PTSD Trauma and Personal Finances, are they linked?
Let’s listen to Robert, a First Responder: “In my recovery from PTSD, I have had my finances severely impacted. I had to leave a decently paying job due to my becoming a danger to myself and others as well as the fact that it was that occupation that caused my PTSD … this is what makes it an Occupational Stress Injury or OSI. I also now avoid things that are stressful, and that includes contacting debtors about the money I owe them. When dealing with debt it is best to talk to those you owe in order to make arrangements that allow one to pay back those same debts while still maintaining a home and begin rebuilding a positive lifestyle. While researching to see if there has been a link discovered between financial stress and PTSD I discovered a trend towards forming a hypothesis called Financial PTSD. This is not the same thing as what I am trying to discuss, the theory of Financial PTSD is PTSD created because of bad finances, not the other way around … so don’t get these confused. PTSD is recorded as causing poor decision-making and poor responses to further stress. The link between PTSD and Financial stress is the basis of what I am talking about, my finances were improving once I had found my job as a Correctional Officer as my income was improved by my work and all the overtime I was being paid for. I had paid off several debts because of my income and was on my way to paying off even more. But then I experienced the incidents that caused my PTSD and during my recovery I was left in a position where I was either stuck with an income determined by disability insurance or worker’s compensation insurance. This was at least an income I could budget around but when I went into a job that was also stressful and at least paid me my base wage from my old job in Corrections, I was able to maintain a good budget … but I couldn’t maintain that job due to the stress involved and was no longer receiving either the income or the health benefits that paid for my psychological therapies. And for nearly a year I was trying to survive with no income, causing severe stress around financial concerns like being able to pay my mortgage and provide my family with a home. Now I am in a decent job that doesn’t have a stress level where I feel like my job stress is trying to kill me, however I still have to pay back those debts I incurred. It may not be scientific but I can attest to the fact that PTSD and mental health are inexorably linked to financial stress.
I was able to find some resources that shows the effects of PTSD on finances, such as https://moneysavedmoneyearned.com/effects-of-trauma-on-personal-finance/ that point to trauma as having a strong effect on personal financial decision-making and the compounding of stress rather than the compounding of interest: “Trauma is the silent epidemic running throughout our country and the world. It is insidious and impacts everything you do. The effects of trauma on personal finance is similarly poignant”.
But it is not hopeless, we can dig our way out of this … at the most extreme of options is bankruptcy but we may not need to take it that far. What I needed was an uncomfortable but logical assessment of my finances. The biggest thing is to create a budget, that way you know what you can promise to pay back when you do have an income. For me this involved using a spreadsheet programmed to calculate finances and form a budget! Check out the financial calculator for free at https://www.mymoneycoach.ca/budgeting/budgeting-calculators-tools/budgeting-spreadsheet. It not only helps to create a budget but it also shows how putting all your payments together into a calculator spreadsheet can allow you to see if there are ways to pay off your debts. I myself use this spreadsheet first with my own information and bill payments to figure out how I am doing financially and it calculates how much of my income is being committed to my bills. To my surprise I was paying more bills than I have the income to pay … the next step is hard because that involves communicating with my wife about how much she makes and what bills she is paying. Finances are the cause of many fights between couples but here is where therapy comes in to play! I don’t mean couples therapy, I mean learning tools for how to communicate again with your immediate family … not an easy task I have to say but it is needed. Once again, PTSD’s effects become linked to personal finances.
Paying down my debts is going to take me some time and sacrifice but I can do it, and in my PTSD recovery I know that now! If you are struggling, there are people who can help. Call us at OSI-CAN and we may be able to point you to someone, and at the very least we can find you help for your PTSD and help find you a way to pay for it while you are struggling!”
Our mission is to inspire hope and contribute to the continuous well-being and recovery process of Veterans and Front Line Protectors across Canada.
We seek to empower and encourage them to strive for recovery through peer and professional support while creating greater public awareness.
We at OSI-CAN do not see PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a Disorder, we see it as an Injury you can recover from. If you are suffering from the symptoms of an Occupational or Operational Stress Injury, then a PTSD or PTSI diagnosis is not required to get our help
The target demographic of OSI-CAN are but are not limited to: former and serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Allied Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Frontline Protectors --- which include Municipal Police Services, CN Police Services, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Protection Services, Wildland Firefighters, Hospital Trauma personnel, Nurses, healthcare Workers, Social Workers, Animal Control Officers, Coroners, Indigenous Emergency Management, Victim Services Personnel, Emergency Communications Specialist, Corrections Officers, “Volunteer” First Responders, Conservation Officers, Aboriginal Emergency Services personnel, Tow Truck drivers who clean up accident scenes and their spouses/partners and other related professions. This demographic was chosen due to the commonality of experiences they share through the service they provide to the country and community. We have a special interest in and support volunteer first responders as they are not eligible for programs such as Workers' Compensation.