The cost of living crisis is affecting many of us. Money is a tough topic to talk about.
It can create feelings of shame. Our salary can sometimes feel a number that represents our value (to be clear: it doesn’t). Struggling with money can create so much judgement… from loved ones, strangers, politicians, and worst of all, ourselves.
Feeling unable to support ourselves and our dependents is awful. Really awful. Soundbites like “people are choosing between heating and eating” don’t do justice to the deep sense of shame, fear, frustration, anger, resentment and hopelessness, that come with struggling to afford the basics.
As with all inequalities, there are risk factors. Things that make us more likely to struggle. When it comes to money, poor mental health is a big one. The costs stack up, and up. While our ability to increase the amount of money coming into the house deteriorates.
It’s not our fault. It’s an awful position to be in. But it is not our fault and if we could jump through our screen and put “it’s not your fault” posters up all around your living space, then we would. None of this is your fault.
Unfortunately, it not being our fault doesn’t make it disappear. We still have to try and figure out a way to muddle our way through. Even if we feel as though we’re drowning.
We wish that we could fix everyone’s money worries… but we can’t. Instead, we’ve pulled together a selection of helpful blogs and links that we’ve used, or that people have recommended to us.
Most importantly, please remember that this is not your fault, and you are not alone.You deserve support.
“The greatest magic you have is the courage you go digging for, when your world falls apart, the light you still hold, when everything has grown dark.”
- Nikita Gill, Wild Embers
Money Coming In
Mental Health At Work
Many of us spend a lots of time at work. Despite this, few of us feel able to talk about our mental health at work, especially when we’re struggling.
The thing is, most of us have to work. We need an income to survive and to support our families. We can’t always afford to take a sick day. We certainly can’t just quit, even if our mental health is at breaking point.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP: Resources To Help You)
Depression can affect different people in different ways. Sometimes it reaches a point where it becomes disabling. It can be hard to accept that depression can be a disability, but sometimes we need to reach out for extra support.
Depression: When Money Worries Add To The Strain We Already Feel
When we have depression, the likelihood that we’ll also experience money problems is high; we’re four to six times more likely to have a debt crisis if we have a mental illness. Half of those looking for debt help have a mental illness.
Talking about money can feel embarrassing and shameful. Added to the shame that we may already experience with having mental ill health, it’s a heavy burden to carry.
Claim tax relief for your job expenses
You might be able to claim tax relief if:
– you use your own money for things that you must buy for your job
– you only use these things for your work
You cannot claim tax relief if your employer either gives you the money back or an alternative.
Support with money worries
Citizen’s advice have support with benefits, work, debt and money.
They have lots of helpful articles with loads of advice and links to further support. There are also options to speak to people about our situation.
Check Your Benefits Entitlement
People are often entitled to benefits, but working out what we’re entitled to, how to apply, and how the work we do affects the amount we receive can be a nightmare.
A benefits calculator can help us to work out what we might be entitled to. This guide also includes some advice, details about where to find support, and information about each benefit.
*Note: This guide is UK-based*
Money Helper is designed to support us with all aspects of money. It has a huge amount of information about benefits, savings, work, pensions, retirement and more. They provide free, confidential, impartial advice over the phone or online, along with useful tools like a budget planner and mortgage calculator.
Boost Your income: 60+ ways to earn extra money
If we have the energy and brain space, there are sometimes ways that we can earn money. Money Saving Expert offer a list of suggestions for bringing in a little extra money.
Money Saving Expert
Money Saving Expert offer a range of resources, ideas, and links that (as the name suggests!) aim to help with saving money. There’s a real wealth of up-to-date information. If we’re ever unsure of something money-related, Money Saving Expert probably have the answer (or have a link to someone who does).
“So, what if, instead of thinking about solving you whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow.”
- Rainbow Rowell, Attachments
25 Money-Saving Hacks
Living with poor mental health can be expensive. Not only can it impact our ability to work, and, consequently, our income, but we might also have to pay for things like prescriptions, taxis (because we can’t cope with public transport), and pre-packaged food (because we don’t have the energy to cook).
