At this time of year, all I want to do is spend money. Money I have, money I don’t have. It’s all the same. My concept of money is skewed. I’ve had this problem for most of my life and it’s increasingly worsened, thanks to university and being an irresponsible adult.
I’ve recently been told I have Borderline Personality Disorder (but the jury is still out on this one) and a symptom that presents itself in me is that I just want to spend money. It’s like an addiction. It burns a hole in my pocket, as my mum always used to say.
Christmas time is ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ but also means I want to spend more money than I do normally. Not necessarily on myself but on family, friends and the nice man in the street with the funny looking dog. Anyone I can buy something for, I will.
Spending money in this flighty state feels like:
- There’s no limit
- You’re invincible
- You’ll worry about the debt later
- What’s the biggest and best thing you can buy your mum/dad/partner/nan?
- Where’s the debit card?
- Great, I’ve spent all the money I actually have, where’s the credit card so I can spend what I don’t have?
…And so on. Until it reaches a peak and you hit a low where all of a sudden, you’ve maxed out the debit and credit cards, you’ve rung the bank for an extension and now you’re:
- Having frequent panic attacks
- Can’t sleep
- Can’t eat or function because you think the debt collectors will be on your doorstep
- Feel very ashamed
- Feel like you can’t tell anyone
- Feel like you have to do it alone
I only recently told my partner about my problem with spending and I’ve had this chronic problem for about 10 years.
I thought he would judge me and never speak to me again. I thought the whole world was going to end and I’d feel even more ashamed of myself. But it didn’t go that way at all. In fact, it went the opposite. He was very understanding and told me he would help me through it. He happens to be a whizz with numbers and spreadsheets, which works out well for me.
Turns out, telling him was the worst and best experience of my life.
Not telling anyone about money difficulties rings true for so many people with mental health problems. It’s the feeling of shame that gets us.
Did you know that one in four British adults with a mental health problem has a problem with debt? And did you also know that people with mental health issues are three times as likely to have a problem with debt, than those without? (Source)
Of people surveyed in Mind’s ‘In the Red’ report, ‘respondents owed an average of £3,250 on credit or store cards’ and ‘50% reported missing two or more consecutive payments with at least one bill’.
More needs to be done to help and support people with mental health issues dealing with debt and increased spending.
Help needs to come from:
- Banks - With staff asking the right questions as sensitively as they can to let someone know they can help and provide guidance
- Charities – Where possible, associated charities and organisations like the Citizen’s Advice Bureau should look to provide more workshops and support for those struggling with their mental health and debt
- People who have been there – Stories told by people who have first-hand experience are quite few and far between. It’s like having a problem with money is a taboo subject. Admittedly, I thought it was. I recently shared my story with mental health charity, Hafal, and Lloyds Bank to give hope to those in debt.
For those who are struggling and feel like you can’t talk to someone, I totally understand. Like me, it could be your biggest secret. But, it can really help lift the weight from your shoulders and the person you tell could really help you, give you a hug and tell it will be alright. So don’t be afraid or ashamed. You can get through it.
As a blogger, I found that it helped writing about it as a starter too on my blog My Anxiety Matters.