Debt and Mental Health

I am just going to come right out and say it – ‘being in debt affects your mental health’!

I feel I need to talk about this openly to help off load some of my own emotions surrounding being in debt and the impact it’s having on my own mental health. I hope by my own honesty, it helps someone else out there who is feeling the same.

Sometimes it helps just to know you’re not alone doesn’t it?

There is lots of stigma around mental health. It’s much harder to see when it’s broken or damaged, unlike a leg. When you break a bone in the body, you can visibly see it’s damaged as it will be in a cast, but you can’t see damage to someone’s mental health unless they tell you. People don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental illness to have mental health problems either. And most people will have many periods of low moods or anxiety in their lifetime as they deal with stressful life events like death, moving house, getting a new job, married, divorced and having or not being able to have children. These are all part and parcel of life though aren’t they?

I have, like everyone else gone through these events and had many periods of low moods, low self-esteem, a lack of confidence and have come through the other side. So why is this so different to all these other stressful events?

As I have mentioned before, I have always had a little debt and looking back it never bothered me. I had other priorities in my life and always managed to do pretty much whatever I wanted so there was no urgency to pay it off. I was always a ‘happy go lucky’ person and pretty easy going. But something has changed. I am not that happy free-spirited person anymore. Frankly, I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders which I carry around with me day and night. I hardly feel any relief and it’s constantly on my mind.

I don’t want to sound like a victim, I want to help myself so I need to try and understand why I feel this way. Why do I feel so differently about debt now than I did before?

The only way I can describe how I feel is ‘stuck’.

Debt is stopping me from moving away from an area and a house I don’t want to live in anymore. I can’t move and rent as the 20 houses I’ve applied for over the last 24 months won’t take pets. I can’t get a mortgage as the debt impacts my affordability and what I can borrow and I also have no deposit because all my free cash goes towards debt. It’s a vicious circle which never ends.

Debt is taking away choices and my freedom.

It never did this before.

If I had no debt I could save for a deposit and move to a new house in a new area. If I had no debt I could save for mine and my daughters future. We could travel and see the world. Debt is stopping me from doing it all. And on top of that, debt makes me feel like a failure, making me feel low and worthless.

All these things I post about often on my Instagram page, the highs and the lows. I don’t post everything but being truthful, I feel lower than I feel high. If I didn’t have my daughter and a job to go to, most days I wouldn’t get out of bed.

Everyday is a battle.

A battle to stay motivated and pay the debt off. I know I’m not the only one who feels like this. I mean, I can’t be! I can’t be the only one who feels that these negative feelings exacerbate other areas in my life. The fact I am single and on this journey solo, makes it 1000 times worse. I don’t have that support of the other half. Yes, I have great friends and family but they aren’t there in the middle of the night to ease my fears or pick me up when I’m feeling deflated after another month of staying in and seeing no one. And when you feel miserable 99.9% of the time you don’t want to see people anyway. You don’t want to say that you’re stuck. That things in life are really hard. What could they say that would help? I would just then be worrying about them worrying about me.

It’s not just that either, it spreads to other areas of my life like my physical health. And the feelings of failure impact how I see myself as a person, so as you can imagine I don’t think that much of myself at all. This is something else I need to work on.

If you still reading down to this point – thank you!! I know it seems like it’s all doom and gloom, but I am trying (albeit slowly) to help myself by breaking up the problems into manageable chunks.

When I am not feeling so low about the debt, I feel the exact opposite. Like a debt warrior and what keeps me going when I feel this way is I know debt can be controlled. I can take control by paying the debt off.

With a budget, persistence, side hustles or extra jobs. We all can take back control.

It’s not all lost even though it sometimes feels like it. It’s hard to do on your own. I know, but it’s quite liberating to take back some control of your life.

This is what I have done so far;

  • Zero Based Budget
  • Reduced my expenses
  • Have no spend weeks
  • Automated my savings to sinking funds and investments
  • Increased payments to debt
  • Cut up credit card
  • Took a second job
  • Selling clutter/preloved items
  • Increasing my finance knowledge by reading books from the library

I know I still have a long way to go, just over £15000 now but that was originally £36000 (just under) and sometimes when I don’t feel as low I feel a sense of pride and know I will be debt free – I just feel it.

I won’t be happy until it’s gone though, I will continue to feel trapped until it’s gone for good. Some friends and family say to me that they have debt and it’s ok, or that everyone has debt and it’s ok. But for me, debt has made me feel completely trapped almost to the point of being claustrophobic, so it definitely needs to be gone.

This is my experience with mental health and debt and will be different to everyone else’s. If you are feeling like me or worse and don’t feel like you are getting any better, please reach out to family, friends or places that can help you.

National Debt Helpline – Freephone 0808 808 4000