I Am Addicted To Spending Money.
I want to write about how I overcame (well, how I am overcoming) my addictions. An addicted person must reach “rock bottom” to become aware of the fact that they have a problem, but once they can acknowledge their problem, the only place to go is up. As Tyler Durden would say, “It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.” I don’t know how I overcame my compulsive addiction to spend money. There were no “Debtors Anonymous” meetings or counseling sessions with the purpose of uncovering a traumatizing childhood experience while laying on a couch. There were, however, appointments with my mother and a psychiatrist, as well as prescriptions for antidepressants and amphetamines, which, in retrospect, seem to have fixed nothing.
I have attributed my addiction to symptoms of anxiety and OCD, which I was diagnosed with in 4th grade. I was also diagnosed with ADD in 4th grade, but when no medicine was found to effectively relieve my symptoms, I stopped taking them altogether. Their negative effects outweighed the potential positive benefits. At 16, I was diagnosed again and put on a new medication. Since then, I have been switching back and forth from methylphenidate to amphetamine salts for periods of a few months to a year to keep them from losing their effectiveness. To my family, 16 also seems to be the age I was when my compulsive “need to spend” manifested itself.
I am now nearly19 years old and $10,000 in debt. And no, I did not buy a car or a college education with that money. Actually, I still cannot account for many of the things I bought. I received two credit cards in March, 2009. One had a $1,500.00 credit limit and the other a $4,000.00 credit limit. Now, it seems necessary to mention that these cards were issued to me two months after eighteenth birthday with no proof of income. How many 18 year-olds do you know who fill out credit applications by answering “student” to the employment question that are capable of paying a bill for a credit card that has a $4,000 limit? During the summer, in an attempt to help me better deal with my debt, my mother consolidated my credit card debt into a loan. She had the intention of helping me, however, I was only able to see this as an opportunity pay off my credit card with the loan, continue making purchases with the card, and go into more debt. Finally, last month, I reached the limit on both cards. This left me with no choice but to cancel the accounts.
During the summer, I had a boyfriend who acknowledged my behavior but never did anything to change it. Besides myself, he was the only person who did not make me feel bad about how much money I was spending, so I appreciated having him around. We broke up a week before school started. School became a huge struggle for me, because I was dealing with a situation in which I had to meet completely new people while taking new classes and struggling with addiction and social anxiety. At the time, I was unaware that I had a problem with spending money and even at times when I didn’t go out, I would do things like purchase “virtual” money for Facebook applications such as Farmville and order take-out. I would purchase music on itunes, even though I knew I already had it somewhere on CD. I had so much stuff that I could never find anything. (Hoarding is another symptom of OCD.)
I knew I had a problem, but I attributed it to my recent break-up and lack of a job rather than the real issue. I became depressed and even failed my first class. I also would frequently get into arguments with my family. I’m normally very close to my Mom, but I would find myself lying to her about anything that had anything to do with spending money – even to the extent of lying about where I was, just in case I might possibly be in a place where money could be spent. I would lie to my sisters or ask them to lie for me, just to hide the fact that I was spending money. I knew it would upset my mother. It began to construct a divide between my family, and though I know they’ll always be there for me, it was a struggle to get past the point where I was afraid of being disconnected from them forever because of my addiction.
Finally, one month, my mother asked to see my credit card bills after I received a speeding ticket (my first and hopefully only, ever.) I’m considering this my breaking point because after that week, I haven’t had a relapse. I cancelled the cards (which had both just reached their limit.) It has been about a month and a half since this occurrence, and I’d like to talk more about the recovery process as well as some of the ways I’ve been able to change the way I think about things, but I’m new to this website, and I’d like to see if I can get some feedback first. I obviously haven’t completely recovered, I’ve still got a long way to go. People who struggle with addictions usually do so even after treatment and recovery, but eventually I’d like to think I’ll be able to deal with my addiction without having to think so hard about it.
Like I said, I’m new to this website, and this is something I haven’t really been able to talk about with people before. So, if you’re struggling with a similar situation or have any feedback to give me, I would love to hear from you!