by Joan-Marie Moss
IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY
While many manage to function at some level of competence, their difficulties “connecting” and “attending to task” often limit them to minimum-wage positions although they may, under normal circumstances, be highly competent workers.
Heddi reports that her income dropped from nearly $3,000 per month to less than $800 a month while she was working much longer hours. A significant number of others have found themselves homeless. Evidence of this can be seen at the DuPage PADS site, where a striking number of clients are middle- management professionals who have lost their jobs.
The June 1995 county reports indicate that there are just over 884,000 people in DuPage County. Of those, the Labor force in DuPage numbers 492,169. If we calculate just 15% of those and figured that 73,800 people lost just $10,000 in earnings during the course of a year due to depression we’re talking about the kind of losses that would be considered intolerable in business.
It’s a vicious cycle. Stress, illness or financial difficulties strike sapping the individual and breeding a sense of hopelessness which aggravates the situation. Meanwhile, the sufferer must cope with others who are frequently equally depressed and stressed with their own problems. At the same time they have to deal with others who haven’t the foggiest clue about what severe depression does to a person. In all cases misunderstanding and the inability to communicate the real pain lead to further hopelessness.
Stress continues to build in today’s society where people dealing with stressful situations attempt to find solutions. When people dealing with any kind of stress or depression try to resolve difficulties or get answers to problems and get trapped into voice mail and mechanical phone menus or are put on waiting lists. When they feel treated like number, taken advantage of or overwhelmed constantly by circumstances they can’t change, depression mounts.
In a society where both parents in a dual income family may hold down two or more jobs just to keep the bills paid, a person’s value is equated with how much money they bring into the household rather than unconditional love and appreciation. One, or both, can slip easily into depression. The situation is much worse for single heads of households.
Barbara Hayes, a Family Service DuPage Licensed Clinical Social Worker, believes that “role strain” is a major contributing factor in the higher incidence of depression in women. Not only are women parenting or grandparenting a younger generation, while, frequently caring for elderly parents; but, they are also required to cope with the challenges of maintaining a certain level of career growth in an uncertain economy — frequently as sole support of their entire family structure. To meet the demands of each of these roles, a woman must maintain an exterior facade of strength. For many there is precious little time for attending to personal needs. All too frequently, functioning on far too little sleep and nutritious food, they cave in.
Meanwhile, the media, particularly women’s magazines, focus on introspection, self analysis, poise and youthful figures, mounting anxiety, anger and insecurities. At the same time they juxtapose these weaknesses that turn us inward upon ourselves, with idealistic reports of the affluent life that many of the population will never achieve.