3 minute read
Q. I’m 45 and feel lost and alone. I’ve been single for years. I’m educated and a hard worker, yet I’m only offered jobs at the bottom end in terms of pay. All the ‘normal’ things that other women seem to take for granted, like a partner and children, seem out of reach for me.
I’ve had years of therapy but nothing changes. I have spoken to doctors who say I’m depressed and put me on antidepressants, but that didn’t solve anything. What can I do? Name supplied
A. I know that what you have written will strike a chord with readers, as it does with me, so thank you for putting your thoughts into words. I’ve been thinking about your letter while listening to The Compassionate Mind (Little, Brown, £12.99), a book on neuroscience and the spirituality and evolution of the human brain. Author Paul Gilbert argues that our minds respond to self-criticism in the same way they do to an external threat. The instinct to hide at the back of the cave is designed to keep us safe from predators, but it’s not a great way to escape our thoughts.
It’s worth trying again, through your GP, to find a combination of drugs and talking therapy that works. The right job, more money, a change of environment, all these might make a difference, but I believe a therapist you feel safe with would help more. Warmth, gentleness and kindness will help your recovery, and you might need to experience this through therapy before you can offer it to yourself.
To directly answer your questions: No, I do not believe either in destiny or losers. I believe in our capacity to learn and change the way we tell our own story. I do not believe in ‘one big answer’ – that would be like wanting to eat one big meal and never feel hunger again. Please keep taking baby steps, seeking help and sharing your fears.
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Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line.