Just another person losing it...

I’m really, really struggling right now.

I’ve gone through a lot of changes in my life in the last several years, the biggest of which was a move to Los Angeles to be with a man I’d been dating long-distance for several years. I lived there for 5 years, but the relationship had hit a plateau, I missed my family and friends, and my home state, too (Ohio), and the design agency I worked for closed doors, followed by the job market hitting the crapper. I worked retail for 9 months while job-searching, and then just felt like I hit the bottom and decided to move back home.

I’m much happier being near my family- I don’t have kids so I dote like crazy on my young nieces and nephews. I’ve gotten to see them more in the last 5 months than in all of the last 5 years. After I got home I found out that my ex immediately started dating someone who had always been on the periphery and his friendship with her had always seemed a little too friendly. God only knows what would have happened if I’d stayed. I could have never afforded to live in LA on my own- not even with a roommate. So even if I didn’t totally realize it at the time, moving home was the smartest thing I could have done.

Everything about being back home is right. Except that I’m living in a friend’s basement and have no job. Now, it’s not as bad as it sounds, the basement. It’s finished, I painted it my favorite color, and have a lovely little mini-apartment down here. It’s actually darling and very comfortable, with a separate bedroom area and a comfortable living area with TV/couch/computer/desk. My friend is charging me a considerable amount of rent, and would probably charge me $0 if she wasn’t completely financially irresponsible and broke herself. She needs my money (what little I have), and I feel way too guilty to ask for a reprieve, broke as I am.

I’m working freelance at my friend’s job and impressing a lot of people with my skills and work ethic- even the company president, who told me she’s heard a lot of good about me. There’s just not enough work. I have been barely making it every month, and sometimes weeks go by without getting called in, which stresses me out to the max. I’ve always been a long-term, fulltime employee at every job I’ve ever had, so this on/off freelance thing is really difficult for me.

I really, really, really don’t want to work freelance at a bunch of different places. I took this contract position b/c my friend got me in the door immediately after I got back to Ohio, so that’s the only reason I’m even doing it. I don’t like the idea of short-term gigs, meeting new people, having to adapt to another company’s disorganized workflow and procedures, and then leave and do it all over again somewhere else, and on and on. I have anxiety, low self-esteem, fear of failure, social fears, etc, etc, so this whole short-term concept is REALLY stressing me out. I have an appointment later in the week for a temp creative placement agency, and you already know how I’m dreading that.

I check Monster, JobFox, CareerBuilder every day, and the same 5 jobs are still listed from 4 months ago- I already applied. There’s hardly anything else out there, and whatever comes, I apply for. I’ve probably applied for 25 jobs in the last 5 months, with about 20 of them being jobs I’m really not interested in. My resume is updated, reworked- I think it’s good.

I have so many self confidence issues that I’m almost frozen by fear. I don’t know what more I can do to get a job. I can’t even take a retail job because A) minimum wage is 1/5th what I could make working freelance and if I take a retail job, the freelance opportunities will dry up- you have to be available and dependable and good to be at the top of the call list (which I am), and B) I have piled up debt from moving back home and health insurance coverage that’s almost as much as my rent- it’s more than my car payment. No retail job is going to cover all of that.

I have little hope that things are going to get better any time soon. I’m in debt, I’m out of work (mostly), I’m broke, I’m scared, I’m on my own, I’m afraid to ask for help (I don’t have anybody to ask anyway- I could never speak a word of this to my family- they are the epitome of judgement), I’m a mess.

I just don’t know what to do. I’m scared.

I’m really sorry to hear about this. As a guy going through his own rough patch, I can sympathize. Is there any possibility of downsizing to save money (getting a cheaper place)? Any chance of doing late shifts for extra money someplace? Getting rid of the car payment?

I’m really sorry to hear that you’re having a hard time, and especially that you don’t have a strong support network in RL.