Money worries can negatively impact our mental health. While we might not be able to focus on having a pot of savings, there are still things we can do to save on our costs.
Cost of living crisis survival guide: 90 ways to save from MSE and MoneySavers
The UK is amid a cost of living crisis. Prices are rising at rates we haven’t seen since the 1970s – energy, broadband, water, council tax, food, fuel and more. This is a guide to surviving this situation.
Self-care on a budget: 10 things to try
Self-care is incredibly important in helping manage and prevent depression.
However, as those of us who struggle with poor mental health are more likely to have financial problems – especially if we are unable to work – there are often real limitations in the amount we can ‘budget’ to look after ourselves.
But while spa days and shopping sprees are undoubtedly expensive, there are many other acts of self-care that cost very little or are in fact free.
Cooking on a Bootstrap
When we’re short of money, food can be a place many of us look to cut costs.
Eating on a budget can be really difficult – buying in bulk is often cheaper but requires more money up front. If we’re working three jobs then finding the energy to cook can be impossible. For those who use food banks, choice is limited so we might not be able to rely on one of the five recipes we know.
Jack Monroe (AKA bootstrap cook) is a food blogger and campaigner who is very well acquainted with both limited food budgets and food banks, along with the challenges that come with using them. Their site contains tonnes of free recipes, costed down to the oil. One thing we love about their work is that these recipes don’t require us to go hunting for a bizarre ingredient that we’ve a) never heard of and b) don’t have the budget for.
They are simple, costed, and tasty.
What’s even better, is that many of them use tins, so they cater for those relying on food bank donations. In fact, they’ve even written a book called tin can cook. Because we matter, our wellbeing matters, and we deserve to eat tasty food no matter what our income.
Find a Food bank
Good mental health is infinitely harder when we’re hungry. It affects our energy levels. We become grumpy, irritable, and snappy. We can’t think straight. It can start to affect our ability to stay warm, work and sleep. It can cause our mood to plummet.
Nobody should have to go hungry. Unfortunately, at the moment, a staggering number of us have to rely on food bank. A number that is rising exponentially. It’s not unfortunate because using food banks is anything to be ashamed about – far from it. It’s unfortunate because nobody, nobody should have to choose between heating and eating. We all deserve to have enough food to eat.
Food bank use can feel embarrassing or shameful. But using a food bank is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. The embarrassing, shameful, thing, is that food banks should have to exist in the first place. If you need a food bank or can afford to support one in your area, please reach out. The button below can help us to find a food bank in our local area.
Getting help if you can't afford energy bills
As energy prices rise, many of us are considering our options.
For some, we can afford to absorb the cost of a price hike, or turn our thermostat down a few degrees. Others already barely use the heating, save energy in every possible way we can think of, and have no wiggle room left in our budget. Some don’t have the option of reducing our energy expenditure, because we rely on it to power our wheelchair, keep our insulin cold in the fridge, or support our breathing through the night.
We’re not ‘all in the same boat’ when it comes to coping with cost increases, but that doesn’t mean that we’re alone or out of options. Many, many others are in a similar position to us and there is help available to us. Ofgem help to control energy prices, so they’re pretty savvy when it comes to knowing what our options might be. Here they detail lots of different payment, grant, charity, supplier, and government support options.
"That is you being brave. That is you getting through it as best you know how. No one else can decide what your tough looks like.”
- Clementine von Radics
Depression: Why Self-Care Matters
When we’re depressed, it’s difficult to care about anything – least of all ourselves.
However, self-care is one of the key tools in our armoury for combating depression, so it’s important we make it a priority.
Self-care is far from easy. When our self-worth is on the floor, making time to nurture ourselves feels like an unnecessary effort. We tell ourselves we don’t need it, and we don’t deserve it.That it’s selfish.
But self-care isn’t selfish, it’s essential. We can’t do or be all the things we want to without taking care of ourselves. Because – whatever your head may say – you *are* worthy, and you do deserve better.
