Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How Much is That Doggie in the Window? I DON”T CARE! I HAVE TO HAVE IT!!

I'm a consumer.  I love to shop.  So, sure, get in line; a lot of people love to shop.  However, my shopping has consistently gotten me into big trouble, credit card and loan trouble.  I figure my parents have dished out at least $150,000 over the last 20 years because of my failure to be fiscally responsible.  Some of this has been in the form of repeatedly paying off credit card debt for me, as well many many many loans ("I promise I'll pay you back").  My spending has finally prompted me to file for bankruptcy and foreclose my house.  And actually, it's a relief.  I'm off of the credit cards and I no longer have that horrible monster house to deal with.  Oh, yeah, the monster house.  Not only do I love to spend, I have really really really good taste and simply must must must have the very best.

from James Snowden's Big Spender on You Tube

I've thought a lot about that latter characteristic, must have the very best.  Why must I have the very best?  I'm sure there's a lot more discovery along the road regarding this question, but I do have a few answers now.

  • Image:  I believe in looking good.  It's important to present oneself as well-groomed, professional and well put together. It sets forth a good impression.  And looking good builds confidence.  
  • Quality:  Quality objects last longer and function better than do cheaply made products.  Additionally, I believe in supporting artists and artisans.  As far as food is concerned, fresh food delivers better nutrition, and gourmet food just tastes better!
  • Creature Comfort:  All the comforts of home, right?  It feels good to have nice things to come home to.  It generates a sense of ease and pleasure in one's life.

OK, great, so those seem like pretty valid arguments for purchasing and consuming the best one can afford. And that's the key, what one can afford. But there's an additional factor in my life . . . the Crazy Factor.  I completely lose control when I'm on the upward curve of the bipolar cycle.  I've frequently woken up to see bags and bags and bags of goods that I had purchased the day before, only to wonder, "what's in those bags?"  I've received so many unexpected packages from online vendors and wondered, "where did that come from?  When did I buy that?  And why?"

One aspect of the Crazy Factor is the I Might Need That Someday impulse, "You never know when you might need a scarf in a lighter shade of red..  I'm sure I'll need this craft/art supply for some project some day."  There's also the Indecision aspect, "Oh, this sweater is so pretty, and I like the black one a lot, but I also like the rust one a lot, and the pink one is really pretty, too. I can't decide . . . let's get them all!"Additionally, there's the Fill The Hole aspect, "Ugh, I just feel so crappy today, buying something nice will make me feel better."

And finally, and in my case the most prevalent, is the Pretty, Shiny, Colors! aspect.  I simply get overwhelmed with a need to possess every beautiful thing I see. I become dizzy, yes, physically dizzy.  It's the combination of everything:  "you never know; I can't decide; fill the hole."  When confronted with the pretty and shiny, my head simply, and literally, spins.  I become completely out of control.  It's as though I become instantly stoned when I see the pretty and shiny, and consuming (acquiring) the pretty and shiny keeps that buzz going -- going strong.

Some of the things I have:
  • 50 linear feet of clothes hanging in my closets along with two six-drawer dressers and 12 storage bins full of clothes (now, a note on this, I have clothes that range from size 6 to size 14, as if that's a good excuse!)
  • 223 pairs of shoes 
  • 65 pairs of boots (including two slightly different pairs of snakeskin boots)
  • 86 scarves (yep, more than one shade of red)
  • 250+ pairs of fancy stockings
  • 52 stacks of scrapbooking paper 
  • 250+ rubber stamps for crafting
  • 1,000+ records and CDs
  • 90 linear feet of books

OK, I could go on, but then that would become a collection of collections.

Spending beyond one's means is a common behavior for bipolars.  Quoting from "Spending Sprees in Bipolar Disorder" on, "People with bipolar disorder experience severe mood swings which can last several weeks or months. These include feelings of intense depression and despair, manic feelings of extreme happiness, and mixed moods such as depression with restlessness and overactivity. The disorder can also lead to impulsive spending sprees, usually during manic episodes. These can extend to cars, holidays and computers, costing thousands of dollars, as irrational decision-making takes hold. It may be wild “self-medicating” shopping sprees, unwise investments, extravagant gifts to family, friends or charity, or spending a fortune on gambling."

There are other factors involved, too, beyond irrational decision making.  Insecurity, self-doubt, and the constant need for stimulation are strong contributors to overspending, and unfortunately these big three are major components in the bipolar mind.

As I mentioned above, filing for bankruptcy and foreclosing on my house is a relief.  I now have housing that I can afford (more on that in another post), and am credit card free.  I've determined to never have another credit card.  When I'm in an up cycle I am simply incapable of remembering that I don't have all of the money in the world.  And I'm making, and adhering to, shopping lists now.  It's a start, and I'm on the right track.  It's something else that makes me feel good.

