Financial Trauma can be described as something that happens when a family or person go through a significant loss in their financial circumstances; this can be through the loss of a job and/or getting into debt; it can be influenced by circumstances and environmental factors. However, it can also be something that can happen when someone takes too many risks, or through gambling, for instance.
As with any trauma, it can provoke anxiety, stress and worries, and can have a huge impact on your quality of life.
As we know, over the last 10 years many people in Ireland have experienced the impact of Financial Trauma through the recession and the huge downfall in the economy that happened. Several years on, despite the fact that we are told how things are improving, we are still hearing about people who are suffering the fallout from the recession, repossessions, insolvency, bankruptcy, homelessness and people struggling to make ends meet.
There have been many personal stories shared on social media, papers and TV series telling us stories of people who have found themselves in tragic circumstances due to severe financial difficulties. One lady, Erica, and her daughter, shared their story of homelessness; another, the murder-suicide that happened in the Greaney Family, and how despite the fact that Michael Greaney had just been released from hospital after suffering severe mental health issues, he was hounded by debt collectors.
They are just two stories that have stood out in the last while, and what is striking - apart from the tragic circumstances of these particular cases - were the negative remarks by some people on social media; judgements being made as to how people end up in these situations and how they got into debt, often without any knowledge of the true story behind each case. When one does get a chance to read their stories, you will soon realise that these are and were everyday people trying to make their way in the world, working hard and trying at all costs to look after their families and the ones they love.
The reality is - as we have seen over the last 10 years - that financial difficulties can happen to anybody. Rather than jump to judgement on someone’s situation, there needs to be a lot more information on how we can help and assist people who find themselves struggling with debt.
Financial Trauma can often carry with it guilt and shame; people can feel that they have let their families down. Along with their families, they may face many life changes that bring their own challenges. Tthey may have to train and take on a different kind of job, or upskill. There are also people and families who have always had financial difficulties, been unlucky in managing to find work, or dealt with mental health issues and other influencing factors which made it hard to get out of the poverty trap.
People have suffered. There are suggestions that the risk of suicide has greatly increased in these situations; relationships have broken down, and many are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression.
There are many agencies out there who can help and give financial advic, but these circumstances are different for everybody, and each person faces their own challenges and difficulties. It needs to be said that many of the financial institutions were given way more support to assist them through their financial downfall than many of the ordinary everyday people, which really does seem so unfair and unjust.
If you are struggling with debt, please reach out and know that there is help. In the meantime, here are a few tips and guidelines that might help, and remember; building and developing your own resilience will help you through any difficult situation that you are facing.
Counselling to help you clarify and understand your emotions/self-care
Know your supports and use them
Take everything one day at a time
One step at a time
Prioritise and know what’s important
Look after your physical and mental health
Find friends who will listen and empathise
There are many centres offering affordable and reduced-cost counselling for people in difficult financial circumstances. Don’t be afraid to look for help - you will get through it.
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing; your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation” ~ Viktor Frankl