Supermarket Stress

Supermarket Stress

Aug 23, 2018, 1:38:22 PM Opinion

Most people don't like going to the supermarket, especially if it's to do the big weekly shopping. However, it's something that the vast majority of us have to do whether we want to or not. Many of us get on with it and get what we need with little fuss. However, for someone with a mental health issue, it can be like walking through a minefield.

The trigger for a meltdown while shopping in a large supermarket can come in various forms. With me, it is caused when I can't find an item I am looking for. That starts it, however, while trying to locate said item, if there are a number of other shoppers in the aisle I'm in, the anxiety levels go up much higher. In my mind, these people are getting in my way and that makes the frustration of not being able to find what I'm looking for even worse. Thus, the anxiety levels go up even more. It doesn't even have to be while doing a major shop, I could only be in the store to get a few things but if I can't locate the item I seek in a crowded aisle, I could go into near meltdown. Sometimes, it's all I can do to keep myself from exploding and going into a full swearing tangent.

Fortunately, I have a coping mechanism. While I don't like to admit defeat, and I feel stupid for having to do so, if I can't locate something after a few minutes, I will ask a store member for assistance. Of course, this doesn't work if there are no store members around. My anxiety levels go up even more then.

Recently, my levels have been exacerbated when two of the stores I shop at the most have changed their stock all around. Both have done a major reshuffle and one of the things people with Asperger's Syndrome need is consistency. Having to re-learn where everything is has been a rather frustrating experience for me because if they had left everything where it was, it would not have affected me so much. Even though both reshuffles occurred a couple of months ago, I still haven't learned where certain things are by heart and struggle at times. This makes me inwardly curse the store and when the anxiety is high enough, want to burn the store down.

Another anxiety which can be worsened by large crowds in the area is when I am going through my shopping list to see if I've got everything. It sometimes seems that when I stop and check my list, there is someone behind me wanting to get past or they want something from the shelf by where I'm standing. Again, the levels go up drastically.

One problem with supermarkets that I did overcome is self service checkouts. I simply don't use them. When I did, it seemed that something would go wrong and I have to seek assistance. This makes me feel stupid because I can't figure out what I did wrong and now the shop staff have to help me. So, I don't use the self service and that keeps the levels down. The other reason I don't use self service is and this might horrify ultra conservatives in the UK and US and brand me a Marxist, because I want to keep cashiers in a job. I can't help thinking, call it a conspiracy theory, that the major supermarket chains would like to get rid of all cashiers and have everyone use automated shopping. Until they do, I will keep going to a checkout worked by an actual human being.

So for me and many others with DAMP, Autism or Asperger's Syndrome, shopping can be a nightmare. Supermarkets provide so many opportunities to trigger a meltdown. While I have never had one that is noticeable, others have and the response from people has been less than tolerant. Shame on them, not everyone can cope with things the same way and supermarkets and the public should be more understanding here.

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Published by Michael Lefevre

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