It’s over 10 years since B and me got together and in that time she has only been into a shop on her own once. To her credit when she did, she brought me some unexpected chocolate! You see, to B going to the shop on her own it just far too frightening a prospect. Where most of us barely notice going or even see it as amazingly mundane to B it is “A thing”. There is a school of thought that says having a partner who wont go off shopping would save you a fortune! But then the internet was invented, then online shopping, then “One click ordering” and the whole concept was ruined forever (Together with some peoples credit ratings)!
We’ve never really got the bottom of exactly what it is with going to the shop; other people, responsibility, forgetting money, fear she’ll buy all the cake at once and have no way of getting it home! They’re probably all a factor to be honest. Either way, just popping to the shop is not currently an option for her. The most important thing to remember about this from my point of view is, that it really doesn’t matter. No really, everyone’s life is different, every relationship out there is different, there is only what works for you that matters!
I never really realised the extent of her not going out when we first got together. She mentioned that she was anxious about going to shops, I knew she was seeing a counsellor and I knew she was on antidepressants ( She was ~22 ). I’ll admit I did worry about this stuff when I first asked her out, we were already friends but I was worried about having a relationship with someone who was seeing counsellors and taking prescription meds that “mess with your brain”. I’m glad I had some good friends and family at the time who told me I should just go for it, thank you!
When I was living alone in my first flat, B would come and visit me and we’d pop out to Asda to get some food in to eat etc. She was OK coming with me, but looking back was never keen on going off down an aisle on her own and would just walk with me. I could have just put this down to young-ish love!
Fast forward just a couple of months and we were moving into our first flat together ( Yes, we moved fast, no point in waiting if you know what you want! ). Location of the flat, moving day and bad luck meant that we didn’t have loads of people to help us move. In addition to her mental health issues, B has also been diagnosed with chronic fatigue, so she gets tired a lot quicker that people would generally (Sleep is her superpower!). This meant it was mainly her dad (Thanks Granddad R) and me carrying all our things from the cars, over a fence (Don’t ask) and up several flights of stairs into the flat. B’s dad was suffering with his back at bit at the time. I am not, nor have I ever been, what you would describe as “fit”, so I was getting pretty knackered pretty fast. So, I asked B if should could pop over the road ( Literally 20 meters ) to the shop to get me a can of sugar laden caffeinated coke. This was met with a “Can’t you just have a drink of water from the tap”, which to be honest does make sense economically, and more frighteningly was what my Nan used to say when we’d ask for “Fizzy Pop” at her house! It suddenly clicked in my head at that point that she wasn’t going to be able to go to the shop and fetch it for me, at all! Not because she didn’t want to, but more that her brain wasn’t going to let her. Shortly after that, she was in the bathroom feeling ( and probably being ) very sick due to then trying to help carry more than she should.
I realise it’s just a little thing, the fact she didn’t get me that can of drink. But looking back I think it really was the first time I realised that her mental and physical limits were something she’d been dealing with for quite some time, and would probably be for quite some time to come.
From that point on it was simply that I went to the shop when we needed things. It genuinely wasn’t a problem, it was simply that in our relationship, I went out to the shop, and B didn’t. I’d never been in a relationship before, so was used to doing all my shopping myself anyway, so it wasn’t anything I had to adjust too. Even today, 10 years later, if we need something from the shop, we’ll just wait until I’ve next got an opportunity to go. If B happens to be with me, then we’ll go into the shop together and she’s much happier to wander off a little down aisles etc nowadays. She has had periods of time where she gets a bit dizzy when walking round a shop, Doctors are baffled and just suggest her anxiety. We’ve thought about diet, or chronic fatigue, or a eye or inner ear issue… your guess is as good as ours!
Since B had a psychotic episode two years ago (I will go through this in another post one day) we’ve had lots of contact with mental health services, and we had a smattering of contact before that. Occasionally, one of them, or some other well meaning person will make B think she should be going to the shop to make my life easier. To be honest, I’d rather pop to the shops every day and come home to B happy on the sofa, than get home 15 minutes earlier and find her panicked after forcing herself to go out to the shop. It’ll come, when she’s ready and when she’s able to go, then she’ll go. She went once last year, and has spoken about going several times, and now recognised several people who work in the local shop (One of whom is a relative, “Hi M”, if you’re reading!).