Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Money Fear: Two Ways to Cope with Financial Panic and Recession Anxiety

One of my depression busters is to “become the expert.” 

This means, as I’m peeing my pants about where Eric and I are going to get our next paycheck, I am doling out advice on how to cope with such anxiety. In telling someone else what you are SUPPOSED to be doing, I actually learn the lesson myself. And then I think if I can actually fool people into thinking that I have it all together, maybe I COULD have it altogether. 
 A few days ago a reader wrote me this email:
Lately I have been nearly paralyzed with fear and anxiety about financial issues. I have contacted my former shrink and hope she will take me back. Could you possible write an entry about dealing with and handling such fear? I’m sure that it would help me so much.


Ironically, I read it an hour after I got off the phone with my friend Michelle and vented about all the anxiety I have lately regarding finances, and that I’ve never in my whole life–that includes college–not been able to pay off my credit card. To this OCDer who loves numbers–that is, BLACK numbers–a little red ink can send me into a tissy. 

What do I do? These two things. (Twin powers, activate!)

1. Imagine the worst. 

That’s not a typo. Interestingly enough, going to the absolute worst scenario in that imagination of yours can bring peace. 
The second time I was hospitalized, I was disabled in panic: fear that I would never get well, fear that I would be hospitalized for a year like some of the other patients, fear that I would never be able to work again or contribute anything to my family or the community. 
Then my friend Mike told me to forget about it. Forget about all those “goals” or “aspirations” … the ones that required me to graduate from the psych ward ASAP. “You’re fine,” he said in the most peaceful way. “You’ve got everything you need.”
I will always remember that moment. So when I am wrapped in anxiety about something like having no money to pay for swim lessons and school uniforms for the kids, I go to a place in my mind where I don’t need the school uniforms and swim lessons.
I remind myself that if both Eric and I can’t find work, then we can sell our house and buy a very small apartment in the suburbs. We can pluck our kids from Catholic school, even as much as I would hate doing that, and move to a better school district where they could go to public school free.
We will still have running water.
We would have a roof over our heads.
We both could possibly wait tables or work at a bookstore, or something that would at least provide minimum pay.
2. Be like an eagle.

The other day when I was looking for the origins of one of my favorite songs, “On Eagles’ Wings,” I came across this beautiful explanation of what that song means on Bob and Brenda’s “On Eagles Wings” page. Their friend, Veronica Evans, said this in an e-mail:


Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks? The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.

When the storms of life come upon us – and all of us will experience them – we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief toward God. The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God’s power to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure and disappointment in our lives. We can soar above the storm.


Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, it is how we handle them.

The lyrics for “On Eagles’ Wings” come from Psalm 91 and Isaiah 40:31:


But they that wait upon the LORD?shall renew their strength;?they shall mount up with wings as EAGLES?they shall run, and not be weary;?and they shall walk, and not faint.

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  • Linda

    Thank you, Therese. You are so candid, and your honesty really touches your readers’ hearts. I just found you recently and am really enjoying your articles. I have never been great at managing my money, and married someone who had no financial ‘conscience’ whatsoever, which made our situation that much worse. I’m now separated and will have to get by on a very low income, which does stress me out, but I also have faith that I’ll get through it and learn some valuable skills. I have always wanted to be more responsible with my money, and now I’ll have to be, so life has brought me the opportunity to learn the lesson I want to learn. The ‘worst case scenario’ is not really so bad, after all.

  • Angie

    I needed to read/hear that right now. I have been out of work for 5 months with no unemployment benefits. My son and I are living off his disability payments (less than $700 a month)and I am worn down, afraid and stressed. I really feel this is the time God has given to me as a test of my belief and faith in him. I struggle with the thought of not “handling” everything on my own, but I know I can’t. Thank you again for your appropriately timed blog. I will be printing it out and taping the information to my mirror to see daily.

  • Your Name

    I read your blog on money fear and your thoughts of taking a job for minimum pay. Sound great to me problem is I’ve never been without a job for the last 41 years. Now at 58 I find myself without work with experance and many young inexperanced people also looking for work. The state of the econemoy right know does not make for a place to get any job at all. It’s been 7 month for me and I look everyday even Sundays. I can’t help it, I’m starting to lose hope for my future. Also just got over breast cancer and the lose of my beloved husband. I won’t give up but it doesn’t look good.

  • Irene

    Thank you so much for this article today! I am currently unemployed, and while I have been able to manage the past 5 months, I now look at my measly $4 to last me for a week, my inability to pay for my antidepressant, and worrying about all that I might lose before it gets better. I consider this a time to practice faith in God, and I hope that I can be a good example of faith. While it is not conducive for any of us to be in this dilemma, I have found that I am not alone. In that, I find comfort.

  • poch

    I really admire your wisdom by the ‘school of hard knocks’ Therese.
    More power to you.

