spending sprees :Coping with

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by compassion, Jul 9, 2009.

  1. compassion

    compassion Member

    difficult child went on a $300 spending spree last night. That is an improvement of a few weeks ago: a thousand dollars a week . I guess it is accepting can't handle a check card:was hoping she could, did for about a week or so. ANy experiences welcome. This is part of her manic stuff. I am exhausted!!! Compassion
  2. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    I suspect the spending sprees won't go away and you need to watch her carefully. Don't allow her access to funds, and monitor everything. When she is an adult, don't give, loan or pay off her debt as it will be a never ending black hole. If you do become her financial life boat you will only enable the problem to become worse.

    I once had a room mate who demonstrated several behaviors of bipolar. She was tested for bipolar and found not to have it because she was always in a state of mania and never became depressed. However something was going on. She is now 60, and through out her life she has constantly made poor spontaneous decisions. She would work very hard to build up her business and then deliberately do something to destroy the whole thing. She sabotaged her own graduate school program. Periodically she will sale or buy a house. (Sell for 10s of thousands of dollars less then worth, or buy something falling down for the same price she could have gotten a good one). Twice she even got spontaneously married to people she knew would not work out. The second time she blamed on the Prozac. It has been hard watching her to do damaging things to her life, but all I can do is talk with her after it was done.
  3. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    It IS hard to watch. She is just not ready to handle money. She is not firmly enough into recovery or invested enough into it.

    She may even be transferring the addiction to alcohol and drugs to an addiction to spending. Chances are that until she hits bottom for ALL of it she will just go from one thing to another.

    What did she spend the money on? IF it is stuff you do not see, or for stuff you didn't see her do, then she is spending on drugs or alcohol. Or possibly on stuff to sell to get drugs or alcohol.

    Do not rescue her. make HER pay the money off. Or make her work it off by doing work for you.

    Do to get. She does the work and THEN you pay it off. NOT the other way around. It will become to big a hassle to get ehr to do teh work if it is already pains.

    I am sorry. I watched a friend who worked for IBM back in the early 90s max out over 30 credit cards and then try to commit suicide. It was an ugly mess.
  4. compassion

    compassion Member

    She spent $85 at Pac-Sun, $96 at Target, $37 at Hot Topic, $78 at a nail salon, $13 at CNS Forever, $8.95 at Coldstone Creamery and $17 at a movie theatre. Her pattern is to spend money on other kids to try and get them to like her.
    Yes, I was hoping she could handle legit money form the check card but she is not at that place yet. We will colse that account down and give her money for food (grocery card, fast food places). I need to take puppy back that she bought last weekend. Compassion
  5. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Well, didn't she just have a fun time spending your money??!! I wish I could do all that fun stuff. Probably went tanning, got her nails done, ice cream, movie - how fun! Can you just imagine doing that without even thinking of the cost?

    Who's account is this check card tied to? Is there an overdraft on the account? I hope so!

    My difficult child has an ATM card for her own account now. She can pull money out, but not buy things at any store whenever her heart desires something. Does she have a J O B?? She would so be paying me back.
  6. compassion

    compassion Member

    We opened an account for her with a check card and overdraft coming from savings account. This was because she was forging a thousand a week from my checking account. The idea was have a legit account that is HERS but she is too impulsive and immature to handle that.
    She is not stable or mature enough to hold a job She can though do stuff for me: pet care, housework,etc.
  7. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    You mean to tell me your child was stealing a thousand dollars a week from you, and you rewarded her with her own account? Compassion, our children do not need to be rewarded for impulsive, criminal behavior. That just reinforces to them that we will "bail" them out no matter what they choose to do. I know you are trying to keep her from using...but it seems to me that you are much more invested in her recovery than she is. At this point, she should be working her own recovery. Was she forced to take the purchases back? I hope you didn't allow her to keep them.
  8. compassion

    compassion Member

    That is the big problem:she is not invested in her recovery at all. This is a huge symptom of her bipolar mania. It has been a bit better. I do not know where the items are. In the past,she either leaves them other places or gives them away. Compassion
  9. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Can I ask what you did about her forging checks on your account?

    I hope you did more to her than simply getting her her own account. Bipolar or not, it is simply wrong to allow that behavior.

    Let me tell you a story.

