I can always tell when I’m getting over-stressed, depressed, or generally anxious about life. Why? Because I become obsessed about buying things. Sometimes they are things that we need as a family. Sometimes they are needed at church. Sometimes I just want them, good ole’ fashion covetousness.
Over the span of my illness I’ve found this as a returning theme. When things are out of control in my life, or I feel as though I’m losing a grip on reality, I find that buying stuff satisfies my compulsion for control, at least for a little while.
At the lowest point in my depression, I was spending money like Brad Pitt, buying whatever came to my mind whenever I wanted it. I always had a justification for it, because it helped my healing. Now insofar as having hobbies and distractions from everyday life is healthy (and it is), this whole process was and is a good thing, if kept in check. But it is when things to totally out of control that problems arise. Like massive credit card debt, allowing material things to serve as a barrier to those whom I love and tasks that I dread.
Add the grayness outside and the coming assault of winter, and you have a recipe for trouble.
Am I alone in this? I don’t think so. Given the rising credit card debt in our nation, and how depression means a void in fulfillment, this strikes me as a common problem afflicting Americans in general. We have the means to go 50k, 100k or more into debt quite easily, and I don’t mean by buying a house or a car.
So what do you do when you can tell the oncoming signs of coping mechanisms creeping their way in? Here’s a few tips.
- Recognize them for what they are. This is your mind and body telling you that things aren’t right, that something is missing, and that it needs to be filled. Sometimes that may result in buying something you need (or whatever your coping mechanism may be). Sometimes recognizing it for what it is will suffice.
- Recognize them for what they aren’t. They aren’t a sign that you are A) Going to hell; B) Abandoned by God; C) Just another cog in the great machine of American retail; D) A failure because you can’t control your impulses. Much like the body uses nerves to tell you when you are in pain, you mind may use these coping mechanisms to tell you that something is wrong. Don’t make it more than it is.
- Recognize you for who you are. You are baptized. You are in Christ and Christ is in you. This is true whether you have goofy compulsions or not. This is true even though Satan may use these compulsions to lead you into sin.
- Find someone to talk this through with you. This could be a counselor, but it could be your pastor or a friend. But don’t let this just fester inside you. That will not help.
Anyway, those are a few random thoughts on Cyber Monday. I think I’ll go check out what’s on sale at Amazon…