Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mentally In-vest-ed

Sometimes I write posts because I need to get something off my chest, or work through something that is eating away at me. But on other rare occasions I feel extremely prompted to write posts without being really sure why I want to write that particular thing. It's almost as if I have a feeling someone out there in the world needs to know something. It doesn't happen often, but when it does I can't rest until I write whatever is burning a hole in my brain. This is one of those posts, it's been bugging me for three days, so here I am writing it. Maybe one of you needed to get this message? I don't know. Anyway on to my post:

Have you ever noticed that there are people in the world who have the ability to make statements that sound insightful, sometimes profound even. But when you really stop to think about what they have said, it's meaningless. Those people often hold positions of authority, power or celebrity.

A while back I had been watching something I had recorded on my DVR. When I shut it off one of those daytime talk shows was on. I came into it just as a psychiatrist was saying that women who like to shop do it to fill a gap in their lives. The audience was of course appropriately impressed by his declaration. I listened to him spew his rhetoric for a few more minutes, then shut it off. Of course women shop to fill a gap. But then that's why anyone does anything.

We eat to fill a gap of hunger, we sleep to fill a gap of exhaustion, we watch TV, read books and climb mountains to fill gaps of what would otherwise be inactivity.

Despite not being impressed that he had dropped an epiphany on the audience, it still made me wonder...what gap is filled by shopping? I love to shop. But I was suddenly certain there was more to it than consumerism.

My answer arrived just a couple weeks ago. I had gone into a clothing shop and found a rack full of vests discounted to 80% off. Now I don't normally buy vests because they don't look that good on women with large chests. They really aren't designed for that body shape. As a result I only have one and I have it because it has tabs strategically placed that nip in the waist, thus conforming to my figure better than most.

The rack of vests really drew my attention however. It was brown velvet with antiqued brass studs all along the edge and a little bit of a bead work design in the center of each side on the front. It wasn't the classic menswear/English style vest, but more of a rounded bolero cut. I tried one on in front of the mirror. As I put it on a sales girl walked by and said that I was the only person she had ever seen the vest look good on. Now I am going to assume she was being sincere and not just giving me sales girl talk since they had so many of the vests left and they were discounted so much.

Even if it was just sales girl talk, it didn't matter I already knew I was going to buy the vest. On my way home I thought about my purchase. It wasn't the sort of thing I normally buy...so why did I like it? What motivated me to buy it?

I knew the answer, in fact I knew the answer to why I liked to shop in that moment. Aside from the dopamine rush you get from buying something, it fills my gap for adventure.

No, not the adventurous aspect of getting a bargain. But when I looked at the vest I saw Morocco. I saw exotic spices, flying carpets, Aladdin, and Ali Baba...maybe even a genie in a lamp. It filled that yearning I have to see those far off places that probably are nothing like my overactive imagination (and Hollywood) has painted them.

Apparently I was the only one who saw the vest that way, considering how many were left. But maybe that's also why it looked good on me? Perhaps my romantic nature shined through as I put it on.

I realized that's why I buy lots of things. It's expensive and difficult to travel these days. So maybe buying a little trinket here and there fills that gap for me. It mentally takes me away from everyday life to those places I dream about because I can see those places in these items. It's not as the TV psychiatrist suggested; that I do it because I am neglected by my loved ones or have too much idle time on my hands, because neither of those things is true.

I think that psychiatry is over rated unless you have a true mental disorder. Years ago I had something rather bad happen to me and my doctor sent me to see one because of my stress level. I had never been to one before. (Keeping in mind this doctor was a complete quack who nearly killed me twice through misdiagnosis, and said I had a brain tumor when I actually had a bone spur in my shoulder. I have a different doctor now.)

At any rate, the psychiatrist wanted to delve through my past history and have me come to terms with things. After two visits he realized I was pretty well at terms with everything already and that my brain didn't function like most people. After eight visits and a battery of tests that seemed to be more for his amusement and study than anything else, I stopped going to him because I didn't feel like paying to be his Rubik's Cube. But I digress.

I don't know what gap others fill with shopping or anything else they do, but I am pretty sure whatever it is...most of us are doing ok, and we can't be shoved into little boxes by TV psychiatrists who tell us things we already know. I think in the long run we would do better to indulge our own minds in their little escapes and live our lives without worrying overmuch what needs to be fixed. The answer is probably nothing. We don't need to dig up our pasts or cast aspersions on the people in our lives for what we have been told they might not be doing when in fact they are doing just fine. We just need to recognize that we are doing fine too and no one's life is perfect or what they would ultimately like it to be. But that's ok, if our lives were perfect and everything we wanted them to be, we wouldn't have our lovely imaginations or even anything to strive for...and we would probably have to shop more! =}


julietk said...

My mother was refered to a psychiatrist after my father died she said she stopped going because all he did was make her cry and she could manage that very well on her own. I am sure we all do all kinds of things just because they make us feel good and if it does that where's the harm.

Kelly said...

See that's the problem, they want us to examine our feelings and our pasts and dig everything up out of our mental flower boxes and slap it on the table. I am not convinced that's the thing we always need to do. We have the mental ability to bury things and let them go for a reason.

Death is a tough one Juliet, you can't work through that. The only thing that eases it is the softening by the passage of time. Even then you never fully recover from the loss of a loved one. I am sorry about your Father. I lost mine at 17, so I understand.

Hugs, Kelly

Heather said...

When I was in High School they sent me to a psychiatrist and all that man ever did was tell me about the awesome vacations he was going to take with my parents money, and how he had himself a hot young girlfriend to take with him.

I never once told the man anything real about myself.

Needless to say... I have little faith in that profession.

The Littlest Thistle said...

My mother spent my entire childhood, and actually my entire adulthood saying and doing things, and then saying 'Did that damage your little psyche?' Sometimes it's months or years later she comes back to ask (entirely tongue in cheek you understand) as she's read the latest pronouncement of some professional. Keeps her amused anyway lol

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