In my last post, I tackled the very serious epidemic of stationery addiction. I have been overwhelmed with the response to that post. It would seem that there are sufferers who have felt unsupported and overlooked by the establishment.
I am here to serve, and so undertook to interview Professor Melskin Staedtler. Professor Staedtler is a faculty member at the Smythsonian Foundation and her seminal work on this difficult subject matter – “My life is a sticky note – the truth about Office Supplies addiction” – is set to become a classic on this subject. She has been busy touring the world and setting up self-help groups for addicts around the globe. These ‘Pads’ are supportive groups for addicts who call themselves ‘Inkos’. At present this is an underground movement but it is Professor Staedtler’s mission to bring this therapeutic approach into the mainstream. Her vision is a world in which Office Supply Addiction is recognised for the serious issue that it is.
“It’s all about education,” she says, over the rim of her horn-rimmed glasses. “I mean, let’s face it, the teaching profession is one of the prime areas for finding addicts. Approximately 50% of teachers in one of my research surveys admitted that they only entered into the profession because of their addiction to ‘Back To School’ deals. It’s a tragedy really.”
She went on: “And children are being normalized into this way of life. Parents unwittingly become enablers and often the primary point of supply. I have seen whole families who literally could not function without their Post Its and wall planners.”
So, what can we do about this addiction?
“Firstly,” Professor Staedtler advises, ” Admit you have a problem. So many addicts are in denial about the extent of their problem. They blame it on their star sign – Virgos in particular – or justify their behaviour by claiming that they have OCD. This is a classic tactic for using one syndrome to disguise another. I call it ‘whiting out’ – refusing to face something so covering it up and trying to write over it. Only when addicts can admit that they have a problem do they have a chance at recovery. It’s the first, and most fundamental, step.”
“Next step is to explore the extent and particular flavour of their addiction. Are they a journal junkie, or a sticker head? Each flavour of this addiction comes with it’s own special form of therapy.
“Well…. a stickerhead, for example, can experience real breakthroughs if they are able to use Post Its in strategic places to remind them not to buy any more stickers. These can be in wallets, on cellphones – anywhere that is visible. Yes, I suppose it is a form of replacement therapy, like Methadone, but the beauty of Post Its is that they are impermanent, that glue will fade in time. It can be great for stickerheads to slowly watch the edges of a post it curl up, as their cravings begin to fade.”
“And, journal junkies are often treated with what I call ‘downreaming’. This starts by reducing the size of the journal that they are using. Eventually, the paper is replaced with a virtual substitute – the journal app, or google calendar. This process of withdrawal is supported with a thorough programme of exploratory prompts and writing exercises. So helpful.”
“Keeping a record of your recovery can be so effective for addicts. I recommend sourcing some kind of printable ‘log’ which can be filled in on a daily basis. Perhaps keep this in your filofax and use a highlighter to show your progress. This could then be printed out and displayed on your notice board.”
“Find your tribe. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other addicts. The community is very supportive and there are those who can share their inspiring journeys on the rocky road to recovery. Joining a ‘pad’ can be a great start. Perhaps even start one up in your own city, or online?”
And the final step to recovering from stationery addiction?
“The final step is to have faith in yourself and fill the space that has been left by your addiction. Take up a hobby but avoid things such as crafting and scrapbooking – these are gateway hobbies and another example of ‘whiting out’. Recovered addicts can also flourish by pursuing a corporate career path, or retail work. There are so many ways that addicts can fulfil meaningful roles in society – they just have to be willing to remind themselves daily that they can function without a highlighter pen, or washitape. That life without stationery is possible for them. Freedom from this addiction IS possible.”
What an inspiration! If you are an addict, then do put this recovery plan into place as soon as possible. You are not in this alone. There are many other addicts out there who would love to compare notes (and PostIts, and journal pages). My thanks go to Professor Melskin Staedtler and I wish her all the best with her mission.
Reach out my friend. Leave a comment with your story and how you are using today to start your own long journey to recovery from stationery addiction.
You are not alone.