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Ask Dr. Sherry: 'I’m a Broke, Single Mom Feeling Hopeless'

A reader who is at her wits end trying to raise her children on 30K a year asks the doc for help.

You’ve seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel All Alone in Their Marriages, keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show Braxton Family Values. Now it’s your turn to sit in her chair…

Dr. Sherry,

I am a 34-year-old female and I’ve been working at a firm for 13 years and I’m not even making $30, 000 a year. I have two children and I can hardly pay for their tuition and my others bills every month. I have bad credit and I am drowning in debt. I feel that no matter how I try I can’t see my way out of all this debt. I live in a studio apartment that I rent from my parents (when I can afford to pay them) and neither of my kids have their own room or space. What hurts even more is that when my parents need my help financially I can barely help myself much less to help them.

I feel like such a disappointment to my kids, my parents and myself. I have been feeling so bad for the past five months that I am wondering if
I am falling into depression. I feel that I am not worthy of happiness or anything good. Do you know how it feels for your kids to want to do the simplest of things on the weekends and you can’t afford it? How can I get my life back? Where do I go from here? Honestly, if I continue on this pathway of life I really don’t know where I am going to end up emotionally.

Dear Sis,

You are definitely overwhelmed in all aspects of your life. You asked, “How can I get my life back?” You get your life back by taking it back! You must take control of your situation. It seems as if you have developed a form of learned helplessness. Due to your situation, you believe that things will not change and you feel helpless in doing anything about it. Things are indeed serious, but they are not hopeless. Things did not get the way they are overnight, so don’t expect for them to change overnight. But, you must know that things can change.

Change starts with you. Stop beating yourself up for your past choices, please. You cannot change the past but you can shape your future. Change is necessary, not just for yourself but for your two children. While you didn’t get pregnant by yourself, it seems as if you have the responsibility of taking care of the children by yourself. You are fortunate to have your parents supporting you but you cannot depend on that forever. You must start your change by personally regrouping in all areas of your life – mentally, emotionally, spiritually and financially. Given the circumstances, you are going to need help in shifting your mindset. Unfortunately, depression is already apparent.

I strongly recommend individual psychotherapy to address the depression and other issues. Psychotherapy should also help you develop strategies to make necessary changes and resolve issues. Check with your state mental health association for locations of services that may be free or at a reduced fee. If you want something different from life, you must do something different. You definitely deserve more from life! Good luck! – Dr. Sherry

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