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Debt, mental illness, old age, bankruptcy?

Regular Contributor

Debt, mental illness, old age, bankruptcy?

So here I am, 55, just went through 66 days of depression-driven gambling spree costing $47,000.  I counted every penny.  I went through $20,000 in savings and charged $28,000 on 3 credit cards in a span from Halloween through January 4th.  The spree ended with a punch in the face at a convenience store.  I tried to commit suicide but was talked out of it twice.  If it weren't for some holiday music opportunities and members of two religious orders I would not be writing this or anything else.  This is nothing new.  I have been doing this all my life, with years of relative peace here and there.  I had two years of gambling abstinence prior to my "relapse" in October.  My family...sometimes it's better to let them go, but I clung to the past and repeated the same mistakes.  Now I am battered, broken and broke.  But I am alive.  


So here is my current situation.  I am preparing to meet with legal aid provided by the DAV (Disabled American Veterans).  My appointment is this Saturday.  I am a 100% permanently disabled veteran for the mental illness of bipolar disorder.  I also get social security disability.  I tried to work and go to school but the VA said I was unfit in late 2015.  So I quit school and moved to Arizona where my psychotic mother lives.  I tried to be a good son but she is deranged, just like she was when I was a kid.  I inherited her illness but couldn't stand being in her life anymore, so I said goodbye on December 23rd.  On Christmas Eve I planned to overdose on my psychiatric medication but was talked out of it.  I am still in Arizona.  My lease runs out in May.  I hope to return to Oregon where I lived for 20 years but right now nothing is certain.  I have to deal with my debt crisis and my ongoing gambling addiction.  I have already completed one inpatient program and may try another in Ohio for veterans.  For now I have quit again but still dabble in coin buying, another childhood habit.  Today I painfully stopped using my credit cards, a prerequisite for filing bankruptcy.  I have enough cash to file.  My monthly income is $4200 so maybe chapter 13 is possible, but since my credit card debt is so recent it may not be possible-nor would chapter 7.  I filed once before-in 1992. It took two years for the case to be discharged.  I was severely delinquent on over $50,000 of credit card debt in 2010 and settled for pennies on the dollar.  I did not file bankruptcy.


The following outlines my debt.  All accounts are current.  No lates since September 2013:


Bank of America Home Equity Line of Credit

               amount owed: $108,000

               loan repayment goes into effect 4/21/2017 (1000+/monthly payments)

               many late payments-last one (60 day) in September 2013

               primary borrower, stepmother is cosigner and owner of the condo-I am not on the lease

               property is in Massachusetts-I live in Arizona

Kia Motor Finance

               amount owed: $19,000

               monthly payment: $317

Discover Credit Card

               amount owed: $13,000 (4.99% balance transfers)

               monthly payment: $396 minimum

Navy Federal Credit Card

               amount owed: $10,000 (18% cash advances)

               monthly payment: ? (no payment was due in January, estimated $300/month beginning in February)

Citi Diamond Credit Card

               amount owed: $5200 (0% balance transfer)

               monthly payment $100 (estimate)


I have five other credit cards with 0 balances.  I have stopped using them but have not closed them.  I used them this week.  Today is my first day without a charge:


Chase Sapphire Reserve (24.5 limit)

Chase Freedom (2.2.limit)

American Express Premier Rewards Gold (no limit)

American Express Blue Cash Everyday (16.5 limit)

Amazon Store card (1400 limit)


All my cards are new except for the PRG (25 years backdated history) and the Freedom (5 years old).  I have 11 hard pulls on Equifax and nearly that amount on TU and EX.  I aggressively applied for new credit during my spree and was turned down most recently by Capital One (Venture) on January 3rd.  I was also turned down by Penfed in December but picked up the CSR in November and the Citi Diamond and Amazon cards in December.  I received credit line increases from Discover and Navy Federal in November.  I was certifiably insane.  Now I am trying to clean up the mess.  I stopped playing slot machines on January 4th after being assaulted.  I would have continued but just plain ran out of gas. I was only at 35% of my credit limit, so I could have gone on.  $30,000 was my magic number of credit card debt. Along with a near-empty bank account, I just couldn't continue.  I returned to gamblers anonymous and met with my psychiatrist this week along with a social worker. The doctor increased my medication.  


