Different Crowds, Different Levels of Anxiety

streetwear-street-scene-personI don’t like crowds, though there are some I can tolerate. For example, I feel okay in a crowd where everyone is moving in the same direction, like to a stadium for a sports event, and have a specific destination — their seats. I don’t really like the shuffling once people approach the gate, but I can deal with it. I think that’s the only type of crowd I can put up with.

What makes me super-anxious, enough to trigger a panic attack, is a crowd in an enclosed space, like a bar or restaurant, in which people are standing around. And those who are moving, are going in all different directions. I don’t like having to navigate my way through all of the bodies, both moving and not moving, because they stifle me. It’s like I can’t breathe. If the music is so loud that you can’t have a conversation, that’s even worse. Fortunately, I rarely go to bars, and mainly go to restaurants that take reservations. Again, it’s that specific destination thing that provides me with some measure of comfort.

At restaurants or coffee shops, however, if the tables are in a large open room where everyone can see everyone else, and it happens to be crowded, that makes me anxious in that I feel self-conscious and like everyone’s watching me and I’m being judged. Give me a booth any day! Or at least a table in an alcove! Anyway, the anxiety isn’t so bad that I have to leave, unlike the previous scenario.

Aside from some musical performances at small venues where there are tables and/or chairs, I haven’t been to a concert in decades. If seats are reserved, I might be able to deal, but if it’s one where everyone’s trying to push their way closer to the stage, forget it. Being surrounded by bodies is bad enough, but being pushed by all those bodies? No, thank you. I would love to see some of the bands that play at Riot Fest, which is outdoors, but there’s just no way. Too many bodies. And probably sweaty ones, at that!

The last type of crowd I can think of is at street festivals, of which Chicago has many. There’s a festival for everything: ribs, tacos, beer, you name it. Again, everyone’s moving in different directions and there are no seats. There’s almost always a band playing, and so aside from the moving people, there’s a group standing around watching them. Depending on the type of festival, most of these crowds are more sparse than the ones I’ve described previously. The one I’ve always wanted to go to is the Printers Row Lit Fest, but that gets pretty crowded.

So I never go to these festivals, but sometimes my husband and I need to get to shops that line the street on which a festival is located, and which we didn’t know about beforehand. Depending on how the barricades are set up, we sometimes have to enter the festival to get to the stores, and the people at the entrance want us to make a “donation,” which is really an entrance fee. Fu@k that. We’re there to shop! Last time it happened we just walked right in lol!

Do different types of crowds affect you in different ways?

via Daily Prompt: Stifle

Photo on Visual Hunt

9 thoughts on “Different Crowds, Different Levels of Anxiety

  1. I have a hard time with crowds since the excess electricity in my body can make me have all kinds of epilepsy if there is too much stimuli to process, and people are stimuli to me. It’s like having to chew all the food in the world or listen to all the noise in the world, and I just can’t deal with it. I have done tarot readings at conferences, but only in the corner of tents or in a private-feeling place, or in my office. Ootherwise so much noise and fuss from people would distract me even if it’s people I like or crowds I enjoy, like goth folks I avoid subways and that sort of thing and most concerts. If I go to small local venues for music in Woodstock NY which has alot of great small concerts, I need to wear hearing protectors and even sunglasses at times to reduce the stimuli, which makes me look crazy sometimes but oh well–better than having convulsions in public.

    1. We do (or don’t do) what we have to, especially if it’s to avoid anxiety or, as in your case, convulsions. I wouldn’t care how I look, either <3

  2. I can not be in tight spaces with a lot of people. I can be in any bar atmosphere as long as I am working behind the bar but can not other wise. I do not like to be touched so if there is a chance I’ll be “rubbing” shoulders, I do not go. Now I understand accidentally but if there is no where else to go besides touching others, I can’t do it. I love concerts and festivals but I either have to be in the stands or at the back of the venue. You can still enjoy the the show. I like to be the last to arrive and the first to leave in those scenarios. Elevators aren’t my style either. 4 is a crowd in them. I prefer myself and MAX 3 other’s. I am severely claustrophobic.

    1. I’m not claustrophobic, but I totally get it. I used to work as a cocktail waitress like, 25 years ago and I didn’t mind then, but that was pre-diagnosis and I was drunk and/or high on coke. Now, being behind the bar seems “safer” to me. I’m the opposite when it comes to football or hockey games—first to arrive, last to leave, unless my team’s getting smoked—then we leave early lol!

  3. I find crowds hard to deal with especially since I am blind and all. concerts are the worst, all that shoving and stuff. I panic and get really nervous. It is during those times when I wish I could see. xoxo

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