There’s a small IKEA storage container that sits on the bottom shelf of the freezer in my fridge.
That container holds six dead relics from an 18-year chapter of my life that came to an end on Monday 14 February 2011.
It was about a week after Valentine’s Day last year when I filled the container and put it in my freezer.
Soon after that when I saw my psychiatrist again, I told him about the container and he suggested that I get rid of those relics.
At first, I refused and explained that seeing that container every time I went into my freezer was important to me, because it was a daily reminder to never again do what I had done so disastrously for most of my adult life.
My psychiatrist acknowledged that, but advised that it would be better to just get rid of those relics to truly show to myself that I was moving on with a new phase in my life.
I saw his point and gave it some thought, but ultimately I decided to keep those relics in my freezer.
Several times a day I go into my freezer because I like having ice-filled drinks. Sometimes I don’t notice the container, but other times I do and it always serves its purpose.
From 1993 to Valentine’s Day 2011, I was a compulsive debtor, spender and under-earner who ultimately ran up a six-figure debt from abusing and misusing the six inactive credit cards that are now in my freezer.
Thanks to that foolishness, ignorance, recklessness and stupidity, by September 2010 I was facing final disaster.
For the rest of the year, I took several steps to finally face up to my mistakes – but not only was it too little and too late, I also became overwhelmed with fear. I stopped answering my ‘phone and even checking my voicemails; I stayed away from my post-office box for almost a month; and every day I wondered what the fucking hell was going to happen to my life.
A few days before Christmas 2010, I unexpectedly found the answer.
A few weeks later into the new year of 2011, I did what I had to do with the assistance of some very helpful and kind people.
And on Monday 14 February 2011, two weeks after I had submitted my paperwork, the Australian Government officially declared that I was a voluntary bankrupt…
…although I didn’t find out about this until a week later, when I was advised over the ‘phone by the accounting firm that had kindly taken on my case. They had also only found out that same day.
I can’t remember whether it was me or the caller who made a wisecrack about the slow-moving wheels of government bureaucracy, and we both had a little laugh.
As I mentioned in my previous post, for a long time I was very reluctant to mention my bankruptcy here at Black and Blue Man. One reason was painful memories; another was shame; and another reason was that I thought it was something as big as my depression and OCD that required a separate blog of its own.
A few times, I almost began that separate blog I was going to call Poor Man, Rich Man…
…but recently, I decided to grit my teeth and finally start writing about my bankruptcy here.
After all, it’s much less hassle maintaining one blog rather than two.
So why am I writing about my bankruptcy, and what’s the meaning of Poor Man, Rich Man?
Firstly, as I’ve found with blogging about my depression and OCD, it’s a way of sharing my experiences with others so that we can help and learn from each other. As well, writing down my experiences has been very therapeutic and thought-provoking.
Secondly, ‘Poor Man’ describes who I was up to until Valentine’s Day 2011 – someone very poor in financial thinking who came very close to ruining their life because they should have known and done better years ago.
As for ‘Rich Man’, that describes what life has been like since Valentine’s Day 2011, but not because I have more money in my life.
Thanks to the Australian Government, I have been given a second chance to get my financial shit together and truly appreciate the value of money.
And despite a few hiccups along the way like dumbly leaving myself in the lurch during ‘The Longest Day’, what I have been learning and applying has made the past 12 months one of the most remarkable years of my life thus far.
Poor Man, Rich Man posts will appear here on an irregular basis, while depression and OCD will continue to be the main focus of Black and Blue Man.
Is my bankruptcy connected to my mental health problems? Yes and no, as I will explain in future posts.
Until next time, stay well and take care 🙂