I sat sobbing one afternoon.
It was not unlike many other afternoons I must confess.
However, this time I was crying and I actually knew what the hell I was crying about. I was crying uncontrollably and I could not stop. I buried my face in a pillow trying to catch my breath.
There was a spot deep down inside of me that was searing and in pain. That spot was suddenly now exposed and the pain it brought felt unbearable.
My kids were fine, the cats, my husband…everyone was fine. No one n my family had died recently but there I was, laying across my bed crying like there was no tomorrow.
“Hand over your credit cards” was still playing in my head. I kept thinking, what was I going to do without my credit cards? How was I going to feel better?
My husband didn’t expect this response. He was dumbfounded. I had been spending way too much money and he was trying to save us from total destruction from Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Target.
Through my tears, my brain was logically trying to access the level of the threat. It came to the conclusion that something was wrong here. I shouldn’t be in this much pain over credit cards. I knew that what I was experiencing was a bad response to a sudden jolt of reality.
It was the end of a manic episode for me and I was not taking it very well.
Most people don’t understand what it means to be manic. They assume you are just in good spirits or extraordinarily excited.
When sufferers of Bipolar disorder experience mania they can have an abnormally elevated irritable mood. They have an inflated self esteem, insomnia, extremely talkative, and/or get involved with extremely risky behavior that usually has bad consequences. It can also lead to psychosis and hospitalization.
I experienced all those symptoms except psychosis and hospitalization even though there were occasions my husband entertained the idea of putting me on a 72 hour hold at the hospital. My mania was making me appear psychotic.
Mania was always a welcomed friend after bouts of depression so much so I never realized when it was getting out of hand. When I was manic, I would start to feel better about myself. I tried to give up food as my manic vice, but that only led to other ways to cope.
I began to shop and shop all the time. When my husband would tell me I needed to stop spending money so we could save or have basic necessities, I would try to stop but then I would get that urge and before I knew it I was spending money again.
I know many people say, “I’m a shopaholic.” And yes there are people that love to shop. It becomes a problem when you are spending more than you have and immediately afterward you feel like shit and want to kill yourself. I mean literally kill yourself. End it all because you bout three vases, a scratching post, hundreds of dollars in groceries that were not needed and other things we could live without just to push down the demons of depression.
It is more than just a normal shopping problem. It is a “I have to shop or I might die,” problem. When you have to lie just to buy some curtains you know you have a problem. I would take out credit cards without telling anyone and just spend until I max them out. When I came home I would pray my husband didn’t come home first then I would put everything away. When my husband noticed anything new, I would put it off as something I have had for years that he must have overlooked.
While I was spending the money, I felt amazing. It was like a drug that I was addicted to. It was one of the best feelings ever. I would just grab whatever I wanted and it felt so good. I don’t have expensive taste and that is what I used to explain away my problem. “Well at least I don’t buy Gucci or anything.” Yet, when you’re spending $100 at Dollar Tree on NOTHING you have a problem.
Before my diagnosis, I didn’t understand that this was a part of my disorder. I assumed something was wrong with me but I just thought I was a bad person. I could not explain to my husband why I kept doing this. Why I took out credit card after credit card and lied about it. He assumed I didn’t care and planned to just spend us out of house and home.
Now that we know what is really going on we have begin to curtail my spending together.
It took medication and lots of work. It took cutting up credit cards, paying them off and closing accounts to get me and my family back on track. We still have credit cards that need to be paid off from my manic shopping and spending.