Self-Care Starter Kit
Life can be noisy. It can be exhausting too. There are too many things vying for our attention and sometimes we inadvertently forget how important our own wellbeing and self-care is. It’s so easily done because the external noise is so, so loud. It demands our attention.
And so we give it our attention. We place other people’s needs and wants ahead of our own and we get sidelined.
This free Self-Care Starter Kit that we’ve put together will help you get your self-care mojo back.
Meal Planning for those low-energy and low-headspace times
Depression makes meal planning stressful and overwhelming for so many of us. Food is necessary for survival and can affect our mood, so it’s not something that we can avoid/shelve until we feel better. But golly, the elements of it all – the planning, the shopping, the cooking, the eating, the washing up – is a lot to deal with when we’re already dealing with so much.
9 No-Nonsense Self-Care Ideas
Self-care is essential for our well-being, yet typically it’s something that those of us with depression find difficult to prioritise.
There’s a misconception that self-care isn’t for everyone. Self-care often comes with connotations of being very girly and fluffy, but it doesn’t have to be all sparkly bath bombs and wool-based creations.
Depression: How to be a friend to ourselves
Being a friend to ourselves can be really difficult. Depression plays havoc with our self-esteem, and we’re often really mean to ourselves.
Self-care and self-compassion are vital in helping us manage depression, but it’s hard to be kind to ourselves when horrible thoughts constantly circle round our head. It can be helpful to take a step back and think about treating ourselves the way we would treat a close friend.
When Self-Kindness isn't as easy as it sounds
We’re encouraged to be kind to ourselves, but self-kindness isn’t always easy. Especially, if it’s the polar opposite of how we usually think and act. When our self-worth is low, which is really common when we are unwell with depression, then it’s hard to feel worthy of kindness – from anyone.
Self-care when we're empty and have nothing left to give
Sometimes we find ourselves on our knees; our motivation has deserted us, our energy tanks are depleted, we feel everything and nothing, all at once. We’re empty. Bone dry.
When we’re empty and as though we have nothing left to give, self-care is critical. It’s also when it feels most impossible.
“Take a shower, wash off the day. Drink a glass of water. Make the room dark. Lie down and close your eyes.Notice the silence. Notice your heart. Still beating. Still fighting. You made it, after all. You made it, another day. And you can make it one more. You’re doing just fine.”
- Charlotte Eriksson, You're Doing Just Fine
Every aspect of money seems to come with something else to read. We dread another brown envelope coming through the front door because we don’t have the brain space to read them. Trying to compare insurance costs or sign up to a new phone contract is a nightmare; we can’t keep one bit of information in our head while we look at another and we’re just so tired. With concentration and memory hard to come by, paperwork and money admin are a nightmare. But we can’t just ignore them, because we know that if we do then it will come back to haunt us.
Coping with foggy brain days
Brain fog is something that many of us deal with day in, day out. It’s not a diagnosable condition but is a common symptom for many different illnesses. Brain fog can range from being an occasional annoyance to a persistent condition which impacts many areas of our lives.
Piecing life back together after a period of depression
Piecing life back together following a period of depression isn’t always straightforward. There are lots of things to consider and think about. It’s often something we have to work really hard at.
Things to try when depression affects your memory and concentration
Depression can also really limit our concentration and memory. It can be frustrating and disorientating (and sometimes a bit embarrassing too). It can feel like we’re wading through treacle, our brains just don’t work as quickly and efficiently as they once did. And boy, do we notice it.
7 Steps For Dealing With Overwhelming Paperwork
There are few things more horrendous than complicated, overwhelming paperwork.
For someone who’s depressed, these tasks seem insurmountable. For someone who’s anxious, the worry of making a mistake somewhere can be nauseating. Unfortunately, us mentally poorly folk don’t get let off of this crummy paperwork business.
We have a plan though. We’ve got seven steps to get you through that overwhelmingly large pile of documents. It probably won’t be pleasant, but it will be manageable.
What is executive functioning and how could depression affect it?
