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Anxiety This forum is for seeking advice on anxiety and stress related issues.

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Question Walking down the street? - June 14th 2010, 02:11 AM

I'm not sure if this is anxiety, but whenever I'm walking down a quiet street like a residential road and there's someone coming towards me, I seem to tense up real bad, like they're dangerous or something, and I lock my eyes straight ahead to avoid looking at them. Sometimes I even cross the road. I become aware of my breathing and start walking faster. This happens with literally *everyone* and anyone, old people, kids etc its really stupid! I've walked past people I know without even knowing it was them because I avoid looking at the person coming towards me at all costs, which obviously comes off as incredibly rude when they bring it up the next time I meet them. It doesn't happen on busy streets though eg high streets. I have no idea why

Also, when I'm walking down a street and there's someone in front of me, as I'm a fast walker I usually want to overtake them, but I get mega anxious that they'll think I'm a weirdo or something for overtaking them or that I'm some thief or something approaching them from behind. Again this only happens on quiet residential streets, I don't care if its a busy place.
Does anyone else have this? I've had this for ages but it's been bothering me lately because I feel like a freak. The other day I got hugely anxious because I was trying to overtake this old woman who was obviously having problems walking, and I cut across her at a corner really fast out of nowhere and she actually stopped and looked at me in disgust. I felt bad for ages afterwards I didn't mean to be rude, I just feel really awkward when I try to overtake people! I've tried walking slower but then I feel like the person in front will think I'm deliberately walking slower to follow them.

In addition, its probably worth noting I've been having constant derealisation/depersonalisation for the past couple of months after a bad experience and panic attack while smoking marijuana (never ever ever again, it was only my third time in my life as well), but that's gotten a lot better recently. Apparently thats a common symptom of anxiety disorders, when I researched it. This walking-down-the-street thing was there way way before it though, and I used to have panic attacks sometimes as well before but they just stopped for some reason (I shrugged them off as normal).

In general I don't feel anxious... I go to parties and stuff all the time (even with the annoying derealisation), I don't really get anxious in any other situations I'm basically normal apart from this. Oh, but also I get kindof nervous if I have to talk to a shopkeeper or someone, like make small-talk, but I'm not sure if thats normal or not. The one thing I know that is definitely not normal is the walking down the street thing. Any advice would be appreciated, thanks
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Re: Walking down the street? - June 14th 2010, 02:47 AM

I completely can relate to you about walking down the street and only really being nervous when you are on a residential or quiet road. I am that way too. I am pretty much ok when walking on busy streets and all. Has anything ever happened to you? Like any kind of abuse? I know that I was not abused but I still have major issues with walking in quiet areas. I dont make any eye contact either so I end up avoiding people who I know too. I do have anxiety- general and social. Maybe you do have some anxiety. Have you tried different ways to get over this? Maybe you could do little things each time- like try not to avoid looking at people when you are walking (like the first time do it for one person, then 2, and so on). I know that its not easy to try to work past your anxiety. Im sorry that I dont have much advice. But please know that you are not alone- there are other people who experience similar anxiety as you.

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Re: Walking down the street? - June 14th 2010, 03:07 AM

I can realate too, if im on a busy street im fine, but walking down nice quite streets, if someone els is there i freak out. i walk realy fast, cross the road, glance at them every 2 seconds, i walk kinda in a defensive position, and there probly freaked out by my sketchyness but i realy have the weird chill down my spine that if i turn away, this old lady is gona shank me or this buisness guy is gona mug me. its so wierd O_o no other time do i have this problem sept at stores, too.

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Re: Walking down the street? - June 14th 2010, 11:05 AM

Yep, I get this too. I wish I could offer more advice but I can completely relate.

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Re: Walking down the street? - June 14th 2010, 12:31 PM

I just feel awkwurd, like I have to struggle to continue to walk normally, but I manage it. I always feel like they are looking at me and thinking something, not really that they are gonna hurt me unless they look stronger than me and shady, then i get nervous. Try to continue walking exactly the way that you were walking moments before when nobody was there. Glance at them, and when you pass them smile... sometimes I even say "hello", or it's "nice day out". It's hard, but after I do it, and they reply back, it clears the air for me and it's a lot easier to act natural. Just work on it and go slow...

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Re: Walking down the street? - June 14th 2010, 02:14 PM

I can relate to that too. I have a kinda strange habit of smiling a little when I'm really nervous, probably a reaction to cover my feelings and that really worries me because I think people will think I'm some sort of weirdo, or even worse laughing at them. I also worry a lot about taking people over, but also worry if I walk too slowly they'll think I'm following them. And every time I see a single person approaching it makes me really nervous. I actually feel relieved if they turn off or cross over, which is embarrassing but I can't help it. For some reason I also find I hate sitting beside anyone else on a bus or train.

The one thing I know that is definitely not normal is the walking down the street thing
Actually, it definitely is normal for quite a few people, especially those who are shy, so don't think you're strange because of it, you're perfectly fine and a lot of people go through the same thing.

I guess there's not much you can do about it, but I do find confronting it helps. Like not crossing the street when you see someone but instead force yourself to keep going. The more you face it, the easier it gets and more confidence you build.

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Re: Walking down the street? - June 14th 2010, 11:29 PM

Thanks for all the replies!!! Yeah I very rarely cross the road, usually just ignore the feeling, I mean its not a huge problem in my life but its still annoying. I was never sexually abused or anything but I did have some serious emotional issues with my dad when I was younger which are now resolved, but I think they might be the cause for my general anxiety and sometimes low self esteem, amongst other things.

I don't really have a problem on buses or trains, as in I don't get anxious, but I still will avoid eye contact or looking at the person sitting next to/opposite me at all.

I'm going to try what JackOffJill said, every person who walks past me I'm going to force myself to look at, that's the only way to get over this. I'm not sure if I'm ready to start smiling or talking though, but I could get there thanks for all the advice again!
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