Depression and Money, Some Real Talk

Martha Kaplan and I are both depressed.

This is the first in a series of conversations about depression and money.

Logan Sachon: So we’re here today to talk about DEPRESSION and how it affects our MONEY.

Martha Kaplan: Not well. It has what I would characterize as a “negative effect.”

LS: Yes. I think you are right about that. We both have some personal experience with this. I’d say.

MK: I would say that also.

LS: So we’re going to talk about this. Martha Kaplan is not your real name, though maybe it should be.

MK: Yes I have requested to be anonymous because of my job. It’s hard to be taken seriously in your place of business if it’s widely known that one, you are a lady, and two, you sometimes have trouble getting out of bed. Either of the the two is problematic. But in combination it’s disastrous.

LS: … 

MK: I’ll give you the breakdown on my “issues.” So I’ve probably always been somewhere on the depression spectrum. But this got particularly bad during college. There was a week-long period my sophomore year when I didn’t really leave my room. I mean, I got some food, occasionally, but I mostly didn’t go to class. I definitely didn’t wash my hair. I didn’t really see people (probably part of that was shame because of the state of my unwashed hair).

This was maybe right around the period when I started putting vodka into my coffee before going to class. I was, in general, not being the best Me I could be.

But anyway, at a certain point I came out of that, and I started seeing a therapist who I didn’t end up liking that much, but I was diagnosed then with a mild bipolar disorder. I eventually went on a couple medications: Lamictal, which was originally for seizures, but has a secondary use as a mood stabilizer for manic depressives who can’t be on antidepressants because that would make their mood too elevated, and also Concerta, which is essentially time release Ritalin, which I basically got because I wanted to stay up all night writing papers, because I always wait until the night before to start doing things. So that was less related to my “illness” or whatever.

LS: BUT WAS IT I WONDER? (I do that, too.) (Wait until the last minute.)

MK: I mean, my inability to do shit certainly is related to my anxiety re what I’m producing not being good enough. If you self-sabotage, you can blame that for the low quality of the product you make. You set yourself up for failure, so you can avoid larger, failure of SELF. We’ve talked about this. I think we both do it.

LS: Yes. You recently re-reminded me that I do it—many a therapist has told me I do this! And my mother! But I forget.

MK: Self-sabotage. It’s very trendy and helpful. Anyway, I spent a lot of time not being in therapy or on medication; but I’ve been seeing someone for about seven months now, and it’s been a pretty big game changer. Her diagnosis right now is generalized anxiety disorder, though I think I cycle through high and low moods with some intensity and frequency, which is a mark of bipolar disorder (like, also of life, and having feelings). But it’s probably not serious enough to be diagnosed. Bipolar disorder is SERIOUS.

Anyway. I’m managing my shit with talk therapy. And no medication at the moment. And it’s going okay. Probably my best friend, to whom I often write panicked emails and or have very teary conversations with, would disagree to a certain extent. So that is my deal. What is YOUR DEAL, Logan?

LS: Like you, my first experience with pretty intense therapy and an actual diagnosis and medication came in college. I saw two therapists in high school, but only for a few sessions each, and both times it was understood, at least by me, that I was just seeing this third-party adult to talk through some hard times. But my third year of college, everything was going great on paper but I was anxious and miserable all the time and also could not get out of bed. I eventually dragged myself to student health—it’s funny, that seems like such an easy thing to do, but I remember it being this huge internal debate, mostly because I felt like if I just tried harder I could figure this out. But something eventually made me go, and I went.

Pretty quickly I  had a talk therapist and a psychiatrist and a prescription for Prozac. I say sometimes that the Prozac saved my life, which is an exaggeration in that I wasn’t suicidal, but the difference between before I was taking it and after was incredible, for me. My diagnosis at that time was mild obsessive compulsive disorder, but all the docs I’ve seen since then—and it’s been several—have said it’s really more just clinical depression. I’ve taken myself on and off medication and in and out of talk therapy a lot in the past eight years. Sometimes because I felt like I was CURED, sometimes because of the expense, sometimes because my prescription ran out and I didn’t refill it, sometimes because I read an article or got deep into an internet hole about how anti-depressants are a government conspiracy to poison our brains and turn us into zombies, and sometimes because I moved and couldn’t deal with finding a new doctor.

MK: Feeling like you’re cured is a problem. I feel—and this is a dumb comparison—that it’s a little like being on a diet. Like, you lose 20 pounds, or feel mentally stable and you’re like OKAY DONE SOLVED IT. And then you stop eating just pressed fruit or taking your medication or going to therapy and your body is like, guess we’re off the hook and just goes back to doing what it does best, which is hating itself. That is obviously a glib comparison, but it has taken me a long time to accept that I’m never going to be done dealing with this. I have to live my life in a different way forever to be healthy/happy/not sobbing uncontrollably and never leaving my bed.