I second Ogre’s suggestion of working late shifts for extra cash. Retail has evening shifts or you could try to find work you can do from home. There are even jobs that provide your basic day-to-day needs for you if you are willing to work an evening shift. For instance, I had a friend who signed up to be a night manager at an assisted living facility where she received no paycheck but got a free apartment and free health insurance. All she had to do was wake up when the alarm in her apartment went off and call the fire department/ambulance to help whatever senior citizen had fallen. She did that maybe 8 times in a given year and it left her days free for a 9-5 position.

Seems to me that you’re looking at things too pessimistically.

You recognized a bad relationship and got out before everything went to heck.
You made a good decision to move back to your hometown, where your support network is.
You found a nice, but inexpensive, place to live.
You’re impressing the people at the place where you work.
Your post is elegantly phrased, coherent, literate.
You’re a good influence on your nephews & nieces.

You actually have a lot going for you. Any feelings you have of inadequacy seem to me to be completely unfounded.

Funny you mentioned late shifts. The design manager emailed last week and asked if I can be “on call” for 2nd shift (3-11) because they only have 1 guy working 2nd shift. I said of course (of course). But I’m sure this guy will never call me because he’s trying to save his own job by accomplishing as much as he can on his own.

I can’t even imagine the humiliation I’d feel if I had to get rid of my car. It’s that kind of stuff I can’t handle. I haven’t gotten to the humiliation part yet, but I’m almost there. And it’s not somewhere I think I can handle going.

Out of curiosity, why would you consider it a humiliation?

Because I would have to ask other people for help. I can’t get everywhere by bus.

OK. Any chance of getting a cheapo car?

Well I have about $7000 left to pay on this car. It was originally $17K (a 2005 model). It’s in great shape- I’ve always taken care of it. I’m not sure if it’s worth what I still have to pay for it.

I feel like I have SO many expenses, and a car payment is just one drop in the bucket. I have rent, utilities, car, car insurance, health insurance, and a whopping huge credit card bill with cross-country moving expenses on it. And I have to eat. And feed my dog.

And up until now I have great credit. But in about another month, the well will be dry.

Have you looked into doing any kind of courier work? I know I kind of beat that horse to death on the SDMB but it can be a really well paying, part-time thing to do. Delivering prescription drugs at night is probably the best paying but it’s also the riskiest. Even so, the money can be sweet.

And another thing: Have you considered delivering newspapers? It’s a pain, I know, but it’s better than nothing. Two or three hours in the morning and you have your entire day free. But it is a seven day a week commitment.

I know that feeling of “Wow, I’ve really screwed up my life.” I don’t think you have, but it can sure feel like that. You need reassurance that everything is going to work out.

I think it will, but right now you need some emotional coping strategies. One thing that might help is to remind yourself of the things you have that you can be grateful for. Rocketeer gave you a good starting point on that.

I get that feeling - I do, really - but try to look at it with the logic part of your brain instead of the emotional side. People are social creatures, and a big part of that is back-and-forth interaction. People who care about you want to help you; it makes them feel good themselves. You’re on your own with the judgemental-family part of things (I have enough of my own, and plenty to spare in case anyone’s interested in picking up a late-model busybody with some aftermarket parts) but if there’s a friend or co-worker or something you know who can give you help, please don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Shitting yourself in front of your entire classroom might be grounds for humiliation. Asking for a ride is not.

First, you done good getting out of the California situtation before it got ugly in front of you. That shows common sense.

Do you “babysit” for your nieces and nephews? Is there any way you could be paid for taking care of them for entire evenings, assuming they are young enough to need looking after? Do you have cable TV, broadband, HD service etc that could be cut? Just look over your budget with a microscope. There are usually some things that can be cut - doesn’t matter how small, they add up.

Lastly, and I realize the suggestion may horrify you and be unthinkable and wouldn’t blame you for rejecting it out of hand, but how attached are you to the dog? Could a family member take it? I’m sure food, care, vet, etc. adds up.

I wanna add that I suffer from the same self-confidence issues you do, and have done much less with my life. I admire you.

And would you believe you’re STILL better off than I am. Seriously, I’m not trying to be funny.

The one thing I’ve learned from this “Great Recession” is how people take a gun and start shooting people at random.

