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When Money and Mental Health Collide

mentalhealthGood Morning all you glorious people!

Today, I want to touch on a very personal subject and for the sake of this persons privacy I'm going to be intentionally vague in certain areas.

When it happened we had no idea until after the damage had been done…

Recently a family member of mine was diagnosed as Bipolar or also known as Manic-Depressive Disorder.

This is a disorder that is not always easy to identify and can be early in childhood or later in onset adulthood as is the case with this family member.

Manic-Depressive Disorder affects one's mental ability and cognitive reasoning. Up until recently, I was only vaguely aware of the initial conditions.

Now I'm very fluent in how they affect people because I had to learn and learn quickly.

M.D.D. is mainly due to a chemical imbalance within a persons brain and typically is caused by genetics as is my family members case.

When a person is in a manic state they are essentially in a state of euphoria where their world is good and life is good and consequences be damned because in the manic state worrying about issues like money and how you're spending it hardly matter.

The manic state can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days and on occasion a few weeks.

But then reality shows up like a car crashing through your 2nd story bedroom wall while you're in the midst of a deep sleep.

That's the depressive state and in this state an actual concern-able danger exists.

In this state, a person questions their self-worth not to just them but to the World around them. Every little action they did, will do, or just thinking about doing causes fits of anxiety, anger, rage, insomnia and confusion.

This state of mind is like a depression prison for that person and when it is not properly diagnosed and treated they are in at that moment trapped in their own version of hell and have no idea why.

Things got real – Real fast:

Getting a call at 10 PM on a work night because this family member of mine was considering ending it all is among a few of the scariest things I've ever had to face.

I broke every speed law that night and got to their apartment within minutes to find them collapsed on the kitchen floor crying.

Not a usual cry but one of sobbing to the close point of rocking in a fetal position.

At that point, I knew it was time to make a few phone calls and get them professional help and after a few hours of staying with them, they agreed as well.

While in treatment, the signs started to become clear…

falsefaceAfter they were admitted to a clinic for two weeks for diagnosis and treatment I was given power of attorney over my family members full financial state.

That's when the trends of this mental disorder started to become very clear.

While this person was in their manic state they spent money and I mean a lot of money.

So much so they emptied their bank account.

There was no money for rent, utilities, groceries and any other living expense.

Now this is not a person who was financially irresponsible with money during all the previous years and they had done well to keep their bank account at a comfortable level.

Now it was all gone.

Money spent on items they didn't need or particularly want but at that time in their manic state, it made them feel good just to buy it.

But like the laws of gravity when things go up they must eventually come back down.

That's when the depressive state returned and the realization of their consequences of spending all that money in their manic state hit them 10-fold.

Which brings with it the anger of doing something so stupid. The anxiety of how they will live. The fear that their family members will reject them because of their actions.

It truly is a miserable state of existence and I was there to witness it as it unfolded.

It was time for a money makeover and I was tasked with designing the blueprints…

Normally I am fine with financial situations and I like a challenge but taking control of someone's financial matters that control their whole life – well that was not an easy task especially with a starting balance of $0.

I cut as many expenditures as possible.

My initial attack plan was first not to worry about income but to deal with any expenditures that could be stopped or returned.

Any money coming out of a bank account with $0 in the account was just going to make things worse and cause a negative balance.

I wanted to get that $0 stabilized.

Since I had power of attorney over this person's full estate I basically “assumed” their identity by legal rights.

With that in hand, I immediately canceled every subscription service both automatically and ones that were being billed monthly.

I mean everything with the exception of rent, water, and electric.

Once every subscription was canceled step two involved contacting this person's work and requesting any available vacation pay that had been “banked.”

Luckily the place where this person works were more than willing to accommodate and help out in any way they could because they are a valued employee there and everyone wanted them to get well.

With a 2-week vacation paycheck in hand, I was able to add money to the bank account.

bills-overdueNext came the bills…

I was handed a literal pile of bills, past due notices, and even a few court threats because instead of addressing the issue they were hiding from it and not asking for help when they should have been.

The fear for them was they had gotten so far behind that they would be judged as stupid and lazy for not handling their bills like a proper adult.

After opening all the envelopes I broke the bills down into pieces which ones were the oldest and which ones were duplicate late notices.

I shredded all the duplicates so I wouldn't double pay and then broke them down again by amounts owed.

I scheduled payments for the smaller bills that were in the $50-$100 range and had them paid within 24 hours.

However, the larger ones I called the billing agencies and explained the current situation without going into to much detail and asked for either extension, payment plans, or a little bit of leniency.

Many were cooperative and were just glad to get paid.

Two companies I called refused to talk to me because I wasn't the person the bill was assigned to and wouldn't let me make the payments.

I ended up just calling the next week and pretended to be my family member and the bills got paid without issue.

Now it was time to create an emergency fund…

After the bank account was stabilized and the bills settled I wanted to make sure a backup plan was in place for my family member in case they relapsed after treatment.

Treating a chemical imbalance is hard to formulate without a lot of trial and error and I like to always be thinking 3 paces ahead.

So a just in case plan made me feel better.

I immediately set up an emergency fund for them that would be auto drafted every two weeks at $25.00 dollars.

I chose this amount because it was small enough not to do any damage while their bank account was in recovery mode but large enough to add up rather decently over time.

stay-strongAfter The Aftermath

It has been several months now and just recently I handed back a large chunk of the financial reigns back to the rightful owner.

It was at their initial request that I help bring them from the breaking point to where they are now currently.

Life has started getting better for them and they no longer feel as if they're in a fog of helplessness and for this person taking responsibility back of their financial life feels like a new accomplishment to them.

Although they've asked me to keep a steadfast watch on their account if I start noticing the same trends that lead them in the wrong direction originally.

As for their emergency fund – they want nothing to do with it other than knowing it exists and someone's there helping it grow.

For this family, member life continues to be somewhat of a balancing act as they learn to cope with this disorder and understand what medications are working for them and how to address issues where they know they don't have to go at it alone.

Note from Author: Please, if you or a family member or friend are struggling with debt, money, or mental issues please seek out help. There are people who care about you deeply and may have no idea what you're going through. The hardest part is asking for help but you'll be glad you did and so will the people you asked.

About the Author Adam

I'm just a guy looking to build a better life for my family by cleaning up some of our past financial mistakes.

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