Seeking emotional help after drowning in debt for many years

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  • I have spent years dealing with harassment from debt collectors and the stress of being heavily in debt.
  • This stress and fear has stuck with me and is manifesting as a form of post traumatic stress disorder.
  • I am currently looking for a financial therapist and am trying to solve my problems to improve myself.
  • Learn more about Personal Finance Insider.

I have spent the past eight years diligently working on my finances. My previous debts included credit cards, small personal loans and more. In the summer of 2021, I finally finished paying off over $ 60,000 in unsecured debt. And while my current finances aren’t perfect, they’re pretty solid now. But what I didn’t know was that I would feel the emotional impact of financial stress even years after paying off my debts.

I wish more people would talk about the trauma of not having enough money, getting constant calls from debt collectors, and feeling like financial failure. After paying off tens of thousands of dollars in debt, I thought my financial woes would be over – and most were. Yet these experiences have not been forgotten.

The emotional impact of financial stress

I hate robocalls, and it’s not just because they’re really annoying. They remind me of a time in my life when I was heavily in debt and received dozens of collection calls every day from various creditors. Whenever I see an unidentified number turn on my phone, my breathing gets a little tight and I wonder if I was wrong somehow, or if there was an invoice that I was doing. forgot to pay.

Innocent-looking business envelopes tend to make me nervous because I can’t shake the memory of receiving all those dunning letters. Things like notice of action letters or payments received for late payments (because I was juggling so many creditors) come to mind.

Texting and emailing can also be stressful when I remember all the times creditors have relentlessly contacted me this way. Even just common


Phishing

texts can trigger my stress. What if I accidentally answer and kick the ball out to get ripped off financially?

The absence of all this debt made me realize that there was no constant collection activity that had been a part of my life for so long.

What happens after most of the debt is gone?

It wasn’t until around 2019 that I really started to notice how much of a psychological impact being in debt had on my mental health. I have come to the very frustrating conclusion that I will probably struggle with some aspect of what I call “financial PTSD” for a long time, so I am currently looking for a Financial Therapist.

There are perhaps readers of this wondering if “financial PTSD” is a thing? Or, what is it exactly as I would define it?

PTSD is an anxiety disorder characterized by persistent negative emotions and hypersensitivities after a traumatic event or period, and I consider what I experience to be a form of PTSD because I find myself struggling unexpectedly when certain situations arise. .

These situations are sometimes completely normal times in most people’s financial lives that shouldn’t be stressful to deal with. For example, when I get a letter from my ISP and instead of thinking it’s a boring letter about a new program, I automatically get upset and worry that it this is a follow-up letter.

I move past negative financial memories

What I realized is that while I want to move past my negative financial experiences, it can be harder than I thought to deal with those feelings. My problems show up in areas of my financial life that I thought I had control over, such as how comfortable I am saying I want to make more money.

While I told myself I would like to earn more, I found that I sometimes sabotage my income goals when I’m afraid I want more for myself. I look forward to working with a financial therapist in the future to help me understand why.

Here are some of the steps I am currently taking to manage my ongoing financial PTSD in the meantime.

Share my story and connect with the community

I know I’m not the only person facing this. I don’t want to pretend everything is fine and by sharing my story I give others the opportunity to share theirs.

Make sure I have enough in my business accounts

Currently, I run a small business. I recognize that some of the normal financial ups and downs that I experience as a small business owner can trigger an episode of PTSD or at least make me incredibly anxious, so I always make sure to prepare my accounts in the event of lack of liquidity.


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