Written for Advanced Non-Fiction Workshop
|I am Bi Polar, and I have always struggled with money. I have the hardest time not blowing my money on the stupidest things which may be awesome, but then in the end I need that blown money on something more necessary.
Growing up after high school I didn’t know then that I was Bi Polar, so myself and my parents just deemed me irresponsible in terms of handling money. In high school I never had to work during the school year because my parents felt like it would negatively impact my ability to do my homework on top of my swim team meets and practices. I did work part time during the summer at one of the cafeteria’s at Baylor University for about 2-3 of the summer months, at ages 16 and 17.
I couldn’t tell you a single thing I spent my money on, but then again that was practically twelve years ago. As I got older, specifically around the age of 19, my spending went completely out of control. During that time I let my best friend Justin, a shop-a-holic gay man talk me into opening a credit card, and despite how firmly my own mother protested I opened the account anyways. I had a fairly good job at the time, and swore I could pay each bill off. But as soon as the credit card arrived it felt like the bank in the game of monopoly had all been handed over and I was free to go wild.
There were copious amounts of Taco Bell, alcohol and cigarettes every weekend, and shopping here and there. Looking back I wish so badly to have something, absolutely anything to show for the $3,000 in debt I’d ran up. To this day I have never been able to pay a dime towards my debt which has now, with interest reached just over $7,000. While CitiBank may no longer be still bringing my credit rating down nine years later, they do ask for money towards the settlement of the debt every few months.
But the credit card wasn’t the only example of my financial mistakes. In 2006 when I came to SFA the first time, I received approximately $2,000 from my financial aid refund check., My mom told me to take the check, put it into a bank account I was to create, and that $500 of that was mine to do with as I wished and that at the end of the semester, I was to bring the remaining $1,500 home. Little did I know this was a test, a test which I was about to fail. That entire semester I spent money on whatever I wanted. But when the time came that I had failed fifteen hours worth of classes and had been shooed away to improve my grades and try again later it was finally time to withdraw the remaining funds from my bank account. This was the gut wrenching moment when I discovered that I had not only spent $500; sadly $500 was all that was left. Then there was the almost $100 it cost me to pack myself and move half way across Texas to live with my parents again. With this financial disaster I did manage to keep a pair of shoes and a tattoo as evidence of my spending.
When I was finally diagnosed with Bi Polar, a lot of my previous behavior all made sense, especially my issues with money. It was a common occurrence among those diagnosed to spend large amounts of money they later can’t account for during manic periods. Since moving back to Nacogdoches in 2010 and living on my own five hours from my parents, I have had to develop my own system for handling money. My refund checks go directly from SFA into my mom’s checking account, far out of my reach. She then pays whatever large expenses I have. I do currently have a small part time job delivering pizza, and between the paychecks and tip money, I do keep that in my own bank account and use for minor living expenses. I’m truthfully pretty good with hoarding/managing my money up to around $300, anything more and I will get manic and likely blow through it all. I keep a very close watch over my money through multiple iPhone apps to track every expense and every income. My manic spending does still rear its ugly head, but it’s far less damaging than it used to be.