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#532616 - 06/28/09 06:22 PM Compulsive Spending, Debt, DA?
sarahspiral Offline
Newbie

Registered: 06/28/09
Posts: 21
Hi, I just joined Bella today and looked on the addictions list and did not see anything for DA (debtors annoynomous) I am in al-anon but have a spouse with a serious ADDICTION - eg: compulsive spending and debting. I use the steps but do not want to talk about money/spending on the AA or Al-anon sites. Is there anything for DA or compulsive spending on these boards? PLEASE HELP!!! THANKS Spiral

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#532620 - 06/28/09 06:40 PM Re: Compulsive Spending, Debt, DA? [Re: sarahspiral]
Chelle - Marriage Editor Offline
BellaOnline Editor
Chimpanzee

Registered: 09/03/05
Posts: 7186
Loc: Lake Lanier, Georgia
Hi Sarah, Welcome to BellaOnline's forums.

We do not have specific forums set aside for specific addictions, you are free to talk about any any addictions on here. We have had threads on alcoholism, drug abuse, sex addiction, gmabling addictions, etc. So starting this thread on compulsive spending and debting is fine. In fact I think it is a subject that we have not touched before, but many people suffer from.

I know that as a person that suffers from Bi-Polar, one of the things that I do fight against when in a manic phase is going on spending sprees. Many people with Bi-polar do this. I am luckier than most in that my manic phases are of much lower duration (I tend to the depressive side more). But many people drive up incredibly scary credit debt when they do manic shopping.

Has your spouse ever been checked for Bi-Polar?
_________________________
Michelle Taylor
Marriage Editor

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#532625 - 06/28/09 07:30 PM Re: Compulsive Spending, Debt, DA? [Re: sarahspiral]
sarahspiral Offline
Newbie

Registered: 06/28/09
Posts: 21
hi michelle thanks for the lovely and quick reply. if you have any resources to online to help to define bi-polar or perhaps a "self-test" I would like that. I have thought that he may be bi-polar but he does not seem to suffer from extreme depression. i am a mental health professional and although i do not like to dx my own family, I feel that it is more NPD or BPD (narcissistic personality disorder or borderline PD). I do know that one of the major symptoms of Bi-Polar are manic spending sprees and he has some of the other symtoms such as sudden rage attacks, staying up late (not as much as usual), grandious fantasies of empowerment but the major depression is just not there. He does also drink 2 glasses of wine per night and perhaps that is self medication - not sure. are there bi-polar people without the depression? he is also a workaholic and can seem to do things that others cannot do eg; work extremely long hours and work extremely hard. he has never had more than 3 sessions of therapy and seems afraid. I believe his brother was bi-polar and killed himself many years ago when my hubby was only 12. He has had a traumatic life and he is very high functioning considering. He has had NO help and it is very stressful for me. I did not know any of this and married him after only knowing him 8 months as I got pregnant very soon. we have had a very rocky marriage but after 7 years it has gotten so much better mainly because I detach and do NOT confront him on anything. I HATE this but i see that my son is happy and feels loved and centered and he can be loving and kind much of the time. I have worked "around" his mental health issues. I know for sure that it is something major but he is in DENIAL. He once was "open" to being bi-polar and if I casually took an online "test" he would probably take it too. at odd times he is open. I am sure he does not want therapy because he is afraid but there is so much help out there! I know that anyone can get better but he does not seem interested. It is very weird because i am all about self help and psychological well being. I healed myself of depression with yoga and al-anon, it has been a miracle for me! Any more advice on bi-polar disorder? THANKS!!!

