Our stories

The holes in my pockets

In this piece, Camille reflects on some of the out there things she has bought while manic, as well as how damaging elevation can be to the finances.

About twelve years ago, I was standing in a general store in Hay, in New South Wales’s Riverina region, cradling a plaster of Paris budgerigar, which was painted in a garish yellow and green. It reminded me of the dearly departed Ruffles, my old pet who had lived an inordinately long life for a little bird, seeing me through all the way from childhood to adolescence.

Ordinarily, unless buying an ironic gift for a friend, I would pass over such a cheap, tacky piece of kitsch, but that day, I was sky high elevated and had to have it. I had been spending up a storm in the tiny town, buying books from the newsagent, a bright pink t-shirt with Betty Page on it from the tattoo shop, and even a broken watch with a yellow face from the junk shop.

Something else that happens to me spending-wise when I’m elevated is the desire to spend up big on gambling, lotto in particular. I become convinced that I’m going to win, and buy entries in all of the games – Set for Life, Powerball, Oz Lotto, you name it. Scratchies also provide a particular thrill of instant gratification. I’m especially drawn to them because of all the pictures and themes. “Go Bananas” was a recent favourite.

I’ve even had elevated visions where money is involved, where I felt like my dead uncle was communicating with me and telling me to buy his old house, along with the block of land next to my grandparents’ house in Vincentia.

That time in Hay, I went to a tiny travel agency and bought a ticket to the UK. I just had a hankering for the Mother Country and felt like seeing Stonehenge! I had no other money saved up for this proposed trip, and nowhere to stay. Unfortunately I used Mum’s credit card as I was an additional cardholder on her card. I think Mum tried to get the money back for the trip, but I can’t remember if she did or not.

Overall, I’m a generous person. I like to buy well-chosen gifts for friends and family, but when I’m elevated I go completely overboard. Concert tickets, gemstones with special significance and tonnes of baby clothes are some of the things that I have bought. While elevated, my mantra is pretty much, “money’s only energy man”… it gets stored up and then we expend it and hopefully make more. If I was to guesstimate how much I’ve spent during elevations over the years, probably $15 000 would be a conservative estimate. I’ve had to sell shares prematurely as a result of my spending, and take out a loan from the Bank of Mum and the Bank of Dad to pay my rent.

It could be much worse though. I’ve heard of people who have lost their house.

There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from elevated spending. Once I handed over financial autonomy to Mum, and she kept my ATM card. But this doesn’t always work, as only I know my online banking passwords.  And handing over one card has not stopped me from ordering another ATM card against her knowledge.  In one elevation, I asked my parents to give me only $20 cash a day, so that I could still spend but not too much. Mum always says that preventing access to my money is one of the hardest things to manage, as the banks will only co-operate with the account holder.

A friend asked me recently what I do with the stuff I’ve bought, and if I mourn the lost money. In previous elevations, I’ve mostly given the stuff away to friends or op shops or just put it straight in the bin. However, in the most recent elevation, during May and June this year, I spent most of my money on events and experiences and to be honest, I have zero regrets about any of that money. The plays, talks and concerts were a joy and a wonderful escape from my day job.

However, I also spent a lot of money on raffle entries and gambling, and while I’m still convinced that my ship will come in gambling wise, I do mourn the loss of that money. In two months, I spent all of my savings bar the small amount of shares that I have. That is a sobering thought. It’s going to take at least twelve months until my bank balance is looking healthy again, and maybe two years until I can travel.

Finally, as with smoking and eating junk, I ask the question of why? Why would someone who is usually frugal, on a low income and lives within her means suddenly switch to being a spendthrift? The answer is that when I am elevated my behaviour is the exact opposite of what I am usually like! So…maybe I should spend a bit more when I am not elevated?!