Stress over economy hitting home in South Mississippi

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Many who are still struggling after Katrina say this recession could be a bit too much to handle.

"Right now anything's better than nothing," said Allen Wise about his employment situation. "I got laid off from my last job, and I lost my apartment when I lost my job."

Like so many other South Mississippians, Allen Wise's financial troubles started long before recession set in.

"I've been just working at labor finders, staying in a motel right now," Wise said. "I need something more permanent right now, you know?"

He's been struggling to make ends meet for his two-year-old daughter, his wife, and himself since Katrina cost him his job. Shortly after, his unemployment cost him his home too. Now, he says, the economy is making his recovery even harder.

"Now I'm just barely making it every week," said Wise.  "Just week to week on gas and food and motel rent, so it's real tough right now for everybody."

Jennifer Kelley knows the feeling.

"It's hard being a single parent, let alone with the economy being the way it is," she said.  "Jobs are scarce these days, they are hard to find. I'm one of the lucky ones, I do have a job."

Buddy Landry, a therapist at Daybreak Behavioral Health Service, says financial woes are coming up more and more with his patients.

"It's becoming more pressing and a more prevalent issue among the issues that we see people coming in," he said. "There's no doubt about that it's on the upswing."

He says the emotional impact of the recession should be taken seriously, but South Mississippians can survive it.

"We as human beings, we can be overwhelmed," he said. "It can drive us to desperation. We also have the capacity to be very strong and very resilient. And a lot of it comes back, I think it comes back to our recovery from Katrina."

"It's gonna be tough, but we survived Katrina so I'm sure we could survive anything," said Kelley.

Landry said the key to weathering this economic storm is to focus on things within our control.

"We need to get back to the basics in terms of looking at what's important and what it really means to be human," he said. "A lot of it comes back to recognizing that there are things that are outside of our control, and there are things within our control. We get in trouble when we mix those things up. We try to control the change or focus or dwell on those things that we can't do anything about. And we need to find a way to make peace with those things."

"I think it's hard but I think all of us has to deal with it just so we can get out of this slump and just get better and just keep going," Wise said.