I’m Suffering From Financial PTSD and Paralyzed On Dealing With My Debt


Dear Steve,

I am a 46 yo FA for SWA. Great company. I’m in my 6th yr. I was doing well for myself. Credit wasn’t great, but it was good and getting better. I lived with my only sister who struggled with multiple myeloma. End of 2013, we found out she had been misdiagnosed. We fought HARD. I took off work, used my credit and savings to stay by her side. She lost the battle in April 2014 due to negligence.

I was broken like never before. My credit was ok, but I was barely able to leave the house. I did go back to work for a few months but then had a breakdown. While I was hiding (sis didn’t want mom to know) and caring for sis, my dad got real bad.

Completely coherent but refused doctors etc, and was suffering from BPH. Incontinence was out of control. State got involved and they wanted to take control of him. I had to fight that, while learning that his doctor had misdiagnosed him and he had lung cancer that was already metastasizing. I entered him in hospice to avoid another situation like my sister. For 2 weeks they mistreated him and even gave him wrong meds. When I finally finished raising hell and got him comfortable, the night CNA tried to lift him and sent him to cardiac arrest. I saw him die in front of me on July 2015.

Aside from those 2 tragedies, I suffered a herniated disc and severe carpal tunnel. Both needing surgery which occurred end of May of 2015. A week before my dad passed away, and while I was recovering from surgery, mom called me hysterical saying dad was dying. In my rush, I fell and fractured my scaphoid. That meant a cast for 10 weeks. While I was dealing with all these emotional and tragic health issues, I lived in my cousin’s investment property I had saved from foreclosure. This is a complicated story but basically he never fully disclosed how far along he was in the foreclosure process, so I had to wait until it was cleared up before I could purchase the place.

It cleared up while my sister was in the middle of her battle. My cousin told me he turned over the property to the bank. He lied. Later he and his realtor approached me about buying the property. At this point my credit was suffering because of income to debt ratio and me being off work for so long. But I still managed to secure a loan. Problem was that my cousin and his realtor lied. They didn’t tell me it was a short sale. They just dragged things and ignored me. I finally had another breakdown while waiting and just gave up.

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I was suicidal. I had to get therapy and during the process I was diagnosed (among other things) with severe PTSD. I eventually stopped paying my credit cards and student loans. I only kept 3 credit cards, 1 of which is a shared account and I’m not the primary. My wages just started to get garnished for my student loans. I haven’t done taxes in 2 yrs. not because I’d owe, but because anything finance related is a major trigger. It’s a reminder of everything I lost, of my sister, my dad. Difficult to explain.

BTW, my dad owned the condo he and my mom lived in. They were legally divorced so prior to his death, I became the beneficiary. I never fully took ownership in my name. It is still listed as an estate property in his name. Most people say I should file bankruptcy. I filed once before and after having it removed from my record in 2016, it pains me to think I’d have to live another 10 yrs with it again

Am I too old, and too far off track to avoid bankruptcy? Should I file bankruptcy, or should I hire someone to help me get things up to date? (FYI I know I couldn’t be the one to personally oversee restructuring my finances, so I would need to get help)



Dear Cory,

I’m so sorry you had to deal with all of these tragedies. Financial PTSD is a real thing. And I completely understand how the pain of the finances tied with the pain of personal loss has resulted in your current financial PTSD.

Let’s tackle your bankruptcy question first. If I look at your situation from a detached and logical point of view then bankruptcy should absolutely be the first option to consider. This is primarily because it gives you protection under the law, closes the door to collections, let’s you get a fresh start and gives you the opportunity to close the door on the past financial issues and move forward. In fact you should read Those That File Bankruptcy Do Better Than Those That Don’t.

You don’t have to start living again by waiting 10 years after bankruptcy. For people who make an effort to rebuild their credit the day after their bankruptcy they can have good credit scores in a year. See How to Easily Rebuild and Repair Your Credit After Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, or Repossession.

So let’s consider the other major benefit to bankruptcy in your situation, it will eliminate the emotional stress that is holding you back from recovering. Whatever solution you decide to go with it should be one that provides you with some legal protection from your creditors and let’s you get back to saving for emergencies and retirement, as fast as possible. The money is not as much your enemy here as time is.

Do You Have a Question You'd Like Help With? Contact Debt Coach Damon Day. Click here to reach Damon.
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I need for you to get back to a point where you see hope for the future, can get back to work and earning money again. By the way, my cousin is a FA for SWA as well. That’s a mentally taxing job as well.

Regardless of if you can muster the strength to tackle this yourself or you need to hire a debt coach to drag you through all the things that need to be dealt with, it has to get done.

Breaking through the fog of depression to take action towards a resolution here of this past pain will help you to deal with the financial PTSD, help to reduce your feelings of suicide and worthlessness, and give you hope to look at tomorrow as an opportunity and not a punishment.

What I can’t tell from your question is if a Chapter 13 or a Chapter 7 bankruptcy makes the most difference and if you might have some private student loans that could be dealt with in bankruptcy.

So I would suggest either finding a bankruptcy attorney from this list who understands student loan issues or find a great local bankruptcy attorney who is licensed in your state.

Please take action today, even if it is a small step, or I’ll have to hunt you down and kick your ass.

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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