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Financial Destruction May 10, 2013

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Mental Illness and Bankruptcy, Mopney and Mental Ilness.
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Back in February 2008, I began my descent into total and complete madness. As my mania and delusions increased, my husband knew that I- a frugal person by nature- was out of control.  He had no idea what was going on, but with no history of drug use or mental illness, he had no reason to consider them as explanations for my increasingly bizarre and outrageous purchases.

Even if he had known that I was in the throes of a psychotic break with reality, the truth is that there wasn’t a thing he could do about it.  The bottom line was that although he was legally responsible for my debts (Washington is a community property state), he had no power to stop me from bankrupting us. Signatory on all of our accounts, I had every legal right to spend our money as I saw fit. No matter that I had lost contact with reality.

To his credit, my husband performed a small miracle. Despite the fact that there’s no 3 day grace period for car purchases, he managed to convince the dealership to allow him to return the $55,000 Lexus Convertible that I bought in the throes of my psychotic break with reality – paid for with a “hot” check- within hours of it hitting our driveway.  In the meantime, continuing my out-of-control buying spree, clothing, shoes, jewelry, and lots of plants and yard ornaments all went on the plastic.

Within months of the start of my spending orgy, having blown through tens of thousands of dollars, I was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, giving my husband some breathing room to do damage control. During my spending spree, I brought home armful after armful of merchandise, packing the bags upstairs to my bedroom and setting them down on the floor.  Once I was involuntarily committed to the mental hospital, he enlisted the help of my mother and sister to return all of the merchandise.

Damage control underway, my husband turned his attention to the bigger picture.  My purse in his possession, he tore up all my credit cards. He flagged our credit to prevent me from opening another account without his knowledge. And, reaching beyond his legal limit, he –without my permission or knowledge- closed all of our credit and bank accounts, opening new ones that I had no access to or even knowledge of.

Coming out of my psychotic break, I was ashamed and embarrassed at my conduct, even though my husband took pains to explain that the financial train wreck was, like my tremendous medical bills, another cost of my mental illness. He refused to consider my actions an act of moral bankruptcy.

I could do nothing to atone for my sins except put in place as much protection (from myself) as possible in case I again became psychotic. In the end, I realized that it came down to eliminating my access to all of our accounts. I have no credit cards. I don’t know what our bank account numbers are or what our bank balance is. In fact, I know nothing about our finances. My husband dispenses cash to me- me, a professional woman who made $100K a year. And that’s the way it has to be.

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Therapy and Weight August 16, 2012

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Mental Illness and Bankruptcy, Uncategorized.
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I never would have voluntarily entered counseling in a million years.

However, my release from the mental hospital was conditioned by a contract I had to sign before the hospital would release me. The Least Restrictive Treatment (LRT) contract between the State of Washington and me required me to attend weekly therapy sessions with a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Michelle, my caseworker at the mental hospital, selected my therapist, Beth, and made arrangements for my first therapy visit to occur three hours after my release from the hospital.

Walking through the door of my new counseling office, I was very wary of the arrangement. Still psychotic, I didn’t believe that I belonged in therapy. Therapy was for screwed up people, and I clearly wasn’t one of those. I was perfectly well. But rather than return to the mental hospital, I resigned myself to going through the motions of therapy.

It turns out that my therapy has had and continues to have surprising benefits. Who knew that my lifelong battle with my weight and food started at a very early age, and is the root of my personal battle of the bulge?

My battle with food is getting more interesting the more therapy I have. The therapy allows me to put my food battle in perspective, something that has eluded me for the past 50 years of my life. It never dawned on me before I started counseling that I could put a pattern to my personal battle of the bulge.

Talking with my therapist continues to be valuable.  With the increasing trust in my therapist comes knowledge. The little girl in me is starting to understand that everyone has food calorie limits that aren’t dictated by others. Regardless of whether I felt starved as a little girl, there were always caloric ceilings to adhere to or I gained weight. The laws of physics apply to everyone, including the little girl in me. As adults, we’re free to live on our own, with rules and regulations acquired independently.  But certain things never go away. No matter what the circumstances, there is a limit to the number of calories we can ingest each day before gaining weight. In my case,  1950 calories a day is what  my body needs in order to perform at the optimum level. Any less and I lose weight, and any more and I gain weight.