    Once there was this young boy who stole a check and wrote it. He was ten. No one would take it of course because it was obvious a ten year old wrote it and they called the mother to alert her what he had done. Mom talked to him and gave him a punishment. Fast forward a few years. He became a teen and he learned what a debit card was. He started stealing the moms debit card and making small purchases and taking small amounts of cash out of the ATM. Mom ranted and raved but she never followed through on her "threats" to have him charged. She made him pay her back but that was no big deal to him. It made the whole thing just seem like a loan. Then he started forging checks for small amounts. Now the mom got really mad. She went to the bank and almost took out a forged document paper with the boy in tow...but she changed her mind at the last minute because he was now 16 and it would be a felony and she really didnt want to put a felony on his record at that age. It would have been an adult charge.

    Well...let me tell you how this story ended. The mom is me. I got my disability settlement in July of 2007. My son stole my checkbooks which were hidden in a locked box while I was out of town and wrote forged checks for $1500 on my account. I found out when I got home from out of town. He was 21 at this point. I was absolutely livid. I had given him so many chances and had told him so many times what could happen to him. No more chances.

    I had my son charged with 3...yes 3..counts of felony forged checks. I had to be in court and watch my son be found guilty on all 3 charges. Now he has those on his record. He is on probation now. He could have gone to jail for a substantial amount of time but he got off light with some active time, home ankle monitoring and probation.

    You need to nip your daughters behaviors now while she is underage or this will continue into her adult life and you will come to the point where you simply have to say enough.
  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Janet is right. At this point, she is just not stable. That is NO excuse for her behavior. Just because a person has a mental or physical illness does NOT mean that stealing and forging is OK.

    Is she on medication? Does seh take it regularly? It sure sounds like she needs an Residential Treatment Center (RTC). Or else she will end up in juvie or prison. When she starts just stealing the stores are going to go hard on her. They can't care about if she is mentally ill or whatever. Too many people steal.

    In all honesty, if she is charged in the next year or so and learns a lesson it would be better than if she gets bailed out until she is an adult and does something too big for you to fix it. Then she will spend the rest of her LIFE with a record of felonies.

    You do her no favors by not sending her to Residential Treatment Center (RTC). I don't care how much you miss her. Or she cries. Or she threatens. By giving in and covering it up you tell her it is OK because she is "sick".

    At this point you are spoiling her. And by "saving" her from consequences you are setting her up for real jail/prison time.

    It is harsh, but so is the world.

    Save her for real - make her face the consequences. Residential Treatment Center (RTC) or criminal charges. Let her have real consequences. NOT something you take her home from when she wants to leave.
  11. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    husband, fully grown adult, managed to spend $21,000.00 on art work during his last hypomanic episode. I calmly had him sign over ALL the family money to me. He actually felt shame about his behavior, a HUGE step toward progress. (((HUGS))), Compassion, it really stinks.
  12. barneysmom

    barneysmom Member

    hi compassion,

    "Yes, I was hoping she could handle legit money form the check card but she is not at that place yet."

    Well, you tried, and now you can just move on from here, and begin to accept where she's at. How's she doing in recovery? That's a big plus if she is not using. What behaviors made you think she could handle legit money? Can you capitalize on those somehow. You said she could work for you and pet-sit, etc. What is your immediate goal for her? Does she do OK in school?

    I think someone asked about her medications -- does she take her medications and are they right for her? You said she was in the psychiatric hospital -- was she in the psychiatric hospital all that time or was that two different occasions? Does she need psychiatric hospital again?

    Sorry, new here and don't know you. Just wondering why she is spiralling out of control now, so manic. Who is supporting you and helping you to make decisions about her? Had you been thinking about Residential Treatment Center (RTC)? I didn't think you could put a manic person in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) without stabilizing.

    You're exhausted. Who supports you and helps you make decisions?
  13. compassion

    compassion Member

    Thanks for all the input.
    I had a great session with daughter's pychcologist. We are cancelling the check card and getting cards with defined limits cannot go over (prepaid Visa). therapist says she just cant handle the other and this puts safer limits on it.
    She is actually doing a lot better. I dont post on this general forum much because I know most wil lnot understand that but I really felt I needed to share yesterday.
    Yes, she is on medications and they help but she is still manic, has a conduct disorder, and many borderline personality traits.
    I see her pyschclogist twice a week. She has been a huge help. We are taking tiny baby steps. She also has in home behavior analyst. She has had the same psychiatrist since Sept 08, treatment included 3.5 months inpatient program, out May 15, 2009.We also have a family therapist we see once a week.

