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Panic in the Costco aisle

Posted on June 20 2020

Sharing this is tough...But here we go. Last month I was walking through Costco wearing a mask due to the new Covid-19 rules and after 5 minutes I started to feel…fear, anxiety, and panic.  I had to talk to myself for the next 45 minutes in the store.  "Come on girl, get your shit together…it's just a mask…Breathe, you’re almost done with your shopping. Inhale, exhale…" Was this mask causing me to have a panic attack in the fricken Costco…really girl!?  

Over the past 20 years I have suffered with some form of claustrophobia.  Tight spaces but also clothes.  I know, kinda strange.  I would be lying in bed and be overwhelmed with anxiety….GET THESE LEGGINGS OFF ME NOW!!!  I would have to jump out of bed and rip my pants off to get relief. I never really thought much about it other than your weird!

I started doing a little research… 

I found that my sexual assault that occurred in my early 20's could have caused me to have a form of PTSD that makes me feel claustrophobic.  Could this be why the mask makes me feel so suffocated?  My attacker drove my face into the dirt, I couldn’t see, it was dark, I couldn’t take a breath.  He pinned my body down, I was powerless and I couldn’t move.  His weight was heavy and dark. Was the feeling of this mask making me live that moment again in the Costco aisle?  Was this why even the lightest of clothing can cause me to dive outta bed and rip off my clothes?  

I started to think of the night I was raped again, I started to see all the details, feel the cool air that night and even smell the cigarettes on his clothing as he laid on me. I hurt to think of this.  But now 20 years later is this rape still haunting me thru a mask? 

I begin looking more into it.  I am not the only one, more survivors were talking about the mask and claustrophobia they suffer as well.  I WAS NOT ALONE.  After a sexual assault there are feelings trauma, guilt, shame, fear.  You push thru it, you start living the best you can every day.  But could something as little as a mask trigger this fear for me again.  Was this real? Yup, sure is. I went thru all the normal reactions after an assault…the nightmares, the distrust in everyone I meet and the feeling of always being on my guard.  These are all normal feelings to have. You never think that claustrophobia could be another effect. 

Did I have PTSD from my rape causing me to be claustrophobic? Claustrophobia is just one issue that can be related to the traumatic aftermath of a rape. So after all this I have decided I cannot wear a mask. It's not political, I'm not making a statement. I just can't.  If it is required, I cannot go in.  This mask triggered something in me that was unhealthy for my recovery, even 20 years later.  I know I am not the only one suffering from this.  If you see someone out and they are not wearing a mask, be kind.  They may have a story that is different from yours that makes it impossible to cover their face.  

Although sharing this is scary, makes me feel vulnerable and even causes me pain to write, if it helps you to know you aren't alone, it is worth it. If you are feeling this fear and anxiety, just know you are not alone.  I am always a shoulder for you. 

So while the world feels it necessary to require you to cover your face, I'll be over here breathing in the fresh air. 




, Owner Carry Girl Gear




  • Im so proud of you! For surviving, for sharing a little of your story. Know you are not alone EVER much love and hugs

    Posted by Anessa | July 05, 2020
  • You go girl!!! I admire you for your courage. I didn’t tell anyone about my assault until I was in my late 40s. I was 12. I didn’t think about it until one day, it just popped up one day out of no where. If the mask closes in on you, DON’T WEAR IT!! No judgement here!! Stay strong!!!

    Posted by Jan | July 05, 2020
  • God bless you and your strength to post this! I cannot imagine the horror you went through and you do whatever you need to to stay healthy mentally and physically!

    Posted by Pamela Morrison | July 05, 2020
  • Bee thank you so much for sharing this! I went through the same feelings after my assault, and I haven’t worn a mask except yesterday at church for a few moments to make someone else feel comfortable, but I can’t. Every time I put a new one on it would instantly snap and break, and I said to myself “ok God I get it” I, years later when through recurring ptsd and claustrophobia and found this amazing type of therapy called emdr therapy and it CHANGED MY LIFE!!! It is designed for military, ptsd, and assault victims specifically! I will pray over you that you don’t have to encounter these feelings again, because I know for me personally, it often takes days to recover from the full drain that those feelings cause! Stay strong beautiful xoxox

    Posted by Ivy Schmitz | July 05, 2020
  • Oh sweet friend…
    I so relate. Was juat talking to my therapist about this very subject.
    It is real. And unfortunate (the wearing of the mask)…
    I am here for you. I am cheering for you.

    We could talk offline about an idea xoxo

    Posted by Elizabeth A Miller | July 05, 2020
  • Thank you for sharing your personal story. I, too developed PTSD and claustrophobia after being sexually assaulted. It’s been 18yrs and I still deal with it from time to time. Stay strong! You are a survivor and a thriver!

    Posted by Michelle | July 05, 2020
  • Actually there is no peer reviewed published research that proves that masks work against coronavirus or other viruses. Someone who is coughing may have large gross me out, droplets that will contain virus. It is proven that surgical and cloth masks do not filter coronavirus. The cdc cannot and does not back up their ‘guidance’ with any real science. What research says is that you put yourself at a higher risk for respiratory illness when wearing a mask. I know many in the medical profession who do not agree with the cdc or health departments pushing for masks. Research has also shown that in order to get covid, close contact, face to face with a symptomatic person for at least 15 min, or at least 2 hrs in the same room is necessary. I read comments by 2 nurses recently who measured their percent O2 while at work wearing a mask and they both had 87%. Normally if you are healthy it should be at 99%. So you see, really there is nothing good about masks. And for those who shame you because you are t wearing one, if they really believed that their mask protects them, why should you have to wear one. I for one have a medical condition and I’ve never worn one yet (except for short periods when I worked in a lab), my medical condition? Breathing. I need to breath and so do you.

    Posted by Heather Berge | July 05, 2020
  • WOW! You are beyond brave!! Thanks for sharing this side of the mask issue that so many people might not understand.

    Posted by Mari Mendenhall | July 05, 2020
  • Thank you for sharing this article. It is a struggle for me to wear a mask because of triggers from an abusive relationship. My ex-boyfriend would hold me hold down and covered my mouth. I struggled to wear pullover sweatshirts. Putting them on brings on a lot of anxiety. If I need to go somewhere with a mask on, someone accompanies me like you I’ll have an anxiety attack. We will get through this. Hugs

    Posted by Erin | July 05, 2020
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