The other day I woke up from a bad dream.

In the dream, I was in graduate school (again) pursuing a different degree — this time on a full scholarship (yay).

As it turns out though, there was a fluke and my scholarship didn’t go through, and somehow I had $100,000 in debt.

In my dream, I was so panicked.

“Nooo!” I thought.

“I just paid off nearly $100,000! I have to do this again?”

I felt demoralized, scared, and daunted by the task of having to go through that experience once again.

I woke up looking around, blinking twice to make sure this was my reality. Living debt-free in Los Angeles, living the life I want.

Yes, yes, it was. A wave of relief crashed over me as I tried to forget the pain of being in debt.

It’s been over a year since I paid off my student loan debt, but I was in student loan debt for my whole adult life. I am just now coming to terms with what life without debt looks like. In many ways, it’s very sweet.

I have less guilt, less anxiety, and more freedom. I have more choices or access to them at least.

But in the year or so since becoming debt-free, I haven’t completely shaken the pain of debt. I’m still worried that something will happen and I’ll be back in debt.

Having medical issues this year stirred up that worry. Taking on a project like Lola has me concerned about managing my business finances.

I realize I think about things differently because of my experience with debt. I am cautious.

It’s like I got burned and I’m a little too scared to get close to the fire again. Though I am doing everything in my power to rock the debt-free journey by saving money, investing, and paying off my credit card in full every month, I still have these lingering worries.

Ultimately, I don’t ever want to be in debt again. I don’t ever want to feel like everything I earn belongs to someone else and can be taken away from me.

After paying off close to $100,000 in student loans and interest, I know that paying off debt can be trying on your finances, your health, and your relationships.

Though I have my freedom now, I want to keep it. So I acknowledge these feelings and where they are coming from, and try not to let them rule my life.

As a blogger, I’ve always tried to be honest about the emotions related to debt. It turns out that some of those feelings don’t go away — at least not right away — even when you are debt free.

Melanie

Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

4 responses to “Do I Have Post Traumatic Debt Disorder?”

  1. Hope Pond says:

    I just paid off something big for me. In my dream someone told me I had one more payment; except I was in my college registrar’s office. They were telling students they needed one more credit… I woke up with sweat on my brow

  2. I’ve been feeling this a lot since becoming debt-free. I’m scared something might happen, an unexpected thing, and I will be in debt again. Building up my emergency fund more is my priority right now. Even so, the scarcity mindset still lingers. Being debt-free is awesome but for some reason, the anxiety of being in debt again pops up every now and then.
    Colin @ rebelwithaplan recently posted…The Best Unpaid Internship There Ever WasMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Glad I’m not alone! I am building my EF too and I know I’m doing the right things, but sometimes it’s still scary! I just think, “I can’t go back to that place!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge