"A Common Symptom and A Terrible Curse"

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Quinonostante

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#1
http://myvesta.org.uk/articles/articles/4090/1/Spending-Sprees-Plunge-Mental-Health-Patients-Into-Chronic-Debt/Page1.html
"Excessive Spending - A Common Symptom and A Terrible Curse
Average household debt reached £9,216 (excluding mortgages) in May, according to the charity Credit Action. One in four people with mental health problems is in debt, which means that a staggering 2.5 million people are estimated to be struggling with debts while dealing with illness.

People with mental health problems are three times more likely to be debt-ridden than the general population as personal borrowing reaches record levels in the UK.

The number is likely to be even higher among those with bipolar disorder as over-spending is often part of the condition, according to experts. They warn that financial troubles result in mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and even suicide, and urge lenders, debt collectors and health professionals to be alert as the credit crunch worsens. They advise that “ When you are well, consider putting some safeguards on your money so that you cannot over spend it when you become high.”

Gail Porter has it. Stephen Fry made a documentary about it. Sophie Anderton, Adam Ant, Russell Brand, Richard Dreyfuss, Kerry Katona and Tony Slattery are all sufferers. And now Britney Spears, too, has bipolar disorder, at least according to the media, in whose unforgiving glare she has undergone her very public meltdown.

At times, it seems as though bipolar illness is the latest celebrity fad – like wheat intolerance, perhaps. But the apparent spike in celebrity sufferers points to something else: that awareness amongst both clinicians and the public is growing and some of the stigma attached to admitting to mental health problems has begun to diminish.

It has been suggested that having a celebrity's ultra-outgoing personality might dispose someone to bipolar illness. My heart goes out to anyone in the public eye who does have bipolar. It is an unforgiving illness that makes you behave, both when manic and depressed, in ways that can leave you deeply ashamed when you're in a fit state to reflect on your behaviour.

Bipolar expert, Dr Ronald R Fieve, describes bipolar excessive spending in his book Moodswing like this:

“the lifestyle of the manic depressive who is in a high tends to be a glorious scattering of money”.

This "glorious scattering of money" can take many forms:

It may be wild shopping sprees with a self-medicating overtone.

It may be crazy investments when our bipolar grandiosity is telling us we can do no wrong.

It may be extravagant gifts to family, friends or charity - again arising from manic grandiosity.

Or in some very distressing scenarios, it may be spending a fortune on travel, hotels, pornography, prostitution, champagne and lingerie in an extra-marital affair, cybersex, or whatever outlet manic hypersexuality can find.

Gambling more than one can afford, for example on horse racing.

It is not always about a spending spree - Patty Duke, oscar winning actress, did her share of bipolar excessive spending, which she describes candidly in her autobiography - but the best example of how bipolar ruined her relationship with money was Patty asking two strangers she literally met in a car park to become her business managers (no prizes for guessing how that worked out!)

Comedian and writer Stephen Fry, who has bipolar disorder, has called for better understanding about the links between debt and manic depression. He said: "My own bipolar condition has caused me to go on plenty of giddy spending sprees.

"Because so much stigma still surrounds mental health, many people can't get a job, are on the poverty line, and can't get credit from anyone but doorstep lenders charging up to 400 per cent interest."

Negative attitudes towards people with mental distress may be manifested by physical and verbal abuse, problems in the workplace or discrimination by providers of goods and services. Negative attitudes are sometimes evident in the development of government policies on mental health.

About 1 in 100 people develop this condition at some point in their lives. The majority of these are ordinary, everyday people. It can start at any time during or after the teenage years, and can affect children and the elderly. It affects as many men as women. The rapid cycling form of the illness occurs in about 1 in 6 cases. Bipolar disorder is often not recognised as an illness, and people may suffer for years before it is properly diagnosed and treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person’s life.

During a manic or high phase, shopping sprees are common. During a low phase, a person may feel so depressed they are unable to leave the house or even answer the phone. Unopened bills pile up. Juggling creditors while trying to recover from an acute phase of bipolar disorder can leave them vulnerable to relapse.

It is not your fault; it is not a character disorder. Neither mania nor depression is a sign of weakness, nor that someone has just given in. It is not something that people are able to just pull themselves out of it.

