When we have depression, the likelihood that we’ll also experience money problems is high; we are four to six times more likely to have a debt crisis if we have a mental illness. In fact, half of those looking for debt help have a mental illness.
Talking about money can feel embarrassing and if we’re struggling with our finances, we may feel ashamed. Added to the shame that we may already experience with having mental ill health, it’s a heavy burden to carry.
Why Do We Struggle With Money?
We might be signed off work on sick pay, or too unwell to have a job at all. Balancing the reduced, or not-existent, income with the things we need to survive; heating, food, drink, medication, etc, can be difficult and sometimes, the numbers just don’t add up. It can be hard to manage bills which could lead to fines, which could plunge us into debt. We might be desperately trying to navigate the benefits system. We could feel unable to deal with it at all – placing post out of sight.
Money can also be intimidating and complicated. Getting to grips with our finances requires a clear head, something that we rarely have the luxury of whilst we’re in the grips of depression’s brain fog. It often involves reams of complicated words and terms – banks, rent, benefits, lenders, overdraft, fines, savings, interest, base rates, stocks, shares, APRs, mortgages, utilities, food… the list goes on. It can involve a lot of phone calls, decisions and meetings, which in themselves, can cause anxiety. I
When we’re already struggling with a sludge-filled brain, it can be an absolute minefield, and feel impossible to manage.
Work Out What’s Going On
If we want to tackle our money worries, a good place to start is to try and work out what’s going on, and we absolutely do not have to do this alone, or all at once. Our finances might not be as bad as we think, sometimes brushing it under the carpet can make them feel so much worse because we fear the worst.
Tackling paperwork can be overwhelming and draining, without the emotions we tend to experience when that paperwork is a mountain of paperwork related to money. A first step might be to open the post and file it in alphabetical order, this helps to keep the correspondence from individual suppliers together in one place.
That’s often the hardest bit, especially if we’ve not opened our post for a while or if the letters include demands for payment, which are always scary.
We can then take the file to somewhere like our local Citizens Advice Bureau and ask for their help working through it, ask someone we trust to help us, or work through it step by step ourselves. Quite often, suppliers are angry because communication has ceased and they’re left in the dark as to what is happening and when we explain our changed circumstances, they are willing to work with us, and not against us.
Set A Budget
To feel more in control of our finances, it can help to know exactly what’s coming in, and what our outgoing are. This helps us to set a budget and that budget helps us to identify if we can make ends meet. And if we can’t, we have the information we need to illustrate we need financial help. For some of us, this might feel quite manageable. For others of us, this could feel utterly overwhelming – which is okay! If we’re finding it hard to manage our finances, there is help out there.
Talk It Through
Having to deal with money by ourselves can feel impossible. Asking a friend or family member to go over it with us can help. We don’t need to feel ashamed of our situation. Having someone to bounce ideas off can help us to unscramble our brains.
Debt can be horribly stressful. If we’re struggling with debt, there is help out there (we’ve included some links at the bottom of this page). There is a lot of advice online for managing it. However, when we feel completely overwhelmed by debt , even clicking on these articles can feel too much. If this is the case, we need to try and reach out to a trusted friend or family member to help us begin to access the services we need.
There are benefits that we can apply for if we need to. There is no shame in receiving benefits. They are there to support people who need them. There are a number of benefits available including Job Seekers Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, and Personal Independence Payment. Applying for benefits can involve paperwork, and it can be confusing. It’s often helpful to receive some support when applying for an agency such as Benefits and Work, or Citizens Advice Bureau.
There are times when we need professional advice. Especially if we find ourselves in debt, or need to navigate the benefits system. Citizens Advice Bureau can be a great place to start. It’s completely free and the staff are there to support us. Step Change and National Debtline can also support us.
Help With Health Costs
Prescriptions, glasses, and other things relating to our health can be incredibly expensive. It can be tempting to just stop taking our medication and save the prescription cost. However, this can be really dangerous.
There is help available for those of us who are unable to afford their health costs, through the NHS Low Income Scheme. We should never have to go without health support and supplies that we need.
We often beat ourselves up when it comes to our finances. We then start to beat ourselves up over everything. We look down on ourselves. We can feel angry towards ourselves.
We need to try and take a step back from this. Beating ourselves up and giving up on looking after ourselves doesn’t help anything. However tight our finances are, we need to try and prioritise food and heating. Low temperatures and hunger can worsen depression.
We don’t have to spend a fortune on expensive self-care. Self-care on a basic level is about looking after ourselves. It’s about regular bedtime routines, clean clothes, and keeping on top of things like showering. We deserve this kindness. Whatever our finances look like, we are not bad people.
Managing our finances can feel like a minefield, but there is help available to us. Some of these organisations include:
Be Kind To Yourself
Whatever our financial situation, it doesn’t affect who we are as a person. It doesn’t make us a good or a bad person. We deserve kindness whatever is going on in our lives. Be kind to yourself.
Please help us to help others and share this post, you never know who might need it.