I wanted to come on here to share a few things from my own personal bankruptcy journey, in the hope it will help many others out there now and for years to come as this forum did to help me.
I went bankrupt in March of this year and now 2 months on, hand on my heart I can truly say it was the best thing I could ever have done. It was also the scariest, most darkest period of my life from new year to February as I realised what I needed to do. The anxiety, stress, the thoughts of goodness knows what- I promise you, I have been there - consumed me more than I could ever say.
But like so many posts I read and searched on here saying if people had known “how better life would be they would have done it sooner” or they “wouldn’t have been as scared before” - I completely agree with them a million times over. Please do not be scared. I personally have never experienced panic attacks like it, they would come for me as a wave in the shower, driving to work, at work, in night terrors and because no one knew my situation, it made it even worse. I felt so alone and in a very bad place.
My debt at the time of bankruptcy was in the region of £40,000 and was down to years of recklessness with money. I know it sounds irresponsible but once you begin to live beyond your means, transferring balances to loans and cards it becomes a way of life - at least it did for me. Credit stupidly allowed me to fund a lifestyle for my children which I never had as a child, and at the point of going bankrupt I should really have been living more comfortably financially than ever. However, because of the lie I had lived for years, the reality meant I was instead repaying almost £1500 in minimum payments per month, bouncing rent and shopping against whatever I could and I simply had no where to turn. The vicious cycle had no end in sight and I had no disposable income whatsoever.
I initially researched debt management plans or an IVA to solve my problem and provide some relief. But then after looking and reading, another option was bankruptcy. I will never forget the feeling thinking ‘oh my god I can’t do that’, it sounded drastic, like the nuclear explosion to my debt. But I couldn’t carry on as I was. The more I searched this forum and took advice from other sites such debt camel, bankruptcy expert, and the gov guides on bankruptcy and the myths buster, I started to realise it was another debt solution and it really would enable a fresh start. Seriously, everything you could ever think of to do with bankruptcy over 6 weeks I must have googled. I truly was at rock bottom and it was all down to myself.
On 31st January after almost 5 solid weeks of research, I made the decision to begin my bankruptcy. This was my lowest day, I had a job interview which I cannot remember driving to or really participating in.
I opened a co op basic account, made list upon lists of bills i needed to change of payments and direct debits and so forth. Any time I panicked or thought of something else I would write it down to google that night. It felt surreal and I was petrified, the only thing keeping me going truly was this forum. People posting they had ‘hit the submit button’, that they had made it through.
My time came early in March when I felt everything was ready. I missed my March payments to my creditors, paid my BR fee with it and kept the remainder incase I needed it. I sent off my application at around 10pm barely breathing as I did so and was declared bankrupt at 2pm the following day. Opening that email I was sweating, shaking, light headed. I didn’t feel relief initially I felt like ‘oh [email protected]&t it’s really done’ ‘what have I done’ ‘oh god this is it’.
But in reality it was over. From that moment you really can look forward to rebuild and start afresh. You are free.
The next milestone would be talking to the OR, who phoned at tea time the next day. Once more, I thought I would black out on the phone but she was so nice - almost too nice. They have a job to do but they understand, she even asked me if I had missed anything off my expenditure form. I think when you are used to living with debt for so long you are overwhelmed each month finding minimum payments, that you actually lose touch with what a normal living expense can actually be.
With regards to creditors, where I only missed one payment the letters and calls were never too extreme. I feel people need to understand that you don’t need to be at the point of debt collectors and bailiffs - BR is another debt solution and in my opinion should be used more should circumstances allow. I had no assets and an old car. For the amount of debt I had, I really sadly had nothing to show for it. The calls did begin to come thick and fast at about 2 weeks after, but by the first month post BR most had stopped. I’ve had 2 persistent creditors, however both I have picked up the phone to in the last week, given them my BR reference and I’ve heard nothing since.
It’s a weird feeling now, a clean slate to write, and although I have a small IPA , it is nothing compared to what I was paying out per month, and I have started to feel like a person I was many years ago before I discovered credit - which is amazing in itself!
I’ve learnt the hard way. For so long debt consumed my every breath, my every google, my night sweats and my thoughts. I want to help others who find theirselves in this predicament to know they too can get through it.
You’re never alone, although right now if you find yourself in a place where myself and many others have been, it will feel like the loneliest place in the world. Please just know you will be ok and there is a life after debt. Bankruptcy on the outside can look and sound so scary. Even when the letters from the insolvency team land on the doorstep looking so formal they can take your breath away. But long term it is a clean slate and a new chapter - A year of bankruptcy and then discharge. For me it is a little longer whilst my IPA is paid but certainly not the life sentence I felt I was daily being punished for and would be forever more.
It is a life lesson I will take to my grave, but not before I make sure my children live within their means and forever only buy what they can save to or afford.
If this helps just one person contemplating BR I will be happy. Just like all those before who helped me. If you are one of those people right now - don’t let it eat away at your anxiety for months on end before you do it because a healthy, debt and credit free life is out there.
Learn from your mistakes, click submit and go chase it.