I have a problem: I can’t stop spending money.
It started years ago. Whenever I felt low or was having a particularly tough time with my ME, I’d treat myself to something cheap but cute to cheer me up — and it worked, for a while, so I kept doing it.
Unfortunately, my stress levels — and, consequently, my ME, depression, and anxiety — have all shot through the roof in the past two years. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t go to bed feeling like I’d had a really shitty day. Adopting KitKat has definitely helped in a lot of ways, and the Sertraline mood-lifter prescribed by my GP has helped in others, but I’m still struggling on a daily basis with almost every aspect of my illnesses. Even the minor symptoms, like the daily sore throats that usually cleared up after my first drink of the day, have become a near-constant thing and I’ve had the same nagging headache for months.
Through it all, I’ve kept up with my normal coping mechanisms, but not only has the cost of living increased dramatically in the last few years, but my hobbies have also changed. It’s not a case of a pound here and a few quid there anymore; I’m frequently spending £20 or £30 or even £50 on planners and bits of paper and stickers and inserts just to keep myself happy.
It still works — for a while. But then the guilt sets in and I look at my budget in horror. The part of me that feels ashamed of myself for spending money I can’t afford yet again is waging an epic war against the part of me that doesn’t give a shit if I can just buy a bit of cheer for a few short hours or minutes.
Of course, knowing you have a problem is half the battle, and I’ve known for a while that I need to shape up. One of my New Year resolutions was to “stop spending money on useless crap” — a goal I felt was doubly important when I started redesigning my bedroom in SketchUp and realised I’m going to need a new computer soon.
Knowing I have a problem hasn’t stopped me spending money, though, and it doesn’t seem to matter how close I get to hitting my overdraft or how many kitchen appliances I expect to have to replace soon.
I started looking for better coping mechanisms, but part of the problem is that I have a lot of free time on my hands. My ME makes it very difficult to so much as sit up these days, and my depression means I struggle to even want to. I spend a lot of time surfing the internet and window shopping online because I don’t have the mental capacity or the physical energy to do anything else. I’ve accumulated a lot of hobbies in an effort to make sure I always have something to do no matter what symptoms I’m suffering of late, but most of them still require brain power or that my hands aren’t cramping — not to mention that most of them also cost a fortune in supplies.
So, how do you combat an almost obsessive need to spend money you don’t have? Especially when everything in your inbox and on the internet is telling you to SPEND SPEND SPEND?