When You’re Lost And You’re Broken


Sure I’ve said before that having a job gives you a sense of identity; you see yourself as an employee of a company. When introduced to others you’ll often say as part of your answer what you do and who you work for, and conversely when you are out of work you’ve lost this part of your identity.

That being said, when you’re lost, trying to figure out what direction to go in life; when you’re feeling broken and what isn’t broken feels fragile, you may be wise to put your job search on hold. Now, sure an immediate job would indeed restore – if only shortly – that sense of who you are and give your flailing sense of confidence a boost. However, what a job gives you may be outweighed by what a job demands of you, and I’m just saying you might not be in the best frame of mind or have what it physically takes to keep it and be successful.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at this time with many areas of your life seemingly in chaos and confusion, you may find it comforting to know that what you’re experiencing is indeed quite normal. That doesn’t make it any easier perhaps, as it’s personal and it’s happening to you of course, but knowing that other people – and many of them – are or have experienced the same feelings you are can give a person a sense of hope.

So what I mean is that it isn’t just the lack of a job that’s likely got you worried. If only it was just that! No, it’s probable that you at also dealing with a growing lack of confidence and self-esteem. Could be you’re wondering more and more, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just have a normal life?” Without employment, you’re no doubt cutting back on buying healthy foods and buying them in the same numbers you used to. Maybe you’ve got growing anxiety as you feel left behind more and more and it’s leading to depression. You’re sleeping patterns are totally off, you can’t sleep when you do go to bed and you’re zapped of physical energy when you feel you should be up and going.

On top of all this you’re more irritable, negative thoughts seem to last longer and longer; drugs and alcohol to self-medicate give some short-term relief but the thoughts return and then you add guilt for having used them. Financial worries, accumulating debt, calls from creditors, losing time on your phone…when will it end?

So does this sound like the right time to be putting yourself out there as an attractive option for an employer? Likely not. More likely is the fact that you’ll try with little success to get a job and after having been turned down again and again, you’ll add to your growing frustration and just feel like giving up. Possibly worse, you may not even be aware that what you believe you’re doing a good job of concealing is on full display and a lot of other people can see the changes in you and know you’ve got issues going on.

Think I’m laying it on rather thick? That it couldn’t possibly be this bad? Well, sadly, I’m not illustrating the life of a handful of people here but actually sharing the experience of a rather large segment of the population. It’s sad yes, but for many of these people its debilitating. So it’s not helpful to say to everyone who lacks a job to just pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get out there and get a job. Don’t you think that given the choice they’d love to be working and feeling productive?

Thing is these are people with what appears to be invisible disabilities. There’s no cast on an arm, label on a forehead, crutch supporting their walk or warning sign they carry. Without these easy to read indicators, it can be difficult to then see what might explain erratic or self-destructive behaviours. Hence, the broken and fragile might not get the empathy they could use; the understanding and support that would be a start. As a result they may withdraw further and increase their isolation, loneliness, and ironically retreat to the places depression feeds and grows.

It’s hard to know where to start when so many things seem wrong and need attention; in fact it can be overwhelming. Reaching out for help does take effort, and yes it might take a few tries to find the right people who can counsel and offer the aid you want and need to help you on your way back. No one knows your personal struggles like you; you’re the expert when it comes to what you see as wrong, or needing attention.

A good doctor who listens and will make a referral is a good place to start. Seeing a Mental Health Counsellor (look them up online in your community or if you haven’t got a computer with internet access, visit a social services agency where you live.)

Rather than work on and fix all the areas where things are wrong, start with one. Just one thing to improve. Don’t give yourself the pressure of a deadline to ‘fix’ it either. Give yourself credit and give yourself permission to try perhaps with some room for setbacks too. May your efforts move you forward to a healthier and happier you.

Help In Dark Places


Sometimes in the deepest, darkness places, where lurk the demons Confusion, Doubt, Depression and Despair; you may find at that single moment when you feel resigned to give in, give out and give up; a hand reaching out and offering a way out – if you’ll only reach back and grab it.

Don’t you sometimes feel that although you know not everyone has it easy in this world, you really do believe that no one knows the depths to which you’ve personally sunk? Don’t you feel (if you haven’t succumbed to the numbness that your own decline has brought) that no one really gets you and therefore no one can really help you out of the pit you’re in? It can be like that. If you feel that way right now take heart if for no other reason than you haven’t lost your ability to feel; even if what you feel is an encroaching pallor of blackness.

When it comes to being trapped in a dead-end job, I bet I can take an educated guess at some of what you’ve experienced or are experiencing. If you loathe your job, I’m guessing you’ve thought, “Is this it? It’s a pretty sorry existence when I was brought into this world, told I could be anything I put my mind to and I’m stuck here doing this! Is this it for the rest of my working life? This is how I’ll leave my mark on the world? What a joke!”

Or if you haven’t got a job; are fraught with indecisiveness, feel like you’ve got so much to give but nobody cares to give you a break, you’re left feeling hopelessness and isolation. All the rejection from employers is like dead air on the other end of a phone call when you’ve used your last change and you know if you hang up no refund is coming so you’re hanging on with less than a slim hope that Life will give you a chance. If you had any energy left your last words would be, “All I asked for was a chance…”

Take heart. When you’ve got no sound reason left to believe in Hope; when all the logic in the world suggests you haven’t got a prayer and you hear Despair whispering in your ear that quitting would be so much easier and that yes the world is such a cruel place for someone like you…breathe…and have Faith.

That hand that’s reaching out in the darkness in your direction offering you a way out of the enveloping darkness has always been there and will continue to be there for you – always. All you have to do is put yourself in a place where you can see it, recognize it for what it is, and then have the wisdom to reach back out to it and hold on for all you’ve got until you’re able to stand on your own and move forward with confidence.

I’ve been struck silent 6 times this week if you can believe it by 6 different people who shared their stories with me. Each conversation had the same theme; the person was in a very private dark period in their life, and the darkness was all around them day after day and appeared to have no end. What each of them held onto was exactly the same thing however; I had believed in them and saw something of value in them when they couldn’t see it for themselves. That was all it took to sustain them until they began to believe in themselves. I’m sharing this with you not because I value self-praise, but because in sharing their experiences perhaps you might give the hands reaching out to you the opportunity to help with your own burdens. Perhaps there is a way out of your own dark places.

I don’t know why 6 people over the course of 2 days felt now was the time to express their thanks for seeing something in them in those dark days. I’m grateful, humbled and to be honest feel exhilarated to know that I played a big part – without knowing it at the time – in helping them become the people they are. In all 6 instances, they have made positive changes and feel greater self-esteem, confidence and inclusiveness when it comes to the people around them. Those same 6 I can say with absolute certainty will pay it forward, and without intending to do so, be the hand that reaches out to help someone else.

If you work in Social Services you understand my message. You’ve been the hand in the darkness yourself, looked and found redeeming qualities in those you come into contact with. These were my 6 and I might go for long stretches before the next person thanks me for believing in them. But you; you’ve had the same impact on people in your circle.

If you’re struggling; really teetering on packing it in and just surrendering to the void, look at least a few more times in your bleakness and grasp the hands of Help and Hope that surround you. You must help yourself by making yourself visible and ask for help. YOU are far too valuable, significant and important to give in to Confusion, Doubt, Depression and Despair. If you can’t at the present believe in yourself, believe in those who believe in you. For now, hang on to that.