Thoughts From A Doctor: Does Mental Illness Cause Tax Fraud?

I first came across the story of a 27-year-old Rashia Wilson who received a 21 year prison sentence for tax fraud and thought “that’s a damn shame”. Why? Well as the beginning of the story goes, Rashia constantly posted about her ability to get over on the IRS via Facebook. This was made evident during her recent trial in Tampa as the U. S. attorneys read excerpts from Wilson’s page.

I’m Rashia, the queen of IRS tax fraud

I’m a millionaire for the record, so if U think indicting me will B easy it won’t, I promise you! U need more than black and white to hold me down N that’s to da rat who went N told, as if 1st lady don’t have da TPD under her spell. I run Tampa right now.

The judge over her trial states she stole over $3 million, which is a big part of why she received the harshest penalty yet in the Tampa Bay area for charges relating to stolen identity and refund fraud.

Now I will admit that reading posts like those immediately caused me to make a snap decision. “She’s guilty, and she deserves to serve time for the crime she committed.”  I mean how could someone who’s doing something like that be so brash to go on one of the most public forums in the world and continuously flaunt their criminal activities? Most people would chalk it up to there being a lack of intellect on her part, much like I assumed after reading the beginning of the story. Yet, the more I read the more the entire picture started to come into focus.

A psychologist testified that Rashia Wilson suffers from bipolar disorder first diagnosed at age 14. For those that may not know the disease by that name it’s also sometimes called manic-depressive disorder. A brief explanation of what this entails is as follows:

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that is characterized by extreme changes in mood, from mania to depression. It can lead to risky behavior, damaged relationships and careers, and even suicidal tendencies if it’s not treated.

Most people have an idea of what depression entails so I won’t go into that branch of the disorder here. However, very few people I have talked to have an understanding of what mania means and encompasses. So for the sake of clarity, I found this definition for mania to be simple and explanatory for this post:

Mania is a state of abnormally elevated or irritable mood, arousal, and/or energy levels. Mania symptoms may include excessive happiness, excitement, irritability, restlessness, increased energy, less need for sleep, racing thoughts, high sex drive, and a tendency to make grand and unattainable plans.

The very last part about a tendency to make grand and unattainable plans is why I said the picture came into focus. People who are affected by bipolar disorder who experience mania can have some of the above symptoms, but those that have the grandiose thinking are often those that have issues with various aspects of life, especially dealing with money. These people can have a tendency to show poor judgment, such as impulsively deciding to quit a job. They also can have inflated self-esteem leading to unrealistic beliefs in one’s ability, intelligence, and powers. This grandiose sense can also lead to increased reckless behaviors, such as lavish spending sprees, impulsive sexual indiscretions, abuse of alcohol or drugs, or ill-advised business decisions.

The point I’m trying to get at is that if Rashia Wilson was in a manic phase during her rants on social media, there is some explanation as to why she would continuously rave about being untouchable by law enforcement. Now, I’m not going as far as to say she deserves a pass for what she did. But, I will say that people who are untreated for their bipolar disorder can literally go to the extremes with impulsive behavior and reckless decision-making. I’ve personally had patients come and tell me that they spent all of their savings in one weekend just because they felt like they could, there was no reason not to, and they felt invincible. Yes, invincible. It’s quite a sight to see, and if you know what it looks like you definitely won’t forget it.

It is because of this concept I was reminded that you shouldn’t always judge a book by its cover. As cliché as that saying is, it still holds true in many instances and different facets of health care. Before you look down on someone for their decisions I recommend you get to know the true nature of that person. You may find that  there is more going on with them than meets the eye, and their seemingly ridiculous actions and thoughts originate from something other than a wanting to disregard common conventions.

You can choose to do this or not. In the end you have to make your own decisions and live with them. After all, these are just thoughts from a doctor…

– Supreme Soul

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