    I go to AL-Anon twice a week, talk with my spnsor 3 times a week, I connenct with FA sponsor daily, I attend church weekly, I am involved in statewide service in another 12 step program. I go to NAMI monthly and am involved with a parents of disabled children's group.I daily am invloved on hChild and Adolscent Bipolar Foudation board, I am a regualr participant in the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) support group. I read these boards daily and communicate with a safe person privately.
    My daughter, who turned 16 April 16 does not want to be hospitalized. She really wants to be in the community. We are supporting that, one day at a time. She has made a lot of progress in coming home more, checking in with me more and she is adherent with her medications.
    I really try and support and respct everyone that posts here and do my part to make it a safe place to land.
    Some of us (life me) have kids who are severly ill and need a lot of support and understanding. Unfortunately, there is no quick,easy fix. Support though is very important. I really believe in my heart my daughter is ill, not bad.
  14. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Compassion, with all due respect, if she's still manic, the medications aren't working well enough. Her Lamictal dose, for example, is not at a therapeutic level (a therapeutic dose is above 200 mg). Furthermore, Lamictal works better on bipolar depression and mixed states than it does on mania. Is there any chance you can either talk to the psychiatrist or get a second opinion on the medications so your difficult child becomes more stable than she currently is?

    I understand that your daughter doesn't want to be hospitalized. But kids who are mentally ill don't often know what they need. My own son, also 16, is in a therapeutic wilderness program this summer because he needs it, not because he wants it. Parents sometimes have to make decisions that are painful but in their children's best interest.
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    No one here thinks she is not ill. We know she is. Even if all she had was substance abuse problems she would be ill.

    I agree with smallworld that you should look at her medications. Because if she is going on huge spending sprees then she isn't stable. All the compliance in the world will not help her if the medications are not the right medications or at a therapeutic level.

    If I had parents who gave me a debit card after I stole their checks and forged a thou a week on their accounts! What kid wouldn't want that?

    She is free to go do what she wants, even after check forgery? You need to take a step back and really LOOK at what message you are sending. If no one in your real world life is telling you to take that long hard look, then they are not really helping. We are NOT telling you she is bad. We are telling you she needs more help, more treatment.

    Why should she be invested in her recovery? Her medications are not keeping her moods stable. Her parents don't hold her accountable for even felony level crimes. She is still allowed to come and go as she likes if she just "checks in".

    Do you SEE why she isn't invested in recovery? It would clip her wings. By NOT getting her medications adusted at the very least, you are not giving her the tools to become invested. You are very much tying her hands so she cannot become healthy. By NOT forcing her into a situation where she MUST face what she has done, and by NOT letting her feel the very real consequences of her behavior, you are setting her up for a GIANT fall.

    At 16, even mentally ill, she can be charged with FELONIES as an ADULT if she steals from someone else. Even if she shoplifts, depending on what she takes and who she steals it from. MANY stores are pushing DA's to charge teens as adults for shoplifting. What happens if she is caught stealing and flips out at store security or the police? They really do not care if she is mentally ill.

    If you let her go then you are placing her in that situation, likely in jail, because you have not let her learn and grow from the consequences of her actions.

    I really don't care if you help every mentally ill person on the planet, and see a sponsor every day. If they are not telling you what we are, they either don't truly care about you and your difficult child, or they already know you are delusional. If you really think that keeping her from the consequences of her actions will help her get better, you need to see a psychiatrist and psychologist of your own. Ones who will tell you like it is, not like you want it to be. Because that is just NOT reality. No matter how many groups and boards and people you see in meetings. It just isn't reality.

    Sorry. There just is no way to sugar coat this.
  16. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I wasnt saying she isnt ill. My son is ill too. My son has bipolar and now a personality disorder but what was a conduct disorder back in his teens. The legal system doesnt give one whit about our mental illnesses. As long as we arent in the corner babbling and thinking that we are a tree, we are sane.

    Why does she need a debit card at all? Whats wrong with a good old fashioned allowance?
  17. skeeter

    skeeter New Member

    My daughter in law is bipolar (but takes her medications religiously). She also has no concept of money (mainly due to her upbringing - her father is a lawyer and she's just never had to worry about money). Being married to my son - a sailor - has been a very rude awakening. I kept telling her that she was marrying "down" in life, and I wasn't really kidding.