LS: Right. I went on and off medication several times and then three years ago I was like, okay, I’m going to give this one more try. I’m going to go off it and do it right, and see what happens. And so I weaned myself off with the help of a doctor. and I was off the meds for a year, and during that time I worked out several times a week, I swam laps, I ate good food. I saw an acupuncturist once or twice a week, I made sure I got enough sleep. I did all the things that you’re supposed to do. And I thought I was doing so well, I thought I’d figured it out.

And then I went home to visit my family, and I can still remember my mom saying, “Yeah, you can get out of bed, but you are not you. You are not thriving.” And it was then that I realized that my life was PERFECT, basically, at that time I had a good job and great friends and great house, and I should have been feeling so much better than “getting by.” So I saw a new doctor and went back on meds and I haven’t tried to go off of them again. But here’s the other fun thing.

MK: Tell me the fun thing.

LS: Is that even though I’ve accepted and decided and even embraced that I need medicine to just be at a normal functioning level, THAT’S NOT ENOUGH. Because three times since then I’ve had to change medications because what I was on stopped working. “How does that work?” UNCLEAR. Psychiatrists don’t even really know how antidepressants work, and they don’t know how they don’t work. So those periods of trying new meds are always really, really terrible.

MK: I guess this is a good time for me to say that I am not super pro-medication, at least not for myself. There were a series of terrifying articles in the NYRB about how doctors literally have no idea how antipsychotics or antidepressants or any of that shit works, and how they change your brain, and how it’s impossible to ever go off them because of that. And that scares me. (I’ve also never had very good experiences with medications. The Lamictal made me feel like my head was filled with cotton balls. I felt functional but very, very dull.)

Though obviously everyone has to do what works for them, and as your friend, who cares about your mental health, I’m really glad you have found medication that works for you. You are typing right now, but I also want to remember to go back to that thing that you said about just getting by, just functioning because I think that’s really important AND has to do with how this kind of shit affects the way that we spend our money.

LS: The “yes meds or no meds conversations” isn’t a conversation I’m interested in having any longer. I’ve accepted that they work for me and I don’t care to explore that further. I’m not going to try to convince you to go on them. Okay that’s not entirely true. I have tried to convince you to go on them.

So basically we are two women. Two women who sometimes suffer from depression (I hate that phrase. Have depression? Can be depressed? Have a diagnosed disease called depression?) We are just trying to figure out the best ways to get through our days.

MK: Trying not to self-sabotage ourselves into an early grave, or bankruptcy.

LS: So to start out, with the money talk. Just going to doctors and therapists is expensive.

MK: Oh YES IT IS. When I was in college, my mother paid for not only my therapist BUT ALSO a psychiatrist I saw every couple of months, for the medication, because my psychologist was not a doctor/could not prescribe meds. And I … did not feel as guilty as I should have about this. I think insurance covered some part of it, but not all of it.

But now I am a grown ass woman, with a job and stuff. And so when I decided I needed to see a therapist again (“decided” = more like everyone I knew was like GET HELP WE CANNOT DEAL WITH THIS YOU ARE SO UNHAPPY) (and I was like a MACHINE OF SELF PITY) (and then finally I was like, “Hey guys, you’re right”), I was determined to pay for it myself, which, ugh, was/is hard.

The first person I went to, who I FELL IN LOVE WITH, was this tiny old woman on the Upper West Side (obviously). We had three consultation sessions, which thankfully I did not have to pay for, because this lady was $300 per session. WHICH IS BONKERS. That was like my entire income, basically.

LS: Did you know that before or after you went to see her?

MK: I found out during session two, which was crushing. But she was very nice and recommended someone. BUT this woman was also very expensive, because I lied about how much I could afford, because I am awkward talking about money. So for two months, I went to the woman I now see. And she was charging me her full rate, and that was … $200 a session. And that was very hard. I essentially took a second job to cover it. And my mom ended up paying $200 total over that two month period.

But finally my therapist, who is not a dumb lady, was like, “So, um, how are you paying for this? How much money do you actually make?” And I was like, “I actually cannot afford this AT ALL thank you for asking.” And she cut her fee in half, which was amazing. And THEN I went through this really rough period. I didn’t go to work for a day, because of the SADNESS. And she was like, “This happens a lot, when you start delving into stuff. It sometimes gets worse. If you want to get through this faster, maybe two sessions a week?” And I was like, “I cannot pay for that.” And she, being an amazing human, was like, “What if the rate was the same? Per week?”

