Shopping Habits during Mania/Hypomania
January 13, 2019 1:15 PM   Subscribe

What are your shopping habits like during mania or hypomania if you have Bipolar 1 or 2? What is the sensation or rationale that you experience when it comes to making a purchase? Do you have the same feelings when you are buying something that is essentially pragmatic but expensive vs something that is out of the realms of realistic by a lot? NOTE: I am only looking for answers about shopping, not gambling or any other behaviors present during a manic episode.
posted by Hermione Granger to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Bipolar NOS here - I have symptoms of all the bipolar and mood disorders because I'm an overachiever like that.

When shopping during mania or hypomania, I shop with a list. A very strict, very detailed list. (I am shopping for a 2x dark blue short sleeved v-neck t-shirt. No other colors, sleeve lengths, collars, or anything else allowed.)

I do this because my brain insists that I must buy ALL THE THINGS, regardless of whether I actually want, need, can afford, or would use them or not. It absolutely does not matter if the item for which I'm shopping is a dire need (toilet paper), a "would be nice" need (a new shirt), a realistic luxury (a new book by my favorite author), or an "are you freaking kidding me" unrealistic whatever (newest smartphone, fastest computer, complicated shelving and storage system that wouldn't even fit in my room in the first place, etc.)

If I'm not in a manic or hypomanic phase, I can shop like a neurotypical person. I need two new shirts, some toilet paper, and the new J.D. Robb book. Let's go. Were i to try that in the m/hm realm of braining, I'd come home with 11 new shirts, some of which only kinda fit, some of which are hideous, and maybe one of which I'd really want, three different brands of toilet paper with some vague notion of butt-testing to determine which one my particular butt likes best, and 9 J.D. Robb novels because there are some I'm missing but I don't remember which ones and haven't gotten around to putting them on a list somewhere I can access while I'm shopping.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 1:24 PM on January 13, 2019 [9 favorites]

My partner (BP2, hypomanic shopping behavior definitely a symptom) describes that sort of shopping as one where he is driven to find the absolutely perfect thing that will encapsulate some grandiose vision or feeling he’s chasing, or impress people in some way.

An example we were just reminiscing about is when he used to throw elaborate theme parties, and ended up spending over $2,000 on one particular nuclear winter themed party. This came about partly because he decided he needed model nuclear reactors, and then nothing he could find or make fit the image in his head, and by then he firmly believed the party was not worth having at all if he couldn’t achieve this vision, so he went and found and commissioned an artist to design and build exactly the nuclear reactors that he had in mind. Which was not cheap.

In a less hypomanic mood, he’s much better able to buy the good-enough option, or decide he doesn’t actually need the thing at all. When hypomanic, it’s like the circuits that make those sorts of decisions just turn off.
posted by Stacey at 2:53 PM on January 13, 2019 [8 favorites]

It’s them but without a frontal lobe. My dad who is a clean freak used to buy the best newest vacuum. He was into being an entrepreneur so he’d buy ads and rent a place to start a new business. Etc.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 3:20 PM on January 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Bipolar 2. I never have that much money to burn or credit cards but I can be more impulsive when hypomanic. Part of it is that when my short term memory is gone, I forget what I’ve spent. Last time I was hypomanic I briefly caught myself thinking I didn’t need money because things would work out without it. I realized that was silly but it seemed true for a moment.
posted by mermaidcafe at 6:47 PM on January 13, 2019 [3 favorites]

Bipolar II

It's mostly just an "oo, shiny--I want that!" feeling with no attachment to whether I need or can afford it. Also, I might suddenly take an interest in a hobby or craft and feel like. I need to buy all the best stuff.

I learned simply not to buy anything while manic. My partner can buy the necessary things. I do let myself go. online and put things in my cart, telling myself that I can look back at it when I'm not manic.
posted by mkuhnell at 6:54 PM on January 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Kind of like money had no value after the first big purchase. I used to joke that once the purse strings were loosened, it didn't matter anymore. So maybe I'd get the thing I'd wanted for ages but I'd also buy a bike and book a holiday and buy a stair master. After the first purchase, nothing counted.

Disclaimer - didn't know this was hypomania at the time. I really wish I had since I've spent most of my life paying down huge credit card balances only to spend it all back up again. Lots of oh fuck' moments during diagnosis (BP2).
posted by kitten magic at 11:03 PM on January 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Bipolar II. I tend to go on my Amazon wish list and buy a bunch of stuff that I'd previously saved, or put in the cart and not bought. Or the same with my Etsy favorites.

I do have the same feelings with whatever I'm buying, whether it's something small that I need or something big I want. It feels like a rush. I think part of that is that I don't feel guilty about it, whereas when not manic/hypomanic I sweat over any purchase at all. The less money I have in my bank account the more of a rush.

I will say that I have never really gotten myself in trouble over it, maybe because I am treatment compliant and have lived with this for 20+ years. My credit is good and I don't have much of a revolving credit debt, and I have savings. Probably not as much as I would without the frivolous spending, though! I did buy my (used) car kind of hastily and I regret that I didn't take more time and study more and get a better deal, but I did OK with it and I'll be able to pay for it.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:41 AM on January 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

Stephen Fry talks about this in his film The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive (about 45 minutes into part two).
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:53 AM on January 14, 2019

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