Keywords: Bipolar, Collections, Obsessions.
It’s a defining characteristic of mine. That very few people know about. Most people buy one or two of whatever they need, with the odd obsession of toilet paper not withstanding. Household items, like the tp, cleaning supplies, non perishable foods, etc. I usually purchase one item and have one in reserve. Meaning when someone opens the new tp pack I go out and purchase the back up pack. There is nothing worse than the 10 pm call out for tp and having none. Unless it’s a 3am call out. I would also like to point out that I am fully aware of how privileged I am. I have a home, with plenty of food, heat, electricity, a cell phone, washer and dryer, and internet access. I know not everyone has the financial ability or space to buy back up items. Which is why the tp hoarding was so fucking bizarre. I bet people are still going through their stash of butt paper. Seriously - who needs 5 Costco sized packs of toilet paper? How much fiber do you eat causing you to need to wipe your ass that fucking much? That’s like laxative level output.
Where was I? Back to the subject at hand, odd collections. I collect usable items but in excess. Not the items that would cause someone to suffer if they had to go without. But useful luxuries, maybe? Are those even a thing? Now you are definitely asking, well what do you collect Emerson? Here’s where it’s about to get interesting.
We have drinking glasses of all types. I’ve got a cabinet full, the husband apparently is not
amused by that. Insulated bottles and cups? Yep there’s a wire shelf full. Coffee & Tea Mugs - but lots of people do that. Cast Iron Teapots and cups? Maybe. Here’s the oddity - do you also collect the tea that goes into the mugs? I do. Loose leaf tea. I have a 5 shelf wire rack loaded down with tea tins & tea pouches. I LOVE tea. Black tea, green tea, white tea, oolong tea, herbals, flavors, and blends of all of the above. I’ve got it all. I used to work at a tea shop in the mall and that created and fueled my tea habit.
If tea isn’t weird enough, let’s move on to my art studio/office/room/cave. Let’s talk about art supplies. Acrylic paints - I own the rainbow of colors you can find in tubes at Michaels. I have acrylic mediums to blend and extend my paints. I even have some funky spray acrylics I found when an art shop was closing. Watercolors? I have both pans and tubes in all the colors. As well as the metallic and iridescent ones too. I have India Ink for calligraphy that I haven’t done in decades, but the ink is still usable - it hasn’t molded, dried up or turned rancid. Alcohol inks for mixed media blending and making mugs that can’t be microwaved or washed in a dishwasher. I have mugs of brushes, and palette knives as well as palette wedges to apply all the paint with too. Don't forget to add in a healthy amount of sketch books. And lastly, my favorite art supply obsession - markers, pens, and pencils. When adult coloring books came out - I went a bit insane. I have 4 dozen coloring books as I used to use them with my kids. To go with the coloring books I have the pencils and pens and markers. Yes I use all 3 for my coloring pages. I have regular artist colored pencils as well as watercolor pencils and of course regular graphite pencils for sketching. The pencils are color sorted in jars, tips up to prevent breakage, also sorted by type. I am nothing if not meticulous with my tools. The pens are stored horizontal to prevent drying out and ruining the tips. They are sorted by color, nib type, and ink type. Gel ink, felt tips, and alcohol markers are in different drawer units. My plastic drawers all match and are lined up precisely. When my drawers didn’t all look uniform I felt itchy and twitchy. I went out and got new drawers that were all the same to ease the twitch. The lack of clean lines irritated me and triggered a bit of OCD. There are enough pens and pencils and markers I can confidently say I could draw a line from the north pole to the south pole and back with enough to color more. Organization makes me happy here. The colors arranged in a rainbow make me smile. With camouflage and organization added in, you’d have a hard time knowing I probably have over 1,500 pens, pencils, and markers in one small basement office. I try my best to keep all my creative supplies in one room.
With the exception of my yarn stash, I have done it too. My yarn is in the TV viewing area, where I do most of my knitting. I have 3 or 4 projects in process - a blanket, a scarf, a wrap, and a shawl. I bought all the implements of knitting too. I have straight needles, interchangeable needles - both metal and bamboo, scissors, darning needles. If I can focus on one task long enough I may be able to complete a project!
What else could I collect? How about makeup? I have so many lipsticks and balms and glosses. Along with eye shadow palettes galore. Honestly, the make up isn’t too bad - I mean what if you need yellow and teal shadow for a costume? It’s a must have, right? Black lipstick. I mean it could be useful in a certain situation. Let’s keep going, there is more. I have a perfume collection. Not just 3 or 4, but a decorative cabinet full of scents. All kinds. I have purse sizes and full sizes. Last year I went a tad overboard. I thought if I can’t wear my lipstick because I am masking like a responsible human, I can scent my ass nicely and smell divine as I walk by. I was driven by scent and the look of the fucking bottles. If it was a pretty bottle and a great scent - I couldn’t stop myself. It became a compulsion, and impulse I was powerless to control. I have stopped because I am out of room and if I keep going it will become a noticeable issue. Did I mention I tend to camouflage my collections so as not to attract unwanted questions from outsiders? I camouflaged everything from my partner too. When I started hiding stuff, I realized I was in the throes of a shopping obsession and had to stop before I bankrupted us - again.
Shopping and impulse controls are a cornerstone of bipolar. They go hand in hand, and while it may seem innocuous it isn’t. These behaviors are what define bipolar, they cause problems. Just because I collect tea or perfume or craft supplies, doesn’t mean it’s any less harmful then collecting drug addictions and sexual partners. My budget doesn’t allow for this. Yet I have done it and I fight not to continually buy unnecessary items. I will always be fighting this problem. My mother rewarded me and punished me with things. If I was a good little girl I got what I was asking for and if I wasn’t well I didn’t. Stuff has been a tool in my life to control me. I am working on that in therapy, but it’s a tough one. I have also been told by my partner/husband that I am not odd. I am eccentric and quirky. I am also lucky because my partner understands me and embraces me for me. Quirks and all.