Line Anxiety

Hi everyone, 

I leave a disclaimer at the beginning of each of my messages that I'm not actually diagnosed with autism because like... even though I'm fairly sure I might be autistic despite the doubts that are constantly plaguing me, there is the likelihood that I'm just being a hypochondriac and I'm actually neurotypical as the other 99% of the population. 

Anyway, does anyone else get anxious when they have to wait in lines especially for long periods of time or in crowded places like an amusement park? I've never known what's caused me to get so jittery and pace back and forth and hang all over the hand rails and beg my mom/family members to find another ride with a shorter line if we were ever in one that was over half an hour long at our local amusement park. I assumed that lines are just a trigger for my anxiety because I'm a generally impatient person, but could it be more? 

I'm still trying to untangle the web that is my life and figure out if I'd qualify for a diagnosis so I'm turning here with the questions that have plagued me for forever as well as trying not to overwhelm the forum. Sorry if I'm bothering anyone with nonsense.

  • Hi Raven, you're describing social anxiety around crowds.

    Crowds can take many forms, they are not always large and stationary, sometimes they can move, as is the case with a queue, which is usually slow moving. You're trapped in this crowd of slow moving strangers with no option to escape (unless you want to give up your place).

    Do you have ear plugs of dark glasses? These can alleviate some of the anxiety as earplugs turn down the volume and dark glasses turn down the contrast.  It's not the people that are making you anxious, it's the over-stimulation of your senses which is lighting up your amygdala.

    This doesn't necessarily mean you are autistic, by the way. Social anxiety and other anxiety disorders are present in both neurodiverse and neurotypical people. 

  • I don’t enjoy them. I’m happy to wait at the post office or in a grocery store. But for a new phone? No. An opening? No also. Not a Club or anything else I’m not really interested in. It’s a precious waste of my life. Waiting is pedestrian and even on a train or a bus I’ll have something to read. I’m a terrible spectator and I don’t like rides but have pretended to for others. 

    Impatience could be a sign you have untapped talent in need of exploring. You could have an inner vision of what you’re supposed to be doing and waiting is not your Mode of Operation. What would you rather be doing than waiting? Is it something you need to learn to do? I’m not sure how old you are but if you’re in your teens/20s you might be ready to start living your own life. 

    There’s a version of waiting called “active waiting”. (Vs passive waiting).  This could be good to google:)

  • Thank you so much. I tend to have dark glasses with me all the time and I've never tried ear plugs, but I just got some and I'm willing to try them. 

    And yes, I know I have severe social anxiety and that plus trauma is what everyone associates my weirdness and stimming and extreme social awkwardness to, but I'm now out of my traumatic environment and am exploring myself and have been noticing a lot of things in myself that relate to the autistic community (but there are also a lot of very typical autistic things that I don't have/do that make me question such as not having very strict routines that I've noticed and I generally like a variety of foods, etc.) that go beyond anxiety. Like... I tell people all the time that I'm bad at people. I've never understood people (with the exception of my girlfriend and my two bffs) and have always been an outsider in just about every group no matter how hard I try. I have done a ton of research (websites, published studies, etc), youtube watching, pinterest looking, and now forum disscussing because its a lot easier to type things than to talk and to have a total brain failure and not really know how to react to certain information and all that good stuff. 

    But this is all besides the point of line anxiety. I really do appreciate your response. Thank you again!

  • Thank you! I'm an avid googler so I'm gonna check this out right now. 

    And its less that there's other things I feel that I could be doing when I'm in line (though that is true of other times when I'm waiting). Its more that I get overwhelmed and anxious as Tassimo described.

  • This is a big trigger for me. Just this week I had to go to a school open day. Long story short, when I got there, there was a queue of 100+ people waiting and my anxiety went through the roof. I instantly start calculating how many people there are, who many are being let in at a time, the speed the queue is moving and how long it’s likely to take to get through it. By the time I get to the front I’m exhausted.

    As a result of this I don’t fly anymore because of the airport experience, I don’t go to theme parks, or if I do I do go on rides, I won’t use public transport, I can’t stand supermarkets etc, etc… 

  • The neurotypical world is noisy, and, by and large, neurotypical people are themselves inclined to be noisy. In large groups, they become even louder. I think this is why so many of them need to retreat to nature to be able to experience the peace and tranquility. 

    For me, they (earplugs) changed everything. They helped me mute all the background noises and turn down the volume of some of the louder elements of an environment. Before I used them, I didn't realise just how distracting, painful, and ultimately exhausting it was for me to process multiple sounds. Anytime I went out into the world, it was how I imagine a soldier must feel caught in the middle of a war zone with guns firing, bombs dropping and people yelling all around him.

  • yes i am impatient as well --- but i have learnt to focus on the present moment now ---- basically i dp a in-head meditation when in such situations now