I survived on intermittent freelance writing jobs and doing just about anything I could do for cash. I sold weed and Adderall, I temped at a literary agency for a friend when he went on vacation, I looked after my neighbor’s pets, I worked as a production assistant on a shitty independent film, I worked a graveyard-shift construction job remodeling a marijuana dispensary, and I sold anything I owned of value just to keep my head above water (R.I.P., guitar with the Weezer sticker). One tight week, my neighbor replaced his toilet and I sold his old toilet on Craigslist. That netted me a twomp and a trip to the grocery store.

Two years ago this week, I was laid off from my last full-time job. I’ve since had a smattering of temp jobs, “odd” jobs, and freelance work, but a guaranteed steady paycheck is a rapidly fading memory for me. Unemployment can have its up-sides; the initial “funemployment” period is almost carefree and a tad exhilarating. Who doesn’t like drinking beer in the midday sun and having the ability to say yes to almost every single event on your calendar? Once you dive into the abysmal depths of long-term unemployment, however, things start to get very dark.

Alan Hanson: Long-Term Effects of Unending Unemployment

It’s as if people think you’re doing this on purpose, or that you’re trying to get away with something. What they don’t see are the endless buzzsaws in your brain that remind you every second of every day that you owe someone, or a lot of someones, a lot. I lost countless hours of sleep worrying myself sick about how I was going to get by. People ask you ‘Why don’t you get a job?’ as if you were choosing to not have one.