I have worked 2 out of the last 3 weekends… Been working some crazy hours for the past month as my business thrives in various different ways… My marathon training has started… We are fixing up our wonderful home… All in all, I am feeling a bit pooped.

If you read my ezine this week, you know that I have been ranting on about the notion of caring for yourself, revitalising and energising this month… So I need to practice what I preach, don’t I?

I am having a massage today… I am going shopping to spend a load of money on myself… Tonight, Katie and I are going to have a picnic in the local park and then we are going to watch Bournemoth Symphony Orchestra play Beatles songs, we have a relaxing day together tomorrow and a party to go to tomorrow night…

I can’t wait.

The reason I mention this — is because of one sentence I just wrote — “I am going shopping to spend a load of money on myself“… Funny how that makes us feel good, isn’t it?

For some, that good sensation turns into a need, almost like a fix… and we have all seen the increasing media coverage given to  shopaholics… Some people really do get into major problems with it, I mean MAJOR problems….

Let me introduce Helen McNallen, who has recently overcome her shopping addicition… It was some addiction, as you can read here, cited from this article in the Mirror Lifestyle supplement:

It started out as a bit of harmless fun — a way to relax after a hard week at work. But when Helen McNallen hit the shops she couldn’t stop.

In just four years she blew £200,000. It wrecked her 16-year marriage to husband Duncan and nearly cost her her home.

“Most women joke about being shopaholics, but I really was one,” says Helen, 41.

“It was as serious as drug-taking for me. It wrecked my life and destroyed my marriage.

“I nearly lost my house and I almost lost my sanity.

“There was no logic to it. One day I went out and bought eight pairs of sunglasses, including two £165 pairs from Christian Dior — identical except one was pink and one was beige.

“I’d go to Harrods and see a personal shopper and spend £4,000 a time without even thinking about it. I loved shoes and I’d buy four pairs from Jimmy Choo in one go at £400 a pair.

“I once bought a £400 pair of Yves St Laurent shoes with three-inch high perspex red heels and big juicy red lips on the front. I’ve never worn them and I never will, because I’m 6ft and taller than anyone I know anyway.

“When I was in Prague for a friend’s 40th birthday I saw a Christian Dior skirt I had to have. They didn’t have it in my size so I tried in London with no luck. Then I went to LA for my birthday and went to Rodeo Drive and bought it. It was denim with a white frill and cost £2,000. I’ve never even worn it. It’s still in its wrapping paper. But I just had to have it.

“Even if I just popped into my local health food shop I’d come out with body lotions, exclusive face creams and the latest products for this, that and the other, but I am trying to Find all of ORO GOLD’s stores near me, they definitely have the best products.

“I’d go in for a pot of yoghurt and come out having spent £150. I’d get a real high when I was doing it, but afterwards I’d feel really low knowing how much I’d spent. My husband kept asking why I was doing it but I just thought he was picking on me. I just couldn’t see it rationally.”

Helen’s troubles began in 2000 after she left her £70,000-a-year job as a City trader in London. She and husband Duncan, an events co-ordinator, shared a dream house in Petersfield, Hants.

But her work had become too stressful so she planned to retrain and look for another job.

Within eight months, unable to decide on a career, she found she was filling her days with spending binges.

“I was a career woman and because I was no longer holding down this powerful job, there was suddenly a huge gap in my life, which I began to fill with shopping,” she recalls.

“My job had always boosted my self esteem, so now I tried to make myself feel worthy by buying all these things. I was depressed and shopping temporarily made me feel better.

“I had a personal shopper at Harrods and Harvey Nichols because they gave me the importance I’d previously had at work. Ironically I didn’t bother with them when I was working and could have afforded them.”

Within a year Helen had worked her way through her £50,000 life savings. She went on an accountancy course then a floristry course, but still couldn’t decide what career to choose.

In 2002 she remortgaged a house she had in London for £100,000 with a view to investing in a buy-to-let property.

But within six months she had blown the cash.

She recalls: “I began to buy paintings. I bought a picture of Marilyn Monroe for £3,500 and once spent £7,000 on a painting.”