    When my son was deployed, they both came to me and said they wanted ME to handle the money while he was gone. I only did so because they BOTH asked. I had complete control of my son's account, and she did not have the passwords, access, nor was she listed. She had a separate account to use to pay bills. I knew what rent and utilities were, and we (all three) came up with what would be reasonable for food, gas, spending, etc. All other bills (insurance, car payment) were automatically withdrawn so she didn't have to worry (we tried getting rent, too, but that wasn't possible).

    Any time she needed extra, she had to come to me and ask for it. I never denied her anything, but it made her think twice before spending. She had a credit card, but it was to be used only for emergencies and she had to clear that with me first. She actually froze the card - put it in a block of ice in the freezer - to stop herself from using it impulsively. She asked people for gift cards for Christmas and birthday and used those as her "mad money".

    Did this teach her money management? Not really, but it guaranteed that she didn't drain the account or run up a huge credit card deficit during the months my son was deployed.

    Since he's been back (but they are still living in separate areas) he's given her a bit more leeway, and she's overdrawn "her" checking account at least twice that I know of. He'll be out of the Navy soon, so it's going to be interesting to see what happens when they are living day to day together (my son is CHEAP, always has been).

    Anyway - I guess the point of all my rambling is, yes, my daughter in law is also sick. But she realizes her limitations, and she is willing to ask for help. Did I sometimes have to be a little hard nosed with her? Yes, I did. Did she resent me for it? Probably. But it was what they decided, and I held her to that.
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Compassion, I have bipolar and I realize what is going on. Yes, it's bipolar mania. When she is manic (and maybe when she's not) in my opinion she should have no access to money because she can't control her spending. She may steal if she has no money and she is manic. I am not at all convinced that when she is manic it is within her control. I sure did goofy things in a hypomanic state and that wasn't even full mania. You're just so giddy and happy that you have a warped perception of the world. You think you can get away with anything and you don't think about consequences that you WOULD think about in a normal state.

    Having said that, it is up to her to become invested in her recovery, which has to include NO RECREATIONAL DRUG USE. I would not give her money. Nothing. If she has needs, you can buy her what she requires. She can't learn to handle money while she is manic and she can't stop getting manic if she doesn't take her medications and NOT take recreational drugs/drink. She WILL get into legal trouble because the law doesn't say "You can steal if you are manic" but maybe they will mandate that she get help and maybe she will listen one day. ((((Hugs))))
  19. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    MWM is completely right. In a manic stage she wont care but...she still cant be allowed or enabled by you to have access to huge amounts of cash. That is a recipe for disaster. There is a reason I have never applied for credit cards. I know my limitations. I dont think I could stop myself if I was in a hypomanic state and had a credit card and I really dont want that debt on me. I do have a debit card and yes, sometimes I do spend what I shouldnt. I am better with age and try desperately to pay every bill I have at the first of the month then what is left is spending money. If I blow that I have to live with it.
  20. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    My undx'd husband has money management issues, too. Well, more like impulse control issues, but it really affects money because of how he spends without thinking.

    For example, he'll go to the 99 cent store and buy 99 things -- well, maybe not exactly 99, but you get the idea. Without batting an eye, he can drop $100 on things we do not need. He justifies it with the "it was on sale" argument. He's just been laid off his job, and he has declared that because he got a good severence he has no intention of changing his lifestyle simply because he's out of work. So what does he do? He goes out to the video store and buys previously-viewed DVDs for $5 each. A good deal, right? Well sure. But he bought TWENTY. Because they were on sale for a dollar more than they cost to rent.

    I have to walk a fine line with him because he is an adult and I am not his parent. He resents anything he perceives as an attempt to control his spending. Doesn't want to have to ask me for money. Doesn't want to be questioned about his purchases. You get the idea. So I've learned to be diplomatic and non-confrontational about his indiscretions. Sometimes he sees the sense in my points. Sometimes he'll do what he darn well pleases.

    I DO NOT look forward to the arguments I know we will have once he is retired and we are on a fixed income. All I can say is he'd better get a darn good job that pays outrageously well for the next 20 years or he's going to be an unhappy camper when the reality of our golden years hits.

    In the mean time, I'm the one paying the bills and planning for the future. And I just do my best to paint him a very black and white picture about our debt so he gets a taste of reality every so often.

    P.S. That's another reason he knows I really, REALLY frown on him going alone to casinos. That's a trainwreck just waiting to happen.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2009