“Things started getting a bit too much, and on Christmas Eve I rang the Samaritans helpline. I was embarrassed to be in debt and struggling with the pressure to make Christmas as magical as it was when I was a kid. I remember driving home from my new partner’s house and I just felt absolutely horrible.
“A couple of months ago I realised that Christmas is coming up again and that meant that I am almost certainly going to miss payments and get into a real mess.
“Despite initially feeling sceptical, I spoke to StepChange, and within a couple of phone calls there was a plan in place to get it all sorted. I managed to reduce my payments from around £1,000 to £135 per month. I’m massively happy with it - more people need to know about the help available.
“I’m currently doing some overtime at work in the run up to Christmas and splitting the money so that half of it goes towards extra debt repayments, and half is for spending on family and friends. I’m looking forward to having some time off to spend with them.
“I’ve always enjoyed Christmas and am secretly a big kid at heart - it’s extra special now that I’m married with a stepson.
“I don’t want people out there to go through what I did and feel so helpless around this time of year. There’s no point making yourself miserable trying to buy gifts for loved ones that you can’t afford. Particularly with social media, it’s important to remember that it’s not the full picture and you don’t have to compete.
“Don’t feel ashamed - ask for help. Getting in touch with StepChange has changed my life."