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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.