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Big Spender. Saturday March 5, 2016

I kept looking at my first credit card bill hoping that the 4 figures would disappear if I looked long enough. In the foetal position I started to cry and I could not stop.

Was it only a few weeks ago I was spending money and having so much fun? My family used to call me mean with money but now after a manic episode I was in a lot of debt.

When I was busy buying I gave no thought to how I would pay for everything. I felt so exhilarated, so wonderful so powerful when I was spending money that it was all about the feeling not what I was buying. I really had not much to show for it.

I would go to expensive boutiques and put designer clothes on layby (remember layby, putting a deposit on an item and then paying it off over a few months) but I would never pay them off as I was too ashamed when I was depressed to go back to the shops.

Amidst my tears I decided to never use my card again and to try to pay off my debt when I could from my part time job, as I was a student.

The plan worked until about 6 weeks later when I was high again and I found where a friend had hidden my card. The mania made me forget my plan not to use the card, to restrict my spending but it seduced me to spending more and more.

After many years, I cut my card up, because a relative offered to pay off my debts if I destroyed my card. This worked for a while, but I still put things on layby.

I did not stop the excessive spending until I admitted I had bipolar and received help.

It was not easy because I had friends and family questioning my every purchase making me feel like a child. I knew my family were just trying to help but it made me want to rebel.

Things that helped: getting better through medication, exercise, supportive friends, having no credit cards, only using eBay /online stores when accompanied by a responsible adult, paying cash, and being honest about how much I was spending by writing every purchase down.

This was my story and everyone is different. When I sought help, started being honest with myself and others, stopped feeling ashamed and tried to minimise the damage, it made me feel more in control.

Some people spend more when they are depressed, some when they are high. Can you share your experiences and what worked for you?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Rebecca Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:04am

Thanks for such an honest blog. I can't say what works for me as I am at rock bottom at moment. Think friends and family help although certain friends turn there back on me when I am like this. My horses have always helped in past but older one has cushings disease. It can be controlled but am worried sick about it.x

Eva Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:31am

Hi Rebecca, so sorry to hear about your horse, it's so very hard when your animal is sick. I just had a quick read up about Cushings in horses. Seems as though quality of life can be improved through treatment for a time. Our beloved ancient cat is going through the mill currently with kidney issues. I understand your worries. I try when I can to set aside the thoughts of the future and really focus on now, and how it is to stroke her and hear her purr. If you stop she turns right around as if to say - More please! And eventually a wee miow to further prompt you. She can't manage the stairs right now so we are a tag team, and I love scooping her up and giving her a nuzzle before going down. I follow her back up so that she gets the exercise. For me it's about joyfully making the most of our time with her now. The future is the future, I can't control the outcome, it's good to be prepared, but I try not to dwell on it, and if I catch myself, I remind myself that I have no control so better come back to the now and enjoy what I can while I can. I hope this doesn't come across as preachy this is just how I am dealing with my cat.

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:35am

Rebecca , sorry you are feeling so low. I hope your horse improves. I can tell from your posts you are a very caring person. Please be kind to yourself.I echo what Lou said keep coming in here and sharing how you are feeling. There are many people here willing to hold your hand. Thanks so much that even while you are feeling so down you have taken time to say kind words to me. I really appreciate that. Take care.

LillyPet Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:43am

Hi Rebecca, worring is so draining and your horses mean the wirld to you. Try to take any moments to just be, fully aware of the present moment and resting your mind for little bits at a time. Animals help with that and maybe you can do that for your horse, just be for a while and pass on A little peace. So good to hear that it can be controlled. Use that to nip your worrying in the bud whenever you become aware that it's started. It wont help. Of course we all worry if a loved one is ill, it's natural, but dont let it take over. You will get through this period and back out again. Stick with what you know is good for you and it's great that you are here, hands held by our lovely community. Big peacful hugs. LP xx

the room above the garage Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:52am

Rebecca, yes! You made it in here today, I am pleased! How is your day looking? Do you have any strength to move or do you need a day of holding on to you?