So I’m now paying $50 a session, still kind of working a second job, but making it work and not relying on my mother for dollars, which I think is good for me. I think if she was paying for it (which she would totally do), I wouldn’t take it as seriously. I blew off appointments a lot when I was in school, because, like, whatever, not my money (also because I was sad and she was not a great therapist).

LS: I’m not seeing someone right now, but have an appointment next week to see someone, a consultation appointment. We haven’t talked money yet, but I know the friend who referred me pays a discounted rate, though that might not mean anything. You can only afford for so many people to not pay you your rate, right? So his sliding scale spots might be filled. So I’m preparing myself for that. But, like you and your UWS lady, you just need somewhere to start. If I can’t afford him, I’ll get names from him.

I also cannot really afford to be going to therapy, but … I also cannot really afford NOT to go to therapy. My parents have said they’ll help me, and they’ve helped me in the past, but like you, it’s not something I want to get into. Even though I’ve been to five zillion therapists, finding a new one and starting with a new one is always a big step, a positive step. This annual or biannual or whatever it is acceptance that this is not just a funk I’m in and I can’t just pull myself up and snap out of it. So making this appointment was big, and it’s something I want to do on my own.

MK: I think this is a totally acceptable thing for your parents to help you with if that’s possible for them. Like, it’s possible for me to make this work financially without help. But if you can’t make it work financially without help, I don’t think that’s a reason not to do it. Because so many other things, including your financial situation, will improve if you get help on this thing. And you are 28, so you will probs not be a dick like I was in college and not take it seriously.

I think this is a good transition to: how does being depressed/anxious make you spend more money? Because I really, really think it does and not just on meds/doctors/etc. at least for me. I am, right now, wearing a “panic sweater,” a sweater I bought while having a small panic attack. (I also bought a cardigan.) (They’re both great.) (But I DID NOT need them / could not really afford them.) But the brain situation was so crazy for me at that moment that I HAD TO PURCHASE SOMETHING to take my mind off it.

LS: It really is a beautiful sweater. I’ve been admiring it all day.

MK: Why thank you. Being panicked apparently makes me a discerning shopper. Who knew. That must be why shopping at large malls during the holiday season is so productive. (JOKES)

LS: Yeah I am wearing sad jeans, bought when I was sad. They aren’t that great. I am a bad sad shopper. Which is also one of the reasons I don’t have any cool stuff to show for all my credit card debt. It’s more like, this is a shirt, that’ll work, cha-ching, ten minutes of … not misery.

MK: I’ve made bad sad shopping decisions. Once I flew into a panic because I was going on a date and was too sweaty. So I bought an entirely new outfit, which included a tiny short-sleeved sweater, which I never wear because it is SUPER hideous. I think part of the problem is when you’re depressed or anxious, you don’t feel like it will ever be better. You believe you will exist in that state forever, and if there’s anything that you can think of that will make you feel better, you just fucking do it. Including buying tiny sweaters and sad pants and pounds of macaroni and cheese.

LS: Yes. It’s very much about what will help me NOW. For me, depression has a lot to do with stasis. I stayed in bed most of today. Reading. Watching TV shows. Napping. And I knew, theoretically, that if I got out of bed and took a shower I would feel SO MUCH Better, but there was also this part of me that was like, but what if I don’t? I’m miserable now, but at least I’m comfortable and miserable. And if I’m out in the world, it’s like, well I’m miserable, but if I buy something, at least i’ll have a cute outfit and be miserable. Or an ice cream cone and be miserable. I don’t ever think about future me. I’m really mean to future me. Only nice to this moment me.

MK: Being depressed is a lot about just surviving. It promotes a subsistence lifestyle. You were talking earlier about going home and your mom noticing that you were just “getting by,” but not doing well. I think if you’re depressed or anxious and you’re not treating it, you just do a bunch of shit in order to just get by. And the fear is, if you don’t there will be no future you. Not that I’m saying you would have killed yourself if you hadn’t bought those sad pants or I would have killed myself if I hadn’t bought that tiny sweater. But it’s true that my feelings felt unsustainable, and feelings are facts. (I stole that from a friend, but it is The Truth.)

LS: Oh that’s good. That’s really good.

MK: It’s hard to argue with them. They’re worse than facts, because they don’t respond to logic. They only respond to impulsive purchases, and massive amounts of cheese, or whatever it is that you’re doing in order not to rip your own face off. If you’re facing a choice between harming yourself financially and harming yourself physically, it seems pretty clear to me that price of a tiny sweater is not such a high one to pay.

LS: ON THAT NOTE. This has not been a terribly uplifting little chat we’ve had.

MK: No it has not been. I think we need to do more. But I have a birthday dinner to go to now.

LS: Oh, we’ll do more. So much to cover, so much to share. But for now, you’re going to leave, and I’m going to go back to bed.

