Author Topic: Mustachian with Mental Illness  (Read 5513 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Mustachian with Mental Illness
« on: August 22, 2014, 04:49:17 AM »
I am 32 years old, married with one kid (8 months) and plans for another.  I have a stressful job making a middle class income.  Forunately/unfortunately, it's the best job in terms of salary/benefits I could reasonably expect in my current situation.  It's enough to pay the bills and save 15-20% of income and when my wife goes back to work, we should be at about 65% savings depending on her new salary. 

I am extremely motivated to get to FI mostly because of a history of Bipolar Manic Depression in my family.  My grandfather had it and lost his job in his 50s, my father had it and lost his job in his 40s, I may have it.  I broke up with my then girlfriend/now wife, quit a very lucrative career at 28, traveled the world, and blew my life savings over the course of 18 months that was followed by a year of soul crushing depression where it was hard to even get off the couch for 5 minutes a day.  Thanks to my very patient and saintly wife, I'm just now getting on solid footing again financially and mentally.  I'm fine now, but I know that my ability to work and provide for my family could be in jeopardy a month, a year, or a decade from now, or perhaps never.  I want to get to the point that my family doesn't depend on my holding down a job as fast as possible. 

Bare-bones FI is 13 years away and ideal FI is 15 years away currently.  I want to make that length of time as short as possible for the benefit of my family. 

I have a few questions:

1.  I have never been diagnosed with anything, so does it make sense to get disability insurance that covers mental illness now, while I am "fine"?  Is that immoral?  A policy would be about 200-300 Euros per month which would simultaneously cover me in case I get sick and push back FI by about 5 years.  It's worth it if I get sick for more than 18 months in the next 15 years, not worth it if I don't.

2.  I want to make it impossible for me to do something irresponsible with money in the future.  Is it possible/does it make sense to give complete financial control to my wife in case I have an episode?

Thanks for your replies and understanding.  Please ask any questions if you need more information.


  • Bristles
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Re: Mustachian with Mental Illness
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2014, 08:04:12 AM »
I can't comment much to give advice on your questions but my husband has bipolar which is well managed with meds. Treatment has changed dramatically since your fathers generation, my husband responds well to lamotrigine.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Mustachian with Mental Illness
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2014, 03:25:23 PM »
This is my first post to the MMM forum, but have avidly read the blog and many forum posts.
Mental illness and FI are tricky topics to merge. They are typically siloed from one another - so I give you lots of props for bringing up this heavy topic on the forum. Please seriously consider going to a psychiatrist for evaluation, as they say, knowledge is power! Why put yourself in a position to worry more than you have to? Aside from your health, bipolar disorder - as you are aware - is potentially detrimental to a financial goal. And yes, at worst, an episode can become a health and financial emergency.

I have bipolar disorder, and am a self-sufficient successful 30 year old in San Francisco. The main reason I'm into FI is to protect myself and my family from when things go wrong, which they are bound to do with BPD. Even with proper treatment, and great meds, there are still days I just can't work (ie can't get out of my bed...:(....or vice versa, am so agitated that I can't focus or sleep or work).

Great work on your FI ! FI means you can make mistakes while sick and have bad periods and still come out on the other side a little less worse for the wear. FI makes it easier to forgive yourself; so often there is such guilt once you are feeling more even, when you see what you've gone through and how it's effected other people and your own life. One of my personal strategies is locking my money away in a 401(k) or something that requires lots of paperwork and taxes to take out - which when I'm manic, makes it much harder to touch.

Yes, having your wife work is helpful. And if her job is with a larger employer, if she has to help you, she can use FMLA to support you. Money wise, consider having one joint account with her, and a much smaller fund in your own name. You want to have some independence, but again, prevention and protection are important. Can't stress that enough.

If it turns out you are diagnosed, I recommend a psychiatric advanced directive o

Thanks for reading my 2 cents.


  • Guest
Re: Mustachian with Mental Illness
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2014, 06:00:01 PM »
I'm bipolar but pretty mild compared to what you describe. The depression phases are tough, but the manic phases are far, far more damaging to financial and marital stability.