Mary Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 10:03am

Rebecca darling, have only just gone back to read yesterday's comment from you. Just as everyone else has said, we're here. I'm really happy for you to have my email (just contact Caroline - she'll pass on an email from you) if you want another life life. Keep holding on. As so many have said - it passes. It does pass. And yes - the worry over your beloved horse must be crushing. There is no difference in emotional pain between the pain/loss of a much loved animal and the pain/loss of a much loved human. So many of us have been at the bottom where you are now. Many of us will be there again. So we'll stand with you and keep holding your hand and keep vigil for you. Sending so much love to you (and your horse).

Rebecca Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:06am

And thanks to comments yesterday it really helps.

Lou Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:21am

I said it yesterday but it bears repeating; you are not alone and, if I may, I'll hold your hand while you feel this low. As RATG said yesterday, please keep coming in here and talking to us. Lou

Hopeful One Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:32am

Hi Rebecca- charmed and delighted. Perhaps reminding your self of this might also help . Those thoughts are suggesting a. PERMANENT " solution to a TEMPORARY problem. As long as you keep that perspective you might awful but you will be still be with us here to share your difficult and painful journey . Hugs

Hopeful One Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:21am

Hi Leah - thanks for giving me an insight into the dynamics of a bipolar high which can make one over spend.

When my boys were young they would always be wanting things they saw in adverts , in the shop windows or what there friends had they had to have. So we agreed the following rule . We would only buy if the answer to each of the following questions was an unequivocal "Yes"

Do we need it?
Do we want it?
Can we afford it?
Does it work?

More often then not the answer to one of the questions would be "No" so we would shelve it.

My message must have gone home.

Some months back I was standing in front of a DIY shop with my son now 33 yrs old and wondering if I should buy a particular gadget.( I am an enthusiastic DIY) My son said " Dad do you need it ? .........." He then told me that he used it every time and had saved himself a fortune.

See if this joke brings a smile .

These guys are in the a golf club locker room . A mobile phone rings and one of the guys picks it up. There is a female voice at the other end. She asks " Darling I have just seen this lovely dress for £10,000. Can I buy it? " . The guy says 'Yes ' so the voice at the other end says " There was a necklace and earring set for £50,000 which was just so beautiful could I buy that too ? " the guy says" Just go ahead' . The voice at the other side comes back with " It would be so nice to have matching handbag and shoes but they are £ 10,000 . Can you treat me for that and I will love you for ever darling " the guy says "Yes" .

He then turns around and asks " Hey guys who owns this phone ? "

Lou Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:23am

Hahaha! Liked that. Thanks. Good advice too! Lou

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:41am

Hopeful One, My story is just one insight many other people with bipolar have different experiences. It is great when our children learn lessons from us and then teach us again! You demonstrated very clearly with those 4 questions show when one is stable one can make a clear decision, when on a high I would have laughed at those questions by answering yes to all 4! Thanks for your interesting reply and your joke.

Hopeful One Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 9:59am

Hi Leah- does that mean one loses all insight during a high?

Mary Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 10:07am

Hello HO. I can't answer for Leah, but I know that even with my more manageable highs (fortunately overspending is not my problem), one loses all sense of what is proportionate or reasonable. It means that one can achieve great things because "normality" is suspended. But the cost can be huge in terms of relationships and finances.

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 10:14am

Hopeful, I lose insight, inhibition, and act on impulse as well as risk taking.For me it was all about being in the moment, a total hedonistic experience with no thought as to the consequences. I must stress this would vary from person to person.

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 10:27am

Mary, I like how you explained "one loses all sense of what is proportionate or reasonable". I think that can be hard for people to understand.

Sally Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:22am

What helps is a blog like yours which makes me realise I am not alone with my spending problem. Writing every item down is a good idea . I tend to avoid the shops where I splurge so as not to be tempted but in so doing become virtually agoraphobic. Recently I have been imposing a limit on myself. No more than one purchase per day.

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:44am

Sally, thanks for replying and sharing your experiences. Do you have things you enjoy doing that don't involve money or much money? I wish you all the best. I have found being honest helps because once it was out in the open, I didn't feel as ashamed.

