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    I have been at sea for almost 4 days now (not very long, I know). I have been in tears every time I am alone, I have anxiety and other mental health issues and I fear they are getting worse and worse. I have always been very doubtful as to whether I could succeed at sea or not because of my nature. I don't know what to do. I just feel like I can't be here, I feel like absolute **** and I am always in tears but I don't want to be a failure. Please help. Engineer Cadet btw, in the North Sea

  • #2
    If you can't hack the North Sea then won't be much better deep sea. I don't know what we can do to help you tbh


    • #3
      Have you tried talking to anyone on board about what's happening?

      If you don't feel comfortable talking to one of them, would talking to one of us or perhaps a Chaplain from Mission to Seafarers be of any help? We can help arrange that.
      I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.....

      All posts here represent my own opinion and not that of my employer.


      • #4
        As GM said feel free to contact one of us to unload.
        Many of us had strong emotions during out first phase at sea and you would be surprised how many people are almost close to tears.
        Don't bottle it up!
        Pilotage - It's just a controlled allision


        • #5
          Went to sea as a Junior R/O in August 1968 at the tender age of 19. General cargo ship, UK to the Persian Gulf and back via the Cape - Suez Canal was closed in those days. For the first few weeks, I hated every minute of it and wanted to go home - seemed to spend most of my time sea sick and trying to stop myself from crying. Then one day, I suddenly realised it wasn't too bad after all. I'm still at sea almost 46 years later and wouldn't have missed it for the world.


          • #6
            Mate, I think we all get how you feel, the first time at sea is always the worst. Saying that, its for some people and its not for others. Give it another week or two if you can handle it, it is a massive culture shock to anybody. However, as others have said we are all free to message, chin up pal


            • #7
              I also had a difficult first trip, really thought I couldn't hack it and was ready to give up.... But here I am 11 years later!

              However, you do need to be open with the Captain and if it gets worse need to be honest with him.


              • #8
                I think that this is a more complex issue than you see at first count, so I want to break it down into separate parts and try and help if I can

                Originally posted by Unregistered View Post
                I have been at sea for almost 4 days now (not very long, I know). I have been in tears every time I am alone, .....
                This is quite normal. Anyone else that starts work at an ordinary job at home goes home at the end of the day and have friends and family around them, tv, facebook, the pub etc. You down tools at the end of the day and effectively go into isolation, and time alone helps nobody. It is almost like you become a prisoner in your room but without any support mechanism. It is bound to be tougher than every other job I can think of. The important phrase here is "every time I am alone" - because you feel low you take yourself off to somewhere where you can allow yourself to be low. Why not turn that around - be busy, be honest, talk to people (EVERYONE felt it or still feels it now to a larger or a lesser extent) and you will suddenly realise that you are not alien, different from anyone else, or even unusual... As can be seen from above, everyone else felt the same at some point. Read my article about the first day at college - you will see it is the same, just harder than before because of the isolation.

                Originally posted by Unregistered View Post
                ...... I have anxiety and other mental health issues ......
                First of all are these measured and diagnosed issues? If so then did your Company know? Are you on medication? Did you declare it at your medical? I am not being critical here - just trying to understand the extent. If the answer is yes to all the above than it will be no surprise to the Skipper or the Chief Engineer if you ask to sit down and have a talk. If the answer is no to all the above then you do have a bigger worry, but leave it to one side for now. Is there someone who knows you who can talk to you about it and help you. Can you make a phone call, skype or email to someone who can help?

                Originally posted by Unregistered View Post
                ....... and I fear they are getting worse and worse.
                If you are able to measure that and you can see a decline speak to someone quickly. The last thing you need with a background of previous issues is the isolation to dwell, mull and make things worse. Thst is a one way street to a dark place that you do not need to go to in the isolated conditions you are in.

                Originally posted by Unregistered View Post
                ...... I have always been very doubtful as to whether I could succeed at sea or not because of my nature. I don't know what to do.
                Take a deep breath, read all the above messages of support, use what the people are offering, chat, email, scream at a bulkhead - whatever. The fact you came in here, even anonymously, means you respect and admire and value the people in here. You were doubtful about going to sea, but you still went ahead. Good for you in some ways, for trying to conquer, fears, doubts etc, but do not let them be your master. By that I mean if you keep harping back to what you thought before you tried it, it makes you even worse because it became a self fulfilling prophecy. Whatever your doubts you are here now, so look at it afresh, treat it as another problem and go out and tackle it. As you said - 4 days is not a lot. I would be surprised if anybody felt brilliant in the first few weeks as you try to get to know people, the job, the environment and the way of life. Hang in there for a while longer. When I went to boarding school at the age of 11 new starters were not allowed home at the first exeat weekend after 4 weeks because it was thought it would upset them too much. They all had to wait until the first half term to have a week at home.

