Crowds? Forget it. I avoid them as much as possible. As such, I don’t go to festivals, and in Chicago there are many festivals held all summer long and now that it’s May they’re about to begin. I don’t like being among large amounts of people gathered together where different individuals are going in different directions, and others are standing still. Too chaotic.
I prefer a “controlled” crowd, where everyone is going in the same direction (e.g., towards a sports arena, in my case). Don’t get me wrong — I still experience anxiety, but not as much as when it’s a free-for-all. I hate the idea of strangers brushing against me, which sometimes happens even at sporting events.
Fortunately, I’ve never had a panic attack while in either of these situations (“controlled”/not controlled), but I’ve come close, and it was scary and very uncomfortable. Whenever I’m about to panic, I tend to sit down on the ground no matter where I’m at that moment. This could be on the street or sidewalk. I become more anxious, and double my efforts to remain in control.
When navigating through a crowd, I always grab part of my husband’s shirt and hold on so I don’t get lost. The idea of being separated is too overwhelming to even fathom.
When we finally reach our seats, I can breathe again, that is, if we’re seated in our team’s section. If we’re in the opposing team’s section and surrounded by their fans, the anxiety starts to unfold a little bit. And this isn’t completely irrational — we were at a game once where our team was losing and their fans jeered at us and hurled insults as we climbed the steps to leave. So rude.
Leaving the arena is much like arriving — it’s crowded, but everyone is going in the same general direction. Once we reach our car, I can finally relax, my anxiety dwindling as we drive home.
How do you feel about crowds?