Struggling With Debt When You Battle With Mental Health

There is scarcely anything that drags a person down like debt – P. T. Barnum


Drowning in debt can be difficult for anyone to manage, but it’s made all the more difficult when you’re battling with your mental health. Your illness is telling you to hide the letters and to ignore it until your crediters eventually give up trying – but the rational part of your brain is watching “Can’t Pay we’ll Take it Away” terrified of getting that knock at the door and telling you to sort it out.

I’m currently struggling with a large amount of debt, much of it generated when I was in my worst place mentally and had little control of my actions and couldn’t rationalise properly what I was doing. Make no mistake, I’m in debt because of my mental health. I bought phones on credit that I didn’t need, but I was feeling high and wanted them. I maxed out credit cards because I was struggling with money and wanted to buy myself new things because I was high or so low that I needed an escape through shopping. I was reckless, and that’s a trait of borderline personality disorder – being impulsive to the point that you’re being near moronic.

I’ve had numerous sleepless nights because of the debt I’ve found myself in at the low age of just 21. I ignored the debts for so long and struggled to keep up with my repayments that I’m now drowning in interest and getting bombarded with letters from crediters and debt collectors. I made mistake after mistake, and I’m only just beginning to own up to how stupid I was and I’m only just beginning to get a grip on what I need to do.

If you’re struggling with debt and don’t know what to do, I have some advice for you:

Speak to the people you’re in debt to!

If you’re mentally ill, tell them and they’ll try to help. Just by disclosing details of my illness to some of my crediters I managed to get the threatening letters stopped and interest frozen. They’re there to help, they want to help you get a handle on things. All they’re interested in is getting back the money they are owed, and if helping you to manage things gets them just some of their money back rather than you going bankrupt then that is what they will do.

I’m slowly beginning to gather up my letters and I’m starting to make plans of how I’m going to deal with this. I’ve heard of people getting debts squashed before due to taking it out when they were mentally ill, so that’s the first thing I’m going to try doing. And after that, any money that’s still owed, I’m going to start paying it back bit my bit. I’m also looking into debt consolidation so I can pay it all off at once and pay back just one person each month.

I’m not going to lie, it will likely be years before I’m completely debt free – but I’m making my plans to get out of debt and to start managing it better than I did before. And I’ve made a pact with myself to not get myself into anymore bad debt.

The thing with debt is that it comes in two forms. Good and bad. If you’re struggling and just need to borrow some money until the end of the month then that’s fine, that small amount of debt can help you out and is easily managed. The problem comes when you’re drowning in it. When you’re relying on it to survive. When you’re taking out credit just for the hell of it purely because your mental health isn’t in its best place.

More needs to be done by the Government to protect mentally vulnerable people from taking out mountains of debt they can never afford to pay back – stop them taking it out so it doesn’t even become a problem. More needs to be done to help people in managing debt. And more needs to be done to educate people in debt so that they know the difference between good and bad debt and so that they know how to deal with it. We live in a consumerist society where getting into debt is sold to us as a good thing, a great thing. We’re being bombarded by banks and crediters to take out as much as possible. This Government preaches “Living within our means” – maybe they should apply that philosophy to everyday people when it comes to debt so that nobody can take out more debt than they both need and can actually manage/pay off. Maybe the Government should ban the advertising of credit. I’m no politician, I don’t know the answer to this, but I do know that the Government should be doing way more.

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