Breaking it Down (Loops and Whorls pt. 3)

If you have been following this tale for the past two posts [see Elki (Loops and Whorls pt. 1) and Lost Income (Loops and Whorls pt. 2)] then you can imagine the kind of stress we are facing.

Breaking it Down - loops and whorls pt 3 - how I'm managing my mental illness while dealing with intense financial stress.

Fortunately, by the time I visited the dentist (earlier this week) the swelling in my gums was gone. Unfortunately, the dentist found a number of cavities and a fractured tooth in addition to the broken tooth – both of which need crowns. Couple that with the pockets in my gum line that need a deep cleaning, and we are looking at over $2000 just on dental for me (after insurance).

Also, we recently found out our only vehicle needs new brakes – the mechanic estimates they will go out entirely within a few weeks, but we are going to be traveling this weekend and cannot necessarily afford new brakes on top of everything else.

The cherry on top is that I’m suffering with what we believe to be a sinus infection, and nothing I’ve tried has helped. We’re talking allergy medicine, vapor rub, Benadryl, Mucinex, hot tea, vitamins – it seems like I’ve tried it all. At some point, if it doesn’t clear up, I’m going to have to see a doctor. My nose is swollen and quite painful, and some days I can only breathe through my mouth (which makes eating quite difficult).

My point is, my husband and I are currently facing intense financial stress. Here is a summary of some of our (mostly) unexpected expenses recently or that are up and coming:

  • Potential Dr. visit for possible sinus infection (cost unknown)
  • Dental work for me (approx. $2000)
  • Dental work for him (approx. $1000)
  • Repayment of SSA (currently unknown, they are only giving us estimates that keep changing)
  • New brakes for our only vehicle (approx. $256)
  • Surgery for Elki ($4661, assuming only one surgery is needed)
  • Paying back student loans (a bit over $100 monthly)
  • Moving (approx. $3000)

You might be wondering, why am I sharing all of this?

I’m sharing to say that if I can stay afloat (so to speak) with my mental illness while dealing with such intense financial stress, then it is manageable. It is doable. We can get through this. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Definitely.

So, how am I managing?

I’m managing by talking to trusted friends and family, and breaking it down. It’s super easy to get overwhelmed and just want to throw in the towel when we see all of these unplanned expenses laid out in front of us – until we break down what has to happen when, and make it manageable for you.

In the list above alone is over $10000 of expenses. Daunting. Until we look closer.

  • Brakes have to be taken care of immediately – that’s about $256. So if we only replaced the brakes this month, that’s one small hunk removed.
  • We waited years to get our teeth taken care of. Those can both be spread out into multiple appointments (more little hunks) and whittled away at. When my husband first started going to the dentist again (he had very little dental care growing up as he comes from a poor family – his dad is physically disabled and his mom is the caretaker) he was given an estimate that was thousands of dollars of work he needed done on his teeth. This included extractions, fillings, root canals, crowns – and we have slowly worked on his teeth until the more manageable cost that it is at currently. Yes, it’s still a large figure, but it’s much smaller than it started!
  • The SSA repayment will be worked out in a payment plan. They haven’t settled on how much we owe back yet, so we have a little time before we have to start paying them back. This too, can be worked out so that it can be broken down into chunks. We don’t have to pay the full amount at one time.

Those are only a few examples of the above broken down.

With Elki’s surgery, that large chunk of change is going to have to be paid all at once – and therefore it is the biggest issue financially – but even there, we have a few options:

  • Get CareCredit so we can make payments instead of paying for everything all at once. Although we were told we would end up paying about $1000 extra using this option, it would make her surgery much more doable – especially with all of the other financial issues right now.
  • Start a GoFundMe – which we actually already did. Although we have raised nowhere near the total amount needed, every little bit helps and we are grateful for all of our donors.
  • Wait. Although this greatly depends on Elki’s body and how long her bad leg holds out, if we buy time, that is more time we can save up to pay for her surgery and more time for donors to give for her medical expenses.

As you can see, there are options. Even our biggest financial issues can be broken down – and that is how I am managing.

Yes, I am stressed out.

Yes, I am overwhelmed.

Yes, I am questioning how we are going to (financially) survive.

However, I don’t feel as stressed out or overwhelmed when I stop looking at the big picture and start looking at the individual pieces. People like to advise us that the big picture helps us keep perspective, but the big picture can also stress us out, overwhelm us, and make us want to throw in the towel.

Yes, it’s going to be hard.

Yes, there will be bad days. Days when we just can’t anymore.

But it’s going to be worth it.

We will gain confidence in our ability to handle our finances.

More years with a healthy dog.

We ourselves will be physically healthier.

It’s stressful and overwhelming for now, but it’s not going to stay this way. If I can manage my mental illness and significant financial stress on top of everything else, then I can also make my dreams come true – no matter how big they are.

And so can you.



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