Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The question of finances

Well, fellow bloggers, if you are looking for a glimpse into my emotional psyche, today is, yet again, not the day. That's not to say there isn't a lot going on in this crazy lil mind of mine, but a) I am on break from therapy and all the analytical navel gazing it entails, and b) I just can't see to get enough of a handle on what's going on to write a half-way understandable blog entry at the moment.

So, I'm going to write about something else that is on my mind as we approach the New Year. Money. I've written a post before about the financial cost of mentalness. Money has always been a murky area for me to delve into, as it is intrinsically tied with experiences of past abuse, power differentials in relationships and a sense of being a burden on others. I feel guilty that, even though I am technically entitled to it, even though I am studying, even though I do volunteer work and even though I am trying very hard to stabilise both my physical and mental health issues, so I can become a productive member of society, I am one of 'those' people, draining society and benefiting from other people's tax dollars. I am immensley grateful that I live in a country where it is possible for me to get this financial support while I work at getting back on my feet, but guilty, oh so guilty!  I feel guilty that my therapist has cut her fees down to next to nothing so I can afford to continue to see her twice a week, because I am "that messed up". Sure, I get 18 sessions a year on medicare, and 7 sessions through my private health insurance, but without this substantial discount there is no way in hell I could afford the other 75 odd sessions a year.

I try very hard to be extra strict with my budgeting, to make sure that my bills are paid, I don't need to turn to family and friends for help and that I don't spend money on frivilous extras. And for the most part I do pretty well, considering the Disability Pension is not much money at all (about AU$375 per week) and my medical expenses can be quite high. (Including therapy, meds, doctors and health insurance about AU$180 per week, if there are no specialist appointments or extra meds)

But as I have mentioned before, with the increasing depression, things begin to slip, and I am less careful. Wasting electricty because I cannot be motivated to hang out washing, paying inflated prices at the service station across the road, because I can't deal with going to the crowded shopping centre up the road, catching taxis instead of public transport because my organisational skills are flagging, spending more money than I would like to admit on cigarettes because I am smoking more. And worse still, paying late fees and bank fees on bills because I let them sit unopened on the counter, not because I can't pay them, simply because I can't face them. Some of it comes down to lack of motivation and excessive self-involvement and I guess some of it comes down to not caring, because I just can't think about the future.

This was a major issue post-od in 2006. After I got out of hospital, and that safe insulated world, I realised what a mess I had gotten myself into financially. In the months leading up to my breakdown, I just let everything slide, once again not because I didn't have the money, I was working at the time, but because I didn't see the point and it just didn't seem important at the time. I was lucky to have been renting off a friend, who allowed me time to heal before bringing up the issue of unpaid rent. Another landlord would have dumped my stuff on the street. Whilst in hospital I gave a family member authorisation to deal with my financials during the months I was in hospital, and although I believe she tried, she had her own issues and a lot of stuff slipped by her. Debts went unpaid, with no explanation to the debtors, who then quite rightly instigated debt collection and cause bad credit ratings. The stupid thing is THE MONEY WAS THERE. To this day, although all debts are paid off, and I now live a debt free existence, pre-pay everything and live without credit cards, that period in my life still affects me financially. If for some reason I needed a loan or even a mobile phone contract, the bed credit rating from this period would probably effect my chances. The point is, whilst in the moment these things don't see important, and the future seems nebulous at best, when you let these things slide and get out of control it comes back to bite you on the ass.

I never want to be in this situation again. As with the therapy and my uni coursework and maintaining my friends and relationship with my boyfriend, I know that these things seem pointless, and my chance of sticking around long enough for it to matter seems less likely... but I have to keep on top of all this. Just in case. Just in case I am around in six months time to reap the 'benefits' of letting things slide.

So that's my New Years resolution. Along with therapy, uni, friends, boyfriend etc, to keep on top of my finances, to find ways to start saving a bit of 'buffer' money. In line with this, I have committed to quitting smoking as of January 1st, 2010. I know this may seem somewhat insane, given my emotional state at the moment, but it has to be done (and really, the deprivation will probably make the self-flagellator in me quite happy) Of course, the universe is having a great laugh at me at the moment... as I purposed to get as much nicotine into me as humanly possible, in my last few days as a smoker, I have been faced with a very nasty chest infection, making it increasingly difficult to breathe, even without the added pressure of smokes. Of course, I may be seeing the glass half empty, maybe this is the Universe's way of helping me transition to a smoke free existence. :)

So, with little sense of future, and little desire to make goals and dream... I'm going to do it anyways...

Ophelia's 2010 Resolutions
(Quantifiable... I hate airy fairy goals... how do you ever know if you are succeeding?)
1. Quit smoking
2. Tell Therapist at least one thing I don't want to tell her a week- big or little- overcoming the barrier to talking is most important.
3. Ensure I do at least one social thing with my friends a week.
4. Maintain a GPA of 6 or higher in my uni degree.
5. Lose 10 kilos. (Stupid Anti-psychotic weight gain... I saw pictures from X'mas... how did I go from being underweight four months ago, to looking like I'm in my second trimester? Its a wonder BNO can even stand to look at me...yuck!)

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