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How I Beat My Shopping Addiction

by Lily Cowper November 23, 2021
How I Beat My Shopping Addiction

My story of hitting rock bottom and making it out on top.

Girls Who Like Money is a column written to help you feel less bad about your money habits, plus some advice on how to finance your expensive taste.

Let’s talk about depression. When people think of an extreme case, they automatically think of suicide, but the extremities of your symptoms can manifest in every area of your life. Think finances: Who’s paying the bills when you live alone and sleep for 16 hours a day?

Depression is something every person can be afflicted by. Even if you aren’t diagnosed, it’s not an overreaction to say, “I’m feeling depressed today.” Of course, it affects everyone differently. As a person with chronic depression, it makes me feel like life is hard. In truth, my life is easy. For me, it just takes a little more effort.

The difference between myself today and myself two years ago is that I now make a continued effort to stay out of depression. I closely monitor my actions, my reactions, and my mood. If I feel like I might be getting into a depression, I muster up all my strength to crawl out of it. Not saying it always works. But it’s better than what I did before.

Two years ago, if I felt myself getting depressed, I would relish in it. Actually, I wouldn’t “feel” myself getting depressed at all. I would ignore it. I would skip class, not turn in assignments, and show up late to work. When I lost my job, I had so little confidence that I couldn’t find a new one. I almost got kicked out of school. I could barely pay rent, never remembered to pay bills, ignored calls from collection agencies… That year I paid my tuition six months late.

On the outside, I appeared fine. I would joke and hang out with my friends, go out every night of the week, and consistently treat myself to whatever I wanted. 

It’s called instant gratification. It’s when a person ignores the reason why they feel bad, and just solves it right away with something really cool. This is the root of all addiction. Only problem is, it wears off after about 30 minutes. For me, that was shopping. One thing that’s great about Concordia is that a new pair of shoes is less than a minute’s walk away. Great for me, anyway.

At that time, after class, I would make myself feel better for showing up to the lecture 45 minutes late by treating myself to something nice.

It started out innocently enough. I just needed a new pair of mittens, since they keep my fingers warmer than gloves. $12. No big deal.

Later that week, it got colder. I needed a new coat, as mine was not quite warm or chic enough. And a scarf. And, ooh, this cute hat! $65. It’s okay, only a few dollars more than my wifi bill.

Next week, I decided I didn’t have any pants to wear (meaning I didn’t have enough so that I only had to do laundry every three weeks instead of two). So I bought a few new pairs of pants. While in the store I realized I was simply out of cute shirts, so I bought a few of those as well. $200, gone. Woah, half a month’s rent… But it’s okay, I’ll get a new job soon. (I didn’t.)

After pulling one too many times from my tuition-only savings account, I started not having enough money for rent. I was now spending up to $600 in one shopping trip, about once a month, wondering why I couldn’t pay for anything else. I still had no job, and no awareness that I was depressed. After ignoring yet another late rent payment, I decided my only option was to never enter a store again. Luckily, Canadian Amazon sucks.

I recovered soon enough. The next year, I quit smoking cold turkey. Soon after, I met my boyfriend of two years. If anything, what a relationship does is make you really see yourself. I started talking to a therapist and realized I was depressed.

Therapy taught me that I am the only one able to help myself. I speak to myself much more kindly now. I forgive myself for not doing the dishes for two days straight, and I get up and do them. I force myself to pay rent and to turn in my assignments on time, even when I suddenly have the urge to drop out or move across the country. I have not one job, but three. I signed up for auto-pay. I use a planner. I have money saved for the first time in five years. Everyday depression is there, but now I’m strong enough to fight it.

 

Feature graphic by Lily Cowper

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