Social Anxiety in Public Places
Jean, a fifty year old grandmother, had a panic attack at the grocery store the other day. She was doing her weekly shopping when suddenly she felt an intense feeling that she was being watched by everyone around her.
She felt certain that they were noticing her hair, her clothes…even the way she walked and pushed her cart, and that they were all making judgments on how she looked. When she went to check out, she sensed that the checkout girl was scrutinizing her grocery choices and thinking what an unhealthy eater she was; she figured the girl probably thought that she was a bad person for purchasing those Oreos.
She felt like all eyes were on her. She began sweating and feeling flush. Since that experience, she’s vowed not to go back to the store and instead have her daughter do all of her shopping for her.
What if people think she’s a fat pig because of the foods she chooses to buy? What if they think she’s a slob for shopping in her jogging suit? What if they notice that she’s nervous, sweaty, and flushed?
She feels silly about the whole thing and knows that her daughter is extremely inconvenienced by the situation, but she just can’t bring herself to return to the store.
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