I was pleasantly surprised by how well the shopping trip went on Sunday. I surprised myself quite a bit too. I was considerably anxious when we first got there but still not anywhere near having a panic attack. I feel a bit ashamed for admitting this, but whenever we go shopping as a family, I always feel the need to follow my mum or one of my sisters around for a while until I’ve calmed down a bit. This time, however, I managed to just grab a basket and get on with shopping on my own straight away. We thankfully got there quite early so it wasn’t quite as busy as it usually is. This meant that I was able to gradually adjust to more and more people entering the shop as time went on, so when it did become busy later on, I handled it with no increases in my anxiety levels. I’m quite proud of myself for managing to just get on with the shopping and for being determined to face my fear. Although it was difficult at first, it actually wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I’d blown it up to be in my head. I challenged myself to go into increasingly more ‘difficult’ parts of the shop as the morning went on, and managed it. After a couple of hours, I was actually fairly calm. Probably the calmest I’ve ever been in a clothes shop that size/ that busy. I think it’s also the first time that I’ve really enjoyed clothes shopping. Usually, it’s something I completely dread and just want to get away from as soon as possible. A couple of years ago, I probably would have preferred having my head repeatedly flushed down the toilet for 4 hours rather than going clothes shopping. In the past, I’d be left feeling completely drained and fatigued from the anxiety after 2 or 3 hours and would wait impatiently for my sister (the one who’s away in Ibiza right now) – who always seems to take forever in clothes shops – to finalise her purchases so that we could go home. I couldn’t get out of the place fast enough. Sunday, however, was by far the longest I have ever spent in a clothes shop of my own accord. I think we were in there for over 5 hours altogether, and this time I was the one who kept everyone waiting. Yes, me – the one who used to loathe clothes shopping because of how incredibly anxious it made me feel; The one who used to feel completely unwelcome and unworthy of being in a clothes shop because of how ugly and disgusting I felt. I feel sorry for my poor brother – who managed to get all of his holiday shopping done in the space of about half an hour – having to wait around on me/ us for half the day, but being able to stay in the shop for that long without feeling intensely anxious, and to enjoy it was amazing.
*Potential trigger for those with an eating disorder: I talk about weight loss/ my body in the next paragraph*
The experience was a great confidence booster in terms of my anxiety. It also gave me – though I still feel quite ugly/ unattractive a lot of the time – a confidence boost in terms of how I feel about my body. I’m probably fitter and healthier now than I’ve ever been and hope to continue with the healthy eating/ exercise. I can try clothes on now and actually think I look okay – or even good – in them, rather than thinking about how disgusting my body looks/ how fat I am. I’m no longer overweight. I can look in the mirror now and sometimes think that my body looks sort of alright. I think I could still do with losing a little bit more weight/ getting a bit more toned but I’m feeling better overall about my body than I have in years.
So yeah…it went really well and I enjoyed myself. ‘Twas good. The next challenge is to go to the nearest shopping centre on my own again but achieve even more this time. I’m also going to keep facing my irrational fear of book shops as best as I can.