                Originally posted by Unregistered View Post
                ...... I just feel like I can't be here, I feel like absolute **** and I am always in tears but I don't want to be a failure. .....
                Those feelings are normal as everyone else has said, trust us all when we say they will pass. But let me say one thing here. You are not a failure because you cannot handle this environment. It is not for everyone and the drop out rate is higher than in other areas because the environment, way of life and job are different to anything else you could experience. If you kick it into touch it is not because you are a failure, it is because you did not enjoy the way of life. My son loves his life at sea, my daughter would wither and die if she followed in his footsteps.

                Originally posted by Unregistered View Post
                ..... Please help....
                I hope that you take heart from all the support you have received here from some good people. I hope it lifts your spirits.

                "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester.
                "Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." - Buzzy Trent

                "Careers at Sea" Ambassador - Experience of General Cargo, Combo ships, Tanker, Product Carrier, Gas Carrier, Ro-Ro, Reefer Container, Anchor Handlers.


                • #9
                  Had a very similar experience on my first trip last year! My advice is tell someone, they can help, and stick it out if you can, then at the end of the trip you can look back ts what you've achieved! Talking to your training officer may also help! If you have any doubts feel free to DM me!


                  • #10
                    As people have already said, we've all been there at some point - I made several tearful calls home, even in my second sea phase. The important thing is to talk to someone about it, don't try and deal with it alone. Even now I get days all I really want is a hug, (If I give the Bosun cider he hugs me which works out well for both of us, but he's not on-board at the moment and I miss him!!) So I'm going to send you a big comforting internet *hug*. It's not the same as a real one I'm afraid, but its the best I can do from the other side of the world.

                    Hatchorder's advice is spot on, and remember, we're here for you mate


                    Blog tWitterings Flickr Tumblr Faceache


                    • #11

                      Hey guys, thanks for all your advice, really means a lot to have a large support network behind me. My college is aware that I have been struggling with depression since last year and my TSO is aware I am currently seeing a psychiatrist. I am not on any medication yet but I am being tested for bipolar. I have read that your medical is invalid if you have bipolar unless you are 5 years free of episodes. any thoughts on this?
                      I have contacted my TSO to tell him how I am feeling at this time and how I feel this job is not necessarily for me. I just feel like I don't want to waste time doing a job I dislike when I could be out finding something more suitable onshore like an apprenticeship. Does anyone know what the general rules are for people leaving due to mental health issues in regards to paying back your company? I have been told by the college and a class mate who has left his cadet ship for similar reasons that they are very unlikely to charge you if it is for reasons out with your control. Therefore people are only really charged when they are fired etc.
                      Thanks again for all your help and support, I really appreciate it.


                      • #12
                        You need to speak to you company training officer regards paying back any money, however, I think it would be incredibly unlikely that they would ask you to pay anything back in these circumstances.

                        Do you have a copy of the Nautilus Telegraph onboard? From memory there is a helpline number in there that you can call in situations like this.

                        As everyone else has said, don't bottle it up, speak to someone onboard about how you are feeling, your health is more important than the cadetship and if you try to bottle everything up and are unable to cope you could end up losing both.

                        Hope you get things worked out.
                        Go out, do stuff


                        • #13
                          Like others have said, almost everyone has felt the same. There's been numerous times throughout my career where I've joined a new ship and for the first few weeks wanted to jack it in, give up the sea and get a shoreside job. But I'm still at sea!

                          I can relate to what Hyunna said. It's crap then one day everything seems alright.

                          My first trip I spent the 1st month thinking to myself 'what the hell am I doing here'. Although I think being hungover most of the time didn't help. Once you get settled in, start to understand the job and get comfortable with your surroundings you will enjoy it a lot more.

                          Then in 3 years time you'll look back and think, what was all the fuss about!!


                          • #14
                            Further to my earlier posting, even now I have feelings of inadequacy and self doubt every time I come back after being home on leave. I evolved from R/O to ERO and then ETO and each time I joined a new ship, I was certain that I'd be unable to do the job and would be sent home from the next port. It never happened. I was promoted(?) to Electrical Superintendent, based in our UK head office, and was certain that within a few weeks I'd be shown the door. Again, it didn't happen and I'm now a newbuilding Project Manager, still with the same company, but working long-term in China. Each time I return after having been home on leave, I have the same self-doubts, why am I here and how will I know what to do? What if I get it wrong? I've spoken about this with my colleagues on a number of occasions and it seems than I'm not alone in thinking this way. One of my good friends, whose was a VLCC Chief Engineer for many years and is very highly thought of in our UK office, tells me that he was convinced he'd lose his job everytime he re-joined a ship after being home on leave.

                            I think that anyone who really cares about the work they do and genuinely wants to give their best to their employer and the people with whom they work, has these feelings.

                            Please do not think that you are alone. Most seafarers that I have met over the years and genuine, compassionate people, even though they don't appear that way on the surface, and I think that you'll find talking to them about how you feel wil make a big difference. We've all been there.


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