Executive functioning is a term that many of us won’t have heard before. It encompasses a range of things that affect our everyday lives; depression or no depression. Understanding what executive functioning is, and how it interacts with depression, can help us to have a greater understanding of the difficulties we face.
How to tackle an overwhelming to-do list
Much like the feeling you get when paperwork is mounting and needs to be completed, a long to-do list can evoke anxious feelings.
We’ve come to the conclusion that whilst important, a to-do list alone isn’t enough to beat the overwhelm that comes with it. What we need is a plan of action. So let’s tackle that overwhelming to-do list together.
“I lie there and wait, and remind myself over and over that it doesn’t last forever. That there will be another day and after that, yet another day. One of those days, I’ll get up and eat breakfast and feel okay.”
- E. Lockhart
For Those With Dependents
Some of us have dependents. They might be our children, step-children, parents, grandparents, close friend, partner, adopted children, aunts or uncles… anyone who depends on us for care and support, whether they live in the same place as us or not.
Each has their own challenges. The age of any children or young people who depend on us will have a big impact on the challenges we face, and their level of understanding. Sometimes our dependents don’t require money, but do require a lot of time, which can impact our ability to earn. Sometimes meeting their needs does cost money, for example, some may require their living space to be a certain temperature.
We worry. If we are struggling to afford the basic needs of ourselves and our dependents then that can create another stick to beat ourselves with. Another hit to our mental health.
A letter to parents who have depression
Dear Parent Who Has Depression,
You are not alone. One in six adults in the UK has a mental health problem. 4-10% of the UK population experience depression at some point in their life time. You’re definitely not the only parent to have depression. You are not alone.
Your depression is not your fault. You didn’t choose to have depression. You don’t want it to be a part of your life. Your depression is not your fault.
Self-care for those who have a caring role
Whether it be a paid role such as a teacher, nurse, therapist, or social worker, or we’re one of the 1 in 10 people in the UK who fulfil an unpaid carer role, many of us have responsibilities that involve caring for others. For a lot of us, our roles might give us a sense of fulfilment. Many of us will enjoy caring for others and find that it gives us a sense of purpose. For some, caring for others takes its toll. Whatever our ‘carer’ capacity might be, it can limit the amount of time and headspace we have available to look after ourselves.
A SELF-CARE GUIDE FOR PARENTS
Most of us will have heard of the term ‘self-care‘ by now, but for many of us – especially parents – the notion of self-care can seem like a lovely idea in principle, yet a tad unrealistic and inaccessible. Slotting it into the chaos and unpredictability of our lives can feel impossible, especially when children are thrown into the mix.
What we need are practical, down-to-earth ideas for incorporating self-care into our busy, sticky-fingered, never-ending-pile-of-washing, can’t-even-go-to-the-toilet-in-peace lives.
COPING WITH DEPRESSION WHEN YOU HAVE YOUNG CHILDREN
Coping with depression is difficult, but when we have young children to look after, too, it can be incredibly tricky to make space for what we need when we have dependents who rely on us to have their needs met.
DEPRESSION AND PARENTING: 6 LOW ENERGY THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR CHILDREN
Being a parent and living with depression can feel impossible at times. Yes, being a parent is rewarding, but let’s not pretend it’s ever easy. There are little people depending on you for love, affection and attention. On top of that is the never-ending list of tasks to complete: clothes to wash, dry and iron, bath-time, food to buy, meals to prepare, the list goes on, and on, and on, and on.
SUPPORTING OUR CHILDREN THROUGH ANXIOUS TIMES
Supporting our children through anxious times can tug at all of the heartstrings and flood our minds with worries such as ‘am I doing enough’s’. Though we often wish we could, we can’t wave a magic wand and ‘fix’ it for them. But we can support them to cope.
"I don't ever want to hear you say that you don't deserve or you aren't worthy. You do. You are.”
- Lesley Livingston, Starling
Looking After Our Mental Health
Mental health and money can create a circular relationship. Our mental health can make earning money hard. Lack of money can grind us down.
