Panic attacks, anxiety, and debt

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-02-2003
Panic attacks, anxiety, and debt
Mon, 06-02-2003 - 11:54am
Hi all - I'm one of very few males who visit this board...all of you have been so helpful and supportive, I hope you don't mind me visiting.

I have around $29K in credit card debt - I'll pay off my car loan in November, which will help. But occassionally (such as this morning) I obsess about the money I owe and go into a panic. I know it will take several years to get rid of it, but in the meantime I worry. I also can't seem to control my charging - I have 3 active cards for emergencies, but end up buying this or that over the web using them. After doing so, I get even more anxious and wonder why I bought anything in the first place.

I have a plan for digging myself out, and after the car loan is paid off, the balances will rapidly decline. With the amount of debt I have, is bankruptcy a possibility? (just the *sound* of that word makes me panic!). I don't think it is, as long as I stick to my plan.

What do you do to relieve your anxiety? I have a panic disorder and take medication for it; I find myself using more and more of it when I obsess about this debt. Anyway, thanks for reading!


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Mon, 06-02-2003 - 12:09pm
Hi Steve,

I can really relate to you. Some things I do to ease my anxiety:

I have a worry stone that I hold. My watch face is also smooth, and I can rub that. I post on the compulsive spenders board. I try to always be educating myself about personal finances, whether it be re-reading Jerrold Mundis' book, or taking Mary Hunt's book out of the library. Just the act of reading a paragraph or two per day makes me feel much more in control of my finances, instead of them controlling me. Logging on to my bank account online so I can check my bank balance makes me feel much better. Writing in a journal about my fears and insecurities and things that make me spend in the first places eases them.

Keep posting here, because fellowship may be the greatest tool of all.

Lee Ann

Lee Ann

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 06-02-2003 - 1:07pm
Hi there. Oh I SO know how your feeling, I'll be doing well and than all of a sudden think of all the things that need to be paid than start being very depressed and just SO sad, it's awful. I know what your going through. I just try to keep busy with other things and try very hard not to dwell on them, it's so tough, I of luck to you!!

Avatar for cl_phocid
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 06-02-2003 - 2:22pm
Hi Steve and thanks for posting (and reminding me that we do have men who post with us) - I think I'm guilty of overusing the word "ladies" and I apologize :)

Here it is June, and your car will be paid off in November (congrats!!!) - I think that shows tremendous progress. I know that's not much comfort when you're feeling panicked. When I get anxious about my debt, I like to sit down and write it all out (again) - I swear I can do it from memory most days. I figure and refigure who gets paid what when. It puts my mind at ease to know that I'm working on reduction - and it doesn't happen over night. I think sometimes I'm exchanging panic for compulsive behaviour, but what can I say? It works to calm me down.

Try to focus on the progress you've made rather than the road ahead. And *every* time you're about to use a cc for *any* purchase, ask yourself, "Is this necessary? What will happen if I don't buy this right now?" If the answer is anything short of dire consequences, then put your items down and leave the store. This tactic has saved me on numerous occassions.

I hope this is helpful.


All my best,

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Mon, 06-02-2003 - 3:15pm
I can identify with trading panic for compulsive behavior! LOL I'm right there with you, Steve--I stay awake nights worried and anxious. I don't think I have a clinical panic disorder, but I definitely have issues with anxiety.

I've been sleeping better at nights since we put in place Mary Hunt's freedom account plan--before, even though I knew we had enough to cover our regular monthly bills, I worried constantly about car repairs, dental bills, unexpected things that always crop up. Now I know that money is sitting there waiting for just such an occasion--it's all included in the budget.

I also feel better as we get more months under our belts of solvency. It's been almost a year now since we've been late on a payment of any sort (well, except the Internet bill that was late a couple times because I didn't get the bill--but they neither charged us a late fee nor reported us, and each time the money was there to pay the double bill because I had noticed the missing bill and kept the money to cover it). It's been two months since I lost my part-time job, and we're still getting ahead instead of further behind. Those things help me sleep at night. And the longer we continue this trend, the better I sleep.

