Thursday, April 11, 2013

Impulse Buying While Depressed

Have you ever bought anything on impulse while you were depressed? I have. In fact it seems as my mood goes down excess crap goes up. I find there is a sudden rush as the transaction completes, an injection of relief from the sinking sadness as I open the package, hope that beams from the prospect of a fresh purchase. But oh, how quickly that euphoria fades. I find myself with shelves of unread art books and classics I’ve always wanted to read and felt that I could somehow assimilate into myself through touch and ownership. I have a sushi making kit I never use and boxes of craft odds and ends, stacks of unplayed games, and reams of forgotten sheet music I swore to myself I would learn; and I always have every intention of keeping that promise. When you’re down and looking for a ladder to pull yourself back up to feeling okay again, you’ll promise anything if you can just find that first rung and start the climb. Somehow I never quite make it to the top. I’ve heard stories of people who have made it, burnt themselves out by knitting a dozen Afghans or baked enough croissants to feed a Boy Scout troop, but I never get there. I always make it past the first step, the “beginner” phase before the drive peters out and I’m back where I began at the bottom of the ladder. Such is my life. I can talk about everything from how to build Tryndamere in League of Legends to the importance of sanding every part of a ukulele body except where the neck will be glued at the top. But I can’t stop the cycle. It’s why this blog seems to get going in spurts before falling dormant again until the next creative explosion.

I was surprised to learn that my behavior could be described as self-medicating and I’m not the only one who does it. Wikipedia describes this as: “a human behavior in which an individual uses unprescribed drugs to treat untreated and often undiagnosed medical ailments.”  Impulse buying can become an addiction and I’m never truly proud of myself when it’s all said and done. I think about how much I could have had saved if I could have controlled myself a little better, and if you can’t do something without regretting yet find yourself continuing to do it it’s never a good sign. Self-medication doesn’t have to be limited to drug use; it could be any negative behavior you use to find relief. Wikipedia goes on to say: “The psychology of such behavior within the specific context of using recreational drugs, psychoactive drugs, alcohol, and other self-soothing forms of behavior to alleviate symptoms of mental distress, stress and anxiety. including mental illnesses and/or psychological trauma, is particularly unique and can serve as a serious detriment to physical and mental health if motivated by addictive mechanisms.” And then sums up with: “Self-medication is often seen as gaining personal independence from established medicine.” Lol.

So how does someone like me get better? It’s not as easy as my father would say, “just stop doing it. You know you’re doing it so stop.” If I could do than it wouldn’t be a problem. Some people have suggested hiding your credit card and only working with cash but in this day and age where websites save your payment information and plastic prevents you from losing loads of dosh or having it stolen from your wallet that’s not really an option. You could always try REAL medication but the thought of that is usually more depressing than where you are currently at. What I have found to be a reasonable solution is to make a list of things you want, call it your wish list, Santa Letter, whatever. Put on this list a bunch of things you wish you had, materials for hobbies you wish you could learn or a movie you wish you had seen or a book you’ve always wanted to read, maybe put ‘lessons’ on there instead of material goods so you can actually get some more motivation to complete your goal. In fact, if you’re going to go with lessons or a hobby another good way to stick to it is to tell someone you trust to ride your ass till it’s done. Guilt trips are marvelous. But anyway, when you feel yourself sinking and you need to scratch that itch, go to your wish list. Always put small things on this list, budget items you know you want and you know you can get that release from acquiring; think thrift stores and eBay. That way you can get your fix and still have enough cash left over to pay the light note. No, it’s not a perfect solution but there seldom is in life and all its whimsical little struggles.

I’m going to try to keep the blog going this time, an article a week is my goal with a little bit of comic mischief in the mix. Don’t expect Penny Arcade quality, I’m working with what I got over here. As for the rest of the crew: Darris is dealing with possible homelessness so he’s a bit tied up at the moment trying to save up or move, Ryan is split between saying he’s going to study for his A+ certification and buying a million video games he’ll never play (irony), saying Dillon will commit to anything is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, and Auverin is so bogged down with college work it’s a wonder the pressure hasn’t turned her into a tiny diamond Auvey. I’m in a perpetual rift caused by my love of music, art, and writing with the bane of video games always snapping the life away from me with its instant gratification and sweet graphics. But I’m gonna try. I know it seems like I’m not always successful, but I’m still gonna try.