Helen had tried to keep her shopping habit from her husband, leaving her purchases in the boot of her car until he’d left the house then smuggling them upstairs and hiding them in cupboards. But it was impossible to hide larger items, such as paintings and pictures.

She says: “Even though I tried to hide smaller things away, he could see clothes with their labels still on in my wardrobe and he’d see me go out shopping every day so there wasn’t really any disguising it. He also had access to our joint account, so he could see the way I was spending.”

Not surprisingly, Helen’s problem was putting a huge strain on her marriage. She recalls: “Once my husband flew home from a business trip and a van turned up with £25,000 of antique furniture. I’d gone to an antiques fair with the intention of just browsing, but then got carried away.

“My husband was so upset he nearly got back on the plane and went away again. He asked me to make a note of what I spent, but I never did. I used to cry if he tried to talk about it.

“There was no reasoning with me.”

In a bid to make a fresh start the couple moved to Scotland in 2003 but things were no better. And with no cash left Helen began to run up a huge overdraft.

“I’d spent a fortune on knick-knacks and ornaments. They were beautiful but I didn’t need them,” she says. “I couldn’t even buy a normal pair of flipflops. They had to be Juicy Couture. It was so stupid.

“I had £1,000 hair extensions put in which I couldn’t dry myself, so I had to go to the hairdresser to have my hair washed once a week at £40 a time.

“I’d spend £50 a week on glossy magazines to see what the A-list celebrities were wearing. I remember seeing Uma Thurman in a new pair of Ray Bans and went straight to Harrods and bought exactly the same pair.

“I spent a fortune on ridiculous things, too, like tea. I wasn’t content with PG Tips. I used to buy every type of tea going and fill the cupboard.

“And I would even buy designer mints from Harvey Nichols, which had a mirror inside a little pink tin. Why do you need a mirror inside a mint tin?”

Helen spent exorbitant amounts on other people too, buying £100 T-shirts at the drop of a hat if she saw something she thought would suit a friend.

Meanwhile her own clothes collection, much of it still with the price tags on, began to fill every wardrobe and drawer in the house.

“I didn’t wear most of it,” Helen admits. “When I moved house I gave ten binbags full of brand new clothes to a charity shop. If I’d known what I was doing I could have given that money to charity in the first place, but I just wasn’t thinking straight.”

When I first read this article, I joked and said to Katie “That sounds a bit like you…” Helen is right, we do tend to make light of such things…

I wanted to chop some of that writing down, but I had to quote it in full to give you a true idea of the enormity of what people with an addiction will do… With the world crumbling around them, people can sometimes just carry on getting their fix… I mean, what a spender!

Even I would really struggle with that kind of spending!

However, here comes the good stuff… Introduce hypnotherapy to the mix…

In 2004, with her marriage on the brink of falling apart, a £50,000 overdraft and debts so bad she could barely meet her mortgage payments, she finally decided to seek help. She went to her doctor who referred her to top hypnotherapist Marisa Peer.

Helen says: “I was quite sceptical at first but her voice was very soothing and during the session I couldn’t open my eyes.

“I can’t remember a lot of what she said but I do remember her telling me that I was enough; she made me realise that I didn’t need ‘stuff’.”

Helen had four £150 hour-and-a-half sessions, the last one just eight months ago. Since then she has been shopping just once and then only to buy one skirt and pair of sandals.

“The four visits to Marisa were the best £600 I’ve ever spent. It saved my sanity and I’ve no desire to go shopping any more,” she says firmly.

Helen now lives near Worksop, Nottinghamshire, and plans to open an organic cafe. Sadly her marriage didn’t survive and she and Duncan parted 18 months ago, although they remain good friends.

“I’m cured now, but it was too much for anybody and I can totally understand that,” she says sadly.

“I never worry I’ll slip back into it but it’s been the cause of so much heartache and misery and I can never give him back the four years of hell.

Great stuff, eh?

Hypnotherapy saves the day again… Doubtless my shopping trip today is going to be an occasion where I get to feel good about myself and the way my business has done so well… Like a celebration… But it is not providing me with any emotional sustinence that I could not get elsewhere… A Prada shirt is on the cards…

Wishing you a fabulous weekend too… Until next week 🙂