Money, Money, Money and Bills, Bills, Bills
An article on everyday health states,
Manic episodes of compulsive spending are a problem for many people who have bipolar disorder. During these episodes, people feel richer than they really are, more powerful, and willing to take more risks. In a recent study, people with bipolar disorder were twice as likely to have a problem with gambling compared to those without bipolar disorder.
One thing that doesn’t apply to me is gambling. I hate gambling. Always have. If I have a thousand bucks burning a hole in my pocket, I can think of a million things I’d rather spend it on. The rest of the description above applies.
There Once Was a Guy Who Had Good Credit
There was a short period in my life that my credit was good. I was in my twenties (thirty long years ago.) I got over a period of heaving drinking and spending and had nothing to show for it. Somehow I was able to get out of the mire and for the one and only time in my life I had good credit. I had several credit cards that had a limit of $20,000. What happened to all of it? I don’t have a clue, I did max them all out, of course. That tends to be one of those periods in my life that have been lost (subject of another day.)
Looking back, I shouldn’t say I can’t remember all of what happened to my money. After all, the National Institute of Mental Health states that one of symptoms of bipolar disorder, or more specifically, mania, is
Behaving impulsively and engaging in pleasurable, high-risk behaviors
High-risk behaviors? Well last week I posted about hyposexuality. I could go on and on about my other high-risk behaviors, but I’ll spare you. Today I’m only writing about money.
Are you familiar with overdraft notices mailed from the bank? If you’ve gotten a couple of them, you become intimately familiar with them based on the size, thickness and weight. One of the biggest fights an ex-partner and I had was when he found one of my dresser drawers full of them. So full that the drawer would get stuck when you tried to open it. Most of the notices were unopened. This exchange between us occurred just days after I borrowed money from him, despite that I made about $30,000 a year more than he did.
If you’ve been like me when it came to spending, you’re probably familiar with payday loans. These are short term loans for usually no more than a few hundred bucks. When you’re handed over your cash loan, you are required to write them a check for the loan amount plus a ridiculously high interest rate of 20% or more…sometimes, much, much more. The scary thing about these loans is, if you’re so strapped for money that you get one of these loans, you get hit pretty hard on payday. So, guess what you have to do? Yep, you need to take out another one, and so on, and so on…they thrive on getting people trapped that way.
I was stuck in one of these horrible cycles for almost two years. My advice for you if you’re thinking about getting one of their loans – Don’t! Find money anywhere else, or (dare I say it) go further behind on bill payments. It’s just too easy to get trapped.
My Friends at the IRS
For most Americans, April 15 is a date they dread. Well, not me, I just don’t worry about them…well, I worry about them a little bit.
Talk about nerves. Back when I was making good money I didn’t fill tax returns because I’d have a major anxiety attack every time I tried. The thought of taking them somewhere and having them done for me was an idea that never came to me. Probably because I was dealing with stress over repaying those high interest payday loans. Year after year I’d try and year after year they’d get placed inside my file cabinet. The strange thing about it is that in the early years I stopped submitting them, it was obvious I would get a substantial return. Yet, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. There were many tedious tasks I found myself unable to perform during these anxiety periods and when I was manic.
About ten years ago the IRS came to my door. This was during an agoraphobic period so I have no idea where I could possibly have been, but when I got home the agent left her business card on our door. I had a breakdown. From that point on I avoided almost all calls and would not open the door to anyone. Eventually she and Maurice talked on the phone and he explained the situation. She understood, but said she legally had to talk with me. When I got on the phone she was calm, courteous and kind. Not things you’d expect from an IRS agent. She told me that at any point, if it becomes too difficult, she will stop and wait until I could continue. I hyperventilated through the entire call, but when we were done conversing she told me that the IRS considers my paltry disability income to be the same as no income and I had nothing to worry about.
Since that time, I still have not filled out a return, but have scheduled to meet with a tax expert after April. I can’t wait until I get that all cleared up.
I’m guessing that if all this sounds familiar, you may be bipolar. Of course, there are plenty of people who are terrible with money and have no mental disorder. Is there a point where full responsibility ends and no responsibility begins? Is there a grey area? Is having bipolar disorder no excuse whatsoever? What do you think?
14 comments on Bills Bills Bills
Thanks for sharing this. I have spent money. I have loans due but they are college loans mostly. I wasn’t able to work so they’ve accumulated and one have defaulted.