We are worthy of help and support no matter what state our mental health, finances, or earning potential are in. We are not alone. No matter how empty or desperate we feel at 3am (or 3pm!). We are not the only person to have ever felt this way, and we won’t be the only person who will ever feel this way.
We’re undeniably in a really dark spot right now, but things can get better.
Depression: How and when to ask for help
Depression can be a very lonely and isolating illness. Getting support from others can help keep us going. However, it can be hard to know when to reach out for help, and how to go about asking for it. In this post we offer some advice about reaching out.
Depression: Coping with the urge to run away
When we have depression, we sometimes feel like we want to run away from everything. Life can feel overwhelming and claustrophobic. Leaving it all behind and starting from scratch can seem very appealing.
But running away from everything isn’t usually an option – or the answer.
Depression: Dealing With Overwhelmedness
Depression and feeling overwhelmed go hand-in-hand. Depression in itself is overwhelming because it affects every aspect of your life. It causes us to question our own abilities, skills, relationships and worth.
Overwhelmedness is stifling and can stop us from taking any action at all. We fear failure, we fear rejection and we quite frankly, we don’t always have the energy to get going.
On the other hand, you may never feel good enough and so push yourself to achieve. Saying yes to all demands placed on you until you have nothing left to give.
Panic Attacks: 6 Coping Techniques
Having a panic attack can feel like the most frightening thing you have ever experienced. The thought of having one can affect your daily life and even stop you from doing ordinary things or going to certain places.
Explaining the feeling to people who have never suffered a panic attack can be difficult. From the outside you may look like you are doing just fine but in your head you feel like you are going to explode.
21 DEPRESSION-FRIENDLY PASTIMES THAT DON’T COST THE EARTH
When we have depression, it can be difficult to know what to do with ourselves. Depression saps our energy and motivation to do things, and the financial issues that can arise from our condition make cost a factor too.
Finding depression-friendly pastimes, which take all of that into account, can be tricky.
11 WAYS WE CAN PRACTICE SELF-KINDNESS
We often talk about ‘being kind to ourselves’; but when depression has us in its grasp, it can feel hard to like ourselves enough to carry out basic self-cre, never mind to show ourselves kindness. It’s even harder to practice self-kindness when we can’t think where we could start or when it feels like an alien habit, so here are a few ideas to get us going.
Depression: When Recovery Can't Be Our Sole Focus
In an ideal world, when we’re diagnosed with depression or any other condition, we would be able to put our entire lives on hold to prioritise our recovery. Unfortunately, the reality is that for many of us, recovery can’t be our sole focus. There are other things in our lives which we have to factor in.
Mental Health and debt
A free PDF booklet from Money Saving Expert.
No debt problems are unsolvable. It might not be easy or quick, but there’s always a route. When mental health problems are involved, some special solutions apply.
Anxiety: Why we're so exhausted
If we’re living with regular bouts of anxiety, then the likelihood is that we feel bone-wearily exhausted with a foggy head that no amount of sleep seems to ease.
Depression: When we don't feel as though we're enough
The devastating nature of depression often leads us to feel a whirlpool of not-so-nice things. Commonly, we feel that we’re not enough; good enough nor doing enough. The negative thoughtsthat lie and tell us that we’re useless, come at us thick and fast.
Depression: Please Don't self-blame
Depression corrodes our confidence and quite often, it brings with it a sense of shame and incessant self-blame. Even though we rationally know that depression is an illness, we might find that we get caught in a loop of beating ourselves up and blaming ourselves for how ill we are.
When Depression Brings With It An Avalanche Of Guilt
When we have depression, it often comes with a huge dollop of all-consuming guilt. The guilt plays right into the hands of depression, which feeds back into our guilt….and so on. It’s a horrible never-ending cycle of anguish.
“I find faith in human perseverance, even as the universe throws challenge after challenge our way.”
- David Levithan, Every Day
When Times Get Really Tough
There aren’t words to describe how hopeless we can feel when we’re struggling to afford to feed ourselves, keep ourselves warm, or shelter ourselves.