Chris Fitch, of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, says financial problems are the result of more than overspending. "People with mental health problems are often on low incomes, experience high unemployment rates, and are reliant on benefits. Borrowing money or not paying the bills can often feel like the only options," he said.

Lenders must tread a fine line between not discriminating against people with mental health problems and protecting vulnerable customers whose spending is out of control as a result of illness. But many people in debt report unhelpful, aggressive responses from lenders, resulting in greater anxiety, stress and more debt.

Joanna Elson of the Money Advice Trust said: "The stress of unmanageable debt has a direct impact on an individual's physical and mental well being.

"The guidelines are voluntary but they are designed to encourage good practice by creditors, debt collection agencies and money advisers working with people with debt and mental health problems."

According to Mind's chief executive, Paul Farmer: "Living with bipolar disorder greatly increases the likelihood of falling into debt. In many cases, people are using credit they cannot afford to repay, which means they become trapped in a spiral of debt that further compounds their mental health problems.

"Banks and other lenders should not be encouraging their customers with bipolar disorder to take out more loans when they are already in lots of debt."

Rachael Watson, 34, a PhD student from Blackburn, has bipolar disorder, and over the past few years has racked debts of £35,000. She bought a £14,000 car, using a credit card, days before she was admitted to hospital for mania. While depressed she shopped for unnecessary clothes and food, in the hope it would make her feel more in control. Unable to face the world when she is depressed, phone calls and letters from the bank go unanswered.

Every time she got into debt, her bank encouraged her to release equity from her home to pay back what she owed. As soon as her debts were cleared, they offered her more credit. She is now being pursued by the bank, which has made her so anxious she has been prescribed extra medication. The bank phones her up to 10 times a day and sends letters demanding payments she simply cannot afford.

Recovery from bipolar disorder can be hampered by the additional stress and practical problems presented by financial difficulties.

Whether it is repairing the damage caused by excessive spending during episodes of 'mania', dealing with loss of earnings as a result of illness or taking steps to prevent future problems, financial health can be as important a factor in returning to wellness as other forms of help, treatment and support.

As well as being a consequence of mental ill health, financial problems can increase the stress of day-to-day life and become a 'trigger' for illness."
 
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daffy

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#2
An excellent read. It is spot on with a lot of its comments. Ive overspent dramatically in the last few years, fortunatly it was sorted out for me. But last year i remortgated my house to have get things done in my house, well thats the excuse i used. I ended up buying stupid things and giving a lot of my money away. On buying a new car i gave my old one away when i could have got at least £2500 for it.

Ive recently done a lot of overspending again and maxed out on my cards. I know i have big problems and my family keep asking me can i afford the things im buying. But it all seems such a good idea at the time.

The last time i went manic i had my cards etc taken from me,so thats when i remortged the house. Now i know i can buy off the internet thats made it even worse. My psych the last time he saw me asked me to hand my cards in but i flew at him, spose i shld have realised then that it was starting up again.

Going back to the story, I do think that BP is the latest fad for the famous when they behave badly (dont get me wrong i also think some of them are genuine as well). I think that they are be-littleing the illness by making out that BP sufferers spend their time drinking taking drugs and clubbing it. When its more down to 'too much too young'

Well rant over:):tea:
 
D

Dollit

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#3
This is an excellent article and echoes a lot of the problems I had when I got into debt. I will not go into what the ethical bank I was with did to get out of their share of the responsibility but they are certainly misnamed.

And yes Daffy it feels that what we suffer from as a genuine illness is the latest thing to have - alcoholism and drug addiction are no longer the in thing so let's all be bipolar. Yes there are genuine cases but not that many.
 
daffy

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#4
It really gets my back up how common it is now. I dont mean i want to be in an exclusive club, butthe illness has been so trivialised that b4 long no one will take it seriously.

There are lots of other mental health issues but do you hear any of them admitting to having psychotic episodes or schitzophrenic periods or paranoia. And what about those that are too scared to set foot outside. No they couldnt have any of those cos the paparazzi wont see their hallucinations or wont be able to photograph them if they stay indoors.

