Message from the CEO: Mental Health

Hello FinGym Friends and Family!

Shannon and her new house — which she moved into last year.

Shannon and her new house — which she moved into last year.

In case you didn’t know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I think it’s interesting that it falls the month after Financial Literacy Month because there is such a strong connection between the two; and I never truly saw just how much until I experienced it firsthand last year.

I have shared publicly how my financial health suffered as I fought to build The Financial Gym; and through most of the early days, I never felt like I was “losing” anything because I was building my dream. Who needed that extra trip to Sephora when you could help someone save more than they ever had in their life? Who cares about holes in the crotch of your yoga pants when you see the wedding pictures from the wedding you helped plan?

It was easy to give up the stuff and easy to sacrifice a physical exam or two since I was feeling healthy on the outside. However, last May, right before I sold my home to clear up my own personal financial disaster, I experienced a really dark period of my life. The Gym was going through the only true down period we had ever had and the number of internal problems seemed to be growing by the day.

As a type A overachiever, I usually thrive in these times as I love solving problems and getting smarter everyday. And while I was solving the problems at work, the work problems were taking their toll on me mentally. I am an eternal optimist. I have bad hours, or bad days, but up until this time, they were singular in nature. I usually have a good cry, a glass of wine, or a good night’s sleep and the problems wash away; however, this time my usual tricks weren’t working.

I was feeling this constant sense of dread and depression and for the first time in my five year journey of building The Financial Gym, I didn’t want to be the boss. My infrequent crying sessions were becoming a regular routine, I literally didn’t want to go to work, and even opening emails frightened me. I wanted to crawl into the fetal position, stay in bed all day, and I hoped that everyone forgot I existed. These were all new feelings to me; and I had no idea how to process them, certainly not in a healthy way. And the worst part of all of this was that I knew a mental health expert could help me, in fact, I sent emails to friends asking for recommendations, but I knew I couldn’t afford this person.

With the remaining $100 available balance on my credit card, I signed up for an online therapy solution, but quickly realized that I’m a talker, not a typer and really needed to speak to a human being. Because I already borrowed money over the past year from my significant other, my father, my mother, and my brother, I had no one else I could borrow money from so I turned to the internet. I purchased a gratitude journal for $9.99 from Amazon and downloaded Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations, the free podcast on my phone.

Thankfully this combination and hours of venting to my a few close friends  started to do the trick and I found myself arising out of the dark place where I had been residing for weeks. We sold the home in June, I fixed my financial picture, and thankfully, I’ve been in a good headspace since.

After a podcast interview with one of our clients, though, I realized, that a mental health professional should not come into our lives when we are in crisis, they should be in our lives through the ups and downs; and I’m currently in the process of looking for one: thankful that I can afford to make this investment in my mental health now.

I’m sharing this with you because I believe that physical, mental and financial health are the three keys to the lives that we’re all intended to live. And when you break it down further, you can’t have physical or mental health, without financial health. Many of us don’t think anything of signing up for gym memberships, weight loss programs or therapists but we may balk at investing in our financial health. When our clients get financially healthy, all of this is possible and then some.

We live in a world now where there is a lot of information flow and most of it is not of the uplifting sort. We’re bombarded with negativity on a daily basis and I think our mental health is constantly challenged to rise above all of this. Until I turned 40, I believed I was someone that could just “fight through it” because I was mentally tough, but I’ve realized that I can’t fight every mental battle successfully; and I feel no shame in asking for help. When I truly needed the help, though, my finances prevented me from getting it; and this is a situation I want NO ONE to ever experience.

If you’re reading this and know that your financial health would prevent you from being mentally or physically healthy, I hope this email is a call to action. Let today be the day you begin a new journey or re-commit to a journey towards financial health. Please schedule a free call with my team at The Financial Gym or put the plan in place for yourself. We just recorded a great podcast on financial literacy and how you can take the steps to getting there.

Financial health is not an overnight process, but after spending the last 7 years of my life helping and watching thousands of people go through it, I can tell you that with dedication and time, you will absolutely get results! It’s the reason I instituted a money back guarantee. Financial health is possible for everyone and I can’t encourage it more, especially because it’s directly tied to your physical and mental health. Please don’t allow yourself to remain in a place where you have to choose any of these. You deserve them all!

Shannon McLay