Real life stories
I was in £30k of debt before being diagnosed with a personality disorder
I’m not great on the phone. I get very anxious and panic if it’s a number I don’t recognise, or if I think it’s the bank.
I’ve been diagnosed with a personality disorder but I didn’t find this out until my forties, when I was already £30,000 in debt. I was working in a high-pressured job as a probation officer and had previously worked as a high school teacher. I even managed offenders with personality disorders – I just hadn’t spotted it in myself.
Beware of commercial debt companies
At that time I had been paying one of those debt companies to pay it all off together, but I kept being sent County Court Judgements (CCJs) in the post. I couldn’t understand it. It turned out that this company hadn’t been passing it all on, and hadn’t done the calculations right, so the interest wasn’t even being paid.
A friend very kindly spoke to a money advisor for me and organised a meeting for me and I just did everything they said. We went through the process, got an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) and my debts were written off.
The PIP process
The whole PIP process was so stressful, it made me so unwell. I’m really angry about it now because I just thought – I’m an educated person and I couldn’t navigate my way through all the paperwork, all the benefits to keep track of, and then all the stress of the assessments, and the waiting.
I had 3 months with a home treatment team, and we worked out a crisis and relapse plan. I spoke with my friend again, and she kindly offered to look after other money and my welfare payments for me.
She’s also an authorised person for my mortgage lender, so they can discuss things with her if they need to.
Dealing with those bills through the post
Because money affects every part of your life, I can’t believe they put people through this – with benefit assessments, with trying to manage the PIP process and having to appeal decisions. More help needs to be out there. Especially on the link between mental health and money, it’s so hard.
I can burn through a thousand pounds in an hour online if I’m in a manic mood. I know that when my mental health is bad I want to spend, but equally that if I am worrying about money, it makes me anxious and panicky. It happened just recently when the money came through after my PIP appeal tribunal. The money was just sitting there in my account and I just thought I have to spend. The bulk of the payment was transferred to my friend's account so I ask for money when I need it. I also try to pay all my essential bills, and then any that is left, to a credit union account to try to start to save. What is left is usually a limit of £10-20 per month which I allow myself to spend on games online, when there is enough left.
Now I run a wellness peer support group, and I can share all I’ve learned. I’ve been through so much, but if I can help someone else, I will.