How casual remarks can affect a person with anxiety

It has been a long long time since I have felt able to write anything here. I nearly didn’t go through with it because I saw something similar on Twitter and decided for an instant that my voice was unnecessary.

But I overrode that voice and here I am

Some of you will already know that I suffer from anxiety. This week has been a good week, even though it doesn’t feel that way. Because I have been out and about 3 times!!

One of my trips was to my local shop. And I noticed how my anxiety levels peaked and dipped throughout the experience. I will try to explain why I think that is

I believe that some people are more prone to anxiety, low moods and lack of confidence than others. And I think this is due to a mixture of nature, nurture, genetics, environment, experience, society and culture. I’m not an expert in these matters but from articles I’ve read and from my own experience, that is the conclusion I have come to.

I am one of those people prone to anxiety, low moods and lack of confidence. As a child I was told things that have stayed with me and that still have an impact on how I behave in situations. They were not intended to be malicious or in any way hurtful but I still carry them with me.

  1. I was often told to move out of peoples way
  2. I was told to hurry up because there were people waiting

You’re in the way

I think as a young child I stood in doorways a lot. Which is very inconvenient for people wanting to use the door. So I was told to move, which is understandable. But when I stood somewhere else I felt to be in the way of a whole new set of people and would get anxious and agitated and not know where to stand. I remember just wanting to disappear altogether.

As an adult I have seen young children standing in inconvenient places and it doesn’t bother me. It’s what young children do. Their sense of spatial awareness is probably not fully developed. Or maybe it’s that they haven’t yet grasped the concept that there are other people in this world apart from them. Their parents notice and apologise and the child moves and I smile and say thank you.

But I still have a problem with me being in the way. Especially in shops.

Everyone does it, you’re standing in front of one row of shelves looking at the other row of shelves for what you want. Seeing that makes me anxious. I can’t go directly behind them because there’s no room, and I don’t want to go in front of them because they are trying to find something and I will interrupt them and block their view. So I get anxious and sort of awkwardly shuffle in front of them in an apologetic manner. And when it’s me looking on the opposite shelf for my bread or my milk or whatever, I sense someone coming and shuffle out of their way with a feeling of embarrassment or shame. But someone else comes and I shuffle out of their way too. Until I start to get frustrated because all I want to do is find what I’m looking for but everyone keeps interrupting and why can’t you have a shop where it’s just for me??

Hurry up, there are people waiting

This is a bad one for me.

It happens at every queue. Shops, public transport queues, cinema queues, cash machine queues….. Everywhere. It even happens when there is no queue because someone is going to want to be next at some point. Or when I have to pay the taxi driver, because he has to get to his next pick up.

And again, everyone does this. It’s time to pay and your money/credit card/bus pass isn’t exactly where you thought it was. So you fumble around a bit and hey presto, there it is. With this one I’m not sure that I am quite as accepting about waiting for others as I could be. I think watching someone look for their money makes me anxious and although I probably (hopefully) don’t show it, I get frustrated inside

When it’s my turn, the shame/embarrassment/anxiety, whatever the feeling is, probably starts BEFORE I can’t find what I’m looking for so whatever it is is even harder to find and my fumbles take longer and my shame/embarrassment/anxiety grows…. And then if I get given something in return, change or a ticket or whatever, my anxiety increases because now I have to put it somewhere AND move because someone is behind me in the queue….

It’s exhausting

And even though my rational brain can analyse and explain all of these things, it never seems to translate through to my emotional brain and I continue to feel awkward and anxious and in everyone’s way.

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