Getting Anxiety In Public Places

The other day I went grocery shopping all by myself, the first time I have ever done this. I was excited to feel like an adult, shop for my own food and drinks, and without anyone telling me any differently. It was a nice feeling. I was ready for it.

As my roommate and I pulled up to the store, I got out and headed inside. At first, it felt nice. I’m walking around the store when I suddenly realized I didn’t have a cart.

Oh, I thought. Getting a cart might be a good idea.

Despite that little slip-up, I was still feeling positive. Knowing that first and foremost I wanted some Bolthouse Farms juice, I head to the back of the store where they keep the dairy, juice, and things along those lines. As I make my way back there, I soon discover that my said juice is not there.

It’s okay, I told myself. It’s got to me somewhere else in here. In the meantime, what else do I need?

This question left me stumped. It was at that moment I realized I made no list and had absolutely no idea what I wanted except my juice. While this is happening, I’m trying to reach into my brain to think of anything that I like to eat or drink.

Nothing comes to mind.

So of course, like any normal person, my heart starts pounding at about a million miles an hour, and I find my palms sweating, despite how cold it is. Deciding that it’s best to just go look for my juice, I start meandering around the store with no idea what I’m doing.

After finding my juice, I knew that I needed other things. One can’t survive with just juice. I once again ask myself what types of food I want, and again, my brain gives me nothing. I start talking to myself in the middle of the store, trying to calm myself down.

Do I like cereal? Yes, I like cereal. But what kind? Healthy kinds? Sugary kinds? And even if I get cereal, what else do I need? I can barely cook, so meat’s not a good idea, right? Then again, I should probably get meat because everyone needs it. But wait, I can just get the Bolthouse Farms Protein drinks. Yes, that sounds like a good idea. But what else can I eat? Fruit? And what kind? Pineapples, apples, oranges? There’s so many options. Will I even eat it if I buy it? Maybe I should just get some But again, what kind? Nah, I’ll just go get some bagels. But where’s the cream cheese? It’s not over here by the bagels.

Before I knew it, I was hyperventilating, tears forming in my eyes. I noticed several people looking my way, but were they really looking at me? I wasn’t sure. I’m still not. Maybe they were, or maybe it was just my anxiety telling me that their focus was on me.

After a good hour, I leave the store with $122 worth of food. I made it out alive. But did I get everything I needed? Maybe. Maybe not.

Fast-forward to today. I got my financial aid check from my college, and realized I needed some new clothes for the new year. Similar to my shopping experience at the grocery store, I went to Kohl’s and was dropped off by my roommate.

I enter the store, and spend a good five minutes trying to find the guys’ section. Once I get there, I ask myself, Okay, I’m here, now what do I want? What do I need? Some pants is a good idea. But what type of pants do I want?

And similar to the grocery store experience, my chest suddenly tightens up and my eyes begin to water. Instead of letting things get too far this time around, I picked up my phone, and called my mother, who was able to thankfully calm me down and help ease my anxiety through the whole experience.

Both of these experiences have given me some insight into the adult world, but I still have a long way to go. My anxiety is something that I deal with on a day to day basis, and probably will for the rest of my life. My mental illness is real, and regardless of what other people think, it exists in many others as well.

We are not alone. You are not alone.