Depression, Self-Acceptance, and Finances


The thing about depression is it is still there, even when medicine appears to be working.

It doesn’t matter what the target of my angst has been this week. Toward the end of the week I became non-functional. Thank goodness for video therapy, because it allowed my therapist to see me as I really am, instead of a fake facade I might otherwise have put up for an hour with her if I had to go to her office. (Worse yet– If I had had to go to her office yesterday, I would have cancelled and would likely still be in bed.) I was real with her, and at the end of the hour I wasn’t quite ready to face the world but I was ready to see my Mama and Daddy and get out of the house. And most importantly, to stay out of the bed the rest of the day.

And my brand of depression rarely results in feeling suicidal. I mostly just want to disappear and be unconscious. Which is precisely what I did with my day on Thursday; I disappeared into my bed and did my best to not be awake. I disappeared from social media and offloaded all my responsibilities to Jared. Willing myself to disappear did not work, of course, nor did the willing myself to be unconscious result in much sleep.

I am ready to get real with acceptance of my self-image and where I’m at both in my career and in my body’s condition, even as I work consistently to improve both. I want to change my internal dialogue, which has always been pretty damn harsh.

I went to a newborn studio workshop last week and the day was wonderful. Those ladies work SO hard and have amazing results to show for it. It was great to spend the day around an impressive group of photographers. Good for my soul.

I also learned through that experience that I do not want a studio for myself. I came to the realization that I want my first floor to be ready to be a consultation space for clients, but I do not have the drive or desire in my art to be a studio photographer. I want to know how to manipulate the lights, but I am always going to defer to parents to hold and position a newborn– I have no desire to do the posing myself. Newborns stressed me out when I had them for myself, and other people’s newborns stress me out, as well. I like photographing primarily outside, or at least in good light. And that is A-Okay. I know talented people to refer folks to for studio requests.

And can we talk about finances for a minute?

Nearly 10 years ago, Jared and I took Financial Peace with Dave Ramsey at church. It was ingrained that heavy credit card debt was evil. That we should keep our savings at a minimum until we have the debt paid off. That we should always have a budget. That car payments are bad.

We’ve gotten pretty good at the budgeting part. However, we’ve determined for ourselves that having a minimal savings account just does not work……$`1,000 is not enough to keep ourselves out of hot water with the credit cards. In fact, just this morning I paid off medical bills that were over $650 in total…..I was able to do this because there was more than $1k in savings. Other months where I’d been shoving money at credit cards, that money would have been gone on pay day.

So despite the fact that we have a small credit card balance at the moment, we will be focused on building a minimum of 3 months’ worth of expenses in savings before we pay anything other than about $100 per month– not the minimum, but not nearly what I would normally choose to put toward debt payments. Though truthfully, that may well be enough to pay these particular balances off in that time anyway, but still.

When we took Financial Peace, I needed a good shaking up and to learn to budget. But, the spend cycle was not entirely broken with that class, just as it hadn’t been entirely broken with the declaring of bankruptcy.

What is working now is seeing the numbers of what will happen (fairly quickly, too) if we start saving as our focus. It stopped me from ordering canvases this afternoon. A YNAB blog article (I think it was YNAB but I can’t find the post now) phrased it well when it talked about savings as buying time. I had never thought of it that way before. But just this morning, I thought about buying the 4 canvases I want for the family room wall. The total was going to be roughly $200 for the quality canvas I want, for the four of them. I stopped myself when I realized I would have to stretch the budget in ways we really shouldn’t right now, and I realized there are always other months to buy those canvases… the wall doesn’t look particularly bad as it is right now.

So, savings = buying time is a game changer for me. I’ll be applying that principle as a sort of litmus test to any future impulse purchases. I used to keep a wish list in Google Keep, in my list keeper, and I’ve been neglecting that list because I would just buy whatever, whenever. Which leads quickly to credit card debt.

I’m pretty bummed because Jared is pretty anti-Dave Ramsey, both for his political leanings and from the practical standpoint of seeing how it didn’t really lead to us building savings in any sort of reasonable time frame. I had hoped to put the boys in a Financial Peace class when they were each in high school. However, I think a better use of time and money is to get them set up and using YNAB for themselves, to get used to budgeting and saving.

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