Crowded Stores And How To Handle It


If you’re anything like me, when you’re in a crowded store there are one of three things that goes through your mind:

  1. What the fuck is wrong with you people, personal space!
  2. Okay, how many of you are telepathically communicating with each other to plan my demise? (You ask them all telepathically, of course).
  3. Too many, too many, too many, run, run, leave, leave, panic, panic–wait! There’s chocolate–okay, run, run, run.

Or maybe you think all three and have a hell of a time shopping. I can essentially go into two stores by myself: Walgreens and Rite Aid. When those two stores are crowded, I sit in my car for a good twenty minutes until I feel safe entering the establishment.

But when you can’t wait twenty or thirty minutes in your car with your kitten comforting you, and you have to take a deep breath and dive neck deep into the hell that is a sea of human nematodes, here are six things that help me.

  1. If you feel like people are planning your demise, or if the clerks are conspiring to get you kicked out, do as I do and put some ear phones in. If you hear the clerks conspiring to get you kicked out, I suggest even more you put some ear phones in. It’s a good distraction and you can blend in pretty well. If you start talking to yourself, it looks like you’re on the phone. What a wonderful age we live in, right? Conversely, if you are not someone who talks to yourself regularly and you walk around with those bluetooth things in your ears talking to the air, you look ridiculous, you really, really do.

    Oh You’re Sooooooo Suave
  2. If people are crowding around you, remember you have the right to leave the aisle. I feel sometimes our anxiety can paralyze us and we’re stuck between two people on our right and two people on our left with thoughts circulating about how close they are, about if they’re watching us pick out an item, about how they’re judging the item we pick up, or maybe just that there is another person next to us and we’re trapped so we have to pick something before we can leave. These are all thoughts I experience as well. It’s a good idea to just squeeze on past and come back to the aisle later. It’s not going anywhere.
  3. If you then think those people are following you around the store just to crowd you, or to track you, as I often have felt, try and remember that everyone came in this store for something. Chances are, you will run across someone looking for the same thing you are. It may be that they are following you: just not on purpose.
  4. You do have the freedom to punch someone. I don’t suggest doing it, in fact I recommend you don’t. But remembering that may give you some security.
  5. Talk to yourself. In your head this time. Too often we let ourselves be victimized by this beast called anxiety and it starts running the show. It controls our thoughts, our actions, our emotions. It’s up to you to take back at least a sliver of control: remind yourself it’s okay. Sing along to lyrics in your head. Focus on a list you may have made. The point isn’t to dissociate from the situation like I pretty much always do, but to be able to maintain a level of composure while being present. Remind yourself what you’re feeling is anxiety, or paranoia, or panic, whichever it is you come across, and recognize it and know that it’s there. Try not to push it away. The harder you push, the stronger it gets, have you noticed?
  6.  Remember it will end. Remember that when you get out of that store and away from those people you will have a moment to breathe again and you can count it as a victory. Even if you don’t make it, even if you have to run out without buying anything, you went in and tried and that takes courage. There’s no failure here, only small victories, small accomplishments.

Too often we beat ourselves down for what we don’t do, what we feel we’ve failed at, and don’t nearly give ourselves enough credit for the things we do accomplish, even the small things–I’m guilty of this myself. One thing our minds are very talented at in the midst of something like anxiety is telling us how wrong we’ve managed to do everything. Not even the one thing we tried to do, but it becomes a generalization of everything.

Our brains are very good at hyperboles. And that’s okay, we just have to recognize them and have an action plan when they pop up.



It Goes On And On


Day three and the war has yet to be won. But progress has been made.

Is there truly ever such thing as a war that is won?

The foot soldiers have been marching their ankles to the bone and firing their defenses until gunpowder covers their thin faces like a mud mask. They’re beaten and tired and cramped; they’re famished and their sanity is slipping.

We’ve called in for reinforcements.

his-usa-care-37The care packages sent last night were too early and landed on enemy territory; they abolished them.

In other words, I ate a tuna sandwich last night and at 12:00 a.m felt a sharp stabbing all around my gut. I could hardly lean over before it all blew out of me like a pressure washer.

I’m not a fan of fish, it always has an interesting (not appetizing) flavor to it but I don’t mind tuna. However, it coming back up was a whole new level of disgusting.

I’m still food poisoned, evidently. I thought I could keep food down last night, but I very fucking obviously couldn’t. I think I deserve a medal for being drop dead sick, still high on 20mg of Ativan and still dragging my ass to math yesterday.