  • Your Name

    Thank you Therese! I needed to read this today. I to am scared of what’s to come.My sister died suddenly in Oct’08 my mom had a stroke right after snd my brother n law died the week of Thanksgiving. The rode has been rough. And oh how can i forget i was laid off in November also and cannot collect unemployment. Since my moms stroke she cannot be left alone and we are basically living on her fixed income. I work part time in retail but i can’t work alot because i can’t afford to pay but so much money for someone to sit with my mom. It is such a struggle we are behind in everything including the mortgage. I pray everyday everynight every hour for some relief.I feel the is where God wants me to be, but i can’t help but say i need help.So i’m doing my best to hold on and i pray that everyone that’s going thru this rough patch right now knows that there is a God and he sits up high and he looks down low and he see’s all of our pain and i believe if we trust in him even though it seem hard right now, there is light at the end of the tunnel for us all. God didn’t bring us this far to leave us! trust and believe in that and he will make a way in his almighty timing not ours. we are where we’re meant to be! May God bless us all and keep you head to the sky. It will all work out for our good in the end.
    Bless you, Gina

  • San

    Very timely blog. It is not easy to deal with financial issues especially when you cannot do anything about it. The economy is really bad, but rest assure folks that you are not alone; I sent 100 applications over the course of my four-month applications, seven invitations for interview, six are scams; and while I got one real deal (legit) job offer due to some discrepancies in my married and maiden name, I had to wait until all documents are sorted out (which by the way takes forever). The journey of finding a financial source is one its own a rocky road but I know I cannot feel negative, not now, not ever. I have so much at stake and I would rather believe that everything happens for a purpose and that good things happen to those who wait than to whine and feel sorry about it. Negativity and fear that we may loose everything we value will NOT help at all. And to all the folks who are out there, who are unfortunately in the same kind of boat as my family and I, remember, if God provides for birds, He will definitely provide for us. Not the luxurious ways we would want (we may loose our life-long dream house, fat bank accounts, or even ‘good’ friends), but He will definitely see to it that we live through the day, everyday… just do not lose hope and faith in Him. And most importantly… YOU ARE NOT ALONE MY FRIEND!

  • Your Name

    Hi! I was just reading some of these comments and thought maybe I could throw out some helpful thoughts. Money fears can be very scary for sure – I’ve been there many times. To the 58 year old that has found their self without a job after 48 years – is a good site to sign up with. They will send you emails every day with places that are currently HIRING (not just accepting applications). And to Irene who is unable to pay for her antidepressant, if you go online and type in Prescription Assistance, there are all kinds of companies that offer assistance to those who cannot pay for their prescriptions. I wish all of you the best! Hang in there! It will get better!

  • Feather

    You write that you are unable to pay for your anti-depressant. There’s no need to go without. Google the name of your medication and then follow the prompts to the manufacturing Lab. Every Lab has a patient assistance program. I get both of my meds free thru these programs.
    I know what financial panic is. I too am unemployed, unable to be employed because of health issues, no health insurance. Have not paid my mortgage or equity loan in 10 months and face living in my car after the house forecloses. I am in a constant state of fear. Without the anti-depressants, I would either be dead or in a mental institute.
    Please take good care..

  • Kati

    Timely indeed! I’m a single mother, 50, divorced, was laid off from my job out of the blue one week after the divorce settled, have two children entering college, and was hospitalized for a brief period last summer for depression. My parents died at Christmas-time almost two years ago – Dad died on December 23rd and Mom passed 10 days later on January 2nd.
    It’s been a rough road.
    My parents left us an inheritance which I’ve lived on for the past three years as I was incapacitated by deep depression. I live in a big, 4-bedroom colonial in a lovely neighborhood where the kids grew up. Now they’re fleeing the nest. The house is on the market and I’ve moved into a one-bedroom apartment. Funds are running very low what with healthcare costs, etc. This morning I learned from my realtor that the best possible scenario selling the house will leave me in 60-70 thousand dollars in debt. I have nothing else. This is financial ruin. This isn’t having to skip swimming lessons or cut back on Friday night pizza. Just keep your chin up and hang in there. I’ve been in a panic most of the day and now I’m in denial/disbelief. I have no idea what I’m going to do.
    Back when I was suicidal, up until just this past January, my sister’s advice was not to worry about money, that saving my life was essential. Which it is! I’m on the upswing, but have a ways to go. I took a big emotional hit — a perfect storm — at once. So YAY, I’m alive and well. But haven’t a clue where to turn.

  • Leeann

    In these times financial are not the only reasons of fear and worry. Marriages fall apart, schools budgets get cut and our future our children future leaders when all is said and done and this is over what are they to do!!!! These days I never know what to expect from day to day or for that matter minute to minute. I not only have my metal illness to deal with (which since I started my new med and have gained back my strength and hope as well as letting go and letting God) my marriage is crumbling and just when I thought I was starting to have another chance with my daughter things just blew up in my face, as well as my son always treating me as his father does in every way. Know my daughter is starting the triangle thing with my husband that they talk about in therapy. Well to make a long story short within just a few hours everything came cumbling down but I stayed strong mentally and gave it up to the Lord he knows the plan and he will tell me it when he is ready. I am still in shock I am actually dealing with my illness in healthier ways. My husband said to me tonight “how can all that happen yesterday, you wake up as though nothing happened” WELL I GUESS HE IS’T SUCH THE EXPERT ON BIPOLAR AS HE CLAIMS…….
    Thank You Therese and God Bless for your words of encouragement and exposing your life to all of us who need it.