MK: Do what you got to do. Seriously. The other options are kind of terrible, and it’s helpful sometimes to remember that you could be a lot worse to yourself, to future you AND present you, than going to bed. Or buying some jeans.

 

See also: How to Lose Four Months to a Depression/Spending Death Spiral

Martha Kaplan lives in New York.

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65 Comments / Post A Comment

terrific (#1,532)

THERAPY IS SO EXPENSIVE. It is ridiculous and unfair and completely counterproductive to the idea of promoting a mentally healthy workforce.

laluchita (#2,195)

THIS! This is pretty much everything I wish people were talking/writing about being a mostly functional adult with life long depression and anxiety. SO GREAT! Thank you!

@laluchita YES OMG ALL OF THIS. I honestly relate to at least 95% of this.

craygirl (#63)

Nothing to say but <3, and thank you girls. This article personifies why I love the Billfold so, so much.

probs (#296)

This is very good. The best thing about the Billfold is the candidness/humanness of it- our fallibility and nuance in the face of what should be straightforward, two sides of a ledger book.

I’ve considered looking into therapy or medicine, but I need to hang on to my clearance.

@probs security clearance?

probs (#296)

@Logan Sachon yep.

@probs Wow. I’m going to look into this!

probs (#296)

@Logan Sachon neat! Maybe I’m totally misinformed. That would be cool.

cherrispryte (#19)

@probs You are not totally misinformed. Getting a security clearance (especially the higher clearances) is hard if not impossible if you’ve been in therapy. Also, the Peace Corps isn’t a fan of sending you overseas for the same reason.

It’s good, because it’s not like mental illness is stigmatized in this country or anything.

olivia (#1,618)

Wow, I love this, thank you. I also have anxiety and depression and cough up $190/month for my amazing therapist. I was going twice a month but “graduated” to once a month, which makes my bank account happy. Plus I pay a $35 copay for my amazing SSRI. I also think my anxiety and depression have played a part in my past inability to make responsible financial decisions.

This post really helps me understand the rest of your posts, Logan. Sometimes the posts take a bit of a “LOL I’m a mess!” tone, which was slightly off putting. But with this added knowledge, I 100% get it. In the past I’ve done the same thing. Like “I can’t pay my bills on time because I’m scatter brained!” when really I was just so depressed that paying things on time took so much effort that I couldn’t muster it.

Sorry to get all deep on you, but I wanted to explain why I liked this so much. Good luck with your new therapist, and please accept money from your parents to go if you like him/her! This is the first therapist I’ve ever had that I connected with, and I can’t overstate how helpful it’s been for me.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@olivia My $4/month Citalopram prescription is fucking GOD SENT. Sadly, drugs are almost always cheaper (and easier to get your hands on) than therapy.

@MuffyStJohn My insurance just fucked around with all its copays and now my citalopram costs $20 instead of $10. I can still afford it, but I’m pissed anyway.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@anachronistique Depending on your dosage, it is $4/month at Target and I think also Walmart (or $10 for a 90 day supply). Just don’t have them go through your insurance!

/PSA

(Oddly enough, it’s the lowest dosage that isn’t covered, but if you’re on 10mgs you could get 20s and split them.)

honey cowl (#1,510)

Gutted. Ugh. Thanks for posting this, today of all days, because it is heartening to know there is someone out there Feeling My Same Feelings. It is also a kick in the pants to get back into therapy. Thanks.

honey cowl (#1,510)

@Lauren I also have to say I recognized some of myself so thoroughly in the “do 1 thing” & “can’t pay my bills” Logan that I knew an article like this would eventually be forthcoming.

dotcommie (#662)

and another reminder to thank my lucky stars that 1) i have health insurance 2) my therapist is wonderful and in-network, which means i pay $20 a session. she wasn’t always, though, and that really sucked. mental health really needs to be better covered by insurance and there should be incentives for providers to join insurance networks.

Lily Rowan (#70)

@dotcommie YES. I don’t know that I Have Depression, but I can tend toward the doldrums, but I definitely started therapy the last time I started therapy because I had time and insurance (and felt crappy). $25 a pop to feel better? Absolutely, thanks.

HannibalV (#1,803)

@dotcommie TOTALLY agree. My psychiatrist is not in my network which means it’s $170 for a half-hour visit every month-ish. I don’t want to stop seeing him because I like him (he’s the first doc I’ve had who has seemed to be able to understand that just because it’s all in my head doesn’t mean there aren’t real-world consequences and effects). My mom keeps pushing me to get him to join my network, but that doesn’t seem like it’s my business (to tell him to alter his business).

dotcommie (#662)

@HannibalV my therapist joined my network because of The Recession–she thought it would help her get more clients. maybe try that tactic??

emilies (#956)

This is very relevant to my interests for so many reasons. I finally admitted to myself that I have mental health issues and have been working to address them. But this comes along with the realization that I can’t live the fancy-free, wanderlust-ing life I was working towards. Really what I need is a full time job so I can have health insurance, pay off my student loans, and have some stability. But it’s kind of nice to have a legit excuse for not sowing some wild oats and instead taking the responsible/necessary route.

