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How do you deal with compulsive shopping?


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Having to type this makes me want to cry. I have a problem. I compulsively shop for things I don't need. It's like an itch that needs to be scratched. I NEED to buy something... anything. I mostly shop for books, but other times I shop for things I obsess over or for self help sorts of things. And then I also roam around stores, like I'm looking for something.

I do this to fill a void, but the bipolar makes it worse. And I just hate this. I really do. I get updates in my e-mail regularly, telling me what my balance is, and every time I see the numbers go down. It makes me feel like a freaking failure. It's all my fault for not being stronger, but it's not like I can just quit. It's an addiction.

I cope sometimes by going to the library. I check out as much as I want, then turn the books back in. It's like shopping without consequences... but it's not the best coping skill. I still need to deal with this void I'm trying to fill... but I'm working on that, slowly but surely...

Please, if anyone else has gone through this, could you tell me what you've done to combat these feelings? I'd try just not shopping, but it's truly not that simple.

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I have trouble with spending beyond my resources and buying things I don't need. Maybe it helps to know that a lot of people struggle with this issue. 

I'm usually pretty nervous in public, but some places are quiet and I enjoy going. I go to them way too often and buy stuff I don't need. 

Lately when I find myself in these stores I have been trying to pick just one or two items to buy. I try to think of it as fun to pick the best thing. That way I'm not spending as much.

I'm sorry you're so stressed about it. I hope other people have some good ideas too.

 

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I wish I had a good answer. Sometimes I plan what to order online then empty the shopping cart. But more often I buy stuff. Usually lots of one certain thing and it's a sign of creeping mania/hypomania. I try to find something else to occupy my time and mind. It's a big problem and you're not alone. I wish I could say I succeeded but it's usually temporary. 

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The only thing I've found that works to stop me from compulsively shopping is to either leave my credit card at home or just leave the house as little as possible, I'm afraid. Or I just try and push and push my mind to concentrate on something else (which works okay when I'm swinging manic, cause it sets my brain swinging the opposite direction more often than not).

Edited by jacques
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Thanks everyone for your lovely ideas and also comments. I'm sorry that you guys also struggle with this and I'm even more sorry that I'm going to vent again even after all of that.

I did it again. I went on more spending binges. I was able to keep it low at thrift stores and discount places, but even then that wasn't enough. I spent another embarrassing amount. Over $300 or maybe $400. A good chunk of that actually comes from a dental bill I had to eventually pay off, but still, the rest of that money I just threw away! I might as well have thrown it all right into a burning campfire. I'm so wasteful and horrible. This is so disgusting. I'm so disgusting.

And you wanna know the whole reason why I wanted to shop? I did it because I was bored. I was bored and actually very anxious, now that I think about it. My current obsession has been to be like one of those Korean supermodels or like the women you find in yoga magazines. I suppose that I think fashion, make up, home re-designing, self-help books, and shopping will all magically take away that anxiety... but no. They don't do much to help at all. They just remind me of how inadequate I really am. I mean, look at me. I'm shopping for things to make myself happy and feel fulfilled when everyone knows that stuff can be found for $0.00. You can't buy happiness or wisdom when you've already read enough self-help stuff to last you a lifetime. And you can't buy your way out of this anxiety or restlessness either. You've got to just sit there and deal with it like a mindful person... and G-d knows just how frightening that thought really is.

I think I'm going to try to see my tdoc asap to talk about this but I just needed to tell someone about this, because it hurts. It all really hurts, and it's driving me crazy, all of this spending. I'm a college student, for Heaven's sake. I'm supposed to be saving, and that's already hard enough since I have to pay for both my tdoc and my psychiatrist out of pocket. If it weren't for them, I'd honestly want to throw myself off a bridge right now. I just feel so... awful. And even that word doesn't do what I feel any justice.

Sorry you guys had to read all that. It's been difficult lately.

