It’s more than a serendipitous situation when a topic comes up in the same week that I am moved to write more about how it resonates with me. In the NYT Sunday (11/8/15 ) Opinion section by Paul Krugman, he writes “over a new paper by the economists Angus Deaton (who just won a Nobel) and Anne Case, showing that mortality among middle-aged white Americans has been rising since 1999.” [sic]
Since many of my associates and friends are in this state of despair as well as more than a couple of clients that I see, I think the economics, administrative data you read if you’re following this trend can be, at least as well documented, as Global Warming.
A friend at 66 after being without work for more than five years continues to get up early, opens his laptop and checks all of the job listings for something that looks familiar enough that he can apply to. After sending resumes’ by email, he will put his resume in various envelopes along with other specific information that is required and goes to the Post office to send those big envelopes off. In one week he may receive one phone call from a curious (not interested ) lower level employee asking him for the answers to questions that he had already sent off two weeks ago. He will then have a second cup of coffee and sit on the porch where he is glued to his phone searching for still more job positions that he may have missed. He has done this without fail seven days a week for the past five years, and is in a constant state of despair that reminds me of a modern-day Willy Loman from Arthur Millers; “Death of a Salesman”. When asked when he will stop, he replies “Not until I get a job”.
A thirty-six-year-old woman was sitting next to me on my flight from Oakland, where I had attended a conference on the Future of California NonProfits. I noticed her studying what was obvious to me, the test for a Social Work degree. I commented that it had taken me up to four tries, being more right brain than left, to show that I knew what I was doing to practice in the Mental Health field. She was obviously stressed but needed to talk, so I listened. At thirty-six, she had received her Masters, but without taking the test could not practice, and had been buried at an internship at Children & Family Services for the past five years. She was exhausted and had injured her elbow from a bike injury and was on her way to visit a college friend who was getting married in Hawaii. I didn’t need to push her to confide for she had closed her book and gave in to the neck cushion that surrounded her head. ” I froze my eggs a few months ago. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m not happy. I thought….” She went on to say what so few her age are afraid to say, that she was still finding herself, and that, no, working ten-hour days with foster children and their families was not her passion. “I’ll never have what my parents have; house, a savings and a couple of children.” I couldn’t help but be moved by the “matter of fact” way she reported all this. At thirty-six, she appeared just as depressed as my sixty-six-year-old friend.