29 June 2013

An Open Letter to the Democratic Party

In response to the many e-mails soliciting my financial support.

Dear Democratic Party,

I have been a staunch supporter of the Democratic Party since I was 18. I have supported the party on several occasions, but I now am unable to. Why, you ask? Because in spite of having three degrees and 14 years experience in my field, I am unemployed and now anxiously awaiting whether my unemployment will be approved. I am part of a generation - or perhaps two generations - of Americans who bought into the hype that having an education meant having a better life, when in reality many of us are struggling worse than our person who had either a high school diploma or less. Where do we fit into the grand scheme of things? How can we build any kind of life? Why has our government failed to recognize an entire group of people -educated, literate, and hard working - that are languishing, either unemployed or underemployed and working at jobs that require little or no training.

Why is the DCC concerned about this? Does the party not realize what a horrible, tragic waste of intelligence and talent this is?

Angela E. Gambrel

27 June 2013

An Open Letter to Employers

We're smart, well-read, irreverent, funny, hard workers, and highly educated.

And we are unemployed.

Ever since the economic bubble bursted in 2008, this country has experienced a level of unemployment previously unknown. Yes, I know that there have been periods in which more people have been unemployed — the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Reagan Era of the 1980s come to mind — but I would venture to say that there has never been a time period when so many highly intelligent, well-educated people have struggled to find gainful employment.

There was a time when having an education was key to a better life. But that is no more.

Now the key to having a better life, or at least to being gainfully employed, is ... well, I'm not sure what the key is. Somebody please tell me if you know.

Myself and others did everything right. We graduated from high school. We went onto college or university. We worked hard and earned a degree, and some of us even went back and earned a master's degree. For all intents and purposes, we should be at least somewhere near the middle of the economic strata.

This from the National Center for Education Statistics: "For young adults ages 25-34 who worked full time throughout a full year, higher educational attainment was associated with higher median earnings."

This from the United States Census Bureau: "Workers 18 and over sporting bachelors degrees earn an average of $51,206, while those with a high school diploma earn $27,915. But wait, there's more. Workers with an advanced degree make an average of $74,602, and those without a high school diploma average $18,734."

Really? Really!?! Let's see. In 1991, I graduated with a bachelor's degree in Psychology. I was hired as a mental health therapist/case manager — a position that required at the minimum a bachelor's degree — at a yearly salary of $25,500.

Okay, so that was more than 20 years ago. Let's move forward. I went back to school to pursue my dream of being a writer, and graduated with my second bachelor's degree, this one in English/Imaginative Writing, in 1998. I was hired as an intern reporter/staff writer in 1999 — also a position that required at least a bachelor's degree — at $11 an hour, or $19,800 yearly.

Clearly I was not playing the game right, as I was going down the economic ladder with each subsequent degree.

I so loved being a journalist — the writing, meeting people, feeling that I was doing something that really mattered — that I ignored the fact that people out of high school were making more than me.

Then I got sick, as long-term readers of this blog know, with anorexia. I had to take a three-month sick leave due to the affects of starving myself, and I wondered if I would ever work again. I ate and ate and ate some more, and was able to return to work, only to be faced with a buyout offer upon my return.

I looked at this as an opportunity, a chance to pursue my dream of earning my master's degree and furthering my career. I took the buyout and returned to school, and was awarded my master's in English Composition and Communication.

This was in August 2012. And my income? $0

Okay, now I have to admit that I haven't spent all of my time since graduating searching for full-time work. I took the entire summer off last year and did some other things this past fall. At the end of February, I relocated in hopes of finding more opportunities.

Job hunting has turned out to be an eye-opening, soul-crushing experience. It is a game with no clear winners, because when I get a job, that means one, two, three, or more people lose out. It is a game that causes you to suppress the best parts of yourself, while bringing to light some of your worst traits. Traits such as competitiveness and jealousy and plain old back-stabbing.

Because everyone else is playing the game, and by God, you better figure out how to play it or be crushed and thrown to the side.

It seems like something mean-spirited and ugly has been set loose, like the life of each one of us has been diminished, and that we are only here to interface and produce and perform.

And I'm afraid for this society, at what it means for all of us.

22 June 2013

Thank you (Again)

I am humbled and honored that my blog has been named one of The Best Eating Disorder Health Blogs of 2013 by Healthline. This is the second year that The Spirit Within has been named, and it still amazes me that what started out as an attempt to write my way out of anorexia nervosa has inspired and helped others struggling with an eating disorder.

The Best Eating Disorders Blogs

This is what Healthline wrote about The Spirit Within:

"The Spirit Within, created by Angela Elain Gambrel, takes a biblical approach to helping readers overcome eating disorders.
Forty-seven-year-old Gambrel describes herself as “in recovery from anorexia,” yet she refuses to let that label define her. Instead, she uses her blog to provide regular doses of inspiration to others who are suffering from eating disorders."
I am forever grateful that I could use my writing skills to help others, and also to help myself.

17 June 2013


In many ways, the past six years have been very difficult. First I almost died from lithium poisoning. Then I developed horrible migraines and high blood pressure, coupled with unexplainable weight loss, only to find out - nearly a year later - that these and other symptoms were caused by hyperparathyroidism...

I remember that day. It was hot, and I was struggling to get through work. My doctor told me she suspected hyperparathyroidism, based upon my symptoms and  PTH levels. My first thought was, "What they hell is that?"

I had become thin, so thin, thinner than I had been since I was a teenager. At the time, I didn't like being that thin. I thought, "I hope David doesn't expect me to diet in order to maintain this ridiculously low weight."

Why didn't I just hold onto that thought? What would the past six years have been like, if only?

I'm tired. Depressed. Aggravated. And did I mention tired?

I've been thinking what a soul-sucking activity it is to look for a job. That the past four years have been soul-sucking. I almost died of ______. Fill in the blank. Lithium poisoning. Hyperparathyroidism.

Anorexia nervosa.

I mean, come on! Who in the hell develops anorexia in her forties? I do.

I could dissect the past six years into tiny little pieces, and still not get it.

But for all my depression and struggles, for all my fears and anxieties, I still have it pretty good.

This was on my Facebook newsfeed this morning: A Syrian Refugee Wedding. An article about a 15-year-old girl in a Syrian refugee camp getting married. To avoid prostitution and rape. To make her life better.

Marriage at 15? Really? Is this the world we live in?

And she was considered old; the story states that many of the refugee girls are married off at the age of ten or younger.

I confess that my perspective has been somewhat narrow, and selfish. I want to work. Being unemployed sucks, especially for a Type-A personality such as myself. (The joke used to be that I didn't know how to vacation, or relax. I'm working on it.)

But I'm 47, and I'm free. I'm able to make my own choices, albeit some of them have been stupid. But they are mine.

My family did not have to marry me off at 15 or 10 or 8  in order to protect me from rape and a possible life of prostitution. I did not have to leave school at the age of 9. I am able to read and learn, and just be.

This is my vow: I dig myself out of this hole I'm in, and then do whatever is in my power to help others. It could be as simple as creating awareness, or as profound as writing pieces that shine the light on the atrocities of the world.

If I lose my ability to care, I've lost everything.