic who drinks heavily on prescription medicine, and I know all the traits of untreated alcoholism, as I am a recovering alcoholic and trying to rid myself of those awful personality traits. My father is a vegetable after a car accident and is bed-ridden and it kills me to see him like that.

All I want – desperately – is a chance, an opportunity; at a decent job, at understanding, at the ability to tell my story. I recently contacted a mental health organisation but I sometimes feel that might be in vain as I feel they can’t understand. I mean, how can they relate to my personal pain?

I know deep down there is a will to live but I’m so tired, so burned-out that I feel that tiny ember could be snuffed out ever so easily. That scares me and that adds to my already debilitating anxiety. Please help, someone once said to me the key to recovery is desperation. Well that I certainly am as I cannot simply cannot go on like this.


I hope that by the time this article is published that you have engaged more with that organisation and are experiencing the process of being understood. There is a lot of evidence of strength in your letter: you had the insight to recognise the trouble you were in and made a connection with an organisation committed to dealing with mental health problems and it seems that in spite of the circumstances you are maintaining your sobriety – this is no small achievement.

We often hear the story of depression from people who have recovered and it is quite a different experience to read the story of someone who is in the depths of despair and is describing hopelessness and isolation. You say that any tiny ember could be snuffed out easily but the opposite is also true – any tiny connection or support can also offer an ember of survival and we have many groups of such support available to us.

It is difficult to find the motivation or energy to research such support when you are feeling so defeated but any effort you make will be richly rewarded. Groups such as Al-Anon, Aware, Grow, Jigsaw (if you are a young person) are all well established and offer excellent support and advice. yourmentalhealth.ie is the website that can locate a service near you.

It is very difficult to run a business when you have no concentration or hope and yet we know that having something useful to do is key to our wellbeing. I wonder if you are working on your own and if this is something you can change as spending days alone with your thoughts and negative feelings will only lead you to further distress.

If you cannot leave your business, is it possible that you could offer mentoring to others, such as a local school? This would draw out your capacities and begin to connect you to the larger world. Your nuclear family is the location of such grief and pain that it is crucial that you balance that world with connections that are positive and un-demanding. Even if you could commit to doing something once a week that is fun and engaging, in three months you would have 12 practical experiences that are not wholly negative.

It sounds as though you are the only functioning person in your family at present and I wonder if you can do something about this responsibility: do you have other siblings that can be called upon to assist and if so can a family meeting be organised to share the load? Are there services involved in your father’s care and can you discover the long-term care plan for him when he is being cared for by a wife who is herself in a difficult state? It seems that your life needs some distance from your parents and if this were to happen, you might recover your life skills and competencies and be in a better position to consider what you can do for them.

Again this plan would need to be discussed with the whole family but at the moment your own mental and emotional health is paramount and must be given priority. The important thing here is to allow yourself to create relationships that support you and help in your recovery and that allow you to create purpose and meaning in your life.