Monday, September 15, 2008

Frgually Fighting Sadness

So, there was something I wasn't entirely sure how to write about last week. This is a blog about personal finance and so, logically, I try to keep it to posts about my personal finances. I didn't think this was the place to talk about family matters and so forth so I didn't say anything. Then I realized that because of what was happening, my newly acquired frugal shopping habits and careful budgeting plans almost went out the window.

You see, my father passed away 6 years ago this weekend. That's hard in itself, but then on Thursday I went to the funeral of a young man, a brother of a coworker, whose name was Don. So was my father's. Because my coworker and my mother are the same religion, the ceremony had a very familiar feel. To top it off they sang one of the same songs that my mother chose especially for my father. That was hard.

Then the loan officer who picked up the phone at my credit union when I called on Friday? Don. The customer my boss asked me to contact personally to take care of a few things? Don. And old friend from out of state I haven't talked to in months who just emailed me out of the blue? Don.

This is the kind of thing you could write in a novel and no one would ever believe it. Proof positive that life is stranger than fiction.

The thing is, when I start feeling blue, I have two urges - spend money and eat. Typical chick stuff, right? (Although come to think of it now, maybe that is why my ex and I spent so much of our marriage either cooking or shopping.) Since my life has changed, I have changed in some ways. This time it wasn't shoes I wanted to buy, but paint for the bedroom and books on home improvement; expenses that I could "justify" to myself as being financially smart. ...and they would be - if it weren't for the fact that the only reason I wanted to buy them now was that I felt like shopping.

My other urge is craving certain foods when I am depressed. On my way back from the funeral it was all I could do not to drive into the nearest coffee shop and get a enormous vanilla latte with soy. I thought about driving out of my way so I could hit one of my favorite locally owned coffee & tea shops; I had to make myself take the expressway instead. When I got to work I was still craving it, so when I started fantasizing about the Starbucks just down the street I knew I had to do something drastic. I made myself a "poor girl's mocha" - one packet of hot chocolate (free from work), a dollop of fake creamer (also free), half a cup of the super strong coffee my boss makes (they can't hardly give the stuff away) and the rest of the cup of hot water. One hot cup full of sugar, caffeine and chocolate. That bedded down my coffee craving but started my chocolate craving. Again I was saved by a sympathetic coworker and a snack sized Milky Way bar. (Okay, two Milky Way bars.... maybe three.)

Then, on my way home that night I had to fight the strongest craving of all... Indian food. I love Middle Eastern, Indian and ethnic cuisines, so much so that I have learned to make them myself. I wasn't craving homemade, however. I was craving the bright warm atmosphere of a favorite local Indian restaurant. A place where I could sit in the corner with a good book and feast on the wonderful food. I wanted the smells, the flavors, the people, everything. I kept thinking, "I still have room in my dining out budget!" Fortunately about a mile from the restaurant I remembered I had pasta at home. I very rarely have pasta in the house anymore so I could have it as a treat instead - the pasta would be my indulgence. (It was fabulous, by the way.)

You know, when I am feeling sad and blue that is when I want to turn to the credit card. I think that purchases, whether they be a good bar of chocolate or a fine meal out, will make me happy. And they do - for as long as they last, but what I am starting to realize is that the thing with buying happiness that way is that it is fleeting. As soon as the wrapper is thrown away or the last glass cleared, I am right back to being sad again. Purchases made from depression have no staying power.

I'm doing fine now. I've made my peace with the weekend and spent some time at dad's grave. Life is like that though, there are going to be hard times occasionally. I just wish I didn't have these urges. I wished I wanted to, I don't know, go for a long brisk walk instead. Don't they say that is the best thing for depression - as well as your waistline? So why is it I want to sleep late and gorge instead?

Oh well, there's always free hot chocolate and bad strong coffee...

Photo by: ph0t0s


LP said...

This is an issue I also struggle with--shopping and eating (for me, it's junk like candy) when I feel depressed or overly tired. Making it through that patch of rough days can be hard--I'm glad you came through unscathed!

Amber Jones said...

It's hard to deal with stress at times - especially this kind of stress. I understand that it is a difficult thing to get through - but you did it. Maybe you have 2 (or 3) candy bars, but better free candy bars from your co-worker than a more expensive latte or plate at the local Indian restaurant. Good for you to make it through as well as you did.

Dawn said...

lp - Thanks so much! I've been thinking about it and figure that sometimes all you can do is indulge a little. The hard part is figuring where your "do not cross" line is, and sticking to it!

Amber - Thanks so much! You are right, the least expensive option would have cost me $5 at least, while the more expensive would have run closer to $20!

passivefamilyincome said...

Dawn - Good for you in dealing with that stress. I couldn't imagine what was going through your head.

Best of Luck.

Dawn said...

PFI - Thanks for your kind words. It was a tough couple of days, but I am doing ok now. This week should be a bit less stressful.