I’m writing this post as a response to a recent experience I had facing up to anxiety. My reaction and dealing with the situation meant I was not only able to get through it, but I enjoyed it, and for that reason I want to share the experience in a hope it will help.
I’ve found it difficult to go into large places for the last few years (explained in other posts) and one of those places is a supermarket. I’ve been going with my girlfriend for the last year and I felt like I’d conquered it. I can now go shopping with her, and I don’t feel any anxiety at all. Well, that was until I had to go on my own…
My girlfriend was away for the weekend and said ‘will you go food shopping? I won’t have time when I get back’. A simple request, a completely irrational response.
Thoughts began to race around my mind. What if I can’t go in? What if when I am in I need to get out? What do I do at the checkouts? What if I start to panic? All of these thoughts began to stir, taking me right back to the beginning when I didn’t think I’d ever go in again. I tried putting it off. ‘I can’t find my wallet’ or ‘I’ve got to go out so we’ll have to go in the week’. I began avoiding it. Then I realised, I’ve been doing this for quite a while now and finding it quite easy. I wasn’t about to go back in time.
I stood up, declared on Twitter I was going, and I did just that. I put on my trainers, picked up my keys, got in the car and off I went. I was done with being scared and it was time to go in there and do what I had to do. I pulled into the parking space, got out, wallet on my pocket and off I went.
I walked through the door with the trolley, and I felt OK. I was near the exit, so fairly comfortable and completely able to leave if I needed to. So I ventured further forward, pushing my boundaries with every step. Next, I felt a little irritable, grabbing things quickly that I needed in a bid to get out quickly. I felt myself breathing quickly, as I hurried around the fruit and veg grabbing what I needed.
I stopped. I took a deep breath. ‘Come on, you’re ok and you can do this’.
I slowed down, I forced myself to stay there. I was starting to relax, and steadily walked around the supermarket finding new ingredients for meals I fancied trying to cook.
As my trolley began to fill, and my items were crossing off the list, I realised I was getting closer to the check out. Probably something I was dreading most of all. The queues were huge, and I was beginning to panic, but rather than flip out like usual, I took my time. I was about to do this in my own way that made it comfortable for me. I looked up and down, and noticed the queues were quickly going down, so I began to have a wander round the shop, and thought to myself ‘just wait, you’ll get there’. I waited, I relaxed. I noticed the ‘Self Service’ queue was almost none existent and this could be a way for me to do this without it being too difficult.
The last time I did this I panicked, worried that I was holding the queue up, people were noticing me panicking, I went hot and sweaty, and all of this was racing through my mind as I approached it.
But this time felt different. I’m in control, it’s my decision, and I’m doing what suits me. I went up to the till and as expected, I began to panic. But for the first time in a long time I was able to say ‘this is just anxiety, and you’re doing ok’. I began scanning, taking my time where I needed to and doing what I aimed to do.
As I strolled out of there, I felt incredible. It wasn’t the most orthodox way of doing it but I did it. Maybe I should have stayed longer, but half an hour felt long enough. Maybe I should have done the checkout, but the self service felt like enough.
If you’re struggling with the same thing, use this post as inspiration. 2 years ago I couldn’t go through the door, now I’m doing my own shopping. Use your breathing, take your time and concentrate on what you’re doing. don’t be afraid to do this how you want to do it. As long as you’re facing a challenge, you’re winning.
You can do it.
I’d love to hear our stories, tweet me @anxiwarrior