Friday, December 14, 2012


I'm loathe to admit it, but I smoke cigarettes.  I've struggled with this all of my life and have even managed to quit several times.  I often quit for weeks, sometimes  for months, and twice I've been a non-smoker for several years.  But, I seem to keep coming back to it. 

from reynwrap582 Oliver and Enzo Chasing the Ball --

My smoking habit is really ordered:  I never smoke away from home (unless I'm out having too many drinks, ahem, we'll talk about that later); I never smoke in the car; when I smoke inside my house I only smoke in one place (indeed, one chair!) in the house and absolutely, positively, have to have a fire in the fireplace (which is next to the chair) and have a candle burning; I am incredibly fastidious about it (I never leave a used ashtray in the house, and I wash my ashtrays in vinegar); I tend to favor drinking tomato juice while I smoke, and I usually take a shower and wash my hair before I go to bed (and if I don't, then I change the sheets in the morning). And . . .  I tend to chain smoke.

My smoking bothers me.  Smoking cigarettes is one of the very worst things one can do to one's body.  It stinks.  It's expensive!  I have pets and anguish over what the second-hand smoke is doing to them.  I know all of these things, and I even think of them while I'm smoking.  But I still smoke.  I used to be able to just stop, to just quit, and was able to stay smoke-free for long periods of time.  But now, I'm just not succeeding with that.  As a result, I started incorporating some tools to help me quit.  I bought a whole bunch of visual imagery recordings that I listen to in bed.  Well, I have them memorized now . . . .  I made a book of facts and pictures discussing and showing the results of smoking.  Well, I have a cool accordian book about the effects of smoking. . .  I've thrown countless partially consumed packets of cigarettes away.  Well, now I know what it's like to actually dig through the garbage can in the driveway to find the trash bag with the half-packet of cigarettes. . .  I've even held a funeral for a packet of cigarettes in order to say goodbye.  Well, now I know where a packet of Nat Sherman MCD's are buried.

I've discussed smoking with my psychologist and psychiatrist, yet they seem to be far less concerned about it than I am.  Hmmmmm, "why?"  And, I know my smoking habits change as I cycle up and down -- I tend to smoke a LOT when I'm hypomanic, it calms me down, quiets the voice(s) in my head, and helps me focus.  So, I wondered if smoking is a part of being bipolar.  I sat myself down and did some research.  

A group of researchers in Spain conducted a scientific experiment to determine the rate of smoking by bipolars compared to the rate of smoking by non-bipolars (the control group)

According to their results, "The frequencies of ever smoking and current daily smoking were, respectively, 63% (32/51) and 51% (26/51) for the bipolar patients and 45% (235/517) and 33% (169/517) for the control group." Another study in Israel found the ratio of smoking incidence to be 63%:21%


Check out these statistics I found on Bipolar World that compares percentages of types of mental illnesses and incidence of smoking.

Bipolar Disorder 70%
Major Depression 60%
Schizophrenia 90%
Panic Disorder 56%
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 60%

Another Wow!

And check out this thread on  One post in particular really caught my eye, "I quit smoking for a moth... I have bipolar... and it sent me into a deep depression. I am finally coming out of it but felling manic. Its 6 am and I have not slept. I cracked and bought two packs of cigs! It feels great! My logic was I was feeling jittery and I think that is bad... knowing that the cigs relax me I decided it was worth it to smoke. I feel like they stabilize me. bring me to the ground both from bellow and above."

OK, so I feel a little better.  I know I'm not alone.  And, I have a good idea as to why my doctors seem so blase about my smoking.  

Gotta go now, I smoked my last cig writing this post and need to run to the gas station.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


After a big crash that resulted in a five-month medical leave from work, five months ago I quit my job in the arts and moved back to my home state where my parents were able to provide me with a house to live in until they can prepare it to put on the market -- they figure about five years, so this is an amazing opportunity for me.  As such, I decided to go back to school and earn an MBA.

Well, school is in its final week and I think I'm going to make it.  This semester was a good challenge and weird.  I'm a right brained bipolar person stumbling into a left brain highly structured world!

I already possess two masters degrees and have never in my entire academic career been nervous about homework, projects or exams.  This program has terrified me throughout the entire semester!  AND I don't think I've ever received anything less than an 85 in my earlier classes (yikes!  A ridiculously low score, I've always thought!), and I received a 36 on my economics mid-term!  Hello Kitty!!!

