March 12, 2009

Editor lost it when laid off; you don't have to

Mike Tharp knows how hard it can be to be laid off. He knows how you can chase off family. He knows how you can get depressed and burn bridges you may need.
"I'd been through the deaths of a father, a mother and a brother, who was closer to me than anybody. I'd been through divorce. I'd been through war, as a soldier and as a correspondent."
But a phone call ending his 14-year career as a bureau chief in Tokyo and correspondent on the West Coast was harder.

He wrote down what they wanted back, things like the laptop and cellphone. He wrote down what to expect, things like severance papers and a nondisclosure agreement.

He heard the managing editor blame economics and say it was "no reflection on you or your work."

But for 40 years, "My business card had been my backstage pass to life".

Tharp fell hard, becoming a recluse, becoming depressed. But now, he wants you to know there's hope.

"You can get through this. You can get back your pride, your sense of accomplishment. It takes hard work -- hard brutal psychic work. It takes family and friends. It takes luck -- like the luck that brought me to Merced almost two years ago.

The worst thing I did was to stop working out. I'd played basketball, run distance and lifted weights since I was a teenager. I stopped doing that. You've got to push your body to get your mind and soul right.

My second-biggest mistake was to become, as my friends said, a recluse. You've got to reopen yourself to human contact.

Exercise and companionship.

Seems like a simple enough formula. But you've got to overcome what feels like a mountain on your shoulders to reach out and do that.

You may also have to take a job you don't like. You may have to learn new skills. You may have to accept a lower salary. You may have to commute. You may have to move. You may have to take a pill. I had to do all those.

Some of you will find solace in God, religion, faith. That wasn't my way. It may be your way. If so, follow that path.

All that's left in the lesson is that I know all too well how anybody feels who has been -- or will be -- laid off. My life was changed forever. "

Read his post. Get some hope from the executive editor of the Merced Sun Star.


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