I am bipolar and have PTSD social security disability. I signed up for several credit cards to get mileage to visit our 6 children, needless to say, I got my husband and myself in 30,000 dollars debt in 6 months. I am 60 years old and my husband is 65 years old.
I need help, to pay down our debt or get forgiven.
What you are facing is a difficult situation with ultimately an obvious solution worth exploring.
Bipolar disorder and PTSD can lead to moments in our lives where we lose the ability to make logical and rational decisions that aren’t influenced by emotional overdrive.
I’m not saying this is what happened in your situation but when you bounce between deep depression and happy invincibility it would be easy to go from hopelessness to making excuses to get the credit that helps achieve some goal that you feel will be awesome, like visiting the kids.
The cause of bipolar disorder is complex and can be different in each person. Additional underlying issues like PTSD can make your particular manifestations of your mood disorders to be unique just to you.
And let’s not forget that the way you are feeling now is best described as Financial PTSD. That’s where the trauma of the debt leaves you paralyzed in fear, driving you deeper into hopelessness and depression.
Debt Isn’t the Real Problem
There are a lot of things I can share to help give you an explanation of how we wound up here but let’s focus on the debt and let your doctors focus on getting you on the right medications and therapy to treat your bipolar disorder and PTSD.
You see the debt is just the symptom of the underlying issues that led to your spending. It’s what is left over when the spending is done. Mental health issues drove your spending, the debt is the symptom, not the problem.
So here is the dilemma that we face. You can feel as guilty as you want but the reality is underlying mental health issues drifted you into rationalizing financial decisions that creditors allowed.
I’m not casting blame here. Who would you blame? If someone is going to blame you, the person trying to find your way through a mental disorder, then we should blame the creditors for giving easy access to credit for someone in a manic state.
The exercise in assigning blame is pointless. The exercise in understanding why this happened is invaluable.
No matter what, we still have the debt to deal with, so let’s pivot to that.
I have no idea what your retirement savings look like but thinking about retirement should be a priority at your age. You will be entering a period of time where you will not be able to earn money and will have to live off of whatever you have saved. Oh, and what limited amount Social Security may provide.
Focusing future income to solve a past problem while ignoring your looming retirement threat would be irresponsible.
So where do we go from here? We can’t turn back the clock to the day before you started to apply for credit in your mood influenced moments. And forcing you to deal with the past by sacrificing your financial future seems illogical and makes no mathematical sense.
And tossing logic back into this the appropriate thing to do would be to tackle the debt in the least expensive and fastest way possible to get you back to some baseline. But this is a two-stage attack. We need to go after the debt but it will not be successful without a purposeful and concentrated focus on treatment and care for your bipolar disorder and PTSD.
Unless we factor in the need for a concentrated effort to help you find a good place mentally, this situation has a good chance of happening again.
So I’m Suggesting This
You should first see your mental health doctor first and get back on a great treatment plan to deal with your mental health struggles. That absolutely must come first.
Second, I would strongly suggest you find a good local bankruptcy attorney and have a free discussion about what bankruptcy would mean for you. Bankruptcy is the fastest way to get a fresh start for the least amount of money.
It might be possible that these new credit cards were opened in your name only, and if that’s the case maybe you alone need to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
So, there is a solution that makes sense here. It is not hopeless. You can tackle this situation and more importantly, it will set you up to do better in the future.
Please comment below and let me know what you decide to do.