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.

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