However, the professor told me (when I visited him in sheer and utter panic) that most of the class failed the exam (C or below) and that he was going to give a heavier weight on the final.  He will also consider level of improvement in individual cases and grade keeping that in mind.  He said I could theoretically get a 90 in the class! Crazy land!  When I registered for the class I was certain that I would hate it.  But it ended up to actually be my favorite class.  The professor is enthusiastic, available, patient, and encourages questions in class.  He pushes us to understand.  His class is hard with a lot of information coming fast and furious, but his teaching style is wonderful.  I love it.

I've learned so many things about the real world that I am now able to apply to my life (I couldn't even balance my checkbook until now, nor really cared about the importance of doing so!  I didn't even understand what a bond is or how the stock market worked!).

My bipolar has been getting a little worse.  I've been in a high hypomanic cycle for a few months, and it's increasing in intensity.  This week I had a 36 hour no-sleep binge and have been working hard to force myself to at least get in the bed even though I can't sleep.  I'm also struggling to make myself eat -- who has the time to make a sandwich when I could be wandering around the house twitching and making weird noises!  I'm soooo worried about the crash that is going to follow and the subsequent debilitating depression.  If I can't get restabilized, how is that going to affect my studies, and even my ability to get up and go to class?

My student health insurance won't start covering the pre-existing condition until March, so I'm paying about $400 out of pocket each month for meds and am not able to pay for a psychologist (with whom I should have bi-monthly sessions) nor a psychiatrist -- I'm also worried that I need a med adjustment, so I hope that I can hang on until March when I can return to psychological sessions and a med evaluation.

So, in the interim, I'm trying to do a LOT of self-talking and monitoring, and, unfortunately, have been chain smoking (another post on this coming soon).  The smoking screws up my body but helps control the frenzy and slows down "the voices."  And, because it screws up my body and exhausts me it helps keep my physical behavior in check.  I hate that I resort to this self-medication and hope I can soon find a way to find a healthier alternative.  However, it's helped me get through the semester. 

The hypomania strongly affects my ability to concentrate so I think that's played a large part in my struggle in the program.  Now, I'm more determined to earn the MBA simply to prove to myself that I can do it despite the illness.

It's also made me consider other career options and desires. I'd like to work in an industry that has a strong immediate and more supportive/helpful effect on society.  The psychologist I had been working with before I moved had frequently discussed with me the idea of becoming an art therapist. I'm leaning more, however, toward administrating a domestic violence shelter.  Who knows. I've also been kicking around the idea of becoming a professional organizer (Hello!  Who else can organize the heck out things than a hypomanic bipolar!).  Again, who knows.  I'm holding the attitude that my time in school is an opportunity to take a "vacation" and begin to figure out who I am.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lists of Lists

I could barely function this morning.  Not because of depression, oh no, because of hypomania.  I'm making lists today.  This is not new to me.  I'm a listmaker, baby, a listmaker.  But today, my focus was so off track that my list of things to do contained lists to make, and those lists contained lists of other lists to make.

ugh. To quote a cliche, "I hate it when that happens."

Remember the ads for Faberge Organics shampoo and conditioner?  "So I told two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on?"

Yeah, a geometric progression.  It was driving me crazy.  I was jumping from topic to topic at an amazing rate, I was conquering the world!  I was in ORBIT! 

I couldn't get out of the shower fast enough to start working on the tasks on my lists, I couldn't get dressed fast enough to start working on the tasks on my list!  Time couldn't pass quickly enough for me to start working on the tasks on my list. Things that I needed to do this afternoon, tomorrow, this week, next week, next month, next year.  Good heavens.  Help me.

And I knew one of the ways to deal with this is to write it down.  Write down the list.  Write down the idea(s). Get it out of the head by writing it down.  But, of course, I was so revved that I couldn't slow down enough to actually get a piece of paper and a pencil and write.  And, yep, you guessed it, getting a piece of paper and a pencil went onto the list!

So I drove myself crazy to the point of inertia.  My brain was moving so fast that I simply could not move.  And that was driving me crazy! So much to do!  Get up!  Do it!  Now!  Vite! Schnell! Go, baby, go!! Pick One!  Do It!  But I couldn't.  I just could not choose.

Hence, today's post (which was an item on the list of lists).  Indeed, my list of lists listed "make a blog post"  But that led to another list:  "list of things to post about."  And that led to another list of "things to talk about" for each of the post topics.

So, OK, here's one task crossed off of the list (for now).

(By the way -- I used Faberge Organics (With pure wheat germ oil and honey) when I was a teenager, and I just realized I really really miss it!  I loved it!  Is it still available?  Ugh, another thing to add to the list:  Find out about Faberge Organics shampoo and conditioner!  Buy some!  Wash your hair!)