Recently my therapist has been guiding me through some exceptionally difficult therapy. With that difficult therapy has come an ever-expanding girth.   In the three months of exploration of certain things in my life, my stomach has expanded about 3 inches because of the enormous number of calories I have been taking in. One of my ‘go-to” comfort foods is dark chocolate. During my intense therapy sessions, I have been allowing the little girl in me to eat as much and whatever she wanted, understanding that it was part of the therapy process. Chocolate chips are my comfort food, and I need to have unlimited access to them in order to get better.  I understood on an intellectual level that my body had daily calorie limits.  But the little girl inside me has been fighting those caloric limits as if they were imposed by people rather than the laws of physics.

I’m finally reaching a landmark in my therapy, where I am beginning to internalize the fact that caloric limitations area caused by the laws of physics. They aren’t administered by others. With concept comes a new approach to food. I’m not saying I’m skinny or even that I’ve started to lose weight. I’m simply coming to terms with the laws of physics. That, after 50 years, is a major accomplishment.

The Lexus and Financial Ruin February 27, 2011

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in mental illness, Mental Illness and Bankruptcy.
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In the early stages of my psychotic break from reality, I believed that Bill and Melinda Gates were good friends of mine.  Hanging on my every word (via ESP), they willingly financed my needs and wants.  They even offered me a job working for their foundation (via ESP), which I accepted.

Part of my compensation package for working at their foundation, I believed, was a new car.  They told me (via ESP) to go find a car that I wanted, and that they would reimburse me for it.

As I walked onto the  Lexus dealership car lot, I met a salesman who said he had many Microsoft employees as clients. He alluded to the fact that the Gates’ had a “tab” there, so it was natural for me to be reimbursed for my purchase.

When he asked me what I was looking for, I pointed to his gold ring and told him I was looking for a car that color.  (Note: I know very little about cars). Taking in my appearance (I was all in gold), he smiled. “A gold car for a gold lady?” he asked. I nodded.

He walked me to the only gold car in a sea of silver, which happened to be a Lexus convertible coupe.  At $55,000, the used car was a bargain, he said.   He offered to take me for a ride in the car, and we rushed down the freeway, top open. Pulling off at a little park, we changed seats. Upon our return, I told him I would take the car.

The salesman brought me to the finance department, where we discussed my payment method. With assurances (via ESP) from Bill Gates that he would cover my check, I wrote a $55,000 check without sufficient funds to pay for the car. 

After the deal was done, the salesman offered to meet me at a nearby restaurant to buy me lunch. As we sat eating fish and chips and clam chowder, I told him that I was a Mermaid, and so was he (actually, a Merman).  He didn’t seem surprised at my revelation.  He said he was getting ready to buy a house, and asked for advice.  I explained that as a Merman, he needed a place close to the water and that he needed to swim daily.  He was gratified at my advice, thanking me for his new-found knowledge of his Merman status.

As I returned  home with my new car, I noted that my husband was on the roof, installing some trim on a new window. Not bothering to tell him about the new car, I left the paperwork and keys on the kitchen counter, and took the dog for a walk.

Coming down from the roof to get a drink of water a few minutes later, he saw the paperwork sitting on the counter, and realized that the new car sitting in front of the driveway, which he assumed belonged to a neighbor, was actually his.

Shocked and dismayed, he confronted me with the purchase, insisting that we return the car that very second. Unwillingly, I rode with him back to the dealership, pissed. He disappeared into the building while I sat outside in my new car.  A little while later, he returned to the car, telling me to get out as he had just returned it.  We drove home in my old broken-down pickup truck in silence.

To his credit, my husband performed a small miracle. Despite the fact that there’s no three day grace period for car purchases, he managed to convince the dealership to allow him to return the $55,000 Lexus Convertible – paid for with a “hot” check- within hours of it hitting our driveway.  

