Attempting to live independently, but great obstacles.

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TabrisAngel
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22 Nov 2010, 1:27 am

I'll try to keep this as brief as possible, even though that will be relatively difficult.

I am a 22 year old college student who is aspiring to become independent from family.

For the last couple of years (but especially for the last couple of months), I have found becoming increasingly depressed and angry with my family situation. It has been bad since my parents became divorced, but since my little sister had a baby off of an estranged drug-dealer boyfriend (and as of yet, is not taking full responsibility for her baby).In conjunction, my dad is steadily getting older (he is in his early seventies, deeply stressed and depressed, and smokes regularly). He has had regular fights with my younger sister since the divorce, and has complained on occasion of chest pains and the side of his face going numb (for a few seconds), and these complaints were made within the last year. I am fearing that I will lose him in the next couple of years. My depression has become worse in the last couple of my months, and I am finding myself neglecting my habits of personal hygeine and unable to enjoy my interest in anime and science fiction books.

In the meantime, I am within 1 1/2 years of obtaining my bachelors degree, whereafter, I plan to move to Seattle for graduate school. But because I am so miserable in the current situation, I am trying to figure out a way to be independent before I move. I would like to find an apartment at or within the vicinity of the university I am going to currently. I know I need income in order to be independent, and I have applied for SSI (and received a denial after 2 months). Since I understand I need to see a doctor and/or take medication (and since I am currently doing neither, I am unsure if the appeal I make will go through, even though I play to retain a SS lawyer to file for reconsideration). I would like to see a doctor and get a third opinion or whatever, but within the family, money is increasingly scarce. After next July, my dad will not be receiving WC payments anymore. I have thought about welfare, but I feel that it is dishonorable to go on welfare, especially when I have no work history to the current point. I don't feel like I can withdraw from the Vocational Rehabilitation program and stage a premature move to Seattle (if they are paying for my entire undergraduate education, why put that in jeopardy).

Transportation-wise, I don't drive due to anxiety issues. I live on the outskirts of Boise (a small Western city with limited public transportation), and I am unsure about being able to go to a job using the city bus system to build up the requisite funds to move out. My family supports the idea of me moving out, but they haven't given me any advice or financial support to move out.

I am confused about the best thing to do, should I wait until I graduate and move with my friend to Seattle (and remain miserable for the next 1 1/2 years), or should I try to move out now (risking taking on student loan debt, and uncertainty of the job market). I hope my inability until now to find a job will not hurt me.



Chronos
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22 Nov 2010, 2:52 am

This is a difficult situation and a difficult decision. It might console you to know that many NT's your age find themselves in similar situations, so it really has nothing to do with being on the spectrum or having similar social difficulties.

Honestly, I don't think there is a general right or wrong answer to this. The right answer...or rather, the better path, depends largely on you, your goals, your abilities to obtain those goals, and your personality.

Many of those on the spectrum have difficulty with spontinaity in the sense that, if were do not have a clear objective in mind, with some idea of how to get there, then we have difficulty navigating to a place of contentment.

For example, the goal of obtaining a degree is easy in the sense that you have a clear objective...a degree, and a clear strategy for how to obtain it. There are instructions on how to get federal funding. There are instructions on how to apply for schools. There is a clerly defined curriculum so you know what classes to take to achieve your goal, and so on. Everything is written on paper or a website.

However, some people just have the ability to take off somewhere, with either not much of an idea, a vague idea, or a clearly defined idea of what they want to do, and accomplish something even though there is not a clearly defined way of doing so. They are just good at navigating life and social systems, and they have a personality that makes them excel, or at least do relatively alright in seemingly unstructured circumstances.

My personality would make me inclined to stay and finish my degree. I would probably try to distract myself from my home problems by engaging in activities through the school, or take up a hobby.

But I know others who would choose to move.



grendel
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22 Nov 2010, 5:13 am

Based on your situation and my similar experiences, I think living on your own would be a good thing. I expect much of your frustration and depression are related to the family situation. Also to the fact that there are a lot of things wrong in your family that you have no control over and can't do anything about (this is a whole other area of life that you will need to learn to let go of eventually... stressing over things that other people do that you have no control over. Something I have struggled with a lot).

I would recommend getting housing near your college and finishing your degree. If your college has a dormitory, this is probably going to be the easiest and cheapest option (but this may vary by city). If you have a dorm room you will not have to worry about utilities, extra fees, leases, rental history, security, and all the other complications that come with renting an apartment (I did both the dorm route and apartment living when I was in college). You can apply for financial aid to assist in funding, and/or try to get a part time job on campus. If you can't get a dorm room for some reason, the next best option would be to share an apartment with another student (I say this because presumably you don't have enough money to live on your own otherwise). Likewise, apply for financial aid or get a job to fund this. However sharing a small apartment with one or more roommates will still be much cheaper than living on your own. Also, you may be able to sublet from another person who has already secured an apartment which makes the step of finding one and taking care of all the additional costs even easier. Living with unknown roommates may sound like it would be worse than dealing with the family problems, but it's WAY easier. Just get people who have compatible habits (when they get up/go to bed, do they drink, do they have friends over a lot, etc and who is, as far as you can tell, reliable with paying their share of the rent if you are renting an apt (if you are in a dorm you won't have to worry about this... the university isn't going to hold you responsible if they don't pay. Another perk.). Since you are in college you also can just go to campus and study if they have some other people over who are distracting you, and you are not bound by the same restraints and obligations as when you live at home. Also if a roommate does not work out, you can find another one. Personally I think living on or near campus (away from family) hugely improves the college experience and also allows you to concentrate more on studies and away from the family angst that probably dominates most of our lives through the teenage years.

If you get a dorm room the campus will probably have the option of assigning you a roommate, if you don't already know someone you want to room with. There are also usually advertising boards on campus for people who live nearby and are trying to find a roommate to help share the costs of living. If you can't find this check with the orientation offices or advisers you saw when you first started at the college, they can probably point you in the right direction. I would suggest rooming with someone who also attends the same college rather than someone who just lives nearby. Student lifestyles are different than after graduating and they so they will be more accommodating your schedule and less likely to be some creepy weirdo. Obviously, one roommate is easier to handle than many. The more people in the house, the more complicated the dynamics. But it all depends on what you can find and afford. How is your current college education being financed?



TabrisAngel
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22 Nov 2010, 5:05 pm

Well, the simple answer to your college financing question is that I am working with my state Vocational Rehabilitation. In principle this is quite straightforward (enroll in a certain number of credits, keep cumulative GPA above C or so), but the complexity of it is, I am working with two different VR agencies in two different states (Idaho and Montana). When I moved here with family 1 year ago, I found out that Idaho had a cap on the financing amount for college education, so Montana and Idaho came to an agreement to work together to get me through (since Montana will actually pay all of your in-state tuition). Odd, yes, but it works until I get out of college.

I don't feel like I can make the move to Seattle until I have completed the work requirements for VR.



grendel
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24 Nov 2010, 4:26 pm

Does the program include any funding for housing in addition to your tuition costs? I'm just wondering if you have checked that because most financial aid that goes to the school could also be applied to on-campus housing (at least, that was the case when and where I went to college). I'm referring to on-campus housing at your current school, before moving to Seattle. It seems like it would be better to move out now than wait.