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#532626 - 06/28/09 07:43 PM Re: Compulsive Spending, Debt, DA? [Re: sarahspiral]
sarahspiral Offline
Newbie

Registered: 06/28/09
Posts: 21
Hi Again For anyone else reading this post I do know that people use shopping and compulsive spending as a way of immediate gratification and a way of self-medicating a depression, anxiety or feelings of shame. no matter WHAT the cause, it still is damaging to families, spouses and children. There is an immediate effect on the family system as family money is being disposed of without agreement and there is constant chaos and worry. There is constant fear in the family that bills will not be paid, of bankruptcy and other problems. It is different than compulsive eating in that the family is not directly effected unless the person is becoming sick because of excess weight. Compulsive spending/debting can be devastating to families and children, for example, what if two young children are evicted from a home because of someone's spending addiction? this is traumatic and shaming for children of any age. they are also not being taught how to handle money or to care for themselves properly. If you have such an addiction, PLEASE get help for your families sake or at least PROTECT your family by putting assets in their name and getting life insurance or other protective documents in place. Yes, you are depressed, anxious and just coping, but think of children who cannot have a voice in this matter. The compulsion is the inability to stop oneself without intervention either therapy or Debtors Anoynomous. it is like any addictive behavior whereby the person is "over-taken" with the impulse to spend despite all logical thinking and reason. While I have compassion for this disease, I am also living with someone who is EXTREMELY active. I feel sad, angry and "out of control" much of the time. I use al -anon and i also take steps to separate our finances. To be fair, my husband will allow me to have things in my name only. He will NOT get help and he will NOT admit to compulsive debting/spending but he will allow me to have my own money and to own our home, etc, etc. I have even consulted a lawyer to creditor proof our assests. This is what I would like to share but would mostly like to share with women/men who are LIVING with ACTIVE debtors/spenders. If I am to be honest not meaning to be judgmental but just straight forward, it is also extremely self-absorbed as all addictions are. there is NO concern for the children, spouses or the future - it is all about the "need" to "feel good". It is important for addicts to ultimately see that they are not only hurting themselves but often innocent children who will struggle for a lifetime to heal from these family diseases. PLEASE GET HELP!

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#532756 - 06/29/09 08:59 AM Re: Compulsive Spending, Debt, DA? [Re: sarahspiral]
Chelle - Marriage Editor Offline
BellaOnline Editor
Chimpanzee

Registered: 09/03/05
Posts: 7186
Loc: Lake Lanier, Georgia
Here's a fairly simple online test:
Online BiPolar test

I took it myself, it does say that you can take it on behalf of someone else, but a few of the questions are "how do you feel?" type questions - so it is more accurate if he takes it.

At one point in time I was hospitalized for suicidal thoughts. I self-admitted, because I had already had an uncle commit suicide, and I did not want to put my family through that again. I actually have both Depression and Bi-Polar 4, which tends more to the Depressive side. My manic phases tend to be more irritable and angry than happy and excited. I spend more out of guilt - most of my spending is done on my kids than on myself. My big addiction is food.

I learned while in the hospital that people self-medicate for depression in all sorts of ways. Also that almost all addicts at the core are suffering from depression of some sort or the other - but some are very, very good at hiding it. When my psychiatrist met me he said I had the best "mask" he had ever seen. I told him it was my proper Southern Lady upbringing. You don't show when you are upset. "How are you?" is not a request for a person's health down here, it is a way of saying "hello". If you have problems - you keep them to yourself (unless you are 70 - then you can talk for hours about your failing health and it is only polite for everyone around to stand and listen, LOL!)

Your husband is self-medicating and holding his mask on by doing it. Until he stops, he'll never crack and have a reason to face his Depression. The insidious part of spending/debting is that a person doesn't show symptoms the way an alcoholic or drug addict does. And like you said, hitting rock bottom often takes the entire family down with them.

When you talk to your lawyer, see if there is anyway to cut him off. He needs to have his access to money taken away just like an aolcoholic or drug addict in rehab as their access cut off. He needs his crutch jerked out from under him so that he has no choice but to face that he is the one out of control.

