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by Abigail Van Buren

No Reason to Go It Alone When Times Are Tough

DEAR ABBY: I am at my wits' end and feel my life is over. I just want to get my life back the way it was 10 years ago. In the past eight years I have lost two jobs. I am currently unemployed and in financial ruin. I see no way out. Every job I apply for wants to do a credit check, so there goes any good job I might have. I have no resources for a counselor since I have no health insurance and nobody for a sounding board. Please help me see the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel virtually alone. -- TROUBLED IN VIRGINIA

DEAR TROUBLED: First of all, you are not alone. At last count, millions of fellow Americans were in the same boat. When people are out of work for an extended period, debts do tend to pile up. But if you are upfront about it during a job interview, I am sure that fact will be taken into consideration.

The job market is beginning to thaw, so please keep trying and do not give up hope. There are support groups for people who are out of work -- and a place to start looking for one would be a bulletin board at the unemployment office in your area. Use your local library as a resource to find support groups on the Web. Network with other people you know who are unemployed. Inquire at churches and synagogues because some of them offer these services. Also, ask at the mayor's office or city hall, and at community centers. Help is everywhere; you need to get out and look for it.