Friday, 4 May 2012

Debt is depressing.

Being poor sucks. Really sucks.  And I don’t mean poor as in you can’t afford to go out as often as you’d like, you’re not having a holiday this year, you’re not earning enough to justify a haircut.  I mean poor as in you’re getting red letters from all your creditors, you weigh up every bus fare against buying bread and milk, you really don’t know how you’re going to pay your household bill this month, next month, every month. And knowing that part of the reason you’re so poor is because you have an illness that takes away your ability to manage any kind of personal care or circumstances really sticks the knife in.

Like work and depression, alcohol and depression, relationships and depression, finance and depression can feel like a chicken and egg never-ending circle.  Did I get in debt because I am depressed or is my depression causing me to get further into debt as I don’t have the emotional strength to get a handle on it?

I’ve never been that good with money (Savings? Huh?)  but I’ve always managed to keep on top of any debt I had until now.   I’m unemployed after being forced in December to resign from my job due to an investigation into claims I was faking depression. It’s a long, sorry tale which I’ve blogged about before so I won’t go into the detail here. Suffices to say, I’m out of work and no one seems in any way keen to interview me.

I’ve just had my Job Seekers Allowance cut because I missed an appointment.  I missed an appointment because I got four days’ work for which I will get paid about £600 at some point in the future. I did try and inform the Jobcentre by email of the circumstances (I couldn’t phone as it was a Bank Holiday weekend and I was working 15 hour days) but nevertheless my allowance has been taken away.  This means that my monthly income is £320 Housing Benefit which is for my rent (it obviously doesn’t cover it) and £8.71 per week Council Tax Benefit.  I’m not going to disclose how much I owe to the red letter senders – frankly it’s none of your business! – But clearly, they ain’t getting paid any time soon.

Because I’ve been so ill with depression, my natural tendency to keep a grip - albeit a tenuous one - on my finances has gone to pot.  It’s not been so much burying my head in the sand as being so out of focus with things that they have just not even registered. My memory is terribly affected by depression. I just don’t remember to do stuff.   And now I’m surrounded by letters and getting the dreaded 0845 phone calls and I don’t quite know where to start.  Having my JSA cut has knocked me right back; I’ll be honest, I could have sorted it out a couple of weeks ago but I was already slipping, I’m having more and more frequent depressive symptoms.  I am terrified of going back to where I was at the end of last year but the curse of depression is that I just don’t feel able to do anything about it. And so we’re back to the chicken and egg.

I can imagine that to some people this just reads like a list of excuses for being crap with money; it’s really not. Depression plays Russian roulette with your mind. It takes a wrecking ball to your sense of priority and gives your memory a right old kicking.  When leaving your room to go to the toilet is Mount Everest, than having to interact with people you feel over-burdened with guilt about owing money to becomes an impossible mountain to scale.

This morning I have been looking on the website and I think it might just be the thing that will help me get a handle on things, so that is a step in the right direction.  I am going to look into getting an advocate to help me contact the companies I owe money to.  I can’t do this alone. And for once I am going to ask for help, which as any depressive knows, is often the hardest thing of all. 


  1. A friend posted this on her wall and I saw it and had to come here. Ring that number, they are a decent bunch of people who can help you. I also recommend the Consumer Credit Counselling Service who do the same thing and won't take money from you. I got a lot of help from the CAB but this was in the days before the cuts so CAB may not have the resources to help. Still, it's worth seeing if you can get an appointment with them as face to face chats are sometimes less terrifying than the phone.

    I had my credit crunch about 7 or 8 years ago and I also suffered from depression which was probably why it happened. When the creditors first accept the repayment arrangement it is a massive load off your shoulders although they can be sneaky - watch out for the debt being sold on without you knowing. Stand firm, keep to the agreement and eventually they leave you alone.

    It might be you need to go bankrupt - if so that can be a massive release of stress too.

    Get something sorted out then you can get on with recovering from your illness - which is difficult whilst things are so awful.

    I have just finished paying off my debts and I have also recovered from my illness. You can get through the terrible times and better times will come. *hugs*

  2. PS You don't need an advocate if you use the national debtline CAB or the consumer credit counselling servoce as they will do it for you

  3. Thank you so much this is brilliant advice. I've heard about CCCS from others this morning so I am going to contact them. Thanks again, and for sharing your experience, it really does help xx

  4. (((((hugs)))))

    Hope you get things sorted soon. Re the dodgy memory - would making one long list help at all? Write down every single thing you need to do and then cross it off (and maybe date it) when you've done it? Or would that make it worse?

    1. I don't know. Lists tend to overwhelm me but I think it's something I should try. xx

    2. Firstly - loads of hugs.
      Secondly - Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is an organisation which is NOT just for Christians who have got into a mess. If you are in an area where they have a money centre then they will come and see you, help you sort out what needs paying and to whom and simply take all your debts away in return for keeping to the agreed budget and paying the revised overall amount to CAP.
      Thirdly: If you are on Facebook then I would recommend making friends with TheElephant intheRoom which is a friendly persona (actually status posts are written by Ele's handlers Eve, Taryn and Laura) co-ordinated by Mind. One of the best things about Ele is that you are reminded that you are not alone with the depression or the debt which frequently goes together.
      Fourthly: Oh dear, I'm going all "listy" with someone I don't really know but ... is the a local self-help group around your area? Not knowing where you live I can't give you any contacts.

  5. Ade @Eagle_Chaser4 May 2012 at 04:19

    Nationaldebtline are an excellent organisation, it is a great first step. As are CCCS. It might also be an idea to go and have a look at the people who post there have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and there will be some who are closer to your story than you may realise.

  6. I can relate to what you wrote about debt being the source of your depression that you couldn’t function well enough for everyday tasks. I was in the same position as you were last year and it was an excruciating process. It’s actually good that you considered seeking professional help. Just always remember that you can overcome this hurdle in life with hard work and perseverance.

    Era Kehoe

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  8. I hope you're better now and have managed to deal with both your emotional and financial problems. Dealing with debt is hard enough, but dealing with it while being depressed is even harder. I commend your strength to still push through and work your way to earning money. Just remember to stay strong and make wise spending decisions so that you wouldn't incur any more debt in the future.

    Jaden Allred @Toronto Bankruptcy Advice

  9. Debt can be very depressing at times, especially if you’re the only one dealing with it. Don’t let yourself get too depressed because of debt. It is not healthy for you, and it will do no good. Remember that there are professionals that can help you with your debt. They can give advice that will lead you to getting out of debt. It would be worth a try. @ Paddon + Yorke

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