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Hiding Out in Aisle 9: Avoiding Others

Psoriatic arthritis does more than inflict a ridiculous amount of daily pain on our bodies. It creates many changes in our lives and not all of them are good. At one time or another, those who have PsA may do something that they wouldn’t typically have done if they had not been in pain. Recently, I confessed one of my shameful behaviors to my friends and family.

I have a confession to make

While it wasn’t easy to admit, it was time for me to share the lengths I went to in order to avoid encounters with people I knew when grocery shopping. For a large portion of my chronic life, going grocery shopping was a major event. Sometimes it was my only outing for the week. To avoid running to into people I knew, I would do one of two things. The first was to drive to neighboring towns to shop where nobody knew me. The second was to hide from friends and family if I spotted them in the store.

Pain made me do it

Those who don’t suffer from chronic pain and maybe a few that do may be wondering what makes a person avoid people they like and love. Pain does! The physical pain spike that would take place while standing and chatting with someone was more than I could handle. But there’s more, besides the physical pain I also experienced mental pain. When my bones and muscles are throbbing and aching, I have to concentrate on the task at hand. Any distractions and my plans derail quickly. When shopping, my plan is to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible – there’s no dilly-dallying or browsing, it’s grab and go. When I’d encounter a friend in the store my brain had to switch tracks. I don’t know about you, but there are some pain levels that turn my brain to mush. I may want to ask about their kids or find out what they have been up to, but my brain is just not able to slide over to that track. So instead I stand there rambling like an idiot. If I am lucky I am able to jump the track and have a conversation, but that would often result in not being able to return to the track I needed to be on afterward. No matter how neatly my grocery list was written out, I would return home missing several necessary items which would result in experiencing more pain from having to make an additional trip to the store.

Why share now?

Since experiencing many improvements in the past year, I have been sharing more about how hard it was during my most difficult years. I also acknowledge the possibility of experiencing another complication or new issue that could land me right back in the same position. Because of this I don’t want to have to hide or travel far; instead, I want my friends and family to understand so future encounters won’t become awkward.

Have you ever hidden or traveled farther just to shop without distraction or experience more pain than the excursion itself would cause?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • imschmarte
    2 years ago

    I understand also. Just today I was supposed to be at my cousins to play poker, which I dearly love! But it just is not worth the effort of showering, getting ready, having to sit on hard chairs, using a toilet that is so low, I can’t get up. And the pitying looks I get from those that don’t understand auto-immune diseases. And comments like, I hope you feel better, and get better soon! They don’t get it, we don’t get ‘better’, the best we can hope for is a good day every now and then. I am slowly becoming a hermit, and that is not good, but it gets harder and harder to force myself to go anywhere!

  • Eileen B moderator
    2 years ago

    The lack of understanding is truly upsetting, @imschmarte. In fact, “Get better soon!” should be #6 in the “Top 5 Comments I Hope I Don’t Hear Again“. Some find it helpful to share articles like that one (or The Spoon Theory) with friends/family to help them understand. Please feel free to do so, especially if you think it might alleviate some of your isolation? People care and want to understand, sometimes they just need a nudge in the right direction. Never forget we’re here and we DO get it. -Eileen, Team

  • suey12
    2 years ago

    I know how you feel. I recently went to my brothers funeral where I couldnt hide, so many people to greet, standing for a long time talking, it has taken me days to get over the pain in my legs and I have found it really hard to walk. Its just unfair.

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