Thursday, April 22, 2010

Confession of a Shopaholic

My name is Lacy and I'm a recovering shopaholic. And unlike society wants you to believe, it isn't cute or funny to be a shopaholic. It's damaging to your credit, finances and in my case allowed myself to temporarily try and fill a void.
I wanted to share my story because I think it's important for people to know that they are not alone, but to also know at some point you have to stop making excuses and recognize the damage you are doing.
Shopping was always a fun activity for me and I'd always loved clothes. But it really spiraled out of control when I went to college and discovered I could apply for and get approved for a credit card all on my own. And I did. At one point I had about 10 store credit cards plus a Visa.
And trust me, they all got a lot of use. At first it started out innocently enough. I shopped occasionally to get a new dress for a formal or some sweaters I needed. But as I began to encounter and struggle with anxiety issues and depression, my shopping addiction really took hold.
To most observers I probably looked like the happiest person alive. I was getting a new outfit for every party I went to, getting a new designer purse just because. But inside I was not a happy person. I started to find that shopping was like a drug. I would physically get a high walking in the mall. My heart would race, there would be a feeling of euphoria, my anxiety and depression were gone and I was in the moment.
My shopping "fix" could be anywhere from several hours to a few minutes. But I would always convince myself I "needed" these things. And this happened almost everyday. I'd probably say I averaged $75 per shopping trip. Sometimes I might only buy a necklace for $10, other times it was $450. And I didn't blink an eye. I remember one month I spent $1000 on incidentals and couldn't even tell you that I knew what exactly I had purchased.
Even when the mall was closed, my cards didn't get rest. I remember being at the 24-hour Wal-Mart buying shampoo and scented candles at 2am, because you know, they were essentials that I needed. Needless to say I wasn't even out of shampoo. Oh and Internet. I was constantly ordering online.
I was thousands of dollars in debt and that was with my parents sending me money to support my habit. I don't think they realized how bad it was and just thought oh Lacy likes to shop. I felt like if I didn't have new things people would think less of me. I wouldn't be considered stylish. I did anything to prevent people from having to judge me on heaven forbid, my personality.
After finally going into therapy, my therapist and I determined that I did in fact have a shopping addiction. She as a wonderful woman who helped me work through the underlying issues, and suddenly the urge to shop was not as prevalent.
That's not to say it disappeared completely. And I still struggle with this a lot. I go through times where I obsess about shopping and going after the new shiny thing. If I'm stressed, I want to shop, knowing that high will still be there. I have to fight it.
That's not to say I don't have relapses. They still happen. But it's pretty rare.
Now I focus on really thinking about my purchases and talking myself through them. I select clothes that make me feel good. Nice fabrics, great cuts. And I wear those things over and over. They enhance my personality and mood, but I no longer need a closet full of clothes to feel confident or satisfied. It's taken a long to get here and an ongoing process. If you find yourself experiences the symptoms I did, don't be ashamed. Get help. I promise it will make your life so much more fulfilling.


  1. Thank you for sharing this, for talking about this critical, scary issue that is affecting a lot more people than we probably know about!

  2. Thanks Jo! I think it isn't taken as seriously as it should.