Tuesday, February 19, 2013


It wasn’t a planned event. There were none of the tell-tale signs usually associated with the time just before a  big admission—no heart-racing, no palm-sweating. No stomach in the throat.
In fact, I had no idea I suffered from it until I said it.

I panic.

Not in the “Oh my God, the world is going to end!” kind of way, but more like angst.  It usually occurs in crowded places like stores, malls, Penn Station, and the beach on a late Sunday morning in summer.
The sudden, near-overwhelming urge to fly, to get out of Dodge fast has been happening for as long as I can remember.  Often attributed to a mélange of reasons—people not knowing where they want to go; people unaware of those around them or who are not moving fast enough for me to plough through. More frequently than I cared to admit, I felt in the way because of my obesity.

Usually, I look for a way to be on the periphery of a crowd, or for an aisle seat. At least I get some sort of breathing room. Not so with my venture out into one of the Big-Box stores this past weekend. Every section I went to, every aisle I walked down had someone in it. I had to leave.

It’s a relief knowing that I have this crowd-anxiety; that I’m not just being anti-social. I have a real and tangible problem. This is something I can work with.

I have no idea what made me confess my anxiety to my sister. It just simply occurred in the matter of conversation. “I panic,” I said. “It’s more like agitation, really, but I had to leave as soon as possible.”
She reminded me that she used to have panic attacks. She understood. Perhaps that’s why I said it—knowing I would get an understanding ear.

The understanding ear is crucial. It’s why I spend week after week in church basements with other food addicts who live in the solution to their problem. These people get me, quirks and all.

After I shared my newly recognized odd mannerism last night one of my fellows came up to me and said, “I suffer the same thing. Here’s what I do about it…”