Edited by Bimbo Bear
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I seem to go through spending binges (usually online clothing shopping) a few times a year. I usually can't just buy one or two things that I actually need. I have to go through an entire website (like kohls) and look at ALL THE THINGS to make sure I don't miss anything. So I have to do clearance, womens pants, womens tops, dresses, sleepwear, underwear, sometimes jewelry, etc. This usually takes many hours every day over the course of several days. I kind of zone out while I'm doing all this online browsing. And I get a rush pretty much the whole time. And then get excited when the stuff is delivered (although also ashamed because I have to hide it somewhat from my mom who I live with).

And if I find something I like, I often feel compelled to buy it in every possible color combo. And yet I don't wear most of it. Some of it I don't even fit right now because I gained a bunch of weight over the past few years. But even the stuff I fit, I don't really wear and just stick to my usual few pieces of clothing I wear all the time. My room sometimes feels like a giant storage closet for clothes, many of which are still new with tags. I even had to take over half the spare bedroom walk-in closet because I had utilized every spare inch of storage space in my bedroom.

One thing that helped me recently was reading those Marie Kondo books (I checked them out of the library). Very easy reads and they've changed my outlook on certain things. Even if you don't follow her method of tidying, her relationship to her belongings, her outlook, philosophy, whatever it is, has really helped me. I'm more content now with the things I've already acquired and try to question myself now when I feel compelled to buy more because it never seems to make me more happy or ultimately content.

My strategy now is just to remind myself of all the wonderful things I've already acquired that I do like, and that I'm not really going to "miss out" on something life-changing by not seeing what's available at my favorite stores every season. And I don't visit clothing websites like kohl's anymore because it never ends well, and when I'm in Target, for example, I avert my eyes when I'm walking past the scarf section on the way to the check out (scarves are one of my frequent impulse buys).

I recently went through all of my clothes and shoes and it was overwhelming to acknowledge that I had really bought all that stuff. And I realized I have so much stuff, it's hard to even get to any of it easily because it's so packed together. And I forget what I even have. And I have pretty much everything I need. I'm not saying I'm never going to buy anything again, but I feel more "full" than I have in awhile. So for now that feeling of fullness is outweighing any urges to browse clothes and shoes online.

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Oh how I wish a spreadsheet and reason would stop me. I have good credit cards and the ability to convince myself I need things. It's a problem and I work on controlling it. But honestly it's a symptom of being hypomanic and better with med tweaks for that, in my case. But also something that gets in my way, a lot. I would say don't beat yourself up over it, but it's something I feel bad about myself. 

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On 2/14/2017 at 9:02 PM, Bimbo Bear said:

Having to type this makes me want to cry. I have a problem. I compulsively shop for things I don't need. It's like an itch that needs to be scratched. I NEED to buy something... anything. I mostly shop for books, but other times I shop for things I obsess over or for self help sorts of things. And then I also roam around stores, like I'm looking for something.

I do this to fill a void, but the bipolar makes it worse. And I just hate this. I really do. I get updates in my e-mail regularly, telling me what my balance is, and every time I see the numbers go down. It makes me feel like a freaking failure. It's all my fault for not being stronger, but it's not like I can just quit. It's an addiction.

I cope sometimes by going to the library. I check out as much as I want, then turn the books back in. It's like shopping without consequences... but it's not the best coping skill. I still need to deal with this void I'm trying to fill... but I'm working on that, slowly but surely...

Please, if anyone else has gone through this, could you tell me what you've done to combat these feelings? I'd try just not shopping, but it's truly not that simple.

It is part of bipolar. On good days, I buy a shitload of CDs, books, music scores, tea ingredients, and furniture. On bad days, I buy real estate. I have seriously screwed up my finances many times over the years. What has helped me is a very special friend on the other coast who I ask to keep a watch on me. She will tell me when I'm acting weird and need to take my Zyprexa. I'm not always pariticularly enthusiastic about doing it, but it has kept my spending sprees to something manageable. My advice is to find a friend to monitor you like that, so things don't get out of control. If you can't find one, PM me, and I'll be your friend to help you steer clear of the pitfalls. I'm far from stable ATM, but I do recognize the signs really, really well. Take care!

