Hi guys, I’ve been a little stupid. I shouldn’t call myself stupid but it’s hard not to use that word when I’m in the process of destroying my finances. (Or lack thereof.) Seriously…I’m doomed.
I’ve been feeling strange lately. Well, beyond the usual I should say. I think I have a lot of anxiety and preoccupations in the background of my mind acting like a white noise that’s threatening to take over. My solution? As always, I’m keeping myself in motion. My dad called me a ball of inertia yesterday and he’s really not wrong! I HAVE to keep myself moving out of fear that if I stop, I’ll be lying down and staring at a wall or something. The truth is, walls aren’t that interesting. So in this shuffle of working, class, drawing, driving when I have no place to go…I’m also spending. Spending money that of course I DO NOT have!
In the bustle of my inertia I encounter lulls where I need to try much harder to stay occupied. I’ve been dissociating and ending up somewhere or doing something and not really remembering what happened in between. Time flies even more than usual when this happens. (My theory is that if things get too quiet my mind somewhat shuts off to protect me from the onslaught of garbage it can come up with.) I also hit these highs though that distort reality. One reality being my lack of money. While the highs are a lot of fun and I have all the motivation in the world, it can be pretty destructive.
Example: I have a lot of hoodies…some might say a hoodie obsession. I see a new hoodie and it doesn’t take much to fall in love with it and be convinced that it’s unlike any other I have so I MUST acquire it. Good job, me! What happens? “I can afford it I have room on my credit card! I can pay it off when I get paid…” NO! I can’t! Because my pay needs to cover car financing, insurance and rent!
Here’s an even better example and the real kicker. The day before yesterday I was off…no work, no school, a beautiful Autumn morning. I wanted Aaron to sleep in so I took my car and drove all over the place. (Yeah…gas exists too…I know.) I bought a notebook; so far so good. But then I saw Fitbit watches with new features. But I have an Apple Watch…I won’t wear both – that’s silly! So, within about 2 minutes, I was walking out of Bureau en Gros with the latest Apple Watch.
I’m gonna level with you: There was absolutely nothing wrong with my other watch. It was in perfect condition, battery life at full capacity…all was good. So what the f***?! I usually come to my senses later, specifically when I have to tell someone about my purchases. It then dawned on me that I had been completely ridiculous! I had to somehow salvage the situation or recuperate some of my loss, so I resolved to sell my other watch. The good news is that I succeeded within the same day which somewhat makes up for my stupidity. What a close call!
I can’t believe that I made such a rash decision with a large purchase like this! Normally buying new tech is a debate, a pro and con worthy decision, something planned! (For me anyway…I don’t know about others.) But nope…not this time. I know I’m going to regret this; I already do. What I have to do now is find ways to stop this impulsive shopping habit before I get myself into even deeper trouble. The question is…how?
I’m on a break from work right now and I’m completely exhausted. I just had my days off so this makes no sense. My mood/energy is such a stupid and annoying rollercoaster! I’ve been feeling down pretty much the whole day and to be honest, it’s pretty hard to write. It’s especially hard right now to think of a solution to the above ‘impulsive spending’. 3 hours left to go and I’m at the point where it seems like I’m counting the minutes. That’s never good…
I didn’t get to finish writing yesterday…when I ended my shift at 6 all I wanted was food and sleep. But now it’s morning and I quite enjoy these quiet times to myself. The problem is that I’m somehow more tired than yesterday. At least before work I have a video session with my therapist. She always makes me feel better even if what we talk about can be rough.
So…what’s the solution to impulsive buying brought on by a feeling of limitless resources and in the name of filling a void? Well, seeing as in those moments I feel a lack of control and my brain doesn’t even consider the reality of my crying wallet…there’s got to be a way to remind me. In that there are two options: Reading or listening to myself on a recording from a rational state of mind and/or hearing or reading from someone else. Let’s just hope that I don’t find a way to rationalize or ignore the warning.
So the first part of this would be a written message to myself. (I could also record myself saying it.) Something along the lines of this:
Look, I know you really want this new […], but you’re going to regret buying it. You don’t have the money and your credit card is a trap! Hold off on this at least for a few days so you can decide if it’s something you really need. You have to make smart choices because you’ve got to save money and put it aside for the future. If you spend on this you’re only going to become more indebted and then you won’t be able to pay your car expenses. You don’t want that right? You love your car and you want to become a responsible adult; that starts with making the right choice in this moment.
