The future for me has been a tricky subject for me since January. When I tried to kill myself, I obviously didn’t think I was going to have a future. Ever since, though, things have seemed very up in the air. For the month after my hospital stay, I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know if I would be going back to school or not, getting a job or not, going to treatment or not.
In February, I knew that I was going to Menninger, but while I was there at Menninger, I didn’t think about the future much. Mostly, I was very focused on my treatment, so I didn’t want to think too far into the future; some of the other people on my unit spent a lot of time thinking about the future, sometimes to the point of scheduling the exact date of their discharge far in advance, and it really got in the way of their treatment. It wasn’t until my 6th or 7th week that my team and I even thought about what or where I would be going or doing after the clinic.
When we did start thinking about what would be next, I never even considered a step-down program; I had just assumed I would be going directly back to St. Louis. When we did start talking about it, I was initially resistant to the idea, because I didn’t know if I would want to be spending several more months in treatment. After talking things over with my sister who is going into social work, though, I began rethinking my future. I looked into several step-down programs, and eventually decided that going to a step-down would be a good next step for me.
Coming to the step-down proved to be a good idea, especially since I was reunited with a number of friends from Menninger – at least one of whom is currently one of my closest friends. The independence provided by living in an apartment was a vast improvement over the close, constantly surveilled quarters of the clinic. The groups were both more relaxed and more involved, and I think I’ve gotten a lot from them. And one of the most important things is the focus on a meaningful role – something I can go on to after leaving the step-down.
For a long time, I have been assuming that once I returned to St. Louis, I would, of course, be returning to school to finish my PhD. But after coming to the step-down,I am coming to realize that maybe that isn’t the best path for me. There are a lot of areas that, after having been in academia for so long, I have never even considered for a career – editing, website content writing, teaching at a high school or community college, or even becoming a mental health advocate. Now that I find myself looking into them, I wonder whether getting my PhD is the right direction for me to go.
Many of these things are things that it would be easy to accomplish in Houston, because it is a much bigger city. Also, since a number of people I know are already here, or planning to stay here for some time, I have a somewhat built-in support network, something I don’t have much of in St. Louis aside from my parents. There are plenty of support groups in the area, as well, for continued therapy after I leave the step-down. Also, I know that the gaming population in Houston is much more active than the one in St. Louis. The summer weather isn’t my favorite, since I’m a cold weather person, but it is something I would certainly endure to be around friends..
So there are a lot of reasons for me to stay in Houston. And in St. Louis? Well, my parents are there, which would be cool, but I have been living with them for quite some time; independence is a nice idea. Obviously, my school is there, and St. Louis University is one of the few schools with a good medieval studies program. There are some people there I like, but I’ve never really taken the opportunity to go out and do anything with them. The gaming community in St. Louis has something I’ve never really made much contact with, either. School is the biggest reason for me to stay, and if I’m not sure about that, it’s not a very good reason.
I’ll be going back to St. Louis for a few days soon, and it is likely that then is when I will be figuring out whether I return to St. Louis or stay in Houston. So my future is very much up in the air at this point. It makes me kind of nervous, and likely only moreso as the trip comes closer.It’s one of many issues about my future that is up in the air now, and it is on my mind a lot. If you have any thoughts, let me know; I could sure use the input.