2016: The Year of Taking Control

On my blog at Echo’s Gardens, you may have been reading about 2015 – The Year of Renovation and Renewal. I obtained a home equity line of credit and set out to renovate my gardens and improve my home. I made a lot of mistakes but had a lot of successes as well.

I Need to Take Control!

One thing the mistakes – and other events – taught me is that I need to take control of many aspects of my life. For example, in spite of being determined not to buy new plants until I had corrected the problems in the existing gardens surrounding my house, I purchased at least 200 – most of which were never planted, and now sit in my garage waiting for spring.

I Need to Control Spending

A far worse problem is that one key to making the whole project work was to pay back as much of the principal as possible on the home equity line over the winter. Instead, I have continued to spend, often impulsively, and my credit card bill continues to be in the thousands of dollars each month. I’m furious with myself – and yet I can’t stop. I want this. I need that. Oh, that would be SO helpful to have. And believe it or not, I have about 8 Amazon wish lists where I save items I want but am not ready to buy for one reason or another.

It’s like a drug.

I have bipolar disorder, and heedless spending is a symptom generally associated with mania (which I’ve never experienced) and hypomania, the two “up” phases of the illness. Continue reading

Why Is Opening Mail Such a Problem?

Past Due StampFor most of my adult life I was diligent about opening mail and dealing with it. Before online banking existed, I paid bills every Saturday, and later, used my financial software to have the bank send out checks. I was responsible.

Then it all went to hell.

For the last several years the avoidance of opening mail and dealing with it after it was opened (two separate tasks) has been a serious problem. For the first time in my life I was paying bills late. That’s when I set up all the automatic payments, which took care of some of the problems.

But I was still routinely late paying medical bills and others that couldn’t be paid automatically. I had several severe health problems as well, so there were a lot of medical bills. Continue reading

Why I Can’t Take Chantix to Quit Smoking

Several of my doctors are really pushing me to quit smoking. I know – intellectually – that I do need to quit. The problem is, in 1999 I quit for three years and never got to the point where I was comfortable. I wanted to smoke every single day of those three years. Finally I couldn’t stand it any more and started up again.

This dramatic failure – and the fact that I really enjoy smoking – are two huge factors playing against my even making another attempt.

Still, I was willing to try bupropion (generic version of the antidepressant Wellbutrin and the anti-smoking aid Zyban). This was a major disaster.

I do have e-cigarettes, but they aren’t satisfying (maybe I bought the wrong brand?). Then they died, I couldn’t find the charger, and it took weeks for the company to send me a new one (promised in 3 days). That kind of killed my interest in using them.

My ashtray at the end of the day

My ashtray at the end of the day

But I smoke a lot: at least 2 packs a day. I have developed wheezing when I lie down. I really don’t want COPD, and I was told that smoking could have contributed to the attack of ischemic colitis I had a few years back (which could have been fatal, though I didn’t know it at the time).

There’s one more drug that has a very good record in helping people quit smoking: Chantix. But my doctors refuse to prescribe it because of my bipolar II disorder, and I agree with them. My current meds’ control over my BP and anxiety is precarious enough without adding a drug known to cause problems to people with mental illnesses. Continue reading