But, when I *am* having trouble (like when I start obsessing over my husband's credit line that he ran up behind my back a couple years ago and then is supposed to be turning over to me to handle but for which the statement never seems to come and so I still don't know the exact amount due and worry that there's more going on that is being hidden and on and on my thoughts run... lol), it helps me a lot to sit in front of my computer and check my balances, double check my records, run through all the numbers again, double check that all my bills are taken care of for the month, run down my checklist, recalculate my debt numbers, reorganize them, look at my estimated debt-free date, recalculate it based on tentative snowflakes and possible raises, etc. etc. etc. Trading compulsive behavior for the panic. At least I feel better! LOL

Anyway, just know that you are *not* alone, that you are *very* welcome here, and that you can do this.



iVillage Member
Registered: 04-17-2003
Mon, 06-02-2003 - 8:33pm
Welcome Steve! You have found a supportive group of people who have "been there and done that." Here at the DSG we offer lots of emotional support to one another as we struggle to get out of debt. Each person has found their own way of doing this and has much to share to help a newcomer. We are delighted to have guys join us and I do believe there are quite a few here often lurking, sometimes posting. I totally understand your anxiety and panic. I found the suggestions in the book How to Get Out of Debt Stay Out of Debt and Live Prosperously by Jerrold Mundis to be very helpful in dealing with the panic. I also recommend that you schedule a worry time, a 15 minute period in the day and make a rule that you can only worry then. If you start to worry about the debt you have to postpone it! This sounds so trite but folks find it works. Another way I cope with my anxiety is to clean and declutter. I like the Fly Lady system so it is mentioned in the final paragraph. Some folks don't enjoy her system but I find it very helpful in re-directing my mind so I am thinking about what I can give away or throw away instead of worrying about money.

We have a weekly check-in on Mondays. Try to be sure that you check-in then as well as posting often and becoming a part of our caring community. Please check out all the other Money boards as well. Many newbies find the Debt Questions and Answers Board to be an important source of information as they are starting out.

I urge you to visit and use the Quicken Debt Reduction Planner to calculate how long it will take you to get out of debt with a reasonable payment plan. is a valuable website for understanding this affliction of compulsive debting. I have found to be an important source of help for simplifying my life and dealing with the blues and a general sense of depression that I struggled with when deep in debt. And lastly I always ask people to check out, Mary Hunt's website is a source of much helpful information and inspiration.

We are glad you joined our group! We welcome you with open arms and hope that you come back often.


Avatar for cl_beckymk
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Mon, 06-02-2003 - 10:01pm
I haven't read the responses yet but I just wanted to let you know, Of course we don't mind you visting!!!

To tell you the truth, I'm not sure my stress relief methods will work for you but hey you never know...a bubble bath is one of my big ones. Or just a cup of hot tea.

You could always use my DH's method, it's a quote from a movie or something but "There was nothing I could do about it at the time so I took a nap". Hee Hee (that may not be the exact quote but you can get the general meaning).

And of course, hanging around these boards...nothing like reading success stories to get you motivated, having somewhere to vent when it's just all too much & sometimes (not too often) ;) being doled out a does of *tough love* to keep you from doing something that others have BTDT for and are trying to keep you from making the same mistake.


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-26-1999
Mon, 06-02-2003 - 10:53pm
I just wanted to say that of course you are welcome here! I've read some of your other posts last winter and it's nice to see people come back when they need support.

There were a whole list of ideas for taming stress in the Thursday three post from May 29. There's a lot of good ideas.

I for one like to bird watch. I feed the birds too. I get lots of baby sparrows at the moment. I have a bird feeder outside of my window and I get a surprising number of birds considering I am in quite an urban area.

Also, I have an aquarium. It is absolutely amazing how soothing and calming it is. I just sit in front of it and even if I am deeply deeply miserable/sad/depressed/freaked out, watching the fish calms me and makes me feel okay, even if I kind of WANT to be pissed off, I can't help being calmed. I bought a yoga mat (yup, I charged it, so I have to get rid of the card!!--$67 on bird seed, bird suet block and a yoga mat-ouch!--)and I spent some time stretching in front of the aquarium and watching the fish. It is so peaceful.

I don't know what to tell you about curbing the online shopping. I am in the same boat. I have charged up a fortune over the last few months shopping at't really tell you what I have gotten from it, but most of it is paid off!! I love to do it, and I really think it is some sort of compulsive sickness. I know that cutting up the cards won't stop me from online shopping because I have the numbers memorized (actually, the merchant computers do!). Short of cancelling the card(s) I don't know how to stop...except I have to really focus now on paying off the last of the debt, and to do that means I need every penny, so I have to stop, you know?

Anyway, I am rambling. I hope that I may have said something that helps you! Stop by often!

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-02-2003
Tue, 06-03-2003 - 12:33pm
Thanks so much to all of you for your advice and support! It's nice to know that there's a board like this to go to when things get tough (or even when they don't). Thanks again! Steve
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2003
Wed, 06-04-2003 - 10:18pm
Why do you need any credit cards? An emergency? how often does an emergency come up - besides paying other bills with it?

I am 36, had a CC at one time - got tired of paying the late fee's on it. So i got rid of it and have not had one for about 10 years now. Believe me there have been times that I have paniced, thinking - we are on vacation - what happens if we run out of money - or the car breaks down. But so far those emergencies have not happend. Get rid of the cards and believe in yourself - not the card.