The Mental Cost of Debt

Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 (13th – 19th May) is getting people talking about how various pressures, behaviours, expectations and other external factors that impact on our mental health.

One of our Pobl people wrote a blog to share with colleagues the mental cost of debt, receiving overwhelming support, and they have agreed for us to share it to possibly help others.

This is the story….

If you were to look at me I am always smiling, I dress smartly and have a wonderful family and home but and there is a big but, behind the fake smiles, (on the lowest of the low days) there were six credits cards, three loans and nothing to show for it except survival in this society of a world we live in. 

I’m writing this blog to share my story and hopefully help others to know that they are not alone.

It’s amazing once you start opening up about your problems how many people behind closed doors know of or have themselves been or gone through the same chapter of life as yourself. In all honesty I don’t see myself as a writer, or a blogger. I struggle to get my how’s and whys across to people verbally, so I’ve decided to write a message or a lesson whichever you want it to be, to encourage you to speak up if you have a problem, whether it be mental health, debt, illness or something you have done wrong, once it’s out you are not alone and no matter how bad the initial reaction and the time it takes for people to forgive or understand, they will at least have an insight into what you have been going through.

So, it’s unclear to me who first said “Money can’t buy happiness.” Whoever it was probably weren’t staring at a tall stack of bills. And get this – debt can hurt. I mean, really hurt. In the early stages of my debt it caused no pain, in fact the use of debt gave me temporary pleasure, but as years went by I felt, low self-esteem and impaired cognitive functioning. I felt I couldn’t learn, remember, be attentive or solve problems as well when all I was really doing behind the fake smile was freaking out over my credit card payments, and being able to afford to get to work.

It eventually became completely overwhelming, which lead to the feeling of loneliness and desperation. Sometimes in order for me not to feel depressed or anxious, I would spend.

The worst mistake in life is to suffer in silence. I made many mistakes when handling money issues. I would keep secrets from my family, friends, and colleagues and didn’t discuss finances at all, I wanted to live my life and not be the odd one out.

So how did I face up to 14 years of debt, “fear” if I’m honest, it’s better to know your enemy than fight blind, or as is the case with debt, hide in fear hoping it will go away.  I promise you this, getting the help is what will make the fear disappear.  Also knowing exactly how much debt you are in is important because without that you have no idea what you are fighting. However much you owe – the sooner you begin to tackle it, the sooner you solve it.

First of all, I told someone I trusted about it. This was a friend and it gave me the courage to finally tell my husband and family, which did help me to feel less powerless and more hopeful.

So where did I go to bring an end to all this suffering? I did my research and ended up contacting Debt Centres. These guys are experts in tackling debts and can give you both advice and support. Whilst the adviser wasn’t a mental health expert, he certainly told me I was completely normal and that he deals with a huge amount of people on a daily basis in my position.

After I had listed all my debts they offered me my options, I won’t lie to you guys this is a very long process, it initially takes up a couple of days to get everything written down to get a plan in place. So grab a pad and paper and somewhere quiet, gather all the details and balances of your credit cards, loans, catalogues numbers, all your house hold bills, amounts going out etc. and your bank card, and be honest.

At the end of the day the creditors who lend you the money know that people are desperate, my personal belief is that the more financial difficulty you are in, you are if not more profitable to creditors than those who stay on top of their debts. So never feel guilty because they are monsters. Remember that feeling of desperation when you need something, they know you will click yes to a loan with an APR of 49 % or more!!!! and it’s so easy. But look at where it got me. “STOP NOW”

My lesson and my message to you is that feeling stressed when dealing with debt or other unpleasant things in life is not a sign of weakness, it’s a natural human reaction that can be made easier to face with the right support.

Denial is an extremely dangerous coping mechanism.

l know now I don’t need to keep up with that world anymore.

Thanks for reading.

 

If you are struggling to manage your money, don’t suffer in silence.  Please talk to someone you trust, contact Debt Centres like the blog suggests.  If you are struggling with Universal Credit or paying your rent then you should contact your Income Management Officer.  We also offer a money support service and they can also refer you to this.

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For more information on this subject or on any other matter relating to Gwalia Housing, please contact us via telephone on 0800 012 1080. Alternatively you can use our online form or send us an email. You can also connect with us via facebook or twitter.

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