shopping girlAs you may know, this beautifully bipolar chick also lives with anxiety problems. I don’t like large crowds. I like to know the people in my personal space. I like to know I can escape.

Even in the off season shopping isn’t always easy because going in big box stores or department stores causes me anxiety. ┬áThis problem started years ago and sometimes it doesn’t bother me a bit and some days, like yesterday, I become overcome with panic at the back of the store. It goes back to that need to know I can escape. The closer to the front of the store I am, the better I feel.

My therapist and I have discussed this fear. Here’s the plan we came up with to aid me when I don’t think I can stay in a store. Simply walk out. (Not with the unpaid merchandise, of course). No one is making me stay in Target. No one is holding me against my will. And you can do it too. If you are with someone and aren’t comfortable telling them about your anxiety just tell them you need to get some air and will meet them in ten minutes.

Step outside and do some deep breathing or visualization or take your anxiety medication or go sit in your car or whatever you do that helps when you are anxious. Then decide whether or not to go back in the store. Again, no one is forcing you to buy things.

This time of year is hard for those of us with anxiety and shopping is just one cause. The crowds can be overwhelming. The impatient Camry in the parking lot can push us over the edge. Luckily, you can buy almost anything on the Internet, except the Christmas dinner. You can sit at home, in your special, safe spot and order presents for your friends and family and they can be delivered right to their door, no less!

Seriously though, never feel forced into a shopping situation that causes you anxiety. You will never see me out on Black Friday. I’d be all panic attacks and tears. Remember you are the boss and you choose where, when, and how you will shop. ┬áDon’t berate yourself if you can manage to go out holiday shopping. It’s hard. I know, really, I do.