As for you being out of control - you're not. You are taking control. You are facing everything head on and trying to find answers and solutions. Hopefully you will hear from some others that have been/ are in the place you are - but for the time being I hope you will accept the support from others on this forum.
_________________________
Michelle Taylor
Marriage Editor

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#533003 - 06/29/09 05:31 PM Re: Compulsive Spending, Debt, DA? [Re: sarahspiral]
Kathy - 12 Step Recovery Offline
BellaOnline Editor
Jellyfish

Registered: 03/18/07
Posts: 172
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
Hi Sarah,

I am the 12 Step Recovery Editor and have probably been in touch with every type of addict imagineable since I began writing for this site. If you want to "talk" or have any questions you do not want on the forum, go to the 12 Step Recovery site (under Family) and send me an email. No one but me will see it (in the event you just don't feel like sharing with more than one person)and if there is anyway I can help or connect you with someone who can help, I certainly will. On the other hand, this forum might be all you need. Regardless, there is always help for you.

Blessings,
Kathy L.

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#533007 - 06/29/09 05:52 PM Re: Compulsive Spending, Debt, DA? [Re: Kathy - 12 Step Recovery]
sarahspiral Offline
Newbie

Registered: 06/28/09
Posts: 21
hi kathy, thank you so much for the reply. I am a bit techno challenged and cannot figure out how to write private emails so I will stay on this forum. frankly, my husband would never go on this site and if he did, he needs to read the TRUTH anyway. so be it. As far as support, i was in al-anon for 10 years but i now have a young child and live in a city that does not have many meetings. I still use the literature and email program people. I have had therapy too but that did not help in my ultimate choice of a mate - i got pregnant very quickly after meeting my husband and even though i saw almost everything in his behavior I did not see the extent of the debting/spending, i decided to try out marriage and family life as i was 40 years old when i had a child - a blessing! I still do not feel comfortable talking so much about debting and compulsive spending at al-anon as it is about living wtih active alcoholics. for me, all addiction has the same base, shame, fear and depression that has not been dealt with. After 7 years of marriage i have found a way to "work around" the money issues and my husband does let me take care of SOME of the money - not all. I have confronted his addiction but he gets into a rage and then just acts like nothing is wrong a few days later ! _ power of denial. I try to work my program and to take care of myself and my child. our house is in MY name only and has been for 6 years. He is allowing me to pay off the mortgage and to start a college fund and savings account in MY name only. he gives me cash each month to invest in "my" name and I am honest that I want creditor proof money. I wll NOT put my name on his credit cards and will NOT ever sign anything with him that has to do with money. He has over 750K of personal/business debt and he is slowly paying it off. he does make a lot of money but not nearly enough to pay this off in his lifetime. I have also spoken to a bankruptcy lawyer and he said that he is not solvent but could possible avoid bankruptcy if he continues to pay large amounts on his debt for 10 years ( if he lives that long! he is 13 years my senior). the lawyer e also told me that I would be able to keep our home if he goes bankrupt. I want the college fund and savings and then I will feel "Okay". I also have a career and I am choosing to take time off to raise my 6 year old. I help with my husbands business so that we do NOT go under. I do this consciously for the good of my son. Mostly I worry that my husband is 60 years old (a doctor) and that if he gets sick, the house of cards will fall apart. He spends 3K per weekend on NOTHING and if he got sick, even for a short time, this would not work out. my son would experience an extreme change in our living and financial lives if things do not turn around soon. We have some disability and our accountant says this would be the worst case scenario. I try to take constructive action and he is not blocking me from most of these actions, however, he still compulsively spends on cars, clothing, trips, etc, etc. I know that underneath he is ashamed, lonely and scared. I do have compassion for him but it is also hard on our son who is witnessing an addiction. I pray to GOD that my son does not follow in his footsteps with regard to addiction/money. If you know of any resources, books or other support, please let meknow. Sorry to go on so long. When I talk to friends they just tell me to "talk to him" so that he will 'stop" THEY DO NOT GET THE RAGE involved with active addiction. They feel that this is "rational" and it is just a tiny bit of over-spending. It is impossible for me to explain how extreme this is. Any ideas? THANKS! Sarah

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#533158 - 06/30/09 08:32 AM Re: Compulsive Spending, Debt, DA? [Re: sarahspiral]
Chelle - Marriage Editor Offline
BellaOnline Editor
Chimpanzee

Registered: 09/03/05
Posts: 7186
Loc: Lake Lanier, Georgia
Maybe you could explain to them that spending/debting addiction is VERY similar in makeup to gambling addiction. Most people these days understand that one, because there has been so much press on it.

