Letter to our Agony Aunt

Dear Patricia Marie,

I am a shopaholic and I don’t know how to stop. I love designer clothes and keep ordering items from the internet without any regard for how I’m going to pay for them. I just put everything on my credit card, and when that reaches its limit, I use another. Up until now I haven’t even considered the implications of owing so much money. My wardrobes are full, yet I crave more. Having plenty of designer clothes initially makes me feel happy and successful, but in contrast, I am actually just a doctor’s receptionist and very depressed. I have recently been thinking about moving out of my rented flat and buying my own place, but not sure if I would be able to get a mortgage considering the current state of my finances. I also feel desperately sad, as I’m isolating myself from others and used to be extremely sociable.

 Patricia Marie says...

Firstly, I commend you for being honest with yourself by recognising your spending is spiralling out of control. The traits you display are typical of a person suffering from shopping addiction, also known as Compulsive Buying Disorder. Once you gain a better understanding of your behaviour, I truly believe you will be in a stronger position to take control of your life. Shopaholics often have escalating debts, stopping at nothing until matters are taken out of their own hands. Compulsive spending can result in not just serious financial issues, but relationship problems can occur, often leading to depression for the sufferer. While the underlying motive behind each compulsive shopper may be different, the euphoric feeling achieved when making purchases is universal.

Your spending has created the comfort you desire - filling a void in your life. As with other addictions, it is necessary to get to the root of the problem. Like yourself, plagued by feelings of inadequacy and loneliness, shopaholics often suffer low self-esteem. You clearly undermine the position you hold at your place of work, and to improve your self-worth you need to be aware of your positive attributes. With all addiction treatment, honesty and acceptance about one’s self is key, and taking responsibility of your financial situation could be the start of your recovery process. Contact your creditors rather than them chase you, and they may be able to offer a debt management plan, realistic to your circumstances.

I urge you to visit your G.P for a thorough health check, including blood tests that can confirm nutrient deficiencies that contribute to our wellbeing. Ask to be referred for urgent counselling where you would be able to explore the emotional issues causing your addictive behaviour. Mind, offers group therapy. Listening to how others cope with addictions could prove to be a huge help in assisting you moving forward to a more positive way of being.

Mind Helpline: 0300 123 3393. www.mind.org.uk.

Patricia Marie, our Agony Aunt, wants to hear your problems, dilemmas, and quarrels. Just email them to patricia.marie@lady.co.uk