Thank you. Thankyouthankyouthankyou both for being so very brave and articulate and honest. It is really hard and lonely sometimes to deal with something that is so engulfing and difficult and that you can’t tell your coworkers about even a little bit, but which certainly affects work. And also everything else. Speaking as another bipolar someone who can’t afford mental health treatment right now because even in-network therapists and generic meds are too damn expensive, and so has to put up with surviving and “good enough for now,” thank you.

Seriously, guys, words can’t adequately explain how much this meant to me and probably a lot of other people. Thank you for doing this.

Thank you thank you thank you

ac565 (#3,022)

Anybody who is deterred by the cost of therapy should consider contacting their local university if it trains psychologists. I decided about a year ago to see a therapist-to-be at my local place of higher learning to help get over a longterm depression event I couldn’t shake.

Since I had heard so much about therapy being expensive, I had been seeking affordable alternatives and told her so straightaway, and that I was apprehensive about the cost. We talked about payment first thing.

She asked: “What do you think you can afford?” I said $25 a session, she said OK, and that was that.

The amazing thing: I work nights, and since there were no students available to see me in the morning, I was set up with fully-licensed super-shrink. She was helpful, insightful, kind and amazing, and since she was a professor did not rely on therapy for income. Or whatever her compensation situation was, I didn’t ask.

The 16 sessions cost a total of $400 and changed my life for the better. And I can go back if things go haywire.

danielle (#3,023)

@ac565 I second this. Don’t let lack of health insurance deter you from getting a therapist. It’s been my experience that many in private practice don’t take insurance anyway because they don’t have the time/resources to deal with all that nonsense.
You can get in touch with a place like: http://www.npap.org/index.html (not shilling, just happened to know about it) and go to their: http://www.212analyst.org/index.html and they’ll set you up with a practitioner who works with sliding scale. Many training institutes do similar.
Therapists get into the field because they want to help people, and many will accept a percentage of sliding scale clients to fulfill that mission.

E$ (#1,636)

@ac565 I second the advice about checking with your local university. Psychology grad students need the practice for their degrees and they are monitored/ supervised in their therapy, so there is an additional layer of oversight. I saw one for a year and a half and she changed my life.

For those in the NYC area, check out the Dean Hope Center at Columbia. They offer treatment on a sliding scale of $10-$40 based on income, which is worth the trip uptown.

MuffyStJohn (#280)

@ac565 I agree that university training clinics can be a good option. This is how my barely insured ass (high-deductible plan, nobody in-network anyway) gets mental healthcare. I’m impressed that you got to meet with a super-therapist for a rate you could afford. Also, I am jealous, because that hasn’t been my experience at all. Here are the caveats:

1) Almost any clinic on a sliding scale/tailored to low-income populations with no insurance is going to take A MILLION YEARS TO GET INTO. When I had a major depressive episode last year, it took me 3 months to get an intake exam, and another 6 weeks to have an appointment with my therapist-to-be. By then I’d gotten medicated and basically BOOTSTRAPPED myself out of the worst of my depression. It is, sadly, not for acute care.

2) These therapists-to-be are VERY hit or miss. Moreso than just normally picking a therapist (who you may not get along with, but who you at least know will have a good amount of experience dealing with a variety of patient types). This is not the case with therapists in training. The woman who did my intake exam asked me why I wasn’t considering killing myself if I was so unhappy (wut), and I cried my first session with my current therapist because she literally said nothing. At all. I felt like I was talking to a brick wall. We broke through it (she obviously had a conversation with her supervisor) and she’s all right now, but I constantly wonder whether my poverty is forcing me to compromise my level of care.

3) Even though my clinic is sliding-scale/low-cost, they still charge me more than I can comfortably afford. Even though we’ve debated this. Even though I was told the cost would be about 1/6th of what it is before I started. Even though I’ve said “I can afford $20/week not $40.” It’s really sad that I have trouble scraping up the cash for therapy that is mediocre at best.

ac565 (#3,022)

@MuffyStJohn
I’m sure that’s definitely true that these therapists are hit or miss, but reading around (this was my only therapy experience) it seems that even if a healthcare professional is fully licensed that is no guarantee that he or she will be good for you personally. So it’s a good place to start, and I certainly was lucky.

You also make an important point I forgot to make about it taking some time to be seen — it took me about three months, which was fine since my situation was not an emergency per se.