The other option would be for someone in my family to write or record a similar message. That way even if I can convince myself to go against my rational thoughts (which I’m unfortunately skilled at), I have a backup. Then it’ll be harder to ignore especially since I don’t want to disappoint my family.
There’s actually another idea… calling/texting someone before I buy! If I can’t believe what I’m reading or hearing and still want to buy something, maybe the best option is to be told not to right in that present moment.
These options all require the self-discipline to stop and reflect before I act. In other words if I bypass this step nothing is going to change about my spending habits. I have to take the time to reflect.
My other idea involves a step before reading/hearing from myself and/or someone else. That should be my backup while this tactic is a crucial habit that I implement starting YESTERDAY! I don’t want to rely on the other failsafes forever…I need to foster my own independence and responsibility.
Hence, I have just created the Yay-Nay Purchasing Tree. Don’t be alarmed, it’s not math.
I guess the idea I put forward with this is to make your OWN tree, whether it be on paper or in your mind. The reason I’m choosing paper is because I clearly don’t have the right thoughts to keep me on track in moments such as these. A visual cue might be just what I need.
Beyond the Spending
It’s easy to see how impulsive buying can empty our wallets and leave us with less to cover essential purchases much less savings, but there’s more. A habit such as this is bad for our mental health. For ages, money has been one of the leading stressors in the whole world. Sure money can’t buy happiness but the lack of money can certainly lead to a great deal of unhappiness! Whether you’re a student fresh into the workplace with a truckload of debt, a couple with kids to feed and put through school or someone near retirement doubting that you’ll have enough to live off of, this is enough to create tremendous anxiety and even lead to depression.
There’s a pretty bad vicious cycle involved with this…one can begin by having financial struggles, feel anxious/depressed, become more consumerist to fill the void, spend more and more on distractions, end up with less and less money…repeat. Lack of money can also lead to only being able to afford unhealthy foods which are unfortunately less expensive. This comes at the cost of our health, leading to more stress, potential spending on healthcare, etc. Lack of money = a need to work more = less time for fun and exercise = worsened mental AND physical health. Crap! I think I just gave myself the perfect reason to nip my bad habits in the but!
Recap of Our Strategies:
- A message to ourselves to help us refrain from impulse buying.
- A message from someone else.
- The ‘call a friend’ option.
- A personalized yay-nay purchasing tree.
You know what’s stupid? I think I started writing this blog on Tuesday or Wednesday morning. Here I am still writing on Friday night and I’ll probably only post tomorrow. Actually make that a definitely. I’m too tired after everything that’s been happening and because this blog has been dragging out I’m getting more news to add.
I need to be honest with you all about something. I could pretend it didn’t happen but not only would that not help me, it wouldn’t even have the possibility of helping someone else.
Relapses happen: Sometimes they’re big, sometimes small, but in any case, they can bring our attention to issues that are important to address and can’t be put off any longer. In other words even when something terrible happens, there can be a reason for it. Now I don’t necessarily mean that in the sense that “God (et all) has a plan and everything happens for a reason”. (Not that I’m disputing it.) In this sense, and perhaps in the most pragmatic sense, we can assign our own purpose to things. (I’ll be writing more about this in an upcoming article.)
Thursday night I did something incredibly impulsive and dangerous. Full disclosure; if I had been alone that would’ve been it for me. But because I wasn’t, and I’m here, I need to learn. I won’t specifically say what I did because it’s a dangerously simple way to die. What I can tell you is the lead up and follow up.
The Lead Up
I’d been feeling incredibly low and tired until I was driving to meet Aaron at the store for groceries. I played a happy song…”I can’t help Myself (Honey pie, Sugar Bunch)”. Out of nowhere, a huge smile spread across my face and I felt elated. That should’ve been my first warning flag; to feel that high, so abruptly, right after feeling completely in the dumps? Yeah-no…not normal. But, is someone feeling rotten going to question a sudden upswing into happiness? Nope, I was going to live it while it lasted. So Aaron and I took full advantage; we had a great dinner and were playing Luminosity, a brain training app. I think I like it even more than Elevate! (Not being sponsored by the way though I kind of wish I was haha.) Anyway, I had been drinking wine since we got back home and honestly I felt so good that moderation was thrown to the wind. Big, BIG mistake. A bit of wine or weed can really help me, but too much? With the meds I’m on? I honestly shouldn’t be drinking at all so this was unbelievably reckless. I didn’t do it on purpose; I was just feeling so good that I kept pouring without even noticing.
