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Meet Stephanie Dudgeon

By Brian M. Rosenthal,

Stephanie Dudgeon thought she had weathered the storm.

Despite significant upheaval at the artistic decoration company where she worked, Stephanie had managed to hold onto her job through the hardest years of the recession.

Even when she lost her job in February, Stephanie landed an interview a week later. Maybe everything will be fine, she told herself.

Five months later, Stephanie is starting to worry.

“I am feeling depressed and vulnerable, and multiple scenarios for what is going to happen to me are running through my head,” said the 48-year-old from Columbus, Ohio.

“While I struggle to find gainful employment, and regroup, I get to read about friends and family romping through Italy and upstate New York and Minnesota and the Pacific Northwest,” she added. “It’s caused me to become increasingly tired and withdrawn.”

While Stephanie has managed to hold onto her apartment and survive through her savings and state unemployment benefits (which run out at the end of the August), the past five months have taken a costly toll on her standard of living and her social life.

They’ve also taken away her health insurance, a painful consequence because she has been unable to obtain new insurance due to a pre-existing condition.

But the worst part of her unemployment?

The uncertainty, Stephanie said.

rosenthalb@washpost.com

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