The Hardest Part of Holiday Shopping With a Psychological Disorder


After Thanksgiving dinner, many people immediately start thinking about all the deals they can snag for Black Friday. And about what stores are going to have exactly what they are looking for, specifically for their loved ones. For some of us, though, especially those with anxiety attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sensory issues, holiday shopping can be hell. As opposed to the best in-store deals, we often look for who has the best shipping deals. Who has all-night hours. And the fastest route in and out of stores.

My husband and I both have PTSD, his from combat in the army, mine from years of abuse and bullying from my schoolmates. Come early- to mid-November, we start looking on different sites. We figure out shipping times. We look for stores that are open 24 hours. And we look for stores that offer site-to-store.

On top of both of us having PTSD, we both also struggle with an anxiety disorder. Crowds terrify us. Neither one of us like people (that we don’t know) getting physically close to us. We even stay basically glued to each other while we’re at the store.

When you’re at the store and you see someone with headphones on, or you see someone high-tailing it down the aisle, I believe nine times out of 10, they aren’t trying to be rude. They could have anxiety or PTSD. They could have sensory sensitivities. Or they might just be a**holes. But you really have no way of knowing.

Yes, there are medications we can take to help ease the anxiety of busy shopping centers. However, just like with any medication, there can be side effects. And many of them are far from pleasant. In my experience, one of the biggest side effects of many anxiety meds is they can make you groggy — which is possibly one of the worst side effects when you’re in a crowded place, when there are plenty of unknown people who may want to try and take advantage of or steal from those who they view as “easy targets.”

This holiday season, please think of your friends and family members with psychological and sensory issues. Offer to either go with them, or go for them. Help them do their online searches. Be a shoulder for them after a stressful shopping trip, even if you live far away from them. While you may enjoy holiday shopping, remember there are some people who dread shopping during the holiday season.

Image via Thinkstock.

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