My First Time Dining Out in a Year

So, I don’t dine out. The last time was a year ago when I moved to my new place (which by the way, I have been here for exactly a year.) We celebrated the move, but I felt anxious and on the edge of a panic attack. It sucked.

I decided no more dinner out, and I eat in when I am hungry or eat food here. I still go to coffee shops and breakfast at the place that I have been to forever, and the crowds are less when I decide to go.

Today I took a leap and considering that I have a ton of summer plans it is better to get it out of the way now before things are busy again in my life. So I went to dinner to celebrate some family leaving town that was here for a couple of weeks. I was okay at first, and it is always important that I get my water so it is there and its the first mental hurdle when I am out dining. It took longer than I would have liked but, it is not like I can control the waiting staff.

I took my Clonazepam at my regular time at 1pm, but I knew there was a chance I would need it sooner and halfway through dinner I needed it because I could feel the panic rising. I was able to calmly go to my car and take my dosage at 7:45pm which was sooner than the 9pm that I need, but it should last me until early morning which fine.

One issue that I have is a deep seeded fear that I will have a panic attack in the middle of a crowded place, and this was a very crowded restaurant. Crowds are just another issue to go along with my panic disorder issues. I usually eat in, or order take-out preferring the comforts of home. For the last year I have turned down dozens of dinner invites, and most of my limited amount of friends do not ask me to go places anymore.

I have created this world of fear of going out, but I have been feeling left out, and it is easy to blame my mental illness, but there come a time and place where you have to find the courage and figure out what the causes.

For so long now I have hidden in my safe places like coffee shops or the place where I always eat breakfast every three to four months with my best friend. Crowds scare me, and they used to not be that way. I used to go to concerts and hang out with friends. But that was 20 years old me and before I knew about depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. The knowing, and actually experiencing having a panic attack in the middle of a crowd I have some basis for that fear.

Tonight I just got by, and I was lucky everyone was a quick eater. I want to live again. I have plans after graduate school, and that means this summer I have to take the help that I was given and get my recovery moving forward with my panic disorder, because like is passing me by. I am going to be a published author this summer. Things are good, but I need to take this next step in the process. More to come as always.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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18 Replies to “My First Time Dining Out in a Year”

  1. This is my experience exactly every time I get guilted into going out. I am so anxious and uncomfortable I couldn’t tell you what I ate, let alone what was talked about.
    These panic attacks are seriously crippling my life- if you have any tips that would be great.

    1. If you are at a place where this is possible, you could always do a worst possible case scenario. My therapist had me do this. We’d start with the anxious thought and then work through every single catastrophic theory I had to get to the worst case scenario. Then we talked about what I could do in each of these situations. It helped to have a plan. It also helped to see how silly some of my catastrophic thoughts were.

      I had agoraphobia. I don’t want that for anyone. I want everyone to feel like they can walk out of their house and go eat dinner. I now tend to get anxious at noises in restaurants, especially high pitched kids’ screams and such. I’ve run out of several restaurants because the family next to use either aren’t doing anything to calm their kid or can’t calm the child. I don’t feel bad about it. My husband stays and finishes up dinner or pays the check and meets me outside. Sometimes I just need to take a breath outside.

      I’ve also asked to move tables. If we are sat near families and the kids are already screaming I will flat out say, “Nope, you need to put us somewhere else.” I’ve never had someone tell me no.

      You can do this. I know you can.

  2. Just a thought – do you think any of your friends would be willing to come out and eat with you (either in your home, or in a place with no crowds) instead of dining out? So you could still have the socializing without the major stressors? Not like, dinner parties, but getting take-out and keeping it casual – at least until you’re in a place where you can regularly handle dinner out again. (For some people having people over might feel more stressful, but just thought I’d put that out there.)

      1. I’m glad I said something, in that case. I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m butting in offering unasked for suggestions, but I’m also a big fan of finding ways to accommodate mental illness so people can still socialize and maintain friendships (and I hope you have or find people that will be happy to accommodate you).

      1. There’ll be tough moments…but you can do it! Keep fighting.

  3. I’m proud of you for making the effort to dine out and then seeing it through (even though you felt “The Dragon” rising). That’s what I like to call anxiety and I’m sticking to it, lol. I despise that son of a gun, as he’s ruined entirely too many special occasions that I can’t apologize enough for missing. It’s painful not participating in life events due to mental illness, as you attested, and people DO stop asking eventually, because they don’t get it if they haven’t experienced it. Mental illness is a process that affects every aspect of your life and the only person who can keep you afloat is YOU. Fighting with you…

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