Anyway, just sayin’.

editrickster (#279)

@ac565 YES! My therapy place is part of a program at a local university and they are affordable and awesome. I’ve had three therapists in three years, since they were students who eventually left the program, but they were all so, so helpful to me.

sockhopbop (#764)

I love this so much. I also just sent it to my psychologist mom, because financial troubles come up with her clients a lot — just wanted to say thanks.

In a tragic coincidence, I got incredibly distracted (partially reading this article), didn’t notice the time, and missed my therapy appointment. Which will cost me $50 for a no-show fee. Depression – it’s expensive!

pocketchange (#3,057)

@franceschances Not if you’re British, it doesn’t have to be! It’s not until reading this that I realised how lucky I am to be a (depressed) Brit – I’m still at university, so regular doctor appointments, my weekly therapy sessions and my prescriptions are all free of charge. I can’t fathom the logic of loading people who are already struggling to keep afloat with the extra pressure of struggling to pay for treatment.

smartastic (#3,056)

@pocketchange There is definitely logic, but it doesn’t stem from the wellbeing of the patient.

aetataureate (#1,310)

This is so good. Thank you.

j-i-a (#746)

LOGAN this is great and I think every future installment will be equally great.

faustbanana (#2,376)

“I don’t ever think about future me. I’m really mean to future me. Only nice to this moment me.” Bingo, Logan. And this is why I fall asleep on the couch about five nights a week. Thank you for sharing this, I very much related to/enjoyed it.

Maladydee (#909)

This is really timely. I just had a rough therapy session (unrelated to money) this afternoon and on the way home was thinking about money and how I really want to say fuck it and buy a bunch of shit that I’ve wanted online without thinking about it forever first, or planning it out, or agonizing over it. Just splurge. And I can’t do that. It would erase so much progress I’ve worked so hard on, to just buy all that shit and put it on my card, and I could SAY I would give myself permission to feel bad, but then I would feel bad anyway. (But I always feel bad when I spend money even on stuff I need). So I can spend money and feel bad, or not spend money and feel broke (and bad) but I can’t just….. Not feel bad.

notpollyanna (#2,841)

@Maladydee It is so so hard to exert this self-control when you already feel so crappy. Like, would it hurt the universe for me to do just this one thing that makes me feel better? But, also, I’ve had long periods that I guess are the total opposite: I am such a terrible unworthy person that I deserve my misery and I don’t deserve the nice things that I could buy for myself. I suppose it is one extreme or the other?

JulieDee (#3,079)

@Maladydee This is exactly the discussion go thru with myself like, every single day. Some days I win, but those days I say Fuck it and just splurge, those pretty much just ruin everything. And then the unhelpful voice in my head says, “well, if I ended up splurging anyways, why did I spend all those days agonising over it and wasting my willpower on trying to avoid random purchases, when I just ended up blowing my budget in the end anyways?” and I end up feeling bad anyways… So yeah, I totally get what you’re talking about

My insurance will pay 70% of my bill up to $100 per session, which seems ok, but when I doctor charged me her full rate ($150/session), they’d pay $100 and I’d pay $50 which came to $200 a month at least ($300-$450 on particularly hard months that required morning phone sessions on the way to work). So now she writes me a bill for $150/session but only charges me $120/session. After insurance reimburses I pay $20 per session. Is it legal? Probably not. Is it incredibly helpful? Yes.

I’ve been going to this woman for nearly 3 years now and rarely miss a week, but when I do – when I think I’m doing alright and can take off a session and save some cash and time – I land up spending money on things I wouldn’t have bought otherwise. This includes the occasional pair of “sad pants”, but more often turns into elaborate gifts for my parents or friends in an attempt to say, “I’m ok! I’m generous! Can I buy your love?” The general answer is “no”.

Laurabean (#3,040)

@Kara M & Lisa L@twitter If your twitter account is linked to your meatspace identity in any way, I’d suggest being cautious about mentioning this, since it constitutes insurance fraud.

LHOOQ (#1,634)

Oh man. This explains a lot, about all of us. Thank you.

I had a major depressive episode from ages 17-20, and the thing I tell myself is that it was a one time thing, it passed and I’m better. Which is I think mostly true. But this narrative makes my threshold for troubling behaviour really high. Like, sure, I’ve not left my room for a 4 days, but back then I didn’t leave it for 4 weeks! I answer my telephone now, sometimes. Sure, my procrastination is driving everyone else in my life crazy, but I get by. But yeah, I guess there will probably always be some aspects of my life that look a little depressive. The question is how best to cope with them.

alexr (#3,028)

Reading MK’s story was eerie, because it reflected my experiences during my sophomore year of college. I was afraid to leave my dorm because of crippling social anxiety for a period of about two months, and it wasn’t until I failed every class that semester that I began to pursue talk therapy.

