handling financial stress

I know what it’s like to be broke. And not the I’m down to $20k in my savings broke, or I’ve only got $250k in super broke, I mean no money. Where you look behind the couch to find the kids money for tuckshop.

Back in 1997 I lost everything; my house, my business, my marriage.

Apart from the obvious, terrible loss of losing a loved one, I think financial stress is right up there with the best of them. Because it never leaves you. It wraps its icy fingers around your throat and just stays there, ready to squeeze whenever you let your guard down. You wake with its touch, you go to sleep with it, and you are constantly exhausted from thinking of ways to climb out of that deep old hole.

I know many people are suffering right now. Perhaps you have some government support but it’s not enough. There’s a mortgage and school fees and uncertainty of whether your job will even be there at the end of all this. Or will your business even survive? The one you’ve taken 20 years to build?

I began life in the tourism industry and to this day look up to the sky with a smile when a plane passes overhead. I’ve worked in and around it for much of my life and until recently, in the business events sector as a conference speaker. I feel ill when I read the hopelessness seasoning the many posts I read from friends and colleagues in the industry putting on a brave face.

It’s ok to have bad days. It’s natural. Some days you really don’t want to face anything so allow yourself some under the doona time. But, my friends, you cannot stay there.

I wasted a lot of time determined to make something work when it would have been better to take a completely different course of action. I just didn’t want to face the reality. We are told we can do anything. We can overcome anything.

I’m not sure about that anymore. Perhaps we can. But it can take a hell of a long time. If I had faced reality sooner, examined my situation with a less emotional and clearer lense, if I had stopped putting up barriers to new ideas, I could have moved on earlier and faster.

Human beings hate uncertainty and those of us in tourism are surrounded with it right now. We may not be able to solve but we can plan ahead and be open to exploring options we may never have considered. If you feel like you’re going round in circles, that’s ok too. Trust that it’s all part of the process.

If your job is no longer there at the end of all this, how can you transfer your skills to something else? Can you afford to spend the next 5 years rebuilding your business or are you better off choosing a different path? Maybe outside your industry.

Because I do not recommend living with continuous financial stress when there could be another option. I thought I could, but it becomes chronic and will take its toll.

I lived it with it for many years and when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, it came as an enormous relief. I do not intend to detract from the severity of that insidious disease. But here was a problem I didn’t have to solve on my own. I could give myself over to doctors and nurses who knew better.

The world then turned to look after me, people who hadn’t known what mental trauma I was suffering but were there when the big old cancer word got out. I have never felt more loved or more humbled at the care and outpouring of love.

You don’t have to get cancer to get this love. It’s all around you in the form of friends, family and colleagues. Never be afraid to reach out for help.

And remember, no matter how bleak you may be feeling, there is always hope, and there is always light at the end of the tunnel, even if you have to, as they say, light that bitch up yourself.

Do not hesitate to seek professional help if you need it.

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

Lifeline phone 13 1114