Manic Episodes

The Manic Shopper

One of the hallmarks of a manic state is spending. It is an obsessive, irrational need that takes hold of you and consumes.

In a world where the cost of living is increasing exponentially with the growth of the human race and ever changing technologies, the opportunity to spend is always prevalent. This can be a dangerous slope and often leads to bad debt.

So why do we go on hyper spending sprees? Well in short spending is another result of a manic states loss of self control, similar to hyper sexuality, excessive drinking or drug sprees and grandiosity.

What does it feel like?

Similar to other manic symptoms I find that the need to buy things is driven by this sudden obsession with needing it to fill a void. Whether rational or irrational when you look back on purchases when your not in a manic state, at the time you find reasons to rationalize.  I tell myself at the time of purchase that I NEED this kettle because the current one is 4 years old and is hard to descale now. When really it isn’t, and it works fine and could easily last a few more years, but at the time I tell myself these things and feel like its a justified purchase.

I have been running a manic state for a few months now, the medication I am on is safe if you want to conceive but not actually a combination that controls and stabilizes my moods. So I have been running with scissors for sometime now. I didn’t notice it initially, I never do. Until one day I realized I was talking louder and faster than usual, and then i thought about it and realized i hadn’t slept fully in weeks and I had been obsessing over things.  The one thing that the medication has done is take away my hyper-sexuality that was my hallmark years ago, but that has been replaced by this obsession with buying things.

I have tried to take control of this, but it doesn’t stop the Amazon boxes from appearing at the house, and the subsequent look of concern on my husbands face.

I started my own business this year, as well as working full time I now also do full time hours on my home design and craft business. So now my spending is mainly focused on things for that. The plus side is that it means I have a lot of assets in terms of machinery and product for my business, the downside is it has racked up debt.


When you finally come down from your manic state and you hit the inevitable depression state that follows your come to the realization of the outcome of this spending- the debt and it adds that additional stresser and feeling of regret to be consumed by.

How can I try and mange and control?

This isn’t easy, I get it- believe me! But there are a few guides to trying to control the insatiable need to spend, here are a few that I have come up with (and really need to try and force myself to focus on):

  • Plan: If your bi-polar, and you know its not under control you need to plan for the irrational manic spells. Implement as many of the following in advance that you can.
  • Don’t save your credit cards: If you know your an internet shopper like myself (I never go to the mall because crowds distress me and impact my anxiety), don’t save your credit card information to shopping websites or your computer or devise of choice. By making it so easy to push the “checkout” button without the need to find your bank card and manually type the information in you are removing the conscious element of actually seeing the payment being made.
  • Have a limited credit or overdraft limit: Try to be smart with your financial planning, don’t have more than one credit card, don’t put an overdraft on your bank account so you can keep spending into the negative. Limit your credit amount. By limiting this at least you cannot go beyond your means to an excess. Take away your means of funding exuberant spending.
  • Find an alternative: The need for the instant gratification that purchase brings needs to be redirected. Find something that can give you gratification that doesn’t have a high cost or negative impact on your mental health. Take up hiking- maybe making it to the top of that hill provides that source of gratification, or maybe reading and getting to the end of that book can help (though in a manic state focusing on a book can be a hard one), paint – finishing a picture could be a good one. Really think outside the box at things you love to do or that interest you but do not come with a high price tag.
  • Keep a Record of Accounting: Write down all your spending, the physical act of doing this can bring on the realization of how much is being spent sooner and maybe curtail the spree sooner.
  • Carry cash not credit: If your going to the mall take out cash beforehand and leave your bank/ credit/ store cards at home- this ensures you can only spend a preset amount.
  • Do not buy into store cards: Point cards are great- you earn a point for each $1 you spend in a store, or whatever similar offer the stores have- these can be great to have those points available to spend on essentials or even a treat for yourself. However store cards that provide a form of credit- promising zero interest rates, or cash bank with purchases may seem like a wonderful idea- but do not be sucked in! This is just another credit card that you can run up debt on- the less options of credit you give yourself the better!
  • Transfer essential funds: If your living with a partner, get a joint household account and both of you set up automatic money transfers the day you get paid. This takes away essential funds for living so that your spending cannot eat into the cost of living- this takes out rent/ mortgage, bills and maybe a set amount for food. If you live alone- set up a bank account with limited access, do not carry the card for it with you- and use this account for the same living costs.

The above are just a few suggestions I have come up with- I would love to hear from you if you have any other suggests that could be added in!

Manic states, as we know are unpredictable. Taking on as much accountability and putting in as many control measures before you are in a manic state is key to trying to control the loss of impulse control that follows, and the subsequent regrets when the manic state fades.


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