I made it through six years without any major incidents until my first semester of grad school (GREAT TIMING!), when I had a major depressive episode that lasted about three weeks. This time around, I sought therapy immediately and was able to get a prescription for an SSRI, which is pretty much the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

I’ll resist droning on by ending on this point: the worst part of GAD and depression is that you are unable to evaluate yourself fairly. It’s hard to silence the voice in your head that tells you that you’re ugly, stupid and unlovable, and like MK said, it’s hard to argue with these feelings despite their obvious illogic. Unlike her, nobody noticed that I was just “getting by” because I was able to put up such a good facade.

Okay, I’m the old, cold-hearted one in the room. It’s taken me a long time, but I actually embrace my anxiety and my depression. They are muses that scream and mumble in my ear. They want to go shopping and they want to take a gun up my throat. But I know what they are, and I don’t need a pill or a therapist. They are a part of me. And at the end of the day, I really do love myself and the world and everything in the universe.

I recently did a purge of about 50% of my personal belongings and thought about each and every item as it went out. (And, ugh, why didn’t I use that as writing fodder!) Anyway, each of these objects was held for too long for either nostalgia (depression) or fear of loss (anxiety). The purge really helped me focus in on who I am, what I’m doing, and what’s important. Anyway, I digress.

It’s the embrace of these mental tics that has put me out of ‘survival’ mode and into ‘conquer’ mode. I don’t drink or smoke weed or indulge in anything overly much. (Except sex, as I really enjoy sex.) My focus is pinpointed. If I slip or slide toward an extreme, I recognize it and catch myself. I fall asleep from exhaustion and contentment.

I know I’m ‘different’, but I’m pretty sure that’s okay.

sophia_h (#3,049)

@Rod Townsend@facebook Being sad and having your own outlook on life is one thing, being totally incapacitated by depression is another. If you’ve got the energy and willpower to sort through and get rid of half your stuff, you’re doing better than a lot of people, including me.

Edited: Actually, fuck your “I’m a special artist with a unique world view” bullshit. Depression is not just writing fodder to those of us whose lives have been screwed up and stunted by it, and that includes those of us who are also writers and artists.

km1312 (#213)

@sophia_h I think you’re being kind of rough on Rod here. Based on my reading, he’s not telling anyone else that their way of dealing with depression/anxiety is wrong, just explaining how he does it. If facing his feelings and using them as part of his art help him, good for him. It wouldn’t work for everyone, but he’s found a helpful system, which is really all that any of us are looking for, right?

@Rod I sure felt a lot better when I had to move and off load 50% of my crap. It was quite liberating. Your post reminded me of what someone said, that got me to face my depression. A guy in a meeting at work was talking about a tough spot we were in and he said we had the choice to be “paralyzed by our predicament or energized by the opportunities it creates”. It appears that you have chosen energized.

I’m pretty certain that this isn’t going to work for everyone, but congrats to you.

notpollyanna (#2,841)

OMG! This is great. My experiences haven’t been super similar to the above, but my finances are very very linked to my mental health, even though that is lessening now. I am so excited for this series. I was going to write to Logan, but then I realized that invitation wasn’t on this post, it was on the student loans post. But my student loans are enormously linked to my mental health so, HA, Logan, will you ever have a story from me, you get them both whether you want them or not. But it will be a bit before I have time to do all that typing.

Oh, Logan. <3
It gets better. Really, it does.

kickupdust (#1,912)

oh wow, this is entirely my life right now. procrastinating on school, feeling weepy and unmotivated, stressssssed about money, and yet wanting to spend it ALL THE TIME. on cigarettes, even! physically and financially destructive, but when I don’t have them I feel even worse. it is terrible.

feeling all the feels, great article.
since i stopped therapy & meds i’ve been considering group therapy. it doesn’t come up often (compared to traditional one-on-one therapy) but it seems cheaper and just as effective. do people do group therapy?

princessjasmine (#3,043)

Thank you so much for this article. It’s made me feel some solidarity after a really crappy day. Logan’s thing of staying in bed because at least you’re comfortable and miserable is exactly how it’s been for me recently.

I finally got up the courage to go to the doctor’s on New Year’s Eve and was prescribed some antidepressants today. Am really scared about taking them. It’s another admission that something’s wrong.

All I can say is thank god for the NHS (it hadn’t even occurred to me how I would deal with this if I wasn’t in the UK).