So yes it is an excuse in a lot of cases
 
D

Dollit

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#5
What pisses me off is that these people are photographed drinking and reported taking drugs and I had to prove that I'd been clean and sober for 3 years before someone would take me seriously. So how come an ordinary person might have conflicting symptoms but a "celebrity" doesn't? Money and notoriety I think. I'm with you on this one Daffy.
 
daffy

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#6
There are only 4 at the moment that i think may be genuine, Kerry and Britney you just need to look at the swollen stomaches to see that they are on medication. I got really cross when i saw Kerry on an interview and she was obviously going highby the way her head was twitching and how quickly she spoke. Yet the paper headlines were Kerry drugged up and out of it o n tv

The other 2 were Stephen Fry and Adam Ant. Stephen Fry did a brilliant documentary on how it affects his life and how like a lot of people he loves being manic (which i do as well) Its the coming down bit i dont like:redface:


moan over
 
midnight

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#7
I spend when things are not good - and believe me I can spend - only my dad ( who I trust an opinion on ) stopped me spending £6k on a sofa and £2k on a light fitting and if I had really got going I was tempted to spend a further £8k on a beautiful ( well it would have to be at that price) table - not even a dinning table an occassional table at that.

I am not wealthy but I have credit 'available' and once I start I just can't stop !!!!
 
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hsv_buff

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#8
I spent $4000 US in 45 days...

I bought a new laptop, a 22 inc LCD monitor, and lot of other things on a whim. I don't make the kind of salary to support that kind of spending. A few years ago I bought a new jeep under much the same conditions, except it was $22,000... Luckily I have paid off the car. My wife also spends money in a similar fashion, luckily we went to credit counseling and they were able to reduce or do away completely with the interest rates on our credit cards. Unfortunately I couldnt talk the mrs. into this a year ago and we now have a 2nd mortgage on our house.
 
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happyhappy

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#9
I find the overspending bit in my own case, quite amusing. Peoples extremities are what is extreme to them. Like if a person has one casual one night stand and it is the very worst thing they could ever do....it equates to the same as someone who feels ok about having one night stands having many! Relativity!
I am and always have been a very very cautious spender. I have never had debt and usually (I am sounding quite prim now!) have money in the bank! But when I get low I go out and spend say ....a few hundred. I cannot afford this and it is nearly nearly always duplicate clothes for the kids! Yet, most of the time, but not all, I realise quite quickly what I have done and panic.....then take it all back to the shop soon after! Thank heavens for most shops having refund policies! I have been embarrassed on a number of occassions but am now getting quite hardened to it!
On the matter of celebs...it cheeses me off too that it is the new 'vogue' illness. I actually think it may have something to do with my reluctance to accept my illness as I feel I must be 'acting it on' like I think a lot of these famous people are. I think stephen Fry is def BP and as for Britney, I am not sure if she is BP but that poor girl is ill, I feel so sorry for her.

Happyhappy
 
lucid scream

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#10
i'm with ya on Britney, happy. musically i hate poptarts, but the way the paparrazi acts is nothing short of stalking, harrassing and menacing, and they shouldnt be allowed to do what they do at all, and it sickens me to see them do it to someone in such obvious mental anguish.
thing iz, with shows like tmz being so popular, wouldnt it be funny if the paparazi had paparazi?:LOL:
 
Colin76

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#11
I'm currently £13k in debt with my bank who i won't name. After numerous phone calls to them explaining my situation which appears to have fallen on death ears they started threatening court action and the such. I have now been in contact with my local branch of wellfare rights who are helping me to contact the collection agencies to clear the depts otherwise i would be getting further into a mess. Wellfare rights are saying that they are going to make offers and if the offers are refused and it ends up going to a judge it will be in my favour rather than the collection agencies.

With respects to bipolar being the new vogue celebrity illness an old friend of one of my sisters was pulling a fast one over the social wellfare department saying she is schizsophrenic and has recently started hearing voices and made suicide threats, saying she can't go out and has to have a home carer, funny as i often seen her swanning around perfectly fine without a carer in sight. I personaly found this insulting after finding out she has been found to be faking the illness. I laughed after finding out she failed her recent psychiatric evaluation, now her psych and g.p doubt everything she says.

I know some illnessess can be dififcult to diagnose, but i found this to be a kick in the teeth for those of us who are genuine.
 
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