DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like I am having a midlife crisis. I’m in my 50s already, so maybe I’m late to the party, but I’m worried about everything. I have children whom I still have to put through college. My work was downsized several years ago, and I haven’t figured out how to earn enough money to help support my family. My husband is helpful, but he needs to pull more weight. I don’t see a clear path to better times. We have piles of bills and limited income. I don’t want to put this worry onto my son as that won’t help him in his studies or his life. But I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I don’t feel like getting out of bed because it costs more for me to get up and eat, drive -- everything. I know I’m in a bad place. Can you help me? -- Stuck, Seattle
DEAR STUCK: I’m sorry that you are feeling so burdened by your circumstances. It can seem impossible to climb out of a bad situation when you are paralyzed by negativity. A sign that you need help is not wanting to get out of bed or eat. You need a lifeline NOW. If you are even considering that your life is no longer valuable, there is help available at your fingertips. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 and talk to someone who can help you gain some perspective. This hotline is available 24 hours a day.
If you feel that you can get up and out of bed, take little steps to help regain your grounding. I strongly recommend professional support. This could be career counseling along with mental health counseling. You may need to rethink the type of work that you do moving forward. Many people have multiple careers and ways of earning a living in their lives. It may be time for your next chapter. AARP offers a great free tool to help you figure out your next steps. Go to aarp.org/about-aarp/life-reimagined/ to learn more, but know that the people they choose to help the most are in your very situation, at a crossroads. Good luck to you!
DEAR HARRIETTE: I lost my job unexpectedly, and I’m embarrassed to tell my girlfriend. We just moved into an apartment together a few months ago, and now I’m not sure what we’re going to do. It’s hard to find jobs these days, and I’m worried that I won’t find something soon. I promised her I would take care of her, and now I feel like I’m disappointing her and breaking my promise to her. What should I do? -- Jobless Man, Detroit
DEAR JOBLESS MAN: The way to take care of your girlfriend is to tell her the truth -- immediately. Keeping her in the dark means you are allowing her to believe that your family finances are secure when they are not. Yes, this will be hard to discuss, but things happen in life. How you handle them is what demonstrates your strength, courage and commitment. Make a plan together for the future.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)