What makes this ‘event’ strange is that I didn’t hurt myself because I was feeling bad. I was feeling really high and by that time, fairly drunk. I was feeling everything very intensely and I was also a little confused…definitely not thinking clearly. Something then caught my eye and that’s what triggered the episode. Admittedly, it’s something that I’ve done to feel a certain ‘high’, and I think I got carried away wanting to further the ‘high’ I was already experiencing. (I guess I got greedy, come to think of it.) Long story short, the speed was like buying the Apple Watch. I just did it. Pure impulse in a very short time-frame.
The Follow Up
What I did was more extreme than the way I usually try to attain that particular high. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone and our place is small enough that Aaron had enough time to help me. I’ve been thinking about what would’ve happened if he had been playing video games with headphones on. It’s scary. I needed time to recover and Aaron kept me awake for about 2 hours which was immensely difficult. Understandably, he wants a few days to himself to process and to not have to worry every second I’m not right with him. I feel very guilty. I feel terrible for him, for my parents and for Mia as well. (I promised I would never try to leave her and though I wasn’t actively trying to kill myself, the result would’ve been the same.)
I’m supposed to be done with this crap. I hate how insidious it is…how it’s still a part of my mind. How in a less inhibited state the dark can take over enough for…well…this to happen. What’s also very disturbing is that given the past…6 years I think it is now…and given all the incidents that have happened, it almost feels like “Oh, just another Thursday!” How insane is that?! I had become incredibly desensitized to events like this, and to a certain degree, I think all of us have. I know Aaron for sure mentioned feeling this way a while ago. That’s incredibly dangerous because to someone ‘normal’, (gag), this would be huge. And honestly it should be because minimizing it makes it easier to allow it to reoccur. We can’t let that happen. I can’t let that happen. It’s really wrong that being Sunday, Thursday feels like ‘old news’. No. This has to be fresh in my mind as a reminder to not let things get so far!
This bring me to something else…the concept of blame and responsibility. There are two sides the way I see it. One view is that this is entirely my fault. I was selfish, stupid, reckless, impulsive, irresponsible, etc. The other side is that it was out of my control. The combination of my mood disorder and alcohol made it not a choice, but an event of dissociation and/or a semi-psychotic episode in which the reality and consequences of my actions were entirely misunderstood/not even considered.
Why do I mention this? Because assigning blame is of no use whatsoever and yet we do it all the time! (Which is something I have to bear in mind towards myself.) All that matters is preventing it from happening again. What was in my control? If that last minute of utter senselessness wasn’t, what could I have done before that? Here’s the answer, to my way of thinking:
- Noticed right away that something was happening when my mood turned on a dime in the car.
- Perhaps decided instead not to risk drinking wine that night, or at least have a clear limit despite how ‘great’ I might feel. Things can turn quickly and clearly I can do very dangerous things even during a high. (More dangerous than an Apple Watch.)
- Told Aaron that I was feeling strange and something was up.
- I should’ve removed easy access to things that I know are triggers to do something bad.
- Even before all that, I should’ve contacted my psychiatrist to schedule an earlier appointment. The stress, excess fatigue and mood swings should’ve flagged me.
Ok well…this post took me 6 days to write and I think I’m going to click publish before something else happens! How have you been doing? What’s your take on blame? Do you have any tricks for me to stop murdering my wallet?
I hope you’re all having a great weekend and I’ll ‘see’ you soon.
2 thoughts on “Life Death and Debt”
I’m glad Aaron was there to help that day.
I like those options you came up with for managing impulsive spending, especially the yay-nay decision tree. Maybe you could add a day-after-purchase accountability option—if you feel guilty or reluctant to tell someone about the purchase the next day, that could be an indicator to return it.
Blame is tough. On its own, it can be so destructive, but it could be more helpful if it’s channelled into motivation to create change.
Thanks Ashley and that’s a really great idea! I’m going to use your strategy!