I'm Lil and I'm a shopaholic. Not one of the cute and stylish shopaholics like you see in the movies. It's rare to find me with anything designer, and being a 250 pound-plus woman means that teetering high heel shoes are not something I would ever buy. But nonetheless, one of my main binge impulses is to overspend. I may never have owned a pair of Jimmy Choos but I have in the past owned 7 pairs of Crocs in one season. In every colour and style imaginable. Now, even I know there are very limited occasions when it's appropriate to wear Crocs...
One of the difficulties I've had in getting an official diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder is what I perceive to be the "inanity" of my impulses. Rather than starve or binge/purge, I like to eat. Too much. Too often. With detrimental effect on my health. Rather than sleep with a different man each night, I like to go shopping. Too much, Too often. With detrimental effect on my credit rating. Rather than cut myself, I like to pluck my eyebrows. Too much. Too often. With detrimental effect on my facial expressions LOL. I know intellectually that having the impulse control problem is the illness, not WHAT I do with the impulse. I'm not "less" BPD because I abuse carbs instead of cocaine. It's the fact that I use or abuse anything in an attempt to regulate my emotions or subvert unpleasant feelings.
Sometimes I think my personal choices make it hard to differentiate between "benign" behaviours and "dangerous" behaviours - after all, everybody has to buy things and everybody needs to eat food. But I've always known that what a non-BPD considered shopping or eating did not compare to the sheer volume and velocity of my consumption of both. The food thing is for another day, another post (and probably my other blog). But in the last few days I've found the spending demon to be rearing its ugly head again, and hopefully it will help me to blog it out! Although I've been pretty much housebound, since Wednesday I've managed to spend $200 or thereabouts - Ebay has a LOT to answer for. CDs, DVDs, clothes, shoes, electrical goods, books, books, books...these are my passions and Ebay means I don't even have to shower or dress or leave the house.
My Ebay addiction started in 2003 when I was severely agoraphobic and could barely leave the house. I was out of work for 18 months, supported by Mr Ex, and as a comfort I started obsessively collecting memorabilia from one of my favourite TV shows. These purchases (sometimes $300 a week on crazy things like magazine clippings, yoyos, photos, props from the show) were in addition to my existing credit card and store card debt, and in conjunction with me and Mr Ex having spent $30,000 profit we made selling our house (mostly on an overseas trip). Stupid, reckless decisions - I take the blame entirely as Mr Ex was floundering, dealing with an increasingly mental wife whose only joy was in buying junk and eating (hence the weight gain of 60 pounds during this time).
Eventually I started on Zoloft, had some great counselling and EFT and returned to work. Unfortunately, I worked in Australia's most fabulous department store so the shopping was not curtailed - my next obsession was Barbies (I worked in the toy section), but I also bought a lot of linen, clothing, perfume, jewellery, CDs, and yep books. I spent almost all of what I earned, and as well had spare time to browse other stores in the mall and spent a huge amount of money on junkfood ($30-40 some days). Mr Ex and I had to get a consolidation loan to close out all our store cards and credit cards (I think I maxed out at 6, Mr Ex had a few of his own - and this while we were both barely earning minimum wage). It didn't help, as soon as we had them paid out by the loan we put the limits up again and went on three interstate trips we couldn't afford. You see, it's not just buying things, with me it's general misuse of money. I feel joyous and happy and briefly "okay" when I'm spending money, and holidays are even better because they fill the "obsession" gap as well - planning them becomes my focus and I obsessively research and plan every detail.
Fast forward to now, and my credit rating is so bad I have been knocked back for even the smallest of credit card limits. I can't qualify for a new mobile phone contract unless I switch to prepaid. I have to have one of those VISA Debit cards, which is attached to my savings account - so if there's no money, there's no buying. It's a smart idea, and one that is just what I deserve after the binges I've had, but crikey it's embarrassing. Other people my age have assets (cars, houses, bikes, stereos, tvs), whereas I have a PC that I rent and people's secondhand electronic castoffs. I don't have the excuse of alcohol or drugs having consumed all my money. I don't have kids I'm putting through private school. I don't have ANYTHING to show for all those thousands and thousands of dollars I spent (and some I stole to spend, but that's not for discussion here). The food went to my hips, and then took $18,000 of my superannuation (retirement fund) in weight loss surgery to shed. The books have been read and reread (and sometimes exchanged for others), the TV show memorabilia is hidden in boxes (yes, plural) in my closet so I don't have to face the shame. These days, after binges I re-sell what I can on Ebay. And if I feel I can't distract myself from shopping/spending binges I try and go to thrift stores and dollar stores.
So there you have it. My name is Lil and I just LOVE to shop, in person or online. I love the rush, I crave the feelings of bags heavy in my hands, I love the smell of new stuff. I love the potential that each new "thing" has for developing my latest image or obsession. Combined with a new "hyperattachment"/crush, and the desire to be like them, or have them love me, shopping is the ultimate high. But, like all impulses, the rush is fleeting and afterwards I'm left with the horrible darkness again, except with the added feelings of guilt, fear (of being bankrupt, creditors, etc) and the realisation that I will never wear or use a large percentage of what I've bought. So this is why I know that ordering a few things on Ebay is not just that. I have to be vigilant, and watch out for warning signs - especially when I can recognise my mood is low and my stressors are high. Which is now.