LillyPet Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:22am

Morning Leah,
It must have been so tough to try and pay off a debt that wasnt chosen by your true self. I'm glad for you that you have the right kind of support and ways of managing things now.
I got into huge credit card debt helping someone to save their business from collapse. It took years for us to pay it off and I too added to by using the card it when things were tight. Now it's clear, I dont want another credit card, it's a slippery slope! I have learned the hard way not to give and spend what I dont have. I still have a bank loan to pay off over a few years which doesnt feel great, but at least I cant just whip it out or resort to using it when I'm struggling.
I recognise the choosing a bit of happiness at any cost feeling and steer clear of it in any shap or form if I can.
Thanks for being so open about it Leah, you've reinforced my resolve to avoid trouble! Take care and hugs all round :) LP xxx

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:46am

Thanks Lily for sharing what happened to you.I wish you luck in avoiding trouble, for me trouble seems to find me. Take care

the room above the garage Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:37am

Hello Leah, what a terrific blog today. The line that sticks out for be most is "...when I stopped being ashamed..." This is key to so many problems. Thank you! Love ratg xxx.

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:49am

Being ashamed and feeling guilty had been my companions for so long, it was hard to let the go. Alas they creep back every now and then Thanks Ratgfor pointing out how important it is sto stop being ashamed. I loved your blog yesterday- do you wear lycra??!!!

the room above the garage Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:54am

Yes! Lycra is me lol!! I stopped feeling ashamed and started feeling...ok.

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 8:37am

Ratg I have farewelled to shame but guilt keeps inviting itself back like an unwanted guest.

Norman Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 2:05pm

Ratty, there is an acronym of MAMIL (middle-aged man in lycra) which I own up to when cycling.

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:42pm

Norman, I hope MAMIL are a protected species in your country, here they are fair game for ridicule!!!

Eva Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:40am

I do emotional spending when I am very upset, but it doesn't get too out of control (so far, fingers crossed). My husband says I tend to do it after the event, I'll come home with a new jacket or glasses or whatever and it seems like an impulse buy. To me though I usually have an idea that I have Wanted a particular style jacket or whatever for a long time and I finally give myself permission just to go and get it after a hard emotional time. I do have to watch that I don't do it too much though. Had a rough few years and quite a few treats.

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:51am

Eva, I appreciate your honesty and insight into your own habits. It seems you buy things you need or feel you have a need for where I just spent because it felt good! Take care.

Eva Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:54am

I don't know that I Need them, but maybe I think I deserve them... I just try to keep it as infrequent as possible otherwise I find I do have no money!

LillyPet Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:54am

Yes me too Eva, treating our selves after a hard time can lead to regret, it can seem like being kind to ourselves at the time, awareness is good. Hugs LP xx

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 9:01am

Eva, you have insight into your spending so that will really help you. You are aware so you will control your spending. I had no insight at all.

Norman Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:56am

Hi Leah, time was you could have mapped my Moodscope scores onto my bank balance. I too got into difficulties due not to bingeing but managing a single-parent household. With the aid of the Credit Union (and a good friend guaranteeing one of my CU loans) I took the debts in order of interest rate and demolished them one by one. Key was realising that skills I would use to produce a cash-flow and Profit-and-Loss for a client business would work for my household too. I still use these to ensure I keep on track.

Mary Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 10:12am

So pleased you're on track Norman. I don't know if you know it - but you are such an inspiration to me.

Eva Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:57am

I am glad you got to the root of your problem and gained an understanding and stepped away from the shame you were inadvertently creating. That's a great advancement and something to be proud of.

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 8:25am

Norman thanks for explaining how good financial advice helped you to get on track financially.

Norman Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 2:06pm

Yeah! If I die tomorrow I will leave my son enough to pay off his student loan so he can start from...nothing...

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:43pm

Norman, That is a wonderful achievement and legacy for your son.

