Bankruptcy: the Healthy Choice?
If you find yourself deep in debt and are desperately trying to avoid bankruptcy, it might be time for a paradigm shift.
Not only does bankruptcy provide relief from debt, it provides relief from chronic stress that can lead to poor health. Constantly worrying about bills and your financial future is far more toxic than a negative line on your credit report.
It is rarely, if ever, discussed, but filing for bankruptcy could actually improve your health and prolong your life
How did I reach this conclusion?
For starters, I’ve represented clients in numerous bankruptcy cases and have seen firsthand the relief that starting over financially can provide. People generally don’t regret filing bankruptcy, they welcome the opportunity to begin anew, and many are able to successfully turn their lives around. Unfortunately, the reason for personal bankruptcy success stories is often lost in more technical discussions of the amount of debt that was discharged, what chapter the debtor filed under or whether tax debts were eliminated.
The real value of bankruptcy is stress relief.
Arnold Palmer famously said that golf is 90% mental. Well, the same is true of debt.
It’s never the actual red in the ledger that causes debtors to suffer, it’s the worry about supporting a family, collection phone calls, lawsuits, foreclosure and the myriad of other mental beatings the seriously indebted are forced to endure. Whether it’s fear of having a credit card rejected at the grocery store or concern over a pending wage garnishment, consumers who find themselves in debt are constantly reminded of their predicament. They can’t escape mentally. The debt follows them wherever they go, becoming their constant companion, causing incredible stress that breaks up marriages and ruins friendships.
Make no mistake, this debt stress can make you sick.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the following conditions are caused in whole or in part by stress:
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome
- Memory impairment
- Worsening of skin conditions, such as eczema
Heart disease is still the number one cause of death in America today. Over time, digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome, can lead to cancer and other more serious conditions. Depression robs its victims of their desire to use their God given talents, taking the very meaning out of one’s life. You get the idea, the implications of stress caused by debt reach well beyond your checking account.
It’s not just about debt, it’s about your health.
Consider your daily thought patterns. If you’re deep in debt, they will be consumed by plans to pay back creditors, stave off lawsuits, keep your children from finding out how bad things have gotten, keeping up appearances with neighbors, and on and on the nightmare goes. Although the mental aspect of health doesn’t get as much play as more “scientific and provable” diagnoses, the toxicity created by debt stress is very real.
How can you properly focus on a child’s sporting event, or a project at work when you are consumed by stressful thoughts about debt?
How can you and your spouse enjoy and support each other when your interactions are constantly blighted by fear and uncertainty?
Bankruptcy is not anyone’s first choice, and it is certainly not a process to be entered into lightly, however, it does provide an opportunity to start over spiritually as well as financially.
For some, the benefits of that opportunity do far more than merely eliminating debt.
Walter Metzen is a Board Certified Specialist in Consumer Bankruptcy with over 28 years of experience. He’s represented more than 20,000 bankruptcy clients in and around Detroit where his firm is located. View his profile here.