The Thin Line between Addiction and Coping
A shopping guide for when you quit your job and can no longer afford your coping mechanisms.
In the dead of winter, you can be pushed to the very edge of the tallest cliffs your mind can imagine. You can feel the breeze of the hundred foot drop between your toes. You can taste the blood in your mouth.
Four months ago I found myself trapped at a job and a plan to kill myself. I had hit a bottom I wasn’t familiar with, something sinister. I needed out before I took a more permanent exit. Three months ago, I upped my medication and got a new job. It was a risk I had to take, so I wrapped my fingers around it and took it. Now with a significant drop in cash flow, I had to reevaluate how I consumed. In a world of no take-backs, I stood in my walk-in closet and wished I could. I was broke with bills to pay and a years worth of barely worn clothing in my closet, and I was embarrassed.
As someone who lives with many obsessions, I had spent the last year (and a decent portion of my salary) self-medicating under the guise of self-care. My anxiety had control of my bank account, and I had let it run wild. So there in an apartment I could never afford in the first place, I grabbed a garbage bag and started cleaning; three months later, I haven’t stopped. Yeah, I have no cash flow, but I have saved more money than I did in all of 2014. I’m sober and the spring in my step has me with my fingers through the clouds. I am in orbit. Read on to find out some ways I’ve managed to indulge in my anxiety without breaking my bank.
When your anxieties manifest themselves in piled dishes, full laundry baskets and junk mail, clean that shit. Initially inspired by the only self-help book I’ve ever bought, I began decluttering my space six months ago. Author Marie Kendo suggests your closet as a good place to start: “You must take each outfit in your hand. When you touch a piece of clothing, your body reacts. Its response to each item is different. Trust me and try it.” I trusted her and it has changed my bitter, emotional life for the better. With a cleaner space my anxiety dissipates. I take deeper breaths, I sleep through the night. Take time with this task, take care of yourself, and sell the stuff you don’t want (pad the bank account and your friends’ closets at the same time). You and your friends will appreciate the fresh emptiness decluttering can bring. On days that your job and your brain have you tethered to the couch, check out Unfuck Your Habitat for later inspiration.
From the moment I planned my First Adult Bath I started a new method of self-care, one that acknowledges my corporeal form. Stripped down to skin and water, Friday night baths have become a weekly ritual. It’s a time to worship and comfort your body. I pair my bath with a bath bomb from Lush – Twilight or Ickle Baby Bot – are my faves. Strong scents can trigger intense headaches and dysphoria, so I stay closer to the bombs that are more color, less smelly. Borrow a friend’s Netflix account and prop your laptop on the toilet seat. Shut the door, shut out the world and focus on feeling yourself. These Friday baths are when I take a moment to recuperate, and be away from the world. My body is more lovely and genderless in a bath then it will be anywhere else.
Make playlists for yourself. I have tens of playlists saved for almost-lovers, high school friends, and acquaintances. This year is my year, when it comes to playlists. Make a mixtape for yourself, make multiple. Make one to pump you up for a long day at the office, and one to wind down on your way home. Music has the power to feed and nourish the best parts of you. This seems like a no-brainer, but good playlists require incredible effort. The process can dispel compulsions and help quell hypomania. Pay attention to transitions, massage that playlist right out of your bones. Great pride can come from a thoughtful playlist, even if you’re the only person listening to it. If you’re on the hunt for new music at a low cost, consider browsing Bandcamp for free or pay what you can albums. Search for bands in your area, or in a genre that you like. Support artists that share a seat in your boat.
Find dupes of your favorite high-end makeup and embrace samples. My eyeliner determines my defenses; lipstick is my modern day pocket knife. Perfume or cologne depends on what gender I’m feeling that day. The problem is, most often, beauty products are prohibitively expensive. When you’re already worried about making next month’s rent, replenishing your makeup supply is the last thing on your to-do list. So, I’ve been living on sample scents and lipstick dupes from brands like Coastal Scents, Portland Black Lipstick Co, and Impulse Cosmetics. Portland Black Lipstick Co offers samples for purchase on their products, which can be good if you’re new to the purples, blues, and greens of the lipstick world. Grow reasonably comfortable with the idea of change. Let that reflect on your style and scent, feel more free as a result.
And Finally: Indulge
Indulge yourself on something you really want. Smoke that cigarette you’ve been craving for months (I just did), buy a pint of ice cream and don’t share it with anyone. When we live in a society that tells the poor that we cannot and should not live a life in any amount of luxury, a splurge isn’t really a splurge, it’s a fulfillment of your broken American Dream. I can’t have everything I want or desire right away, but I can dabble in a world never meant for me, within reason (which is up to you to define). Take yourself out on a date, or order a pizza and eat it all by yourself. It can be hard to let yourself spend when you’re in a tight spot, but it will be OK. You will figure it out, you will survive and thrive.
I can do this. You can do this. We can do this.