Personal finance and personal crisis

I just read a beautiful reflection on the writer’s father’s death. It’s behind a paywall, but I’ll link the full thing below just in case. There were a number of very striking passages, but this jumped out at me given the last six months’ worth of developments in my life:

Many years ago, an old friend—an artist who deals with the alchemical—told me that after his father’s death he left the hospital, went home, sat down at his desk and, for the first time in his life, balanced his checkbook. I asked him how that went.
Good, he said. I had more money than I thought.

I might have mentioned in passing that what inspired my retirement account, my dedication to debt payoff, and this blog (all born at the same time in March) was a bit of a mental health crisis. No need to be alarmed — no hospitals were involved — but it definitely qualified as a major event. I was, and am, having a lot of trouble dealing with life instability, and I’m haunted by depression.

It’s not the same position, but I recognized that instinct, that sense, in the midst of crisis and even trauma, that putting your finances in order is the thing to do. Money’s not the real problem, in either case, but the real problem is unsolvable; in the meantime, you can get your head around balancing the checkbook or making the budget.

The article is Dave Byrne, “My Father’s Files”.

8 thoughts on “Personal finance and personal crisis

  1. Kirsten says:

    How interesting – using control of ones finances as a way to gain clarity during a mental crisis! I’ve suffered from depression in the past and having something to focus on and put energy into is a huge step in fighting out of the darkness, but I’d never thought of the connection to personal finance!

    1. I think it’s exactly that — having something else to focus on is really important. I think that can get dangerous if you’re not aware that you *also* have to do other things to work on depression, but disrupting the part of depression that’s just about your brain on a hamster wheel panicking is really important for me.

  2. It’s funny (not haha funny) you mention this, but this was a bit of a tipping point for me as well. There were things going on outside of my control with regard to my family, and my money I could handle.

    1. Interesting! I wonder how many others there are. It’s exactly that — another area of your life where you *can* make some progress (and measurable progress, even.)

  3. Tania says:

    It is an interesting point. I too use long-term planning and messing with too difficult, winded calculations when I am depressed or really troubled. I use it as means to escape and hide from what’s really bothering me. I think it’s a win win.

    1. Yeah, it gets your mind off the main thing while *also* being productive. It helps.

  4. I once read somewhere that the most important thing you can do everyday is make your bed. That way you start the day with a small victory and it will give you the confidence to get through the real challenges that the rest of your day might bring. I think this is the same concept – when you’re feeling overwhelmed, taking any action and accomplishing anything will help.

    1. Yeah, that sounds about right! Just do *something*.

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