Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sharing of emotions indeed

I needn't have worried. The day started off yesterday with me being irritated by my socks, my belt, my shoes, my hair against my face. I was scarcely out of the gate when I had to stop and take my shoes and socks off and put them on again, and put some cream on my face to stop the feeling of hair on dry skin. It was the first hot day of spring yesterday, and I did not like it.

I had an hour and a half to kill in the city before my appointment, so decided to go to a nearby mall and get some needed things, and also to buy myself a T-shirt as the day was turning out hotter than anticipated. In the third shop I went into I finally found a shirt that did not feel synthetic or too flimsy, was an acceptable colour, and really looked nice. I was feeling a little nervous already, I don't like clothing stores, they seem so full of assertive staff and determined women shoppers. And mostly awful clothes. So I started wandering around, surreptitiously trying to find out where to pay for the shirt. It was a huge store, and I just could not figure out where to go. No handy signs saying "Pay Here". No other buyers in a hurry to buy anything so that I could watch and follow them. I saw a counter at last, but soon saw it was just for accounts and admin. By then I was almost crying, and felt like hiding from the staff instead of asking them for help. I knew I would not be able to talk, so I gave up, put the shirt down and fled. I did not want to go to the rest rooms, because I did not want to lose the last control I had, if I started really crying, I would find it too difficult to stop, and then I would be stuck in a cubicle, not wanting to come out.

Luckily I saw a coffee shop that was a little out of the eye, and mercifully rather empty. I sat down at a corner table and asked for coffee, and then also ordered something to eat. And I had a book with me, so I ate and read and tried to stop crying, concentrating on deep breaths. I am so so grateful that the women serving me made no comments and asked no questions. I don't like crying in public, and I cannot handle kindness or curiosity when I do.

I was so unhappy. Why can't I do a simple thing like buying a t-shirt for myself? Why am I unable to ask for help, why is it so hard, and most of all, why am I so scared?

I sat there until it was time to leave for my appointment, not having the courage to go into any other stores. Drove to the consulting rooms, went inside, and started crying as soon as I sat down. No intellectual, cold discussions as I feared. So in the end the fear and upset was worth it, it enabled me to share. We spent some time talking about fear and anxiety, and my feeling that I had failed once again instead of being proud of trying something I have always found difficult. I don't feel brave, it is a nice thought though. We also talked about my fear of looking deeper at my feelings and anxiety, and agreed that we will not try for now, I do not want to spend the precious hour every month being hugely upset and afraid. He has promised to email my some things to read about anxiety, which I am feeling a bit skeptical about - I have read lots about it already, and have an aversion to any 'self-help' writings. We'll see.


  1. I am so daunted by shops, especially clothing shops. If I have my children with me they end of finding an assistant to ask where something is. Sometimes I feel brave and put together, but more often than not I also just feel like fleeing. So you are not alone in being overwhelmed about shops. I think that they are actually made that way so that you have to browse around more.
    Keep an open mind about the 'self-help' writings, and if it does not strike a chord the first time you read it, just put it to one side and tackle it again another time. I often find that dependant on our mood or energy we have a different perspective on the same things at different times.

  2. Oh Cecile,
    I relate so much to what you are saying. People have told me I have agoraphobia, but that's not so much of what is going on. It's not being able to figure out what I'm doing or sometimes where I'm going, and trying to keep it together through sensory overload and having to talk to people when I can only do passing comments and simple exchanges. I have left shopping carts full of groceries, or with clothes in them because I've gotten to where I am going to have a break down and cry (or have a panic attack) and need to get the heck out of there as fast as possible. And many times it's simply because there is too much noise and commotion for me to process, or the squeal of someone's shopping cart is too much to bare and I have to get away from it by leaving the store.

    I don't know why it is so difficult, other than noise, movement... sensory issues in general. And starting your day off with already having problems with your shoes and socks and hair on your face... well, I know for me if I'm already having tactile and/or auditory issues the day is going to be an awful struggle for me unless I can just stay home.

    I've just received Safety Skills for Asperger's Women by Liane Holliday Willey, EdD and I'm hoping she's got some good advice or ideas in her book for being out in stores and such. The book just came out. It's sort of self-helpish, but it's written by a woman with AS so I take it much more seriously than most other self help style books.