It could only be called retail therapy.
In San Francisco recently three years of severe anxiety and depression suddenly receded during two days of shopping with my older daughter. I spent most of the time waiting for her in the stores but didn’t mind and found a fabulous jacket, sweater and some amethyst earrings for myself along the way.
The earrings were long and dangly – really over the top. That was their point. In the moment I bought them everything seemed possible anyway.
It helped that San Francisco has great stores, including high quality thrift shops. However, it’s not the first time that I’ve found shopping therapeutic. I purchased practically an entire wardrobe this summer in Boulder, Colorado on a trip I don’t remember due to the effects of electroshock therapy, or ECT, on memory.
I’m told I was very happy making the purchases, my anxiety and depression once again lifting in the face of a host of retail possibilities. And I have the clothes in my closet to prove I was there.
Most of the time they just hang unworn. But I’ve come to recognize it as a sign that I might have a rare good day when I start to consider wearing any of these purchases.
Recently, after days of unrelenting anxiety, I was lying in bed when I started thinking about the amethyst earrings. The next day I woke up in an inexplicably good mood. I immediately put on the earrings even though I wasn’t going anywhere special, and they helped buoy me throughout the day.
Retail therapy, it seems, can be effective even after you leave the store.
So that’s not to say that shopping has cured my anxiety and depression. It still comes roaring back after the shopping trips are completed, and most days, uninspired, I wear the same old clothes and earrings I wore the day before.
But I cherish the times when I do feel in the moment in the shops and can enjoy the simple things in life the way most people do.
Here’s to one pair of long, dangly amethyst earrings.
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Photo © Bill Blatt
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