For those of us firmly planted in the agoraphobia business, any word that has to do with the concept of an excursion is painfully hard to hear. Especially difficult for me, personally, is the verb “to go” and all its conjugated forms. As soon as someone started a sentence with “Do you want to go _____” or “Let’s go_____” (you fill in the blank – the location does not matter), I would immediately shut down, and fainting usually ensued. A few hours later, I would awaken prone on my sofa with a damp cloth applied to my head. By that time, it was to late to go anyplace, and I was saved.

That’s how it USED TO BE. My life is different now. Now I go out (no matter how difficult).

Bear Market

Keeping this in mind, you can plainly see how a trip to the supermarket (now called “super stores”) can feel overwhelming for me.  Row after row of brightly-colored items, each one designed to attract my attention.  And they do.  I am overtaken with an onslaught of input that overloads my brain.  This is called flooding, and I fall victim to it, getting wet often.

The task of shopping requires me navigating the aisles of the super store, reading the labels and deciding which products to purchase.  Could anything be worse?  Yes – or else I would not be writing this.  Lucky for you, you get to keep reading and find out.

The Rational Twit

I usually approach the super store with a plan.  I take a list with me and tell myself to stick to it. I use self-talk to remind myself to slow down, as my mind has a tendency to run on overdrive at such moments. Luckily, the math geek portion of my brain enjoys calculating cost per unit, and I am able to shop smart, selecting the best bargains. But once in a while I am stymied – like today.  Today just didn’t go as planned.

Perfect Combo

Impulse Buying

I had just finished my shopping, only selecting those things on my list.  I kept a running tally so that I would know how much I spent. I approached the checkout counter and laid out my purchases on the conveyor belt: canned goods together, then cleaning and paper products, items in boxes, items needing refrigeration, and finally, fragile items and those things needing to be weighed. I always follow this procedure, as it makes the cashier’s job much easier and speeds up the process (also giving me less time to spiral into panic).


No sooner than I had placed my bananas on the belt, I looked up and was transported into another dimension through a portal of impulse.  I was now in the “Reese’s Zone.” (Insert scary music here.)

Frequent followers will recall my addiction to the candy: “The perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter.” I caved, telling myself that it is okay to follow a craving now and then.

I looked at the rack, filled from top to bottom with candy delights, and then it hit me: my moment of paralysis.  Which Reese’s candy should I buy?

Reeses Choices

Infinity and Beyond

The choices were endless: Reese’s regular 2-packs, Reese’s Big Cups, Reese’s Nutrageous Bars, Reese’s White Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, Reese’s Crispy Crunchy, Reese’s Select Clusters, Reese’s White Chocolate Big Cups, Reese’s Pieces, Reese’s Brownies, Reese’s Sticks, Dark Reese’s….there may be more,  I can’t remember. By that time, I was in a daze.

Nutrageous   Candy-Reeses-Fast-Break-Wrapper-Small    Dark

Pieces    Reese    Reeses's White

The Horror!

My heart raced and my pulse reached astronomic heights.  Beads of sweat freely trickled down my forehead.  The room started to swirl like a huge vat of creamy peanut butter.  I was in Reese overload.

And then a voice called out to me: it was the cashier.

“That will be forty dollars and fifty-seven cents, Sir,” she said.

I quickly rubbed the confusion from my eyes, paid my bill, and brought my groceries to the car.  In case you are wondering which Reese’s candy I bought, I will tell you: none. It was too confusing.  There were too many choices and too little time.

I went home and ate a banana instead.


About Joe

Freelance designer and writer whose goal is to help others by writing about my experiences with fear and anxiety (agoraphobia), health struggles (cancer) and my wonderfully-happy life as a husband and stay-at-home dad. I want to empower everyone to have a happy life.

3 responses »


  2. MK says:

    Thank you for sharing. I’ve struggled with Agoraphobia since I was 15 and I’m 53 now. I’ve kicked it for the most part, largely because of blogs like yours, that are encouraging. Thank you so much.

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