Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Mental Health & Debt

I saw something on the television this morning that struck a chord with me. They were talking about the connection between mental health problems and debt.

In recent times since I got more of a handle on my depression and anxiety spending.

Today though I have thought back to the days when getting myself into terrible debt was a regular occurrence and come to my own conclusions as to why I ran up those debts. I have considered and not for the first time, whether it was because of my mental health.

If Mental Health was a player,  I think it would  have been because I was trying to buy myself self esteem by getting nice clothes, flattering hair cuts, posh things that I thought people would be jealous of thinking they may think better of me for having flash things. Of course it has never worked; I am no more of a person now for all those purchases than I would have been without them.

Initially as I reflected I wanted to blame my Mother for the debts and my spending habits. She would never let me control my own money as a child therefore I never understood the value of money and I was thinking that, that’s maybe why I have always spent and spent and spent. But although I think my Mother and her lack of caring, and loving do contribute to a lot of my my mental health issues I think my actual spending problems were actually rooted in something far deeper and more sinister than even she should take credit for in their entirety.

I first started working straight out of school at sixteen years old, joining the police service at nineteen. I think upon reflection it started then, the anxiety, the lack of confidence and the depression. Of course there are several key life events along the way that have now magnified and enhanced the problems to where they are now. The last 28 years of my life have certainly had there ups and downs, whose life hasn’t, but no matter how much money I have spent I never seemed to be happy, or to be able to purchase that anxiety free world that I think I am ultimately after.

Is that it then, the route of the spending problems, is that me trying to buy happiness?

By no means was my depression and anxiety ever as bad as it is now back in the early days although my body has always had a habit of getting physically ill when I am up to my neck in something psychologically taxing or stressful. But gradually over the years if I was feeling down or empty I would head to the shops and indulge myself. Sometimes I bought ridiculous things that never ever saw the light of day again and often I would stand in shops considering the validity of spending the money but invariably my heart would overrule the logic of my brain the purchase would be made. Even when I knew there was no money and it got placed onto credit cards and even when the credit card ran out of credit I would just get another one. When the credit card repayments got too much I’d then take out a loan to pay them off and start all over again. Catalogues, store cards on and on and on until the debt around my neck then exacerbated my anxiety one hundred per cent. I have created a vicious circle of debt, anxiety, more debt, and then more anxiety. Being in debt is soul destroying and you think people look at you as if you are a brainless idiot, well you are, but brainless because it is incapacitated by illness and by your own feelings of inadequacy. The inadequacy that you were trying to erase with nice things, the happiness and love you were trying to buy they all then just end up even further away than when you started your whole sorry journey of spending.

So that’s what I have been thinking about today. I think the debts that I have run up and paid off over the years all stem from emptiness, from the void I feel in my life. I have tried to buy happiness, buy my way to positivity and fulfilment. I have been on the a merry-go-round of anxiety, spend,  debt, equals more anxiety, so spend more and get into more debt!  On and on and on. And even though I know what these issues are, I am still fighting them, I still fight the spending urge. Like an addict it is a habit that is hard to break. I guess it is an addiction because that small emotional pay off I get, that warm feeling of satisfaction for buying something glorious does for a few hours make me happy and less anxious.

Ultimately though peace of mind is something that cannot be bought, and anxiety is something that refuses to be paid off.


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