… the personal and the national intersect? In my case, a perfect storm. A series of personal “events” (I hesitate to call them “tragedies” because they’re so bleakly ordinary) — death of a spouse, rejection by a child, financial losses, medical problems — intersected with the national financial crisis, and I lost everything. Lost my husband, lost the love and support of my daughter (my only child), lost the chance to have a relationship with my grandchildren, lost my home to foreclosure, lost my financial stability.
I had been out of the workforce for several years, taking care of my mother and my husband during their final illnesses; though I had been professionally employed in the past, that gap in my work history combined with the economic freefall (only an economist or a politician can pretend it wasn’t the worst depression since the 1930s) meant I couldn’t find a job. In 2009, out of sheer desperation, I took a job at WalMart. Everything horrible you’ve ever heard about working for WalMart is true.
After my husband’s death I had hoped to start a little farm (a lifelong dream of mine) — I had the property, but what I did not have was the physical strength/stamina to do the required work, nor the money to hire it done. I tried to live on the property in a little travel trailer — impossible. I was forced by a particularly destructive series of spring storms to return to my house in town — for sale, but not yet sold. I’d lived in that house for 25 years, raised my daughter there, my husband died in that house. I hated it — an ugly, aging, money sink.
As if all that weren’t enough to cause depression, while all this was going on I went into menopause which can cause depression all by itself. Pharmaceutical attempts at controlling the depression were frustrating and fruitless. If I hadn’t had the responsibility of animals to take care of, I would have killed myself a dozen times over. To this day they’re the only reason I succeed in getting out of bed every day and going to work. I did finally get out of WalMart, thank heaven, and back into a salaried job with benefits, but I have no savings and live paycheck to paycheck. Like so many others.