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DEAR HARRIETTE: I am going into my senior year of college next year, and I’m getting scared to become an adult, especially in such an economically trying time. A lot of my friends come from wealth and will have their parents to fall back on when they graduate. They may get an allowance or have their rent paid by their parents, so they don’t have to worry about struggling. I, on the other hand, do not have that luxury and have to work extremely hard to find a job and support myself financially, which is a scary thought.
I realize the importance of being financially independent, but I’m feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of facing this responsibility alone. Given the economic challenges, how can I prepare myself for the transition to financial independence after graduation and ensure I can support myself and succeed in this uncertain landscape? — Afraid of the Future
DEAR AFRAID OF THE FUTURE: Start looking for a job now. If you haven’t had internships or other jobs during your college years, see if you can find something while you are still in school. Job experience counts a lot as you plan to start your professional life. Talk to the career counseling center at your school and ask them for job referrals. Most colleges have designated people ready to help set you up for success. Be extremely proactive. Go to networking events in your area of interest. Speak to people, and talk about yourself and your dreams. Instead of walking in fear, walk in the confidence that you are ready to step into your adult life and make your way. Sure, it’s a bit scary, but it is also exciting. This is your time!
DEAR HARRIETTE: As fall sets in and winter approaches, I struggle with seasonal depression. I often end up staying in my apartment every second that I don’t have a responsibility. I don’t reach out to friends much. I become a recluse. What are some strategies to combat these feelings and stay emotionally healthy during the colder months? — In Hibernation
DEAR IN HIBERNATION: You are not alone. There is a condition known as seasonal affective disorder that manifests in a number of symptoms that mirror depression. According to the National Institutes of Health, you may have this if you are experiencing the following: feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day; losing interest in activities you once enjoyed; experiencing changes in appetite or weight; having problems with sleep; feeling sluggish or agitated; or having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.
This condition must be diagnosed by a professional. The good news is that there are treatments that can help, including light therapy, psychotherapy, antidepressant medications and, believe it or not, vitamin D.
If you are feeling unwell, don’t suffer alone. Get help from a professional. If you ever are feeling suicidal, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline toll-free at 988. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.