We’ve had a couple of significant cold snaps here in the Chicagoland area. In fact, we are coming out of one right now. In light of this fact, the CTA, which operates the city’s public transit system, has heat lamps at many of their outdoor ”L” stops (for those not familiar with Chicago, the ”L” is the city’s light rail system, so named because most of the tracks are above ground or elevated). This presents people with social anxiety, like me, with a dilemma. Be in a crowd or be in the cold?
I should preface this conversation by pointing out that I am not a regular L rider, utilizing it perhaps once or twice a week. Yet each of those times presents me with this dilemma. The heat lamps are understandably crowded. And being that close to the crowds is trying for me. However, if the trains are late, being out in the cold gets old fast. Don’t get me wrong, I love the colder weather, and lean naturally toward the cold instead of the crowd, but even I have my limits.
The solution for me was to buy a heavier winter coat, to extend my tolerance for the cold. I’d been putting it off for the three and a half years since I moved here, but the L and the cold or crowd dilemma finally pushed me over the edge. That and the sale that they had on the coat, I love me a good sale, but that is a whole other story.
I bring this up not to say woe is me, after all, I now have a nice new coat. Rather, I bring it up so that those who don’t struggle with mental illness know that even simple, everyday challenges like waiting for a train can be taxing for those of us who do battle through these ailments. And for those of you who, like me, struggle with these everyday interactions, just know that you are not alone.
With that, I will bring this post to a close by simply saying stay warm, be well, and thanks for reading.