Not that I’d do that, of couse, but I can really understand how people can become so frustrated and out of it that they do such things. Again, I wouldn’t do it, or I don’t say they’re not to blame for their actions. But I know understand HOW that type of thing comes about

I wish there were something I could say that would make you feel better, but alas, no words of mine will help make it right - so I’ll just send supporting thoughts your way.

Here’s hoping things get better soon!

Unless your freelance gig pays you for 40 hours a week and provides insurance, I’d suggest you start looking for jobs that you don’t really want. Not retail, retail pays horribly and has lousy benefits. But even things like warehouse work can start at $12/hr and provide insurance. Doing office work like customer service or collections can start you off at about $15/hr. I know you could potentially make a lot more with whatever it is that you do, but right now you can’t afford to be picky. Network - where in Ohio are you? My company is headquartered in Ohio, and insurance benefits start the day you’re hired. Phone company call centers are almost always hiring.

Don’t get rid of your dog. It would be harder on you to wonder and worry about him than the bit that it costs to feed him. If you feed a premium dogfood, you can cut back to Ol’ Roy. Yeah, it’s not the best, but your dog won’t care.

Living in a friend’s basement isn’t a bad thing, but don’t pay apartment-rate rent for a basement room. I know she needs money - so do you. You can’t support her. See if your sibs or parents will let you move in for a bit. I know you don’t want to ask them for help, but sometimes we all need it, and that’s what family is for.

Your life won’t turn around in a day. But you have to take the steps to move in the right direction. Appliying for 25 jobs in 5 months is only 1 job per week. You need to make it your full-time work to find a job. Any job, at this point (I hate to say it, but even retail is likely to look good about now). Yes, you’ll me making a fraction of what you were, but you’ll have money coming in, versus sitting at home watching Dr. Phil.

The last time I was unemployed, I worked at Target at night doing stocking. You get a .50 cent increase for working the midnight-whenever shift. It was physically demanding, mentally numbing and I hated it. It wasn’t enough to support myself, but it was $800/mo more than I was making elsewise. And it left my days open for real job-hunting.

Good luck. I’ll pay for your dogfood while you’re unemployed, if that’ll help. I couldn’t survive without my animals.


I’m sorry you’re in such a tight spot, but I’m glad for the positive things you have, and I’m sure you can find little and bigger ways to help yourself get ahead.

I think it was last week that someone posted asking about suggestions for making money fast; you could take a look at that and see if there’s anything useful. Any plasma donation centers in your area? Colleges/universities/companies paying for research participants? Really, I’m serious - it can really help supplement what you’re making. My mom was donating plasma regularly for a while to make a little extra money, and of course I had plenty of friends in college who did it.

And yeah, if you can, keep your dog. I just cuddled one of my rabbits after my migraine-filled day where I just wanted to curl up under my desk at work because the meds weren’t quite working. Pet therapy is pretty awesome sometimes.

I must have been typing one of my replies, because somehow I hadn’t seen this.

You’re right. And to be honest, I think half my problem is that I’m trying to slowly wean myself off of anxiety medication (nothing crazy- I only take 10mg of Lexapro and this is my 2nd day at 5mg) and I think it’s magnifying some fears. Is now a bad time to stop taking anxiety meds? Yes, but I can’t seem to get approved for health insurance without the premium skyrocketing (the plan I was approved for is just another of the hugely taxing bills I have to pay, and it’s $60 more per month because I disclosed that I take anxiety meds). I have approval pending on a different policy for which I did not volunteer info about anxiety meds, because if I can get approved, then I plan on being legit about not taking these meds. I worry the premium will go way up on this one too (I’m sure they can find out by other means that I’ve taken anxiety meds), but I’m just trying to do the right thing. I’ve been doing some calming-type stretching, and trying to eat right, so I’m not totally off the deep end. But I am worried, really worried, about what’s going to happen when the rug is fully out from under me.

St. Germain, you’re kind, but I’ll eat bread and water first before I’ll feed it to my dog. Thankfully, when I remember things like those that Rocketeer reminded me about, I realize I’m nowhere near there yet!