Money and bipolar disorder.

Having a mental illness, particularly bipolar disorder can be bad for your bank account. Feeling anxious? buy something. Feeling low? treat yourself. Feeling reckless? shopping spree. 

There's a direct link to shopping addiction and depression and anxiety. Over the years I have used spending as a way to cheer myself up and find I get a buzz from finding a bargain, or buying something I have been lusting after. Once that initial feeling has gone I am left feeling guilty, deflated and broke. Here are some tips I've picked up along the way that have helped...

1. Don't go to the shops unless you need something. If you do need something write a list and stick to it.
2. Be mindful of your social media. Unfollow brand accounts and leave facebook sale groups so you won't be tempted. Unsubscribe from sales emails.
3. Don't be tempted to 'just browse'. Whether this is online shopping or at actual shops: don't do it! Find a distraction, maybe go for a walk at the park instead or do some reading.
4. If you feel like you need to buy something have a tidy up first. Reorganise your belongings- sort your wardrobe, tidy your bookshelf etc... This might put you off and make you realise you don't need to add to it.
5. If you do need to satisfy a spending craving try looking round some charity shops or go to a car boot sale, that way you won't be spending too much money and you can still get a buzz if you find a bargain.
6. Ask yourself: do you need it? Where will it go in your home? When will you use it? Picture it. Give it an hour and then come back again and decide.
7. Something I've found that helps is to make a folder on my laptop which I fill with things I want to buy. Strange as it sounds having a picture of the item is sometimes enough and eventually I find I don't want it anymore and delete the photo. I also find the save feature on Instagram is good for this too.
8. Budget all your outgoings- if you can see your spending written down clearly it can make you more mindful of what you buy. One of the problems I had was that I wouldn't look at my bank account as I didn't want to know. It made it easier to keep on spending and sometimes the only thing that would stop me was when the card declined.
9. Cut up all credit cards. This is an obvious one but they are bad news if you are feeling spendy. Some people find drawing a certain amount of cash on and only carry that helps too.
10. Once you have paid bills and bought essentials transfer the rest of your money to a seperate account/savings account/ premium bonds etc... Anything that is no risk and where your money is safe but is harder for you to get to.
11. Find less reckless ways to satisfy the urge to spend. Try some self care techniques, take up some hobbies.
12. If all else fails ask a trusted family member/ partner etc... to help you take charge of your money. They can help you make sure you stay on top of your bills, have money for food and be tough when you are tempted to have a spree of make an unnecessary purchase.

Useful articles:
Shopping addiction guide
Shopping and the brain
Money and Mental Health
Impulse Spending and Bipolar Disorder

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