Working with so many people who are unemployed or underemployed, it is only natural that most of them have problems. Actually, all of them have problems, issues and barriers. Some of those barriers and problems they openly share, and some of them they keep locked away and are only revealed after establishing a deep trusting relationship.
Now these problems usually tend to mirror many of the problems that others have who have shared them with me. Their issues typically include stress over being in debt, family problems, relationship issues, low self-esteem, a lack of purpose, housing instability, mental health and literacy issues and of course unemployment.
Any one of the above is in its own right, difficult to deal with. Imagine trying to juggle all of them and possibly throw in an addiction or a criminal record, seeing a counsellor, a probation officer or going through the court system to obtain full custody of a child. So, it is very understandable to me to see how such a person dealing with so many weighty issues could be entirely overwhelmed.
From the time the brain moves from dreamland in the morning to wakefulness, right up until sleep comes again, how must it feel to be so constantly aware of all these things that need fixing? What if you didn’t have the skills or knowledge that you need to actually do much of anything to start dealing with the problems in the first place? I think therefore it is not such a stretch to start to see why some people appear to give up or give in.
Think about when you have a problem of your own. Life is good except for the stress you feel over that one single thing; maybe the brakes on the car that are going to cost money you have but didn’t plan on spending. Aside from the brakes, you’ve got a home to return to, a job and the income that goes with it, golf on the weekend with your buddies, movie and dinner tonight with the spouse and a pretty decent closet of clothes. Ah but those brakes are stressing you out!
Not to diminish the unexpected cost of replacing your brakes, but you’ve got one thing to stress over and you know that it’s a time-bound stressor. When the car goes in the shop tomorrow, by the evening your brakes are fixed and your one problem solved. Can you imagine having 5 – 9 additional sources of stress all at the same time and each of those stressors goes on and on with no end in sight of being ‘fixed’ and done with? So maybe some empathy for those dealing as best they can with their issues would be the least you and I could do.
Okay. So you’ve got some major issues that are getting in the way of leading the life you want. When you say you just want to live a, ‘normal’ life, what you really mean is living with normal pressures and stresses, not dealing with major stressors all the time and all at once. Yes? That’s not such a strange thing to understand; in fact it’s reasonable.
One possible idea if you are open to hearing one, is to do something that might seem unpleasant but is fairly easy. Start by writing down all the things you can think of that are causing you stress. Just putting them down in black and white on a piece of paper will be a good place to start. This alone will help you if you feel totally stressed out and can’t understand why. It is however only a first step.
Then if you are willing, look at picking one thing that’s freaking you out and decide to put most of your energy into tackling that one issue. So if getting a stable place to live that you can afford is constantly stressing you, it might be a good idea to put most of your energy into that one thing. When you do get an apartment to call your own – even if it’s not your ideal residence – you can give yourself some credit for dealing with that one thing. Having dealt successfully with one thing might give you the motivation to deal with another source of stress.
Now let’s say you are so overwhelmed you just don’t have the skills or ability to even know how to go about getting affordable housing, but this is the one thing you want to resolve first. Perfectly normal by the way. Congratulate yourself for two things: 1) you know what you want to work on and 2) you’re smart enough to know you need someone’s help to fix things.
No matter where you live, look into visiting a social services agency nearby. It doesn’t matter which one you contact first, if they can’t help you directly, they will point you in the right direction and give you the phone number, address, maybe a name of the people who will help you out. They are all connected, know what each other do, and so they can provide you with support and help. Share your troubles and the problems might be less heavy to carry on your own.
Everybody has problems and issues. Most of us manage things well but some better than others. It is a sign of your strength and wisdom to reach out for help, and there’s no shame in that. All the best.