I’ve always struggled with money and have never been able to stop my compulsive spending when I’m manic. It started when I was old enough to get my own credit card at 18. Lenders were throwing credit in my face.

My bipolar caused me to overspend for years

Before my bipolar diagnosis I struggled with anxiety. It felt like buying clothes and makeup filled a void. Looking back I was obviously manic. It took me 18 years to get a proper diagnosis of bipolar. The stress caused in those 18 years was mostly from my spending. I just couldn’t manage my money. I’d go through my monthly salary in a few days. It was a vicious circle. 

In 2016 I finally got a diagnosis. It helped a lot to know that my out-of-control spending was down to my condition. My husband watches my spending now but it’s still not easy.

A few months ago I received a debt collection letter from an old lender I’d taken out a credit card with. They were demanding £1200. I was distraught. Luckily my husband took over and told me about a scheme called Breathing Space. Because of my bipolar diagnosis, I was eligible for their ‘mental health crisis’ scheme.

I highly recommend asking a debt charity for help

I called a debt advice provider and they were amazing. I had to provide them with all the information and send in letters from my GP and psychiatrist to confirm my diagnosis of bipolar. Immediately the letters from the debt collection company stopped and the interest was frozen. Eventually the charity helped me to get the credit card debt written off and I had a promise that the company would take no further action.  

Obviously it varies how each individual lender deals with this situation. But if you have a diagnosis of bipolar at the very least the Breathing Space scheme will protect you and stop the debt collection company from contacting you for 30 days. This gives you time to negotiate a repayment plan, or in the right circumstances, to get the debt written off. 

I know how low struggling with debt can make you feel. For anyone who’s struggling, I highly recommend asking a debt charity for help as soon as you can.

A partnership to help you manage your money 

Bipolar UK is working with PayPlan to help their advisors understand the problems people with bipolar often face and to provide a faster referral process for our bipolar community. They are a free debt advice provider and offer expert advice around debt management to help you make a plan to get your debts and payments under control. If you would like to speak with one of their advisors, email [email protected] or click here.