Impulsive Spending

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One attribute that is often overlooked with bipolar disorder is impulsive or compulsive spending. It’s one of the qualities that most people notice of me, but don’t really put much thought into.

I was diagnosed with bipolar at 18 years old. I had been previously diagnosed with severe clinical depression at 14 and started showing signs of bipolar at 17. This wasn’t very surprising because my mother had been showing signs of schizophrenia during points in my childhood and was finally diagnosed when I was 19.

My first major purchase was in October 2014, a nice silver Timex watch. It was about $100. There was a lot of satisfaction actually working for my money and being able to save up to buy something swanky for myself. It was nice wearing it and showing it off to friends who weren’t working and showing off how great it was to have a job at 16.

My next major purchase was a week before Christmas, December 2015. I was almost 18 and I saved on my own $5,000 to buy my first car. Well, my dad had to legally buy it since I wasn’t of age, but it was with my own money. It was a 2000 Honda CR-V. It was red. I was so excited when I saw it in the used dealership parking lot that I didn’t even test drive it; I thought it would drive similar to my mom’s old Honda civic of the same year. But this car: this car, was even better.

My Honda! Photo credits: Me, circa December 2015

It represented true freedom. I no longer had to rely on rides from my family, I was independent, had a job, had a boyfriend, I was about to graduate high school. I had overcome so much adversity to get to this moment.

And then I was diagnosed bipolar.

That freedom I felt, that independence, was tarnished.

Don’t get me wrong. I knew something was up with me, the amount of crying that was happening, the true emptiness I felt, was real. I couldn’t blame it all on the abusive ex, the appendicitis, the kidney infections, the bladder disease I had that wasn’t diagnosed. But then there was that upswing.

That upswing I would soon know as hypo-mania.

September 8th, 2016

It took 8 months to find the faulty transmission in my Honda. Should’ve known it was too good to be true. I didn’t want to spend close to two grand on a car that may break down again in a matter of months. I also wanted to start building credit so I bought and financed this here Jeep Compass Rallye.

This car was next level for a young 18 year old chick! It cost $9,500. I saved up $3,000 in a matter of eight months and put that down and financed $6,500 and since I had no credit, they gave me the loan for three years, $250 a month at 13.49% interest. Ouch that hurts to look at now with the credit score I have….. but I suppose I had to start somewhere.

The car itself had leather, heated seats, a sunroof, a nice stereo system… what more could you want?! Flat black, black rims, tinted windows, you name it, the Jeep had it.

Up until this point, I was living at home with my parents, so they paid all my medical, therapy, medication, food, rent, living expenses, insurance, gasoline. The only expense I had was $250 a month for a car payment. And I was making close to $1,500 a month, so initially I was putting away a lot of money and a couple weeks after I bought the Jeep, I started community college, which my dad paid for so besides $6,500, I was debt free.

2017 was a good year! I did three quarters of college level courses, 35 credits. We got great seats at the old Safeco field for the Seattle Mariners on several occasions, lots of lake days, mini vacations to Oregon state, and in September, Diego and I rented out our first home together. It was a thousand square foot house, one bedroom, one bathroom, tiny galley kitchen, large living space, and it even had a laundry room, with a large yard.

Don’t get me wrong… our landlords were terrible. We froze in the winter, sweat in the summer, the kitchen sink leaked, we didn’t have hot water for the first month we lived there. We weren’t able to wash our clothes because our landlords wouldn’t fix the ducts that connect the washer and dryer to the connectors for a whole two months.

But it was all ours. And that’s all Diego and I ever wanted.

In February 2018, I left my two jobs and doubled my monthly income working for a naval shipyard. At this point, I had just turned 20 years old. I only paid $400/month for rent, $250/month for my Jeep and made roughly $3,000 a month. I was making more money than I possibly knew what to do with. I should have been saving or investing. But at this point, I was paying for my tattoos and piercings, picked up vaping, which is an expensive habit, buying new clothes, buying things we needed for the house.

Anytime there was overtime, I was working it. I couldn’t get enough of the money. The work was alright because I was treated as inferior to my male coworkers, so they did the grunt of the work, while I held a flashlight. I couldn’t believe how much I made for basically standing there 10 hours a day to look pretty. Yaaaayyyy, Navy…

After Diego and I split ways due to my infidelity, I went on my first plane ride. The first guy I slept with after I cheated was a guy in my shop. He was waiting for his next civilian deployment as I awaited my next local job assignment. He was very cute and thought I was too. We hooked up a few times. He was going through a divorce. He said he was flying to San Diego and said I should meet him there for a long weekend.

A few weeks go by, we talk everyday, my bipolar mania had worsened. I was sleeping around with random Tinder guys, bought a whole new wardrobe, and Diego kicked me out of the house and expected me to pay my $400 in rent. I did so… for a little while.

June 9th, 2018 San Diego, CA

When I got to California via plane and 3 xanax, it was clear that this dude was no longer interested in me. Probably due to my late night, drunk phone calls saying how depressed I was. I was still getting a grip on the mood swings of bipolar and he got the grunt of it.

