Today was Brad’s birthday party– his actual birthday isn’t today, but we wanted to celebrate at a time when his brother could come. We had a great time! Brad actually had a bit of energy so was talking in funny voices and everything. I almost laughed so hard I cried! It was a great party!
On our way home from the party, we had to stop by Earth Fare. Just this past week they finished some major renovations on the store and had a grand re-opening. We didn’t go to the party for reopening, and forgot all about it until we got to Earth Fare and saw the new sign.
Now for a “normie” (what some people call someone without mental illness or a disability), a complete rearrangement of a store might be an inconvenience with not knowing where everything is anymore. But for some people with MI (mental illness), such changes can be nearly life-changing.
It is hard to go to new stores. Going to the same two grocery stores (Earth Fare and Sam’s) for the past almost 4 years I feel very comfortable in these stores. I know where everything is, I know the layout, I can shop with a minimum of stress placed on me by the store.
But a refurbished store can be worse than going to a new store. You don’t know where anything is and are disoriented in the store, yet there are hints of familiarity in the store that make you sometimes forget that it has been redone. So you walk down an aisle and first think “Oh wow, this has been totally rearranged”. You start looking at the stuff, trying to memorize the new positions for things.
Then all the sudden you see the boxed milks are in the same spot, and so you stop there to regain a sense of yourself and forget for a minute that the store is different. It’s like a tiny time travel. Then you have to go on down the aisle further, and everything is rearranged. The rearranging hits you many times as you go through the store with new and old all mixed up. It is like getting shocked every few minutes.
The store was majorly changed– they even took out a wall! So while Hestia was being very good and not trying to eat stuff off the floor and all (it was messy in the bulk section!), I personally couldn’t make it more than through produce (near the bulk stuff) without her in my arms. So I carried her for most of the store. I needed her leaning into my chest, me matching my breathing to hers, and the silky smooth feel of her hair to ground me.
Poor Brad was very out of it since he used up all his energy at his party, so he was going really slowly and having a lot of difficulty making decisions about what things to get, reading labels, etc. By holding Hestia, I was able to make it through the store with him, and we didn’t forget anything! Well, I did accidentally get some pumpkin tortilla chips without reading the label and they have sugar…. The visit surely was stressful!
Once again I am so glad to have Hestia! If I hadn’t had her, I wouldn’t have been able to shop in that store today. I am writing about it here because my friend’s blog https://aminddividedagainstitself.com/ reminded me how differently we perceive the world than “normies” do.
I hope that by sharing my experience, it might make someone else more compassionate to that person in the grocery store who is walking around getting in everyone’s way and altogether having a hard time. It could be someone struggling with a mental health issue, someone dealing with grief, or just someone who’s had an exhausting day. A little understanding and patience go a long way!