For a lot of people with mental illness, world events can have a crushing effect on sanity. Especially when those events can have a direct effect on the personal finances.
For me and my OCD, it used to be that way all the time. The recent financial crises, including the latest news about the U.S. losing its AAA credit rating, would have sent me into a sharp tailspin a few years ago. I would have been too numb to see straight or function. It sounds ridiculous, but that’s what the disease does to you.
When you have an out-of-control case of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), you latch onto all the things you can’t control and worry about them nonstop. Nothing feeds that devil like the cable news networks, especially when a story as grave as the debt is on the screen nonstop.
I’ve written before about the anxiety and fear I used to have over current events. I would think about all the things going on in the world over and over again, until it left me physically ill. I personally wanted to set everything right and control the shape of events, which of course is delusional, dangerous thinking.
So here I am, the morning after this:
(From The Washington Post) Standard & Poor’s announced Friday night that it has downgraded the U.S. credit rating for the first time, dealing a symbolic blow to the world’s economic superpower in what was a sharply worded critique of the American political system. Lowering the nation’s rating to one notch below AAA, the credit rating company said “political brinkmanship” in the debate over the debt had made the U.S. government’s ability to manage its finances “less stable, less effective and less predictable.” It said the bipartisan agreement reached this week to find at least $2.1 trillion in budget savings “fell short” of what was necessary to tame the nation’s debt over time and predicted that leaders would not be likely to achieve more savings in the future.
I’m shaking my head and I think I’ve lost all faith in the political establishment.
But I’m not depressed. Not even close.
I have my family, my ability to write and, most importantly, my faith. Jesus has my back, and that makes this economic stuff look a lot smaller.
But that’s where I am at. A lot of people still in the grip of mental illness will be hit hard by this latest piece of bad news. They will watch the news in fear and walk around in a stupor, just like I used to do.
I feel for them. But I also know they can get better, because I did.
Who knows, maybe something good will come of all this.
I reached a point where the fear and anxiety got so bad that I knew I had to confront it or go into a mental institution. There were catalysts: In 2005-06, fears of a bird flu pandemic and other potential calamities brought me so low that I finally started to contemplate the need for medication.
I went for it, and it helped dramatically.
If the loss of a AAA credit rating brings a few people to that point and they start getting the help they need, then in a very strange way, this latest blow to the U.S. economy will be a blessing in disguise.
That may sound ridiculous. But I guess you can only understand after being down the road I’ve traveled.