I’m willing to compromise: give me an A in the class and I’ll be fine.

This morning I awoke from another slew of odd, realistic dreams (often a side effect of Ativan for me, even after a few days of not having it) very hungry. A primeval kind of hungry. The kind of hungry you’d be willing to smack a baby across the face to quell. The kind of hunger that would make you kick a stranger in the balls to snatch the half eaten burrito out of his hands. The kind of hunger where, if you have the choice between lasting another ten minutes for a full course meal and a well-cooked human face right now, you’d slurp up that face without hesitation.

I’ve maybe consumed 100 calories within the last two and a half days.

natural_apple_sauce_4_oz6349eaaf-1415-4f56-9428-b7ac80d340e4My breakfast this morning was planned very carefully, according to Google’s medically certified (NOT) recommendations of what to eat when suffering through Food Poisoning or the Flu or any gut related illness. I had noticed the other day that only tuna came up, but not the half of can of fruit cocktail I ate; my brain had been craving it all day, as if it instinctively knew soft foods will digest quicker and therefore cause less of a commotion. So I wasn’t surprised Google said Apple Sauce and Bananas are a great way to get some calories and nutrition in your body.

White rice, as well. Wasn’t expecting that.

So my breakfast consisted of an Apple Sauce cup and about a handful of plain white rice.

I feel like one of those people who have become “morbidly super obese” for whatever reason (eating disorder, thyroid issues, family tradition) and are now stuck on a bland diet after their gastric bypass surgery. Although I’m not sure if you’re allowed to eat rice after that type of surgery. Does anyone know? If you do, tell me. I know you’re not supposed to drink carbonated fluids.

I have never had this type of sickness before. I’ve only had the flu once, when I was 10, and it scarred me for life; I’ve had a grave fear (but not phobia) of vomiting ever since. But because I didn’t understand the source of my sudden fever, nausea, and inability to eat food, it triggered my health anxiety.

I consider myself a strong willed person. I don’t take shit. I won’t take your shit, my parent’s shit, my friend’s shit–I won’t even take my own shit. So I’m also stubborn. But it’s the reason I’ve learned a lot of techniques to calm myself down from a panic attack, including breathing and walking and talking myself through the process so as to reassure my brain on a very real level that I’m okay.

But when it comes to my health . . . well, I’ve yet to crack that rotten fucking egg. In 2014 I contracted some kind of weird (probably relatively normal) sickness and my brain created physical symptoms to exacerbate the sickness. I had a panic attack and yada, yada, same old story.

dont-use-pdfsI’m trying to gain control over my thoughts. When I feel myself disconnecting from the world and worrying about my health. Today has been better physically, but worse mentally. Being stuck in my room for three days without any human contact besides a few moments with my father, I get lost in the anxiety and paranoia of my own mind and find myself on the verge of more panic.

Comforting myself is difficult when my mind is lost in itself. I’ve been too scarred this week to force myself to eat, so every time I take a bite I get nauseous. My father doesn’t remember I was in the hospital, or food poisoned, and my mother only references how it’s been stressful for her to have to be in and out of hospital and doctors appointments this week. Which I acknowledged wholly; I bet it is. But . . . at least you’re not on the hospital side of things.

It’s never been acknowledged how hard it is to deal with everything that I do. I never paid mind to it because no one else did. But now that I think about it, I realize how much support I haven’t received. How much more attention I get for my physical problems than I ever do for my mental issues. Once again, I had to fight to get to the hospital. This time over money.


I said I didn’t care how much a visit would cost. It would be my debt, not my mothers. And she’s stressing like she’s the one who can’t breathe with a heart rate of 140 and a blood pressure level of 160/92.

By the way, the social worker got me emergency insurance and the visit and prescription was paid for.

I still haven’t been asked if I am okay. It hasn’t been acknowledged how terrifying those incidents are. It’s never been acknowledged and it never will be.  I’m still in the process of accepting that.

I think there’s a reason my stomach is still upset, and it isn’t entirely physical.

Whatever the reason, I’m going into this weekend and next week with as positive of an attitude as I can. I’ve always promised myself no matter how many obstacles my mentality throws at me, no matter what limitations I may or may not develop, I would never let either one or both of them result in my downfall. It’s not because I give a shit about my “duty to society” or my “duty to myself” or honor or whatever people think they need to be strong for, it’s because I choose not to let them be my downfall.

I have no reason to have a downfall. I’ve made it this far, haven’t I?

That’s the thought I’ll be sleeping on tonight. Hopefully it resonates in my dreams.