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Ask Dave

Fighting Depression?

Gail struggles with depression and is afraid to open up all the bills. Dave tells her that she just needs to attack things one step at a time.

QUESTION: Gail has struggled with depression the past year and is working extremely hard to keep her head above water.  She has bills she’s afraid to open, her checking account is always overdrawn, and her husband is uninvolved.  They bring home about $61,000 a year.  What should she do?

ANSWER: It can be scary, but you just need to attack each thing one step at a time.  You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time.  Do not allow the worry to consume you either.  Dale Carnegie said, “Eighty percent of the things we worry about never happen.”

First, open all the unopened bills, throw away duplicates, and keep only the most recent bills.  The unknown is always scarier than the known, so facing the bills and reducing the pile by about ¾ will help overcome a lot of your initial anxiety.

Then, list all the debts you owe.  Make one column for the pay off balance, one column for the amount you need to get current on that debt, and one column for the single payment amount when you get current.  Total each column – the pay off balance, the amount to get current, and the single payments.  I promise that it will not be as bad as you have been thinking.  Reality is never as bad as fear in the dark and action always runs depression off.

Next, get your husband to look at this plan with you and ask him for help.

Finally, sit down and do a budget – together – where you prioritize your needs.  Start with food, utilities, house payments, transportation, and then pay as much as you can on the smallest debt while making minimum payments on all the other debts.