Feelings are facts is actually a book, that’s where that comes from.: http://www.amazon.com/Feelings-Are-Facts-Life-Autobiography/dp/0262182513

sophia_h (#3,049)

When I was in therapy, every single time I got out of a session I had an overwhelming urge to go get a mocha. The combination of spending money and consuming sugary calories was just exactly what I wanted after a difficult emotional hour — and I never let myself do it. Recognizing and then subduing that urge always made me feel much healthier and more powerful.

I have nothing to add, but I just watched that movie(Broken English with Parker Posey) LAST NIGHT. It was cute.

acid burn (#113)

Thank you so much for writing this.

raisinbread (#3,051)

As someone who may need to be on mood stabilizers for the rest of her life (because the anti-depressants don’t work), I wanted to say thank you for this article.

Just have to comment on the ‘feeling are facts’ mentioned in the article. My therapist says the exact opposite that feelings aren’t facts and that I need to let them go to make better decisions for myself. But that’s my therapist and that advice works for me.

As someone who’s spent money because I’m depressed, I totally understand where you two are coming from. I can’t tell you all the dumb sh*t I bought because I was feeling the SADS. What’s also worse is the feeling you get when looking at the dumb sh*t you bought cause you were depressed. Ugh. So happy I’m in therapy now and very happy to be working on all my destructive behavior. Good luck you and good luck to all of us!

smartastic (#3,056)

This all rang true for me … But another side of this is how depression effects my working life; I know I am an ambitious person, but I tend to sabotage myself, or just miss out on things because I’m having trouble getting out of bed etc … which obviously has a negative effect on my finances. Sigh. I’m taking Wellbutrin at the moment, and it’s been great. I stopped therapy about 6 months ago because it felt like time to do that, but recently I’ve been thinking it might be time to go back to it. Sigh, never-ending battles.

pocketchange (#3,057)

I actually found this really interesting reading – I’ve been suffering from depression for about 9 months now, but only sought help in around September. I found that being in control of my spending was in fact a symptom of my depression – telling myself I was being thrifty and smart with money was a really good way to avoid going out, doing the things I enjoy with friends, or eating three meals a day. I think I got a real feeling of control from the self-restraint of ‘subsistence living.’ It’s only now I can see that I wasn’t buying anything because attaching myself to more material goods anchored my existence in a way, which was something I wanted to avoid. Interesting to have another perspective.

Greenbeans (#3,048)

I’ve returned to this article several times intending to comment. I see a lot of my own experience reflected here. I have learned (or rather, am constantly re-learning, since I constantly forget) that a sad trip to a museum or a sad play, or even just going sad running and being outside, will do more to lift my mood than buying a sad pair or pants or a tiny sad sweater. The impulse to spend money to cheer myself up is constant; the trick is understanding what actually does and does not make me happy. Because within the spectrum of my depression, I am actually capable of a kind of happiness, and even though the motivation required to buy a pair of pants is far less than the motivation required to, say, get my ass downtown to one of the world-class museums in the city where I live, past experience has shown me that spending money on experience (especially experience that forces me to confront the ways in which other people live in and interact with the world, such as art!) is far more rewarding than spending money on material things.

Of course, I bought a $32 pair of sad shoes that were deeply discounted at j crew over the weekend and I am totally going to wear them today. Looking at them makes me really happy right now. It will not make me as happy in a few weeks. Sigh.

LAP (#3,063)

Thank you so much for the great article! I (rather naively) thought I was the only one who went in for the ‘hate spend’ (as I term it).

The therapy thing is tricky – I know it’s good for me but would really like to not have that weekly $100 expense. I suspect though that getting out of it would just be another way of avoiding my ‘issues’.

So heartening to see people talking about depression in a way I can relate to – knowing people who’ve had serious self-harming depression I always feel uncomfortable describing my relatively high-functioning situation in that same language.

Please write more like this!

Thank you so much for this article. I went to a physician today for the first time related to “there is something wrong with me”. I thought I must just have some sort of anxiety or something because I have never considered suicide. Wow I was wrong. I didn’t realize I have always been depressed. I assumed everyone lived like I did, just getting by. Starting my first medication in the morning.

I did want to pass along a trick that has worked for me that allowed me to shop without spending money. Actually I was broke and couldn’t get my shopping fix. I started adding items to my shopping cart on Amazon, thinking I would be back when I had money to buy the items. A few days later I am shopping again, and I realize I hated everything I add to my cart the last time. I just emptied my cart and started all over. Now I fill my cart with everything that I want, running up an imaginary tab into the $1000. I get my pick-me-up, then I dump the cart and start shopping again, never actually purchasing anything. In my case it satisfies “current me” without damaging “future me”.

senior1 (#4,877)

No amount of panels is going to teach them how to bluff their way through becoming an increasing minority themselves, with increasingly unpopular stances to boot. At least that’s my hope. I will be your frequent visitor, that’s for sure.
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