When you receive your first student loan, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the sudden possibilities opening up before you. Having worked part-time over the two years before I started University, I already had some level of control over my finances – but a student loan, which has to last across several months, is entirely different from a monthly wage, and I wasn’t used to assessing how much it actually costs to be self-sufficient.
I have always struggled with the notion of identity. Living with bipolar, it is so draining to have to maintain a balanced and stable sense of self when my mood can vary so much from one day to the next, it requires hard work and a targeted effort. The person I present to the outside world depends heavily on the state of my mood; the Katie everyone else sees never quite seems to accurately depict the Katie I feel on the inside.
Domestic abuse comes in many forms. One of the least well-known and hardest to detect is financial abuse. It often starts subtly – a small loan or some cash going missing. For me, it started with a few car journeys – out to a local beauty spot he knew of, or a lift to work in the morning if I’d stayed the night before – and could we just stop to pick up his mate, too? It’s not really out of our way.
As well as taking a toll on your bank balance, all this eating also impacted my weight and overall health, both mental and physical. My relationships suffered, and I lost countless work hours to the void of binging and depression. The more I binged, the worse I felt. The worse I felt, the more I binged, and the more I spent – and not just on food.
My parents came to the UK in the mid 70’s to study. They intended on returning home to Iran after they graduated, but like so many Iranians in the UK (the 2017 census found there were approximately 70,000 Persian Iranians here) as the Iranian Revolution took hold, they were forced to seek asylum, and so their planned futures suddenly became a blank space.
10 years ago, on a Friday night, tucked up in bed I was woken by a loud rap at the door. A scene we’ve seen so many times in TV dramas, it’s the police and they ask you if you are Mrs Jones, can they come in, tell you to sit down, they have some bad news. My husband had killed himself at the friend’s house he was staying at following our recent separation.
Many people often describe their experience of finding out that they are pregnant as joyous, wonderful, even exhilarating. I always thought I would feel the same. However, upon finding out that I was pregnant, I distinctly remember feeling fear and acute distress.
Mental health and money are inextricably connected. It’s difficult to find true emotional harmony if your finances are in a mess. If you manage long term mental health conditions, as I do, you’re more likely to experience debt, have reduced earning potential and have challenges managing your finances.