For the people out there who spend too much money because they have to have “all the things”, this one’s for you.
A few weeks ago I posted about trying, failing, and trying again. In it, I talked about all the things I’ve tried and quit since being married, and all the money I spent trying to find myself.
These were big ticket items. I didn’t even touch upon the smaller items.
In talking with a friend last night, I realized that this horrible trait of buying all the small things is a symptom of depression, and also potentially a symptom of OCD.
Allow me to explain using examples.
Playing the Numbers Game
I like numbers and number puzzles. Sudoku is fine for a start, but I do get bored of that. I prefer Kakuro, otherwise known as Cross Sums.
It’s basically Sudoku but not only do you have to put the numbers in 1-9 without repeating, you also have to make it sum up to whatever total they tell you in the row/column.
Confusing? Sorry, it’s math. And I like math problems because there’s only ever one solution.
So I’m in the mood to do one of these puzzles, and I’m already in the bookstore, I go shopping for a Kakuro puzzle book. Instead I find a math puzzle book that has Kakuro in it, along with other games.
I bought it. One book. No guilt.
At home, I proceed to do all the puzzles in the book, and although I did all the Kakuro first, I then find other puzzles I enjoy, called “Logic”.
Logic puzzles are basically kids problem solving questions for adults. The more I did it, and the better I got, the more I had to have. So I Googled where to get more.
Online shopping can be my best and worst friend all at the same time.
Anyway, I found a puzzle store and bought a bundle deal: tote, mug, pencil, and a dozen puzzle books.
Long story short, I still have them – 11 are unopened.
The Colours Within
While waiting for the puzzles to arrive, I found a new hobby. Colouring.
Previously I’ve written a couple posts on colouring, so you can peruse them if you like, but I’ll summarize: I don’t like colouring.
I find colouring stresses me out instead of doing the opposite. There are too many choices, and too much risk of making one bad decision that will result in a messed up, ugly piece of so called art.
The thing is, it’s supposed to be a stress release. So I bought a book. One single book. No guilt.
After beginning to colour one page, with determination, I realized, “Okay, I can do this. I can be really good at this. This can be my new thing.”
Back to the store I go, I bought all the colouring books I liked: flowers, fairies, Marvel characters, Disney characters, mandalas, and some profanity colouring books.
In addition to that, I had to buy my own spiffy new pencil crayons because using the kids broken dull crayons, just wasn’t working for me.
Sound like anyone you know? I thought it was just me, but after speaking to my friend, I realized there are a number of people out there who have this problem – buy all the little things, it will bring peace.
I do this with books too, and this is still a problem, but not as much. I can only read one book at a time, but I can never just buy one book at a time.
I have to buy the whole series; I could never just buy one of the series. I have to buy all the same format, because they need to look the same on the shelf (that’s my OCD).
The OCD of Book Series
Now what happens when I read a series I love? *Cough* Twilight *Cough* I genuinely think this was the series that started my OCD.
For those of you who don’t know, there are four books in this series. When I first started reading book #1, it was available in Trade Paperback format, so I bought this.
Cheaper than hardcover, not as heavy, still big of enough that I don’t have to squint when reading. Perfect.
Read it, loved it, moved onto book #2. Also Trade Paperback. Good so far.
When I finished reading that one, I had to buy book #3 but it was only available in Hardcover. Well I couldn’t simply wait for it to come out in Trade, so I bought the hardcover of that and book #4.
Loved them both. Loved the whole series and everything about it. Except now I had two books in each format and I didn’t like that at all.
When the Trade version came out for books 3&4, I bought them. Now I had a complete series and two extra books.
Well that wasn’t right. So I bought books 1&2 in Hardcover. Now I have two complete series. Obsession done, right? No.
When the movies came out, I had to have the movie tie-in edition of all four books. In both Trade and Mass Market.
They were slightly different images, and let’s be honest, I loved the movies too.
Now I have four complete series. Done, now? Still nope.
Then they brought out the collector’s edition that I believe also included the “Short Second Life of Bree Tanner,” which was a short story about one of the unknown vampires.
Had to have it.
I thought I was done at this point, but then I came across the very limited edition WHITE collection of the series. So yes, I bought that too.
I have a problem.
Escaping from Depression
I’m not a hoarder, I can part with things quite easily – but books, they’re my thing. It started as something small.
I read books because they give me satisfaction. They take me away to various places. It’s an escape from my harsh world.
There’s nothing more satisfying than finishing a book, because that takes work and effort, but you can see your progress with each chapter finished.
I love them. They bring me joy. So I must buy them all.
What I thought was my problem, and my problem alone, I’ve learned that others have this problem too. Maybe not with books, but with something that brings you joy.
Movies, flowers, jewelry, porcelain dolls, live animals, etc.
Whatever it is, it’s just stuff. It’s an item that you can physically hold and it will bring you happiness for a limited amount of time.
One item brings a spark of light; many items bring a beacon.
Clearly we must fill our lives with this stuff, because the more light we have, the less dark we feel.
It never works though, does it?
In fact, we just sit around with our big piles of joy feeling guilt for buying a bunch of dust collectors.
If It Doesn’t Bring You Joy, Lose It
I wish there was a way to just buy one thing, and complete that start to finish before moving on to the next one thing.
But when you’re suffering from depression, this is hard to wrap your mind around.
One thing is simply not enough to bring us the joy we are struggling to find.
We need to have a collection of joy items, so that when we are finished with one, we can move on to the next without ever having to leave our homes.
We have joy waiting for us, right over there in that box in the closet.
In reality, we have boxes of problems, not joy. It’s just stuff. Stuff will never bring us happiness.
It might be able to push the darkness away temporarily, but it’s going to come back no matter how much stuff we possess.
Sadly, I don’t have a cure for this. We just need some willpower. We need to get rid of the stuff, sell it, donate it, or just bin it.
If this is going to cause more stress, don’t do any of those things. I have learned to part with a lot of possessions, but I can’t part with my books.
I still have all those series of Twilight, mostly in a box in a closet.
I can’t bring myself to part with those, so I’m in no position to tell anyone else to rid themselves of their biggest joy.
Just think about it.
Hold an item or two in your hand and genuinely ask yourself if it’s still bringing you joy. If not, lose it.
I’m learning that the more stuff you rid yourself of, the better you actually feel. And if you do this enough times, you learn not to buy it in the first place.
To my depressed friends out there, we cannot find happiness in any material possession. That’s a falsehood.
Find the willpower to look within.