Warning: Navel gazing overshare, below
Periodically I get anxious about my finances– a fact which comes as a surprise only to those readers who thought it a 24/7 affliction. My anxiety tends to surface when I am feeling down about my work, which unfortunately lately has been happening more often than not.
Here’s the logic: I do not much like my industry. But my job pays well and I need to support my family (both the generation above and future generation below). So for now and until I have enough to semi-retire in roughly 10 years, in my industry I choose to stay.
“But wait!” says my rebelling brain. “Ten years is way too long! Can’t you make it shorter?”
My brain has two ways of dealing with anxiety: “act” or let it go. And since money is the only thing I can’t really let go, I instead have these optimization binges, complete with spreadsheets and incessant Mint or PF blog or Redfin checking (because apparently anxious-me thinks RE investing would greatly reduce my stress levels?).
So I recrunch the numbers, consider where I can spend less or how many more hours I could work. I think about refinancing or renting out the second bedroom on AirBnB while BF goes out of town for the weekend. I pretend for about ten seconds that I am handy enough to do all our home maintenance. I curse my exorbitant food spending and needing pricey PT every other year for a new sprain or ache. And in my very very worst moments (really not proud of this) I think about how much “easier” it would be to date a high earner instead of someone on a social worker’s salary.
Sometimes I make some moderate change in my finances and that’ll do the trick. “It’s progress,” I say to my brain. “You can’t say that I didn’t try.” But other times there won’t be any realistic changes to make or any progress I do see is deemed not enough. The anxiety gets worse and my brain thrashes until it hits a low of a depressive stupor.
I have considered on and off going to see a therapist about my money anxiety. I haven’t yet for a few reasons:
(1) Under my insurance therapy is very expensive and that directly triggers my already money anxious brain.
(2) I fear the process of shopping around for therapists, thereby opening myself up to the scrutiny and judgement of a series of strangers who may make me feel worse during an already unsettled time.
(3) I have a stereotype in my head that therapists come from affluent backgrounds and treat those who do too. I worry they will not understand my cultural context (the obligation of taking care of a parent financially) or be able to help me unlearn behaviors I adopted when anxious and poor.
(4) I vaguely worry (though this is more of a rationalization than a real worry) that the medical records at my therapists office will be poorly secured and that someday they will be hacked. I worry that potential future employers will discriminate against me if they knew about my intermittent lapses in mental health.
(5) Having friends who were forcibly hospitalized when I was a teenager, it is hard for me to fully shake off the general feeling of mistrust for the judgment of mental health professionals. This is much less of a worry to me now as an adult than it was when I was an agentless minor.
(6) My anxiety and depressive moods always go way eventually and, believe it or not, have gotten substantially better over time. I hold out a weak hope that maybe the problem will figure itself out on its own and someday will lessen to the point of being a non issue.
Anywayyyy, that’s where I’m at. </cathartic rambling>
How about you? Do you have overwhelming anxiety about money? Have you ever seen a therapist about it?
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