  • Your Name

    After reading these comments I am quite moved by what people are saying and what they are going through. About four years ago I began a spiritual journey as I could see that my family was going through a downward spiral that I had absolutely no control of. Funny how I finally figured that out. Anyway to date I have been through my divorce and am in about a half of a million dollars worth of debt. This includes tuition (I sent two of my three children through college)and the mortgage on my home plus my credit cards. Well I was able to keep everything in order and paid ontime until about two weeks ago when things started to catch up with me. I stopped smoking cigarettes about ten months ago so I can’t use that as a vice. I did discover that I can drink coffee now, caffeinated at that. Anyway to make a long story short, I found that loving someone and getting that recepricated love can help tremendously. So today I went and got some food stamps from social services and will be enjoying a tasty meal with someone new that I love who loves me back. We are both starting over, only together. I have one child still at home and I have to figure out another way to get him through college. He’s a senior this year. By the grace of God I know I will find a way. I know I’m babbling but I wanted to share in hopes that this story of mine might inspire someone out there somehow.

  • Jane

    I would like to share my day with someone and let others know God is there in my storm. Last nite before midnite I was here at home alone, but we are in the middle of moving and husband at the other house. The dogs began barking and not stipping. I got up and could not tell who it was. But, after lites flasing in my windows, I finally got the courage to go to the door. It was an agent to come pick up my car, reposses my car. I had drove home my husbands truck that nite, why , I chose to leave the 300 at the other home I do not know. They finally went away and my nite turned from peaceful to panic. I called my husband and he was too, shocked since we had sent Chrysler over $800 3 weeks ago to catch up. Then early this morning when I talked to my husband the bank who has the note on the truck called him and said they had given the authority to have it picked up. Well, now we may have no vehicles. My husband said to leave the house soon, they may be coming to take it away. I was so stunned and shaken, I could not get ready without being so nervous and so much to load to take to the other home. Needless to say, God was with me today and calmed my fears. I know if they show up tonite, FOR THE TRUCK, and I am alone again, I will be strong. I ask for your prayers that the people who are buying our farm are stalling in paying us our money we so desparately need and they know it. We are behind on all our bills and it is rough. We even had our attorney call the bank and let the bank know we may have to file bankruptcy and work with us and not take the truck away. The bank said no. But the Lord will provide for us. God is my rock and I WILL TRUST IN THE LORD. WE JUST ASK FOR PRAYERS. Thank You.

  • Your Name

    I am in a bad financial situation right now also. Credit cards from medicine, as well as doctor bills ans hospital bills not to mention household bills. Once I pay those I wait for the space on the credit cards to buy gas, cigarettes and groceries. Then if I have any thing left over I get my medicine and other items. I scramble every day for this and that. I am on social security. Every day is a strugle. I am on many medications for my many different illnesses. But I rely on God. I find that I get thru each day by reading my Bible and praying, walking with God and letting him take care of all my necessities and problems, he provides for me and solves each problem that I have all in his time. He walks with me thru each and every day and caries me thru when I cannot walk. When I cry he wipes away my tears and comforts me. There is not anything God cannot do.
    For anyone in a desperate position remember that when you cannot walk God will carry you.
    I will pray for you all with all my heart and love because God gives me so much love that I must give it away or downed in it.

  • Your Name

    I have been so down and depressed. I worry constantly about money, my fear is that I will lose my house and then me and my dog and my three cats will be homeless. I live with a sister for four months when I had surgery for rupture discs in my neck. She treated me and my son so bad, I vowed that I would live in my car before I would ever live with her again. She even tried to fight me. There I was with a brace around my neck. She was up in my face knocking up against me. I had to push her out of my face, She is a 69 year old woman and she was trying to fight me her on sister. I had not done anything to make her treat me like that. My daddy is 90 years old and lives with her and she yells at him and makes him cry like a baby. I tried to get him to move in with me, but he would not do it. I got depressed one night while living in her house that I did not feel like life was worth living. I called my sister in Maryland and told her that I was depressed and she basically said “well its not all about you”. She told me she did not want to hear my problems. My son start crying and that was the only thing that kept me sane. I knew I had to take care of him. My ex husband does not even know our son is living or dead. All he ever cared about was him self. He owes our son $50,000 in child support and the judicial system in Manassas Va just let him get away with it. I strugged to raise my son, sometimes I did not have cash and I would have to write a check for medicine or groceries. Some days I would have to call in to work because I did not have gas in my car to get there. Or I would spend the night in my car at work so that I could save a little on gas. I hope and pray that every head should bow down before the Lord. Until every knee bows, we will have turmoil. I pray for peace and unity here in this world. I am looking for a part time job, my son is entering college and is succeeding desprite being brought up in a broken home.

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