Why shopping makes me feel anxious, even though I know I can afford it

You could say my relationship with fashion is pretty basic. A young woman dressing comfortably, sometimes elegant and casual, sometimes sporty or girly.
I do not shop for the latest trends and I have probably never left a shopping centre with more than a few items. In fact, shopping itself gives me more anxiety than happiness or relaxation.

I would describe myself as a happy child with caring parents, loving grandparents and a (slightly annoying but still dear to my heart) brother. There was nothing special about my childhood until 2008 when a huge economic crisis hit Slovakia and left my father, the breadwinner, without a job. My mum was unemployed at that time as well, as she was on maternity leave with my younger brother. Our financial situation started to worsen. Our family did not have enough money to run the household and after paying the rent, electricity, water and other bills, there was barely enough money for food never mind new clothes.

Me and my neighbour who often handed down their clothes to me

Our neighbours collected all kinds of clothes for me and my brother in an effort to try to help us. I was very grateful for their support, but I was also upset that I did not have a chance to express myself through my own personal style. It also didn’t help that, more often than not, it was boyish clothes that were given to me that were loose and untrendy.

Sadly, my classmates noticed and I was bullied for my “style” in primary school. They laughed at me, not understanding the situation my family and I were in. I even ended up in a couple of fights when I was trying to protect myself from ugly comments and name-calling. My grades also started to get worse as I refused to go to school.

I became underweight from depression, anxiety and stress which only led to my clothes becoming looser and my classmates more annoying. My parents were trying to help me, but they had enough problems already between looking for jobs and paying all the bills.

I lost weight because of all the stress I was under

Even in this horrible period of my life, I found one piece that was special to me, a red tartan jacket. It was perfect for warm springs or late summer nights and I wore it every day and everywhere. “I’ve finally got something that feels like it’s made for me”, I told myself. Of course, my classmates noticed I wore the same jacket over and over again and started picking on me again.

My favourite jacket over the years, starting from 2010 – 2019

Even now that my family is in a better financial situation I do not like shopping. It makes me feel anxious and depressed as I always remember how we couldn’t afford these luxuries growing up. Because of this, I shop only when I desperately need something, and I usually prefer to go to charity shops.

One of the sweathers my mum made

Over the years I have fallen in love with my mum’s style and I love borrowing stuff from her.  Nearly 90% of my wardrobe is clothing from my mum, especially jumpers that she she made herself when she was my age.

I take every piece of clothes as a gift from and I do not take it for granted because everything can change in a second…


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