Manic Money Behavior in Recovery

I have bipolar disorder. I’m 27 years old, divorced for the second time just a few months ago. No kids because I had a vasectomy. I’m getting married to a 47-year-old woman in my bipolar support group next week; she’s been married 4 times in the last six years. I guess that’s what manic bipolars do – get married, get divorced, and get credit cards. Sharon, my girlfriend, has 3 Visa platinums, 2 gold American Expresses and some MasterCards. We get them in the mail free, spend them to the max, and get out of paying them because we’re mentally ill and addicted to drugs. I don’t even need to work since you can pay rent and buy groceries with credit cards.

Bipolar disorder can be broken down several ways. Some just have depression. Bipolar manics like me can be made worse by family members.   If your father has it, you’re more likely to the disorder. Then when you get it, the whole family’s a train wreck. I’ve got two bipolar sisters; my brother is like Eddie Munster – the only normal one in the family.

Even though I always seem to be involved with a woman or two, being manic is actually a very lonely experience because no one is going at your speed. The world is too slow! When I’m manic, which is most of the time, I come across as being impatient.  Being manic is like being high on speed all the time, never coming down.  The feeling while you’re high may be great, but when the drug wears off, you feel so much worse than you did before and all you want is more. I get depressed two or three times a year, and I can’t wait until I’m manic again. I’m also a drunk and a pot-head. When I’m manic, I try to take the sharp edge off by drinking and smoking weed.

Being manic is not about thinking and feeling differently; it s about thinking and feeling too much, for too long, too fast. When I’m manic, I can’t let go of anger or worries as quickly as other people can unless I’m really drunk and stoned. I’m a graphic designer; I use computers to make pictures without even finishing high school. No matter what you’ve heard, being manic isn’t the same as being artistic and creative, it’s just being manic and feeling crazy. There is nothing creative about staying up for five days straight and spending tons of money on the Internet. I can max out a credit card between midnight and dawn when nobody’s checking online credit charges. Spending sprees for no reason.  It’s like a wild party in my head where the band doesn’t stop and the guests never go home.  Watching the sky go from darkness to light, kept awake by constant thoughts and daydreams and ideas.

Usually my manic phases don’t last longer than a week before I start to mellow out. Then I feel scared and miserable so I drink and smoke even more. I start to think about how I’ll pay back all the money I spent while I was manic and didn’t care. My family knows not to give me money because I’ll spend it instead of paying it back. Besides, they don’t have any money anyway; my mother and stepfather just move to a new apartment instead of paying rent.

Last year I was in the hospital because I was really crazy-manic and drunk all the time. The psychiatrist put me on medication and in a couple of weeks, I was okay again. It felt kind of good not to drink or smoke dope. In group sessions, they told me that since I couldn’t manage money, I could ask a judge to appoint a conservator or guardian for me even though I’m an adult. This is someone that basically works for the court and takes care of financial matters for me. I get disability pay and money from my dad’s estate, but once I cash get the checks, it’s all gone, mostly on primo pot and booze. This, I’m told, wouldn’t happen if someone watched my money and also made sure that I wasn’t given credit cards. I think I might do this. When I’m not manic, I feel like I’ve stolen money and I regret doing it.

My plan is to ask a judge to appoint a financial guardian for me, and after Sharon and I are married we can check in to a hospital together for treatment. Medication, group, some rest, sobriety – we’ll get back on track again. That’s another similarity manics have with drug addicts; being manic is a cycle of freaking out, getting sane, and then freaking out again. At least life as a drunk-manic -bipolar is predictable.

Read more about substance abuse.

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