It’s an awful situation to be in. No ifs, no buts.
If we start struggling to meet our basic needs, and/or those of our dependents, then we need help. If our mental health has gone downhill to the point where we don’t know how to continue, we need more help.
We deserve support. We don’t have to struggle for weeks on end and reach a point where we’re struggling to stand before we reach out for more support.
Help is out there. We are not alone.
Depression: How to cope when things go wrong
Things going wrong are a normal – somewhat frustrating – part of life. They can set us back, but most of the time we can figure out a way to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and keep going. However, when we’re experiencing depression, even seemingly minor, inconsequential things going wrong can have a huge effect on how we feel we might be able to cope.
Depression: When it's time to ask for more help
When we have depression, there are times when we need more help. Sometimes we already have some support. Sometimes we don’t have any support at all. But whatever the starting point; the more supported we feel, the more manageable depression feels.
Carrying A Burden Doesn't Make You A Burden
Many of us go through life carrying all sorts of baggage that doesn’t half weigh us down. This ‘baggage’ can feel like a burden. Sometimes we feel as though the burden we’re carrying makes us a burden. As though everything that weighs so heavily on us will mean that we weigh down all those we interact with. But carrying a burden doesn’t mean that we become, or are, a burden.
Coping with crisis
Depression is an insidious illness. At its very worst, it can take lives.
For those of us experiencing thoughts of suicide, we’re not always sure what to do, or where to go, for help.
In this resource page we hope to build awareness and understanding about what it can be like to live with suicidal feelings. We also provide resources and information that may help in crisis situations.
Depression: Why surviving deserves more credit than we give it
When we talk to family, read the papers, and scroll through social media; we often find ourselves feeling inadequate. The entire world seems to be achieving in one way or another. Whether it be a new job or promotion. Tiny babies, or photos of grandchildren’s graduations. Smiling faces sharing travels, or photos of certificates. It could be something else entirely. Whatever it is, it can be really hard to not let all of this carefully curated ‘success’ affect how we feel about ourselves.
Depression: When we have thoughts of ending it all
Sometimes, we can be plagued by intrusive thoughts that don’t reflect how we actually feel. Our depression might tells us we want to end our lives, when in reality we very much want to keep on living – but we want the pain to go away. The marked difference between these thoughts (that we seemingly hold in our heads at the same time) is confusing. The constant conflict in our heads is exhausting.
10 quotes which help us through tough days
Words aren’t always the easiest things to form, yet seem to have the biggest impact on our lives. Something that someone said years ago – without forethought and by chance – and promptly forgotten, could be a sentence that the person next to them clings onto for years to come.
To the person who feels alone in this
There are times when no matter how many people we have around us, we feel alone – even in a room of our most favourite people. Depression weighs us down and anxiety clutches our chest.
Carrying on when the world feels like a hopeless place
Sometimes the world can feel like a hopeless place. If we struggle with our mental health generally, then reading and seeing awful things in the news can hit particularly hard. There are days when finding that hope can be a tricky task.
Mental Health & Money Advice
Mental health and money offer specific advice and guidance for those with mental health struggles. They include useful information like how our benefits may be affected by a stay in hospital, and coping with prescription charges.
"Accept what you are able to do and what you are not able to do. Accept the past as past, without denying it or discarding it. Learn to forgive yourself and to forgive others. Don't assume that it's too late to get involved."
— Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie)
Things will get better
We know that things are really, really rubbish right now.
We probably feel ground down. Exhausted. Hopeless. Frustrated. We might feel as though we have nothing left to give and have no idea how we’re currently getting through each day.
We might be scared. We might feel worthless. We might be yearning some peace and stability.
The situation we’re currently in won’t last forever. It can’t. Perhaps that doesn’t help right now, because what we really need is for it to get better yesterday, not three weeks from now. But hold onto that spark of hope, however small.
You are not alone. We’re by your side. It might seem small, but we will keep sending kind words every week. We will keep sharing social media posts. We will keep reminding you that of your worth because, oh gosh, you are so worthy.
The Blurt Team x