I have some good memories of that trip; I ate some delicious food, went sight seeing, it was gorgeous. But I made an enemy that trip.

My last day, I drank half of a fifth of Jack Daniels and I think I took 5 xanax throughout the day. I knew that was the only way I was going to get back on that plane. I just wanted to feel wanted; I was so lonely.

Honestly I have no recollection of that plane ride or how I got home. Somehow I got to work the next day. I was tan, hungover, and looking for how to fill the void in my heart.

September 11th, 2018

Besides sleeping around with numerous guys, all I truly had was my money. I paid off my Jeep with the 3 year loan in less than 2 years. (The one thing I did right). Instead of running the motherfucker into the ground like I should have, I bought a 2016 Volkswagen Jetta shortly after moving back in with my parents, and after being on medical leave from the naval shipyard for breaking my left foot.

After 90 days from the original date of injury, I received no pay. Not from federal L and I and not from the shipyard. Although I was told I would receive back pay, to this very day, I never did receive any pay from the OWCP. I was supposed to have all of my medical paid for related to the injury and get paid $20/hr for 40 hours a week until I could return to work.

Since I was waiting on an MRI for my broken foot, a process that took forever and a day to perform, I got a job at a mental health hospital, working graveyard. I got paid about what I did when I originally started at the shipyard so I was able to afford $400/month for this new car, and I didn’t have any other expenses since I was living at home.

Again, I was making about $2,500 a month, more money that I could have been saving, especially after my accident, but didn’t. Before and after work, you could find me at the casino, playing slots or Blackjack. At first, I would go to the casino every once and a blue moon, then it become monthly, then weekly, and then daily.

It didn’t happen overnight but I think it really escalated after I went to Las Vegas, Nevada for my 21st birthday in February 2019. The flashing lights and loud noises, the jackpot whistles, they just fed into my mania… or my mania fed into my desire to keep playing. It was never enough to gamble $50. I think I dropped a thousand dollars overall for the weekend. Diego and I stayed at the Venetian, a luxury hotel and casino and that was $500 for two nights. Diego paid for food and the rare time we had to pay for drinks, he paid. So I gambled about $500 over the course of 3 days.

Shortly after my Vegas trip, I quit the mental health hospital and went back to the grocery store full time. I went to making about $1,600 a month, which still allowed me to pay my car and my gambling habit. I was paying for all my tattoos, vacations, shopping sprees, etc. with my various credit cards. Soon I had to pull out a 4,000 dollar personal loan to pay off the credit cards. Because I was still technically employed at the shipyard and was technically on their payroll, I would say that I still made $3,500 a month. This allowed me to then pay off the old loan with a new $10,000 personal loan and pay off all my new credit card debt.

The credit card interest rate was 24.99%, while the personal loan interest rate was about 8.75%. So I was stupid not to consolidate. I made a promise to myself. NO MORE RECKLESS SPENDING.

I think that was around September of 2019. I paid off my two credit cards and closed the accounts, which fucked up my credit. In retrospect, I should have just cut up the cards and throw them in a junk drawer or shredded them. But no.

Then I realized I needed a credit card for emergencies and I got one with a higher credit limit than my other two were combined. So it was a matter of time before I spent recklessly on that. I was working as a paralegal at the time and before I got this personal loan or got rid of my old credit cards I…

August 31, 2019

I bought this and traded in my jetta. I hated that car since it wasn’t an SUV. So I traded in the jetta for 10k, when I still owed another 10k on it. And financed this car for 22k and rolled the negative equity over and bought the car with no money down.

Talking to my friend in the car industry he said that was the stupidest thing he had ever heard of. Not only that, but I must have exceptional credit.

That I did, my friend, that I did.

That takes us to October 10th, 2019. The day I find out I got fired from the shipyard. I got fired because they delayed my surgery so much and there was no estimate as for when I would return to work so they fired me. I had my dream job working as a paralegal so I figured things would be fine, I no longer could use the shipyard for my income requirements, but this just meant no more bailouts from the bank for my uncontrollable spending. The ironic thing was that I had surgery scheduled for October 28th, just two weeks before I received my termination letter.

I had to take 5k out of my mutual fund to pay off some of my debt once I was unfairly fired from my legal job. I paid off my credit card debt of 2,800 and paid forward my car and personal loan payments as far as I could with the remaining money.

Since January, my credit card debt has been much like a yo-yo; going up and down drastically week to week. I got two casino jackpots in one day which I further used to get rid of my debt.

Today

I would like to say my reckless spending has gotten better, but I think I’m just better at managing my debt than I have been in years past. I budget weekly and now living on my own, I have to be contentious of my spending habits because it could sacrifice my quality of living with Diego at his house.

My gambling has decreased since we moved in together last month and I have only been to the casino three times since then.

I have a long road ahead of me to financial recovery, but I have never missed a payment, never been late on a payment, etc.

Tl;dr version: Dani makes a lot of dumb choices because her manic depressive episodes feed into her desire to feel wanted/needed. Buying things sometimes fills the void.

Til Next Time,

Dani

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