Both of these addictions take a family's much needed money and throw it away; one for the promise of more money, the other for the instant gratification of "things". A Spender needs to have lots of things to make them feel secure many times because they have lost so much in life. If you take away that ability to buy more things, then you take away their security and they will fight tooth and nail to get it back - just like a drug addict will fight to get their score back; violently and mindlessly.

It is not about spending, it is about security and being in control. The fact that you are allowed any control over money issues in your family is frankly amazing. Any addict is dangerous when faced with the prospect of having his or her supply cut off. That is what your friends need to understand.

This is not "Confessions of a Shopoholic" this is "The Cleaner".
_________________________
Michelle Taylor
Marriage Editor

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#533310 - 06/30/09 03:07 PM Re: Compulsive Spending, Debt, DA? [Re: sarahspiral]
Kathy - 12 Step Recovery Offline
BellaOnline Editor
Jellyfish

Registered: 03/18/07
Posts: 172
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
Sarah,

In all honesty, your friends mean well but they will never in a million years be able to feel and know what you are going through. Talking to an addict of any kind rationally is like spitting in the wind. As an addict myself (and you are right, addictions are all the same as they are only a symptom of bigger problem)I believe you have done all you can do and either have to make a major decision for you and your son apart from your husband or you can sit tight and let him hit bottom. You can plead, beg, cry, threaten, etc. and it won't change him. People on the outside do not understand that addicts care more about their addiction than anything else even though they love their families. If you have been to Al-Anon you get it.

I am going to check out my 12 Step Recovery site for anything that might have been sent to me regarding the problems you are having. In the meantime, take care of yourself and your son and pray for your husband to see that one moment of clarity.

Blessings,
Kathy



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#533397 - 07/01/09 05:47 AM Re: Compulsive Spending, Debt, DA? [Re: Kathy - 12 Step Recovery]
sarahspiral Offline
Newbie

Registered: 06/28/09
Posts: 21
hi kathy and Michelle I feel moved by your honesty and insight! Both of you are people who have gone through so much and are using your wisdom to help others! WOW! it is amazing to hear people in recovery who are so honest!! It is also good for me to hear from the addicts point of view. It is really the same and I need to use my program to deal with this but i haven't been to al-anon consistently in 6 years. i used to live in new york city and there were tons of meetings. in my new little city, there are very few and it is there is cross talk so I tend to stay away. Kathy is correct that I may have to make a decision about leaving if things get really bad. I had a child late in life, at age 40, and I had a career but got off the wheel for a few years. I am trying to get back "on" so that I can have my own income. It is going slowly but I think it will work. I can also WAIT until my husband hits a bottom which i know he will. His accountant and business manager both know that he will get into trouble unless he gets help - they know something else is going on but they cannot name it. I am scared of a bottom, mostly of the RAGE, but I suppose this is where Higher Power comes in. Michelle also reminded me that an addict without their substance is DANGEROUS - they would kill for the substance. It is very scary! I can also pray that GOD helps my husband gain some clarity. I haven't said a WORD about addiction or his spending for almost 1 year - that is a miracle for me. All I do is try to take care of what i can - save money and try to OWN things without his name on them. It is odd that he lets me have "some" control over some of the money but there must be a part of him that knows we are going down. There were so many losses in his life - MANY deaths and a suicides in a family of 7 kids~ tons of addiction in his family but he is in complete denial because he is a doctor and "successful". this is a case for Higher Power. I feel sad because i do love him and do not want to leave. If you can find any other boards with this as a topic, that would be great. My friends just think that I can have a rational talk with him and they get frustrated that it is not "changing". he used to have rage attacks but if i do not bring up money/spending, he does not have rage attacks. it is very simple but weird. THANKS for your wisdom and support! It HELPS!!! Sarah

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