Although written light heartedly, I wrote the “Cheer Up!" entry because I’m concerned about how the current economic climate is hurting the mental health of Americans.

Recent studies suggest that more than 80 percent of Americans are stressed out by financial issues.

In Britain, the government is offering free therapy to victims of the global financial slump. Some experts stateside are following Britain's lead with similar assistance.

While everyone may not need therapy to cope, we each must maintain a glimmer of hope. Otherwise we’ll drown and begin acting out of desperation.

One recently laid off reader sent in an e-mail detailing how adaptability and perseverance can help you deal with economic hardship.


“I finally broke into publishing after I graduated, had a job that I liked and thought I had it all. I got extreme satisfaction out of working 12-hour days, barely blinked twice when friends and family would jokingly complain that I was always MIA. Hell, I was even unfazed when I almost missed celebrating my birthday working a 98-hour week.

As a workaholic, I took great pride in my job and my work performance and as I look back I realize I let my job define my happiness. Then the long nights, politics and “we think you’re great but there’s no money for you to progress” speeches started to wear on me. I wanted to grow and be challenged and told everyone: my boss, friends, even God that I was ready for a change. Be careful what you wish for!

The day I walked into the room to hear my job was getting eliminated with several others in the company I had an eerie calm. Of course, there was a temporary moment where I broke down scared of how I was going to pay my rent, what was going to happen next, where my next check would come from, etc. but I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and even though I was a bit worried for the future I knew it was time for me to move on. I had been asking for growth and challenge, and I knew that both had just shown up at my door.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and I can definitely attest to that.  I immediately sprang into action getting creative about what I’d do to stay afloat.  In the middle of me springing into action—applying for unemployment benefits, e-mailing everyone I knew, swallowing my pride and looking for areas outside my industry to make extra money—I slowly watched my life transform.

Things that I had been trying to do for years but just couldn’t seem to get around to were getting done. I got serious about paying off my hefty credit card balances and eliminated my debt—something I had been trying to do for years. I earned different assignments from industry contacts who ultimately became friends. I had time to hear myself think, actually use my exercise equipment, have those drink and lunch dates I always promised friends in passing, etc. I started actually living again, not just living for the weekends. I was beginning to do all of the things I had no time to do while maintaining a full-time job.

Now I’m not going to pretend that this journey has been 100% easy street because it hasn’t.  It’s been a hustle trying to keep projects going enough to pay for my hefty New York apartment. I struggle with feeling irrelevant when I’m at a party and someone asks for my business card or a friend tells a story from their annoying office day and I realize that I don’t have anywhere to be in the morning.  I feel Recession Depression start to creep in when I watch the news.  I get infuriated when someone tells me that I’m overqualified for certain positions (pride went out of the window and I’m applying for minimum wage jobs and STILL not hearing back) because at the end of the day I’m unemployed.  I wonder how long this time is going to last.  But you know what? As long as this time is here I’m determined to make the most of it.  It would be too easy to let this economic downward spiral take us all down mentally.

I know I may be in for a long road back to 9 to 5, 401k land and what am I going to do? Sit in my apartment all “woe is me” not showering, watching nothingness on TV all day for the next few weeks, months or years it takes for everything to be back on track? I can’t even justify it.  Generations before us had times of economic trouble and they dealt with it (folks were still having Good Times even with temporary layoffs and easy credit rip-offs!).  Sure it sucks, but I no matter where you are it could always be worse, so I've learned to be thankful for the blessings I do have. It’s all about perspective.  Life can always take you down if you let it, or at the end of the day it can just be life, that you deal with the best you can with what you have. It's your choice.”


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Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.

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