College loans are the worst. You need them, but then it seems like you spend what seems half of the rest of your life paying them off.
That was my situation. My mania was at its highest just as I was finishing up college. By the time I was done, I crashed and couldn’t work to repay the loans!
And if you’re like me, you may feel guilty for it even though it’s out of our control
I got in over my head with credit card debt because of my business. I couldn’t get a business loan having no acceptable collateral, so I was told by one of the banks I approached to just charge it. I didn’t see any problem with this as I was making money, and it would go back out to pay my bills. Then I got this notion in my head that my business would go big (despite me being the only employee) so it was alright that I was racking up debt because it would eventually get paid off. When I had my breakdown some of it revolved around the realization that my business wasn’t thriving like I thought, and that I was in debt beyond my abilities to pay it off. I probably should have declared bankruptcy, but I didn’t. Opting to pay it off penny by penny. I don’t think this would have happened if I wasn’t bipolar. Or who knows, maybe it would have.
It always kills me when people make assumptions that I’m NOT bipolar because I’m not engaging in risky behavior like reckless spending. How do they know? Have they run a credit report? I have great credit, but too high income to debt ratio so no one will lend me any money because of it. Plus I’m really cheap, which is a good thing. My business woes aside, a splurge for me is buying $20.00 worth of clothing at the local thrift store on half off day. Now that I’m stable I can see how my spending habits were less than optimal.
I get the assumptions that I’m “cured.” People don’t realize when they haven’t seen me in awhile that I’m probably locked up in the house, shades drawn etc trying to overcome my depression. They don’t see me leave a store because all the colors and lights and talking are more than my anxiety filled brain can handle..and so on.
You are a thrifty shopper. I could learn a lot from you.
I don’t like to shop so spending money isn’t a big issue 99% of the time. When I do shop I have, on a couple of instances, had the urge to splurge but I catch myself. I only remember one time that I lost all reason and blew $400 in one afternoon, which is a lot of money to me. I wasn’t thinking clearly–it seemed okay at the time and I was with my daughter-in-law. She did not recognize what was happening and was perplexed by my spending. In the future, if I am shopping with someone and I have an inkling that I’m anything other than completely normal, I will ask him or her to not let me spend more than a predetermined amount of money. I don’t feel bipolar is an excuse for me as I am very aware of my ups and downs, very aware of the signs leading up to them. I know when I need to ask for help or understanding. But I do understand how people can get caught up in the moment since I have experienced it once myself. I met one lady who couldn’t stop herself from spending when hypomanic and would leave the tags on all her purchases so she could return them all when she returned to a normal state. She had a doable plan to help herself even if it was after the deed. I don’t judge–I’ve had my own compulsions in the past when hypomanic before medication helped straighten me out. And I know the meds could stop working and it might happen again the moment I let my guard down. I try very hard to never let my guard down and to use family & friends as observers of my behaviors or moods so as a result I don’t allow myself to blame bipolar.
Thank you for your well thought out response, Journey. It’s funny because I don’t like to shop either, but I like nice things and in the past believed I “deserved” them so I’d go on nonstop spending sprees.
The reason I asked the question is because I had a bill collector call me and when I told her I can’t pay she said, “So you think it’s okay to spend the money, but not pay it back.” My response was, “No I don’t think it’s okay if it’s planned, so had I known my doctors would put me on permanent disability, I would never had spent it.” She continued to “harass” me, so I hung up on her. But, it’s made me feel guilty to this day.
You are much wiser now than you were back then. I don’t believe you would let something like that happen again. If it did, I think you would catch yourself and make it right. Please forgive the old, uneducated you who didn’t understand what bipolar was doing to you and how it messed with your judgement. You didn’t have the insight you have now. I know I am my own worst critic and judge myself harshly but I am learning to forgive myself. I hope you can too.
I’m awful about online shopping when I’m hypomanic. Not usually big ticket items (although sometimes), but those $100 purchases add up fast. I do better about that now, since I’m aware of what the driving force is behind that gottabuyitnow feeling, but gah.
Online shopping is very addicting. My ex grand-mother-in-law watched it all day. Her basement was full of boxes that were never opened.
Ah, I love you for telling the truth like this!! Money has been my downfall many, many times. Ouch. It hurts even to think about all the money worries I have.
Yeah. Above all else, money is probably my biggest worry
Meeee tooooo!!! Definitely!!!