As a mental health publicist for 25 years, I have written many newsletters, annual reports, fact sheets, press releases and brochures. Of course, I was always proud of my work. But some pieces stand out.


As a mental health publicist for 25 years, I have written many newsletters, annual reports, fact sheets, press releases and brochures. Of course, I was always proud of my work. But some pieces stand out.

One such piece was a tiny 3- by 5-inch brochure titled “Problems... Problems... Problems.” We distributed 20,000 brochures around the community.

The purpose of the brochure was to assure people they aren’t the only ones with problems. And if they need help, it’s OK.

At the end of the brochure was the contact information for Prairie View Mental Health Center.

Some years later, I was at a state mental health communications meeting. We were instructed to bring multiple copies of our work, so I took copies of recent publications.

But imagine my surprise when one participant passed around a copy of a radio spot his mental health center had made and began reading my “Problems” brochure word for word.

“Problems... problems... problems...

“Our family life is in difficulty... my marriage is falling apart... I can’t manage my children... my parents don’t understand me...

“I find myself drinking too much... drug abuse is becoming a way of life for me... what will happen to my work and family?

“My feelings are getting away from me... I worry too much... I can’t sleep... I feel out of touch with life...

“WHAT CAN I DO NOW?”

And at the end of the spot was the contact information for his center, instead of Prairie View.

Obviously, I was stunned! But when the presenter accepted the accolades, I kept quiet.

Problems... problems... problems... I had a serious problem — seeing someone pirating my work!

I could have confronted him in front of everyone, or I could have confronted him in private after the meeting. Instead, I solved the problem by letting go and saying nothing. That so-called “professional” never knew the person who actually wrote his copy was in the audience.

All these years later, I’m pretty sure I made the right decision. It made my life easier, as well as his.

Problems... problems... problems... That’s life! And how you handle problems makes your life either wonderful or dysfunctional.

Obviously, many problems are much more serious than dealing with a professional breach of ethics, such as I experienced.

But whether it’s at work or at home, you’re always wise to save your energy to cope with problems within your influence. And learn to let go of others. Don’t torture yourself about problems that are out of your control — the Iraq conflict, the difficult economy, wrong decisions your children make.

Focus on resolving problems that directly impact you. Each day brings new challenges — arguments in the family, health concerns, deciding whether to move to a retirement home, a family member with big “D” depression, money problems, a parent who is no longer safe living alone.

But this is life. How you resolve problems, on a daily basis, determines your quality of life. The important thing is to feel empowered to seek resolution.

Always remember what the late John Foster Dulles once said, “The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it’s the same problem you had last year.”

©2008 Marie Snider

Marie Snider is an award-winning health-care writer and syndicated columnist. Write Marie Snider at thisside60@aol.com or visit her Web site at www.visit-snider.com.