The Simple Way I Manage My Grocery Store Anxiety

My very first panic attack in front of the person I dated for eight years was at a grocery store. I froze. I couldn’t breathe. I had a cart full of groceries and I couldn’t remember if I was forgetting anything and I was exhausted from pacing up and down the aisles and there was a long line ahead of me. My chest was too tight and I couldn’t get enough air in. I didn’t say anything. I just walked out of the store. He followed. I tried to catch my breath in the car and explain what happened, but I was mostly silent and shaky.

Grocery stores are a perfect trigger for my anxiety. A crushing amount of people. Dozens of aisles with thousands of choices. Anxiety about forgetting something. Anxiety about budgets. Health and body image anxiety. I have always hated shopping and avoided malls for these reasons — I buy my jeans from the internet and do my Christmas shopping on Etsy. This means I can do things at my own pace, in my own space, privately. For someone with an anxiety disorder, this is the kind of relief you can’t put a price on.

The answer, then, to my grocery store angst is food delivery.

I understand that getting groceries delivered to my door looks like being a spoiled millennial. It is actually become a staple of self-care, a way I can still get things done on the days I’m not functioning at 100 percent. If I’m too anxious around people, if my knees and joints and shoulders are painfully flaring up because of fibromyalgia, I can sit on my couch and order what I need from the safety of my living room.

I’ve tried almost every delivery service, from Amazon to Walmart and been able to take advantage of things like free shipping and discounts as a new shopper. The day Aldi announced it was going to join a delivery service, I almost cried.

Getting my groceries delivered is not an every week occurrence. There are days I feel strong enough and want to get out of the house, people watch or browse the aisles. And I know that paying an extra six to 10 dollars to have someone else do my shopping is a privilege, a luxury and is sometimes an extravagant thing — even for me. But I am happy the convenience is there when I need it. It’s a price worth paying for a peaceful mind.

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Thinkstock photo via antpkr.

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