Am I the only one who has problems with money? To me, spending money is like breathing. I feel productive when I buy things and when I’m bored, happy, sad, anxious, excited, I shop.
When I was in college, pre-diagnosis, I would spend money as a way to cope with my emotions. If I was really anxious and stressed, I’d go to whole foods and buy a lunch I wasn’t really hungry for. If I was wound up and manic, I would go to the bar and buy everyone drinks. If I was avoiding studying or just bored on a Saturday, skipping out on game day, I’d go to the mall. Whatever the emotion was, I loved to spend money to cope with an entire range of emotions.
Every. Single. Day. I was on the phone with my mom and she was telling me to stop spending money. She would tell me to stop spending my rent money on clothes I don’t need. Or stop spending more than my weekly budget for groceries. She would try to explain that the money comes from somewhere and I can’t spend what I don’t have.
I couldn’t wrap my head around it. In those moments, my emotions were so big and I was so clueless on how to cope with them that spending money was the only way to temporarily alleviate it. It’s hard to explain it to someone when they don’t feel what you feel.
This obviously created an awful cycle when I was bouncing checks, getting emails from my landlord and panicking that I couldn’t afford to go to a dinner with a group of friends. In those moments, I wish I had the money I had spent on a new sweater or a $5 vanilla late.
I have improved my situation since then. But I still struggle. I feel like spending money helps me to cope with the social connections that I crave. It also fills my manic void of needing to purchase new things and collect material goods.
It’s a bad habit to break. It’s a cycle that can lead down a dangerous path. I’m happy I’m aware of it and have improved since college, but I also hope that I’ll be able to stop for good.