Anonymous Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 9:24am

Hi Leah. I am avery shallow person when it comes to shopping. Especially for clothes and interior design items. I can't stand it when my OH says "Do you actually NEED it?" No of course I don't NEED it! I like the look of it and want it. Babyish eh? But the physical act of entering a shop makes me feel better or rather sets my heart beating a little faster with excitement I guess. And I feel agitated until I have made the first purchase. Only then will my heart etc settle. This might be the same for any sort of addiction? Going into a pub for the first drink for example. I am not overly addicted to shopping but I do feel guilty buying stuff. Especially when my OH hardly buys anything and there we are near shops and it's me carrying bags and he has nothing. I sometimes even think it's a control thing on his part. He deliberately doesn't buy anything when I'm on a shopping spree to make me feel under his control!! I buy when high or low but don't go over the limit. I hate it when the bills come in but because of our financial situation right now, they can be paid off eventually. It hasn't always been like this though and my debt has been OTT.When the recession began in 2007, I was very good and didn't shop to excess. I felt the whole nation was the same and drew comfort from saving. I sometimes feel I am only happy when surrounded by beautiful physical things and knowing I will buy something soon. There are good reasons why I shop (and btw, I never buy designer clothes, no never, the most expensive is probably Zara) but it's your blog Leah. not mine. You have touched on a subject dear to my heart. I could go on and on...Julx

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 10:02am

Jul Thanks for your honest, passionate and detailed reply. I appreciate your insights into your own behaviour as it is very informative. As I have said before I lacked any form of insight into my spending which is the basic difference and the total lack of control.

Anonymous Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 9:36am

Many the time I have cut up credit cards and I never use a store card now. What helps me is that I only use one card in the UK, my John Lewis partnership master card. I don't use my current back account card or other credit cards. This way I see what I have spent on one statement. In France I use my French bank account card so the same applies there. I was in a position once, where I had many store and different credit cards. This has helped me to get a grip on stuff I don't "NEED" ahem. Julx

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 10:05am

I think it is useful to have a plan re credit cards and you have found a plan that suits you.

Mary Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 10:17am

Thank you Leah for this great post. I say that I don't overspend - but I am a heedless fritterer and my Amazon bill is probably more that the GDP of some small countries! We use one credit card in the household that gets paid off faithfully at the end of every month and for the rest of it I use cash and debit card only. I am fortunate however in having married a financial genius who keeps us above water without apparently ruffling a feather. I don't know how I would cope without him.

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 10:32am

Mary thank you for your post. I think a financial genius sounds loike a great idea- can you rent him out?

Maria Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 5:19pm

Hi Mary - I'm sorry to hear about your shattering experience and hope that your ankle will mend nicely.

The Gardener Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 11:05am

Feel sad for you, Leah, not as a critical old womman but how stressful being in debt is, and how easy to do. At our age we cannot get loans or easy payments. When we were young there were no credit cards. Made us mean, perhaps - but a healthy respect for getting into debt. Our first credit card was American Express - in the 70's - taking 3 youngest to Sicily during war in Cyprus, which could have escalated. I reckoned I could get the children out into North Africa and a big hotel, or the embassy. We had no money to foot such bills, but all I cared about was the safety of our children. Our troublesome grand-daughter, who has shown such flair for flower arranging, has also got the buying on line habit. I am sad, not as a critical old woman, because I know she will never save, and she and husband to be (who has just cleared card debts from years) would like a house, no hope

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 11:21am

Thanks Gardener, Don't feel sad for me. That was me years ago and I am fine now. My father never had a credit rating because he never had a credit card. I love your writing. I think you are only person I know who can put the words, American Express, old woman, Sicily, Africa, troublesome, bullying, no hope in the one paragraph and mke it wise and entertaining!! Thanks Gardener.

The Gardener Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 11:08am

Not that I am a good example of frugality - currently I have two house, 18 rooms, a sick husband and no money. Everybody laughs - I am used to being the town joke. Our painter laughs at my latest blunder, then cheerfully puts it right.

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 11:15am

Gardener, You are no joke. You are trying to find a solution to a very difficult problem.