I've trained myself to recognize when the switch happens. Failing that, my wife is getting better at recognizing it and curtailing it should I fail.

Realizing you need to make money, but stressful jobs won't help. For me, the more physical labor it gets, the happier and more balanced I am, though of course that doesn't help the FI happen very soon unless you develop a more technical skill like machining, welding, and the like.

Good luck. More than anything, communicate with your wife as much as possible. I'll typically warn her of mood changes before she gets home from work.


  • Stubble
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Re: Mustachian with Mental Illness
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2014, 06:11:10 PM »
Bipolar disorder is very treatable, especially when you have a good support system.

Please, please get an evaluation.   You can check for a support group in your community....the people there might be able to direct you toward a well respected psychiatrist who can assess you and develop a treatment plan.

Although the manic phases of BPD can be scary and expensive, the depressive phase can be lethal.   Please don't delay!


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Mustachian with Mental Illness
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2014, 09:35:53 AM »
Thank you all for the kind words and helpful advice.  Just a clarification:  I am not in America so a lot of the specifics I was given don't apply to me. 

For instance, family medical history wouldn't be allowed to be a factor in deciding insurance for me.  I decided against the disability insurance anyway, so it's a moot point.  FMLA also doesn't apply to me, though we have much more friendly leave policies.

I decided to wait to see a therapist until I start experiencing symptoms.  I don't want to get misdiagnosed, as right now I am "normal" and I'm not sure of how good the English speaking care I could receive here would be. 

I am still planning on transferring control of the money to my wife.  I sleep more soundly knowing that fact.  The chances of her leaving me penniless are essentially nonexistent, and if she were to leave me and take everything, I presume it would be motivated by her doing what is best for our child, which is what I would want anyway. 


  • Guest
Re: Mustachian with Mental Illness
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2014, 10:55:29 AM »
I would seriously reconsider the disability insurance.  In my opinion, there is nothing immoral about getting insurance without disclosing a undocumented health problem. It's the same as buying an annuity when you know you go to the gym regularly and all your relatives lived to 106, or buying life insurance when you are into adrenaline sports. 

edited: I just looked closer at your numbers, and disability insurance is crazy expensive for you.  I'm not sure what I wrote here applies in that case...
« Last Edit: September 14, 2014, 11:47:17 AM by highcountry »


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Mustachian with Mental Illness
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2014, 03:29:17 PM »
I think you need to get a professional diagnosis. I could be wrong but I think most bipolar shows up in the late teens and early 20s. Also a family history doesn't mean that you will get it, my grandfather likely had bipolar, and my father does but I don't. That doesn't mean that I've never done anything wild though!

I think you would feel better if you knew for sure, and aside from medication, one part of living with bipolar is learning to manage your moods and symptoms which you'd need to learn.

Edit: I should add that treatments now mean that your life, assuming you do have bipolar, need not mirror your father's or grandfather's. You can have a completely normal life.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2014, 03:34:34 PM by Tai »


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Mustachian with Mental Illness
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2014, 03:42:46 PM »
I think it couldn't hurt you to go ahead and get disability insurance now.  The younger you get it, the more likely you are to pay less, and I agree that it's fine not to mention that this problem runs in your family.  However, if you wait and you are diagnosed, your hands will be tied -- forever.

While I have little knowledge about this topic personally, I'd think it couldn't hurt you to maintain a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and exercise.  Those "clean living" type things seem to make EVERYTHING better. 


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Mustachian with Mental Illness
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2014, 05:15:30 PM »
In the US, it looks like ACA covers mental health issues.

I don't think there is anything wrong with getting insurance to cover future conditions.

I think one of the big advantages of FI is one can avoid the stress of a regular job and focus more time on improving one's mental and physical health. Spending eight hours a day at a desk isn't healthy for years at a time.

As far as keeping savings safe from future mistakes, I think keeping a separate investing account that one doesn't touch for spending is an added measure of safety. Often retirement accounts require extra paperwork to withdraw.
Also, one has to forgive themselves for mistakes.