The weather is very nice in the desert.  I had no problem logging thousands of miles to get to smoky casinos.  My health suffered.  I spent almost $1000/month on restaurants and gained 30 pounds after being at a normal weight.  I live alone in a big house in a town full of rich old people.  I am lonely, angry and depressed.  Yet I have more than most, especially veterans.  I really don't deserve what I have and have repeatedly thrown it away.  I wish I could work but I can't.  I dated briefly when I arrived in Arizona but broke off the relationship.  It wasn't right.  I'm in constant pain.  So I gambled my pain away and now am considering bankruptcy.  As it stands right now I would have $300/month after expenses to live on. That won't cut it.


In October  I had $20,000 in savings and no credit card debt..  Now I am broke and $30,000 in additional credit card debt.  I still am making payments on time but in April I will stop paying on the line of credit.  It doesn't matter anymore.  I tried working with my stepmother regarding the loan.  She ignored me.  Now they can take her house away.  I don't care.  


So we will see what the lawyers say on Saturday.  I have a free consultation.  Free.  Only cost $157,000 in debt.


Beware.  Don't let this happen to you.




Message 1 of 4
Frequent Contributor

Re: Debt, mental illness, old age, bankruptcy?



I commend you for telling your story.  Clearly doing so is a move in the correct direction.  You recognize your issues and are trying to address them.  I do hope you are getting professional advice and are partaking in the such programs as Gambler's Anonymous.


In the meantime, I would recommend that you print out your post, delete the references to your credit score and credit reports as such are not material or relevant to addressing the issues and let the attny you are seeing read what you wrote.  It will give the attny a good picture and sometimes the written word is more telling than the spoken.


You are in Arizona.  You are meeting with one attny.  Most of us give free consultations.  Please do not limit your inquiries to just one attny.


Lastly, you may find that posting to the following forum will be beneficial in your efforts to move on. . .


www DOT bkforum DOT com.


Best of luck to you on your road to recovery.



Message 2 of 4
Senior Contributor

Re: Debt, mental illness, old age, bankruptcy?

Thank you for sharing your story.


Do you know your triggers for gambling?  It sounds like you recognize some of them.


It sounds like you can pull yourself out of the slump, based on your income.  Why not try?  Make a plan, move forward.


It sounds like moving away from Arizona would be a healthy move.  It also sounds like you own a house somewhere.  Is it in Oregon where you want to return to?  Your current landlord may be willing to release you from your lease early, if you explain your situation.  But if the landlord says no, then make the move part of your plan to move forward.


Remember to take your meds, even if you feel great.  Smiley Happy  I have seen so many people who have been diagnosed with bi-polar disease/manic depression start to "feel good" so they stop taking their meds and they end up destroying things (people, material things, finances, etc.)  Please stay on your meds.


Find an activity - a healthy one - to do every day.  What about volunteering?  Walking for an hour each day, morning and evening?  Taking a continuing education class?  Before we received my husband's diagnoses, we were in the midsts of signing up from some cooking classes and home maintenance classes.  (Not signing up now becuase we know there will be a lot of medical bills coming in that we will need to pay.  So we are redirecting our energies to much smaller things.)


Keep us updated please.



Message 3 of 4
Regular Contributor

Re: Debt, mental illness, old age, bankruptcy?


I met with the bankruptcy lawyer today. She told me to hold off on filing because the credit card debt is so recent. Most likely September, three months after I return to Oregon. She said to close ALL cards but keep making minimum payments on the three cards with balances. So far I have closed Navy Federal (10k balance with $200 minimum monthly payment) and Citi (5200 balance with $150 minimum payment). I will call Discover customer service on Monday (13k balance with $396 monthly payment) to discuss the situation. I still have 5 cards with 0 balances to close. I will still make my $317 monthly car payments. The lawyer told me to stop the home equity payments. I will write a short letter to my stepmother telling her to make the payments or lose her house. The next payment is due 2/24. All January bills are up to date.

No credit, $30,000 cc debt. $5000 in savings, $4200 monthly income. My credit card obsession is over. Too late, but my old therapist would be happy that I finally learned my lesson. A $50,000 lesson. My GA friend says I need to do the 12 steps. After 23 years since my first meeting, maybe I should give it a try.
Message 4 of 4
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