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BiBe, do you think you could channel your drive into something like rock collecting, or pine bones, or something else you'd be able to find just wandering around outside looking for? I've also had some success with other forms of weird free collecting; in my case it was sniff-testing perfumes and writing notes and reviews. Find a subject you can learn a lot about online and then go hunt it down. Oh, and taking cell phone pictures of signs that say weird things. Free, unless I need another SIM card, and satisfying. Actually, could you try just taking pictures of things instead of buying them?

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34 minutes ago, Gearhead said:

BiBe, do you think you could channel your drive into something like rock collecting, or pine bones, or something else you'd be able to find just wandering around outside looking for? I've also had some success with other forms of weird free collecting; in my case it was sniff-testing perfumes and writing notes and reviews. Find a subject you can learn a lot about online and then go hunt it down. Oh, and taking cell phone pictures of signs that say weird things. Free, unless I need another SIM card, and satisfying. Actually, could you try just taking pictures of things instead of buying them?

Funny you should say this, because yes I certainly could!! And I just bought myself a camera so that'll help me to bide my time too! I love photography and now with my camera I can take pics then print them and put them in my cute little journal(s). Rock collection and such for decoration might be in the cards too. I wanna re decorate my room to be like in a Better Homes magazine, and the rocks would be a lovely addition. Now if only I could clean my room enough to actually redecorate. ^_^'

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I've found that I can thrift through it. I'll be in a bit of a frenzy, though. When I lived in San jose, there were 10 Goodwills and St Vincent de Pauls that I went to multiple times a week, hitting as many as four a day. I was on a nodding acquaintance with lots of the employees. But after I started thrifting, I think the most I ever spent at one time was $40, and of course that was for multiple items. 

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  • 2 months later...

I tend to internet shop or want to purchase very large and expensive things.

I am trying to stick with a 3 day rule.   I want it, I can add to the online cart, but I try to wait 3 days before checking out. So often I look back a day later and really have no idea why I felt I needed the item.

For cars and jewelry I try not to go alone and try to stick to the 3 day rule. 

Like so many have said I also tend to buy many of the same thing.  If I see a sweater I can't make up my mind so I buy all the colors.  I keep receipts.  

I have things that I have bought on Amazon and been so ashamed they sit in a closet.  Your not alone.

 

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8 minutes ago, dragonfly23 said:

I tend to internet shop or want to purchase very large and expensive things.

I am trying to stick with a 3 day rule.   I want it, I can add to the online cart, but I try to wait 3 days before checking out. So often I look back a day later and really have no idea why I felt I needed the item.

For cars and jewelry I try not to go alone and try to stick to the 3 day rule. 

Like so many have said I also tend to buy many of the same thing.  If I see a sweater I can't make up my mind so I buy all the colors.  I keep receipts.  

I have things that I have bought on Amazon and been so ashamed they sit in a closet.  Your not alone.

 

I don't have that kind of impulse control when I'm on a shopping spree, unfortunately. During better times, I do move things out of my basket (save for later). Once that's done, I pretty much forget about them. But Amazon is evil. I don't generally buy anything expensive there, but the tons of little shit adds up. I've had some really obscene amazon bills over the years.

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12 minutes ago, Flash said:

I don't have that kind of impulse control when I'm on a shopping spree, unfortunately. During better times, I do move things out of my basket (save for later). Once that's done, I pretty much forget about them. But Amazon is evil. I don't generally buy anything expensive there, but the tons of little shit adds up. I've had some really obscene amazon bills over the years.

OMG  I dont either.  Just goals.   You can't return a car...........

LOL   yes Amazon is evil.  One time someone told me to remove the one click link to stop buying impulsively.   Duh,  I can just put it back on. 

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