My PTSD, Depression, and OCD Has Left Me in Financial Ruin

Question:

Dear Steve,

I am currently diagnosed with PTSD, depression, anxiety, and OCD.

I have over $100K in debt (including my massive student and personal loans).

I pay off my credit cards and run them back up when I have hard days. I am on medication and see a therapist regularly. I am also lying to my husband about how much debt I have out of fear and shame.

I was lucky to have a good job that paid well to cover my debt and household expenses. But then, I was laid off, and I realized it was harder to hide my debt.

So, I told him about a few of them to help. I took another job to cover my debt and not hurt the household. But it doesn’t pay well, and I am looking for something better paying. But my down days continuously cycle back, and now cards that were paid off have balances again.

Should I close all my cards except the ones with my husband and freeze my credit report.

I know this should be extreme, but this has a cycle. It has been very hard to break, and I feel I am at my end and will never get better if I let my down days bring me financial ruin.

I feel that I can always rebuild my credit. Any advice?

Keashia

Answer:

Dear Keashia,

You have done a lot of the hard introspection already. Congratulations on doing that.

As you have observed, underlying mental health issues exacerbate financial problems. At this point, it is a perpetual cycle. A UK study found, “9 out of 10 of those in problem debt felt that their financial difficulties had made their mental health problem(s) worse.” – Source

Financial PTSD is Real

I think you will find this past reader question sounds very similar to what you have been dealing with. You are not alone.

The type of money issues you’ve been dealing with absolutely cause Financial PTSD, read about that here.

Proposed Solutions Sound Reasonable – But

I love that you are brainstorming about solutions like locking down your credit report. That is an excellent logical suggestion.

However, the suggestion will be ineffective until you can find a way to get the underlying mental health issues under control and stabilized.

Time and time again, I’ve seen people circumvent hurdles to feed their emotional, financial cravings. When people think or feel desperate, they do desperate things. Yet they always say they will never do them. I’ve seen people commit identity theft and steal money to feed their intense need to fulfill their emotional megaphone.

Putting a freeze on your credit report may help, but in a manic moment, you will find a way to get what you want.

But There is a Solution

Until you find a solid foundation of support and honesty with others, this will continue to spin out of control. Breakthrough spending will create more stress and friction. The pressure will lead to more emotional spending to reduce the stress and negative thoughts. Do you see the cycle?

You will say to yourself the same thing so many before you have said – “This will never happen to me.” The truth is it won’t until it does.

By your admission, you’ve had breakthrough spending. So you are already predisposed to failing with a solid plan.

But Here is a Plan

Your debt is the byproduct of the underlying mental health issues. Hence, the litter left behind as your mental health struggles continue to oscillate.

To have a hope of a better future, you must wand this back to build a solid foundation to rebuild on.

I urge you to meet with your mental health healthcare provider and be open about your current situation. Talk to them about doing joint sessions with your husband to help him understand your struggles and how much of this has been beyond your logical control.

If you don’t like your current mental health therapist or doctor, find a better one following this advice.

The honesty with your husband will be stressful, but that’s why we need your therapist to be involved.

Once your husband understands the truth and you are no longer hiding or keeping financial secrets from him, you can tackle this without shame or fear.

Part of that solution may be to freeze your credit report but have him hold the password. Hopefully, this won’t lead to resentment when he doesn’t give it to you in a moment of panic.

Without a doubt, focusing on the debt first will not lead to a good outcome. Repairing the secret shame alone will not have a happy result either.

Can You See the Better Days Ahead?

Envision life without lying, secrets, hidden shame, and fear. Can you see how that can lead you to a better chance of finding emotional peace daily?

Peace with yourself, your husband, and your finances will lead to more excellent mental health stability and a better future. Better days are ahead if you let them be.

In the comments below, please let me know what you think about all of this, why you might feel it is impossible or ridiculous to achieve, and what you decide to do.

Sincerly,

You are not alone. I’m here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don’t give up.

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach