And other ways of combating Seasonal Affective Disorder.
By Alisha Giampola (Actor)
There are people who are addicted to shopping (in person, online, probably even a couple people left who get their kicks ordering gadgets, knives or rare gems off of television shopping networks), and then there are others, like myself, who definitely love shopping, but don't automatically need that shopping to translate into buying in order to create the psychological panacea that is gained from it.
I for one completely understand what Holly Golightly meant when she said that nothing cured a case of the mean reds for her like a few minutes at Tiffany's.
“No. The blues are because you’re getting fat and maybe it’s been raining too long; you’re just sad, that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling? …Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it. Nothing very bad could happen to you there. If I could find a real-life place that’d make me feel like Tiffany’s, then — then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name!” - Breafast At Tiffany's -
There is something about being quietly surrounded by luxury -things not yet owned, but intended to be- cashmere and leather and silver and that new-shoe smell, with price tags, in boxes, on hangers, on shelves, walking through racks of clothing and brushing the backs of your hands against the actual embodied feeling of the word Expensive. Sometimes picking somthing up, admiring the weight or color of it. Maybe even sometimes trying something on. No need to buy it. The magic disintigrates the moment the thing belongs to you, is removed from its shrine in the window; is no longer surrounded by the smell of the store, the sounds of the cash registers.
Retail therapy is a real and abiding thing, and I sympathize with Holly's search for a "real-life place" that would make her feel the way Tiffany's does. But curing the "mean reds" by simply placing oneself in the calming, luxurious presence of a high-end store as Holly does, is very different from the retail therapy most people think about. I've found that purchasing something to alleviate stress (the textbook definition of shopping therapy) works regardless of the price of the thing. Breaking the bank never even comes into the picture. All that is needed is a quick trip to the drugstore to pick up a nail polish or a new body scrub. Maybe even a treat from the grocery store like a new flavor of tea. Honestly, anything will do and the cheaper the better, as far as I and my bank account are concerned. But Breakfast at Tiffanying? That can't be done at the drugstore, or even at a busy discount hub like TJ Maxx or Marshalls. To truly feel the calming and restorative effect Holly talks about, you have to take yourself somewhere quiet and expensive, the more expensive the better, because you don't even want the temptation of purchasing something to enter your head. Bergdorf Goodman can be calming in the way a beautiful church or temple is calming.
I don't know how much of Retail Therapy is somehow ingrained, and how much of it is simply learned behavior. Like most American children, I spent a good deal of my childhood escaping from my mother in malls. Hiding in the middle of those big circular clothing racks and letting the fabrics wash over me as invisible women, only identifiable by their shoes, spun the hangers around and around. Standing for what felt like hours in the costume jewelry department of Macy's or JC Penny, pretending that the dangly early-nineties earrings were people with relationships and feelings and places to visit. As I got older, my mom and I enjoyed the actual act of shopping together. Purchases weren't always required to make the day a success, but the best days were when we would split a costume jewelry purchase at one of those stores where you would get Three For $10 or some such ridiculously low price. Sometimes this jewelry would break immediately, but some of it didn't; and some of it was fabulous, and I still cannot resist the allure of a Forever 21 necklace because of it.
As I write this, it is a gray and drizzly day in the city. I'm tired of wearing rainboots, and I'm tired of carrying around a damp umbrella. I'm especially tired of being mildly cold in my coat and blazingly hot on the subway and I'm especiallyespeciallyespecially tired of wearing tights under my pants. Wearing tights under my pants gives me a bad case of the Mean Reds. On days like this, the only thing that does any good is to window shop for some trips. Do a little internet-search Breakfast At Tiffanying. Get on Google Earth and zoom down onto the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower, and All Of The Beaches, Everywhere. Plan trips to New Orleans and San Francisco right down to the flights and Airbnb reservations, but stop at the part where you would actually enter your credit card information. It's amazing how even a little imaginary vacation planning can relax your tense shoulders. Works best when imagined down to details such as restaurants, spa visits, museum entrance fees and snorkeling excursions, but honestly just glancing at the itinerary of a European river cruise is enough to lower my blood pressure.
Or maybe I'm just cranky because as a little healthy kick-start to my new year, I decided to cut out carbs and excess sugar for a couple weeks and I'm officially on Day 10 and craving Oreos like nobody's business.