The Money Game

I am someone who is relatively good at not having anything. I guess you’d call that resourceful, but I have always considered it just being very good at depriving myself of the things I want.

When it comes to bipolar disorder, money can play a big role in people’s episodes. Any time I’ve been asked, though, if I have problems with excessive spending, the answer has simply been no. 

have excessively spent myself into a point where the next day I return to each store and return everything I bought, but spending has never been an issue of total ridiculousness for me. I attribute some of that to the crippling anxiety I get when thinking about or dealing with money.

But really, the anxiety only is a problem when it comes to spending money or not having enough of it to stave off hate-mail and rude phone calls.

At the same time, I would be lying if I said the whirlwind activity of the last week hasn’t flung me into something of a euphoric hypomanic state… nothing dangerous, but a calm (err, excitedly calm), positive place where anxiety can’t get a good grasp on me. It is here I have rediscovered the concept of shopping, something fueled by the fact that there are many things I need to prepare myself for my new job and the promise of the money to pay for it all.

In this place, spending has become quite easy.

It is the same feeling I get when I come out of the wilderness of camping for 10 days and find myself face to face with running water or a flushing toilet. Bewilderment, awe, and gratefulness. It isn’t that I couldn’t live without these things, in fact… I was doing quite fine without them! But the notion of having them after not having had them brings an element of luxury to what most could consider the mundane.

Likewise, I found myself standing in the middle of the store yesterday looking at a $4 bottle of face lotion and the clouds parted and I suddenly realized, “by jove, I could buy this and wrestle my poor dry face into submission!”

Very quickly, face lotion has become something of a holy grail, and by attaining it I can not only lotion my face, but feel comforted with a luxury that I have been without for a couple years.

But this is where the slope becomes slippery, and I can easily see face lotion turning into buying the entire store and face lotion. The hypomania keeping the anxiety at bay has opened a very rare window into the world of the consumer, and it is something that normally I would only be able to reach a hand through, grab something, and bring it back to the other side. This week, though, as the promise of considerable funds was made, that window becomes a door that would be very easy to walk through and live inside.

The values I have are important to me, and sometimes I get very nervous that having more or spending too much would obliterate them. I am certain face lotion will not destroy my ethics, but how long will it take for that awe and gratitude to wear off and for face lotion to become mundane and commonplace? And what then?

If I remove my hang-ups around spending money, can I still be the most grateful version of myself?

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3 responses to “The Money Game

  1. crazybeanrider

    I kind of struggle with spending money for no other reason than just to buy something. I don’t like to spend money unless I really really NEED to, but there have been sprees that led me astray. Buying a cartful of blither just to return the next day or give away to someone who actually needs the stuff.

    I enjoyed your post because I can identify with your reasoning. If you have to much stuff it is easy to be ungrateful for what you have. But you seem to have a good perspective on your buying needs. And who doesn’t need face lotion?

  2. I’m terrible about making impulsive purchases instead of saving up, paying cash, budgeting, etc. Some of that is a reaction to days when I was so broke I went on food stamps – not having to take the calculator to the grocery store anymore to make sure I wouldn’t overdraw my account was such a cause for gratitude.

    I find myself in a precarious place with a doubled income after starting the new job. I want to manage it responsibly, but I also want to have enough to spend that I feel rewarded for the work I put in. It seems like if I do a good job of it, I could be out of credit debt by the time this job ends.

    Think of it also in terms of self-soothing, though – you need to take care of yourself. Sometimes that means spending a little money on things that aren’t strictly necessary, but increase your well-being in terms of your overall health. Like face lotion, or a short vacation.

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