Skyblue Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 12:42pm

Hi Leah. Thank you for this. What a difficult thing -- the impulses, the guilt.... It all sounds dreadful and you've really given me a clear idea of the suffering involved. Our relationship with money is one of the key relationships in life, i think, and so easy to get wrong even without serious challenges like you had. I've been in lots of debt over the years but now use 2 credit cards (one to accumulate points) which are paid off in full every month and a debit card. After coming out of a low period, i hit the shops (like Eva) but only spend money where returns are accepted...and i often return items after having a good think. There's something very real about 'retail therapy'...but it has to be managed. Thanks again. xx

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:24pm

Skyblue, That is so true that 'our relationship with money is one of our key relationships in life', but one we are given little training for until it becomes a huge problem. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Joanne Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 2:07pm

When manic my spending has got out of control and as is often the case I didn't have anything to show for it. I used a debt advice agency who took all the worry out of what was an overwhelming situation. They argued than lenders had not 'given' me money responsibly, I had applied for over 12 credit cards within a two week period and no one had thought that this was somewhat excessive. I completed a 'debt and mental health evidence form' which was supported by my GP who confirmed that excessive and irresponsible spending were in fact a symptom of Bi Polar and that I was literally not in my right mind when running up debts of over £36 000. Most of the creditors were really understanding and wiped the debt off. I had to place a note on my credit file stating I had a mental health problem which could affect my ability to handle money. I would strongly advise anyone to seek appropriate debt advice s they were invaluable to me in addressing what was a crippling situation

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:29pm

Joanne, Your honesty and courage in admitting you had a problem and finding a solution really touched me. You had the sense to get help and you knew the right help to get. I am glad there is help and understanding now. Did you also get help in ways to control the spending? Thank you for explaining the help that is now available.

The Gardener Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 4:04pm

Hi Leah again, did not read your blog carefully, hence thinking problem current. I have a great aid in that I loathe shopping - except in India where I shop till once I literally dropped. (now, of course, I can bankrupt us without leaving my keyboard).Buying presents could be an addiction. Our second son is as passionate about cats as we are. In Jakarta once there was a metre high cat in crystal. 6 thouasand pounds. As they were always moving countries would not have thanked me for such a packing problem. Joanne above echoes the Adrian Mole book I spoke about, where the idiot boy (man then) did not realise that sooner or later you had to pay. But he was just gullible, it was not a disease. One of my d-in-laws - this mentioned once or twice above - cannot go out without buying something - even if she never uses it or wears it. This Near obsession I can't understand

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:37pm

Gardener, I am picturing you In India , literally shopping till you dropped!. I agree as about online shopping being so easy and addictive. While one can easily go bankrupt from one's chair, the thrill one gets from buying and getting the goods straight away is a very enticing experience. I suppose as a retailer I would like people like your d-in-law to come into my shop! Thanks again for your descriptive post. I am sure you will never run out of illuminating anecdotes.

Maria Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 5:17pm

Hi Leah - thanks for such an honest and insightful blog. The first time I became manic I spent all day on a shopping spree (when I am not normally a shopper) and topped the day off buying a car for my daughter. It was parked on the side of the road with a For Sale sign on it and I just had to have it. I tried to buy a car for my son too but he wouldn't hear of it. Thank goodness he realized something was off with me. That was quite the hole that I dug myself into!

Leah Sat, Mar 5th 2016 @ 7:40pm

Maria I appreciate you taking time to reveal your experiences. It is hard sometimes to admit what we have done but I think it is essential in understanding and gaining some control. What works for you to help control your shopping sprees ? Thanks again for your post.

Cyndi Mon, Mar 7th 2016 @ 11:05am

My spending too increased when I am hypo manic (I experience bi polar II, so do not get really high 0 but spending is an issue none the less). I too have to bury my credit cards, hopefully before I get buried in debt. It is not easy. I try to remember the question - will I still be using this in 6 months? when contemplating a purchase. Yes, getting the the contemplating thoughts is a challenge when high, but I try... . Good luck with your travels.

Leah Tue, Mar 8th 2016 @ 9:52am

Cyndi, Thanks for replying to my blog and sharing your experience. I am always keen to read about how other manage.You are so right that it can be hard that you should try. That is why I get a second opinion before I make a large purchase. All the best. leah

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