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When Anxiety Made Me Leave a Store Without Putting Anything Away

To the employees of the craft store I left without putting anything away — I’m sorry.

I went to the craft store as a break from my severe depressive episode. It gave me a reason to leave the couch and leave the house. I love the holiday season and I was looking forward to making my own wreaths.

I got to the store excited about all my crafting prospects. Aisle after aisle inspired me and helped me hone my plan for the project. Being on a budget, I started having trouble finding items within my price range. No matter; I altered my plan and filled my cart again.

Living with mental illness, I’m easily overwhelmed and social anxiety can kick in out of nowhere. The process of planning, adjusting, emptying the cart, filling the cart and emptying it again began to wear on me. In addition to my pricing frustrations, navigating the narrow aisles alongside dozens of holiday shoppers made my anxiety rise and panic started to set in.

If you or someone you know lives with an anxiety disorder, you may be familiar with this process. You begin optimistically with a plan for self-care and may even start out by enjoying the process. After some time, however, the world becomes too loud and the lights become too bright and your vision begins to tunnel while your heartbeat pounds hard and fast in your eardrums.

Being highly concerned about others and especially sensitive to the actions that frustrate retail employees, I froze in the aisle, knowing I could not put all my items away in this state but also not wanting to leave that responsibility for anyone else. Stuck between actions, I started toward the exit then jerked toward the cart, repeating this useless pattern more than once.

To the craft store employees, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I could not put my items away; I’m sorry I left through the exit door at a suspiciously fast pace, and I’m sorry I could not be your customer today.

Sometimes, our bodies decide our limits when our brains want to go further. Something as simple as a trip to the store can be completely overwhelming and sometimes getting out of bed is impossible. Knowing your limits, even if they are not ideal, is a strength rather than a weakness.

Sometimes all we can do is breathe and that’s OK.

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Getty Images photo via CentralITAlliance