Panic Attacks while shopping. How do you cope?

Posted by: Kiyopiyo in Untagged  on  PDF


My panic attacks often trigger in public environments when I am by myself. Retail chains such as Walmart, Target, Costco, Sam's Club or really any large building with lots of people and fluorescent lighting are a HUGE trigger for me. I'm okay, usually, so long as someone else is with me. But if I go in alone, or I lose sight of that 'safe person', I begin to panic. I can just be browsing along through some products and suddenly realize, "oh no, I can't see the person I was with". Or if I am by myself, just the thought of "I'm going to have a panic attack in here" is enough to send me into one.

There was one time when I went shopping with a friend inside of a Sam's Club and we became separated while she went to one area of the store, and I went to another. I had left my purse with her in the shopping cart, including my cell phone, and had no way of contacting her to find her immediately. I began to panic tremendously. "I'm going to pass out. I'm going to fall down right here and cause a big scene" is all that was going through my head in the middle of the store. I couldn't find my friend, I was surrounded by strange people, and the only thing I could think of to do was escape the store as quickly as possible. 

Now if you're familiar with Sam's Club, it's one of those stores that is membership-only. Which means you have to show your card to get back in. My card was in my purse, with my friend whom I could not find. So I had to suck up my pride and tell the door greeter that checks your membership card that I was experiencing as panic attack and needed to get some fresh air before going back in to locate my friend so that she would let me leave and re-enter the store once I had calmed down. I was mortified, but it was the only thing I could think of to do without completely losing my mind in that store. 

  It's episodes like this that make me terrified to shop alone. If I get panicky in the middle of shopping, I can't just leave my shopping cart, leave the store, and come back in to resume. Not unless I want to tell some random person what is going on so they'll watch my stuff. Who's to say I'd even feel comfortable going back in the store within a short amount of time? Sometimes it takes a while before I calm down enough. And let's face it, the bulk of the population does NOT understand panic disorder and thinks we're just crazy loons.

 So that's my store about shopping and how my panic disorder affects it. Does anyone experience the same?

Comments (4)add comment

truck said:

I used to feel that way but not anymore. I know it's hard, but you have to face your fears. If you fear going to Sam's club on your own, do it, go to Sam's club. If you have the time, read my blog. There is one blog the same as yours and how I overcome it.

Easier said than done, but you have to help yourself also. You might want to try reading inspirational books for a change.

I will pray for your success.


July 18, 2011
Votes: +1

MaraLynn said:

I was feeling the same way about going into stores.. it's ok to have a breather if you are feeling uncomfortable in a store.. but it is better to face your fears and try to keep yourself in there the entire time but next time try to head to the lavatory instead of going outside and take a few minutes to gather your thoughts and give yourself a pep talk... if it makes you feel better carry your card in your pocket so you know that if you have to get some air you can without feeling embarrassed.. also while you are starting to panic try to take a deep breath and accept that you are panicking and that it will pass... try telling yourself something like this:
"Yes I am feeling anxiety but I am safe. Yes, I am lightheaded but it will pass. I have never fainted from a panic attack and I will not now. I am safe. There is not immediate danger here. I will be reunited with my friend in a few moments.."
These things usually help me when I am in panic mode. Also if you have an iPod or music player you can download some audio recordings for the panic... there is one I find very helpful and calms me every time I listen to it...

good luck!

July 19, 2011
Votes: +0

Kiyopiyo said:

Thank you both for the suggestions. I will be reading your blog, Randall.

I love audio recordings and relaxation type stuff so I'll be downloading some of those audio recordings to try out, Mara. Thanks!
July 19, 2011
Votes: +0

truck said:

You are very most welcome.

If you need audio's just tell me, got a lot of them and it really works.

God bless you
July 20, 2011
Votes: +0

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