I thought that could be the end of my marriage. All the shame, stigma, self-loathing and everything had built up so much.
I just thought there's no way he's going to want to stay with me now. The foundation I had with regards to money was, was not good and probably quite unhealthy. I didn't have input from my family to help me learn how to deal with money, it was confusing.
You know, and I would spend ages trying to work out budgets and I'd blow it. And then I'd feel guilty, try and rebudget, and then it would just cycle. It would cycle around. At the time, the mental health was poor, I had chronic anxiety, panic attacks, depression.
It becomes part of the mess that you can't deal with. It's another thing that in your head you're failing at. So when I was diagnosed at 42, which is quite late to be diagnosed with autism, I had to learn then about what this actually means for me. And during that process, I realised that being autistic did have a huge impact on how I manage my money. The first person I told when the debts had really built up was my husband.
The response I got from him was very different to the one I felt I deserved. But that is what shame and stigma does to people. You don't deserve nice things or nice people. That's how it makes you feel. When I first got in touch with StepChange, I was nervous, but I needn't had been because it was just so, it was so easy, actually. I remember an overwhelming sense that I was being listened to and I was being heard and I wasn't being judged. I was going to be able to be debt free at some point in the future. When I got help from StepChange, it felt like I wasn't alone.
They were sharing the load with me, the structure and the discipline of the repayment plan has really helped me sort of like take responsibility for my own finances. If the debt had been magicked away, then I wouldn't have learned how to deal with my finances. Whereas this gives me the responsibility and I'm the on who has to do the work, but StepChange is with me with every step of the way to help me do that.
I would always say to anybody, who's struggling with debt, and it doesn't matter what the reasons are. If you are struggling with debt at any age and any circumstance reach out for help, because help is there.