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Interview with Catherine Éthier

Known and loved for her unique style, effervescent personality and biting humor, the columnist Catherine Éthier makes fans wherever she goes.

It’s with courage and modesty that the talented creator talks to us about her struggle with compulsive buying disorder.

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When did you realize that your spending habits had become problematic?

I have been struggling with compulsive buying for several years. I’m able to face it, now, and I’m working on handling the consequences but the last few years have been trying. It’s important for me to talk about what I’m going through. On one hand, it’s part of my journey, on the other hand, there’s great strength in naming these things, in breaking the perfect perception the public may have of us and in using our experiences to help others.

I started losing control about two years ago. I always liked buying clothes and accessories, but online shopping had become a kind of escape. I could go shop online five times when I would be writing a text that was stressing me out. I saw it as simple procrastination, just like washing the dishes or wasting time on Instagram, but with $500 boots.

I was addicted to the euphoria that came with the act of buying online, however short-lived it was, and I was rationalizing my spending by telling myself that I needed to be fashion-forward for work. In fact, I had enough clothes for all the launches in the world for the next ten years.

 

How did you manage to get through it?

I started opening up to the people around me. I waited a long time because I’m not one to talk to people about my problems, but I had gotten to a point where I had no other choice. I had hit rock bottom. I was ashamed of this addiction that I found to be absurd, of this privileged problem, of this compulsive spending that completely went against my values. I wasn’t able to show myself the compassion and kindness I needed to get back on my feet, something my family and close friends were able to do.

I knew that I had a problem, but it’s only when I started talking about it that I realized that I needed help, that I wasn’t a bad person and that there were solutions. I had to admit my problems to others before I could start forgiving myself and, in a way, start breathing again. Talking is the last frontier of shame.

What are the tools that help you the most in your fight against this addiction?

There are a lot of different approaches, but for me, it’s very beneficial to reflect on the way I spend. Instead of letting myself get blinded by sales, I tend to opt for quality, responsible production and local purchasing. Fortunately, there are several resources to learn how to better manage our spending and also, a number of professionals able to help regain control of our finances.

Everyone overconsumes to a certain degree and the society we live in constantly pushes us to buy things without thinking about the consequences. Thinking about the very real individuals on which my purchases have an actual impact helps me very much. They aren’t only objects; there are people behind those objects.

Finally, talking about it with other people is very helpful to me. When we live in shame and judgment, we always underestimate the empathy and understanding that other people are capable of. Realizing that we are not alone, and that there are tools to help us pull through, makes all the difference.  

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