Advice-Depression: Ask Dr. J. Archives


Dear Dr.J

I will try and make this as short as possible, but I want you to know the facts. After 30 years of marriage, I divorced my husband. Even though it wasn't over another woman, I felt so rejected and turned those feelings inward. I was a stay at home Mom because I knew what it was like not to have a mother at home when you walked in the door. With the help of another psychologist, I pulled myself up, lost weight, started college, and dreamed of my own business. Then my psychologist left. I hit bottom. I cared about nothing except my children who have all moved away. I just slept. I didn't care about anything. I went through all the money I had and can't even remember where it had gone.

One of my sisters and her husband asked me to come stay with them until I got on my feet. I thought I could find some peace, but in the end my sister treated me like a child instead of understanding that I was fighting as hard as I could to start my life over. I just packed up the car and left. When I went to say good-bye my sister said to me "go aheard and go. I don't care anymore. I was the only one who would take you". It was as if I was some reject. The hurt was unbearable.

I moved away for a short time to another state and felt like I was making some headway. I so missed being home, I moved back here thinking I had the strength to try life alone again. Since then, I hurt my back and ended up in the emergency room in the hospital. I haven't any health insurance. I am so overweight because as many people turned to drugs or alcohol I turned to sugar. Anything sweet. My back pain is so bad it hurts to drive longer then 15 minutes. I just got the bill today from the hospital for $1700. I can't get any help from anyone because I have a little money in a retirement account. I am almost 60 and I feel there isn't any hope. I detest the way I look but my addiction to sugar being a quick fix has got me hooked. I can almost say I loath myself. I don't know where to go for help because I haven't any health insurance so I can't seek counseling. Why isn't there a place for people hooked on food like the centers and counseling for people on drugs or alcohol? Why is there no place to turn?


Dear Marjorie

Your question is why there isn't a place for people to get help for food addictions. Before I answer that, I just want to comment on your journey so far. Life does have a way of dealing out challenges, doesn't it? You've been through a few trials, but I want to emphasize that you have found the strength in the past to pull yourself through, at least several times according to your letter. You have found the inner strength and courage to move past adversity and disappointment. This is extremely encouraging because some people simply do not possess this inner strength.

I'm not a lawyer or an expert on financial matters, but perhaps you should look into Social Security Disability. I may be way off here, but it's something that came to my mind. With a back injury, you may qualify. With that you may be eligible for Medicare which could provide some help in getting the professional help you need.

Again, to your credit, when you got into therapy before, you made some important changes and were able to take advantage of the help you were given. Of course, I recommend that you get help now. And that leads us to your question.

I don't know in which state you live. In our State of Michigan, we have receivied tremendous cuts in our Mental Health budget. And Michigan already has the lowest budget of any state for mental health services. Prior to this year, many clients were able to get therapy services from their County Community Mental Health. I am not sure that this is still the case, but it would be worth a phone call.

When you referred to counseling for people on drugs or alcohol, I assume you mean community-based free services like AA, AL-ANON, etc. Because substance abuse services usually need to be paid for either by insurance or by the individual. I agree with you completely that there needs to be a bigger budget for mental health for people who cannot afford services. This is connected to the larger Health Care problem we have in this country and is beyond the scope of my answer here.

As I mentioned, I don't know where you live, but there are self-help groups for eating problems in most communities. Overeaters Anonymous is one of them. There are also community based Depression Groups, and other groups such as Codependency groups that you may find useful.

Thank you for asking your question and sharing your story. I'm hoping it helps others realize they can overcome adversity and keep on trying when things are rough. I wish you the best of luck and hope you get the help you need.

Dr. J

See Depression

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