On the Edge

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

Life’s been hard lately. My work life is 24/7 stress. My husband is
unemployed, and it’s starting to affect our marriage. The kids are out
of school and looking for jobs. My headaches won’t quit; I have chronic
insomnia; my eyeballs twitch so much it amazes me that other people
can’t see them flutter. Yesterday I went in to the office early to catch
up on overdue deadlines. As I strolled through the lobby I heard a tin
of mints hit the floor and realized that in my flurry I’d carried my purse
upside down, and that I’d left a trail of personal effects–including my
wallet!!– for three blocks from the parking garage. Insert an hour of
frantic but futile searching, credit card canceling, and copious tears.
When I finally thought to check my home phone I found a message
from the amazing wonderful honest and thoughtful man who’d found
my wallet. We met but he refused to accept any reward. I was
pathetically grateful and appreciative but he still said no. I had to tell
my husband why I’d cancelled our cards and I still feel shaky about it
all. Advice please.

On the Edge
Dear on the Edge:

You’ve carried far too much for far too long. In your litany of life
stressors I am not hearing any signals about ways you take good care
of you. Examples of sectors you might look at for relief include
nutrition, exercise, hobbies, meditation, prayer, and/or simple down
time for reading or even vegging out to TV. There’s a host of other
things that healthy people do for entertainment that also bring them
pleasure. But right now I am classifying you not only as unhealthy but
so stressed out that your own health and emotional well being should
be on the list of major concerns in your life.
Talk to your unemployed family about what they can do to manage the
household so that it is not a drain on your energies. Explain you need
at least an hour a day that is not spoken for by work, home, or family.
If your health plan or employee assistance program covers counseling,
consider a few appointments simply to have a safety zone to talk to
someone in. Crying copious tears to a virtual stranger, even a good
and honest man, is an indicator that you have one foot over the edge.
Carrying your purse upside down is a silly thing to do, but as an
indicator of stress and chaos it is painfully revealing of the worse
possibilities you might create if you do not set up some kind of
intervention. One last: If you have some vacation time in the till at
work, call in sick for a few days. You’d be amazed at what even a week
off can do to help even things out. The deadlines will keep or be taken
care of. PS – Donate the reward to your favorite charity.