That was just one incident among many. My husband went through Hell for weeks, watching helplessly as I continued to bring home purchase after purchase, wondering what I was going to do next. He could only watch as I went through tens of thousands of dollars in a very short period of time.

Finally, I was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, giving my husband some breathing room to do damage control. Enlisting my mom and sister’s help, they piled all of the clothes and shoes in a big heap on the living room floor, spending hours painstakingly matching merchandise to receipts, then heading to the mall to return everything they could. They looked for, but couldn’t find, a $500 ring and a $300 pendant, never guessing in a million years that they were at the beach, in a hole I had dug while wading around in 2 feet of water.

Damage control underway, my husband turned his attention to the bigger picture.  My purse in his possession, he tore up all my credit cards. He flagged our credit to prevent me from opening another account without his knowledge. And, reaching beyond his legal limit, he –without my permission or knowledge- closed all of our credit and bank accounts, opening new ones that I had no access to or even knowledge of.

Coming out of the mania, I was ashamed and embarrassed at my conduct, even though my husband took pains to explain that the financial train wreck was, like my tremendous medical bills, another cost of my mental illness. He refused to consider my actions an act of moral bankruptcy.

I could do nothing to atone for my sins except put in place as much protection (from myself) as possible in case I again became manic. In the end, I realized that it came down to eliminating my access to all of our accounts. I have no credit cards. I don’t know what our bank account numbers are or what our bank balance is. In fact, I know nothing about our finances. My husband dispenses cash to me- me, a professional woman who made over $100K a year. And that’s the way it has to be.

Financial Destruction October 18, 2009

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in mental illness, Mental Illness and Bankruptcy.
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As my mania and delusions increased, my husband knew that I- a frugal person by nature- was out of control.  He had no idea what was going on, but with no history of drug use or mental illness, he had no reason to consider them as explanations for my increasingly bizarre and outrageous purchases.

Even if he had known that I was in the throes of a psychotic break with reality, the truth is that there wasn’t a thing he could legally do about it.  The bottom line was that although he was legally responsible for my debts (Washington is a community property state), he had no power to stop me from bankrupting us. Signatory on all of our accounts, I had every legal right to spend our money as I saw fit. No matter that I had lost contact with reality.

To his credit, my husband performed a small miracle. Despite the fact that there’s no 3 day grace period for car purchases, he managed to convince the dealership to allow him to return the $55,000 Lexus Convertible – paid for with a “hot” check- within hours of it hitting our driveway.  In the meantime, continuing my out-of-control buying spree, clothing, shoes, jewelry, and lots of plants and yard ornaments all went on the plastic.

Within 2 weeks of the start of my spending orgy, having blown through tens of thousands of dollars, I was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, giving my husband had some breathing room to do damage control. Enlisting my mom and sister’s help, they piled all of the clothes and shoes in a big heap on the living room floor, spending hours painstakingly matching merchandise to receipts, then heading to the mall to return everything they could. They looked for, but couldn’t find, a $500 ring and a $300 pendant, never guessing in a million years that they were at the beach, in a hole I had dug while wading around in 2 feet of water.

Damage control underway, my husband turned his attention to the bigger picture.  My purse in his possession, he tore up all my credit cards. He flagged our credit to prevent me from opening another account without his knowledge. And, reaching beyond his legal limit, he –without my permission or knowledge- closed all of our credit and bank accounts, opening new ones that I had no access to or even knowledge of.

Coming out of the mania, I was ashamed and embarrassed at my conduct, even though my husband took pains to explain that the financial train wreck was, like my tremendous medical bills, another cost of my mental illness. He refused to consider my actions an act of moral bankruptcy.

I could do nothing to atone for my sins except put in place as much protection (from myself) as possible in case I again became manic. In the end, I realized that it came down to eliminating my access to all of our accounts. I have no credit cards. I don’t know what our bank account numbers are or what our bank balance is. In fact, I know nothing about our finances. My husband dispenses cash to me- me, a professional woman who made $100K a year. And that’s the way it has to be.