Let’s get a few things straight. I don’t have bipolar disorder, a compulsive disorder or even a clinical addiction to shopping. I don’t have low self-esteem. I didn’t have a strange or limited upbringing. I am not compensating for failed parent-child transactions by turning to objects. Apart from my student loan for educational matters, I have no financial debt attributed to spending. I just love to shop. Some people favour the motto ‘what goes around, comes around’, whilst I say: ‘a girl can never have too many shoes’.
I’ve reached the stage where I am throwing clothes in bin bags and boxes and hauling them up the loft (the shed and garage were already full from my other boxes of will-probably-never-wear-again-but-ill-keep-anyway stuff). My parents can only take so much – they need their space too.
I can leave my room at university without packing a single item of clothing because I have a wardrobe waiting for me at home. If any of my sisters borrowed anything of mine (sister’s have a strong tendency to do this don’t they), I can honestly say I wouldn’t notice. I probably shouldn’t have wrote that incase they read it and I never see some of my clothes again.
…enough was enough…
So how much is too much? Last summer I reached the point where enough was enough. I sold some of my clothes on eBay and in a local dress agency in town. The stuff only goes for half the price, even though due to the sheer volume of items that I own, most of my clothes have hardly been worn.
To see thousands of pounds just wasted makes me think I should have listened to my mum when she told me at 17 years old that I wasn’t to buy anymore. Now aged 20, my wardrobe seems to have tripled since then.
…the compulsive desire to shop…
Oniomania is the technical term for the compulsive desire to shop. Other more friendly terms include: compulsive shopping, shopping addiction, shopaholism, or compulsive buying syndrome. The term ‘shopaholism’ almost puts it on a par with other addictions such as ‘alcoholism’. Whilst alcohol is a psychoactive drug that affects our mood and behaviour, the urge to shop seems nothing more than the desire to reward or treat yourself with the latest commodities. However, studies have shown that compulsive shopping is actually an impulse control disorder, a bipolar disorder, or even a clinical addiction. Some people are believed to get a thrill out of spending.
Let’s just clear up some distinctions: compulsive shopping, compulsive buying, and compulsive spending are not the same things. You don’t have to shop to buy things. You can shop without buying and you can receive a buzz from shopping whether you’re buying a Michael Korz watch or a paintbrush. Frankly I can’t see how anybody would get a buzz out of buying a pencil sharpener from W.H smiths and if I don’t have the money, I will easily just put an item back. In fact, I’ve been so bogged down with university work; I haven’t bought anything for months.
…it’s to cure loneliness…
However, for some the buzz is too great and some people cannot resist spending. There is growing evidence that it is a significant and worsening problem with serious consequences both emotional and financial.
For some people, it’s not just having a passion for fashion or beauty; it’s to cure loneliness and the desire to feel special. It can be a vicious circle. If sufferers cannot fulfill their compulsive shopping syndrome, they may go onto other addictions.
…the perfect wardrobe…
For me, my love of fashion has been fuelled by, in short, many years of collecting fashion magazines, working during my college years at Miss Selfridge, going to watch fashion catwalk shows throughout my teenage years and writing fashion articles. Anything then, but a mental illness.
I also have another secret confession: I don’t like to throw my clothes away. I’ve built up the perfect wardrobe over the years, with essential staple pieces. Some people collect stamps, others collect comics, I collect clothes. I like to think the problem is the size of my current wardrobes, not the amount of clothes I have. I need what every girl with a love of fashion needs: a walk-in-wardrobe. I keep telling my dad this.
…a special sense of identity…
For some however, their shopping habits are a compulsive disorder. Those searching for a special sense of identity, those with low self-esteem and those who feel that by spending they are gaining control of their own lives.
Rather than having a great love for fashion and buying for the same reasons that I do, they buy anything and everything just for the thrill of spending. This is a mental illness and sufferers need to be taken seriously.
…go and see your Doctor…
If you feel you are suffering from Oniomania and your reasons for this are deeper than a mere love for all-things-nice-and-wonderful, you are not alone. Get help. Visit the Good Therapy website which is very informative: or if you want to seek help in person, go and see your Doctor.