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Sarah

Sarah's story:

"I kept telling myself I had it under control, but my debts were creeping up..."

Sarah's debts affected her mental health but help from StepChange changed her life.

"I’ve always been all over the place with my spending habits. I had quite a difficult upbringing, and after my parents divorced, I ran away from home. I ended up living off benefits whilst doing my A Levels. Without support, I didn’t develop good financial habits."

Sarah struggled to stop overspending

"For as long as I can remember, I would go round in circles, working out a budget, but then suddenly blowing it all, and having to start again. It didn’t matter how many times I re-worked my finances - I would just keep overspending. I also had a number of credit cards, all with a 0% fixed term period, so I’d spend on those too.

"I just kept telling myself that I had it all under control, but my debts were creeping up over time.

"During this time, I experienced depression, anxiety and panic attacks."

Mental health and debt are often interlinked

"When I reached the age of 42, I was diagnosed with autism and ADHD, and suddenly my habits seemed to make more sense.

It’s really common for people who are neurodivergent to find financial management difficult... even though some of us are able to work and can look as if we are coping a lot of the time."

Did you know?

  • One in two adults with debts has a mental health problem
  • One in four people with a mental health problem is also in debt

Experiencing mental health issues can easily worsen feelings of panic and helplessness if you’re in debt. If you're struggling, we can help.

"With ADHD, in particular, impulsive spending and addictive behaviours are very common. So I spent money on loads of random stuff. I don’t even remember what half of it was.

"I was coming to the end of the 0% fixed term rates on my credit cards, and I remember worrying that this isn’t going to end well."

Her partner encouraged her to get help

"My friends and family had no idea about the situation I’d got myself into.

"Eventually, I summoned the courage to talk to my husband about it. Initially he was a bit shocked, but he turned out to be incredibly supportive.

"I feel very lucky, because things like this can blow marriages apart. I’d heard of StepChange through word of mouth and on the TV, so my husband encouraged me to get in touch.

"The rest is history.

"I picked up the phone and spoke to a debt advisor and explained my situation. They were really kind, non-judgemental and supportive, and patiently told me about all of the different options available.

"It’s not easy facing up to the mess you’ve made with your finances. But StepChange made it a lot less painful and have been there for me every step of the way.

"For me, having the structure and the discipline of a repayment plan really helped me to take responsibility for my finances where I hadn’t been able to before."

Sarah has regained control of her finances

"It’s made such a difference to my life and I feel much more in control of my finances. I’m now halfway there with paying back my debt and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without StepChange.

"Being in debt isn’t easy. You’re so anxious, and you feel like you can’t tell anybody about it, which makes it all the more stressful. I felt really cross with myself. How did I let it get to this point?

"I’m so glad I spoke to StepChange – when you’re juggling debt it takes up a lot of time and energy, but now I feel calmer and more capable of taking charge of myself and my finances. With StepChange I do the annual review and re-budgeting which really helps too.

"I think StepChange saves lives. We’re all human, we all mess up. But they are there to help and they won’t judge you. Getting into debt can make you feel so helpless, but StepChange walk alongside you the whole way.

"Don’t suffer in silence any longer than you need to. StepChange helped me get my life together and they can help you too."

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