When I first started to suffer with anxiety and panic attacks I would ALWAYS want someone with me. Now I am the opposite; I choose to take myself away from others and ride the anxiety out alone. I do this so that nobody has to watch, comment or try their hardest to help me, when all I need them to do is sit next to me in silence. Dealing with anxiety in private makes me feel less embarrassed (panic attacks aren't pretty for anyone), I feel less guilt about ruining other peoples 'moment' AND I find it helps me relax more.
Normally this is fine; I live with one housemate (a best friend of four years who gets it all), so I consider my home to be my personal space or a "safe place" where I can be as anxious as I like. The thought of having to stay somewhere else (even if it is for a leisurely trip) gets me anxious. The thing I value most about my "safe place" is that I don't have to take myself away, I can just be.
So, picture this... a weekend away in a holiday home, living in close vicinity with ten other people (whom I love dearly) and five dogs (that I also love dearly, but happen to be allergic to - *takes inhaler*). Exciting?... yes! Nerve wracking... definitely!
There are several other environmental factors that I would consider to be potential contributors towards me being anxious at least once throughout the duration of a trip like this; but all in all I managed really well.
Now I know what you are thinking... why would I choose to write about this if it all went so well? Well of course, there was a moment or two where anxiety took over & it is one of these nonchalant moments that I am going to detail below.
This particular night was party night in the manor, everyone was in fancy dress, up late and pretty intoxicated. It was two in the morning and I had been asleep for about an hour, when I woke up abruptly and felt slightly confused of my whereabouts (this often happens when I am away from home). I sat upright for about five minutes before my boyfriend noticed I was awake; when he stirred he sat up with me and made polite conversation, but by this point we both knew what was happening... the music was loud, so was the laughter and I felt trapped.
It started with shaking and clammy hands, followed by an inability to communicate what I was thinking and before I knew it I was dressed, putting my coat and marching past the party downstairs...boyfriend in tow. As I opened the front door of the manor (not the property's legitimate name by the way, but suitable for this post at least), I found myself rummaging around for my car keys. My boyfriend promptly took them off me, but unlocked my car so I could at least sit inside it. I rode shot gun, whilst he was in the drivers seat & we sat (still) for forty five minutes whilst my mind and body had a battle against one another.
I laughed (at myself), I cried (for myself) and repeatedly asked my boyfriend to reassure my that I wasn't going to die (I told you panic attacks aren't pretty) and eventually the panic subsided.
Just before we picked up our belongings (my handbag, water and all the other "tools" I had dragged to the car for this crisis meeting) my boyfriend turned to me and said...
"We haven't visited the car for a while"
... and I realised he was right. Crisis meetings in the car were a weekly thing at one point and it had been at least 5 months since we last held one.
We went back inside, said our goodnights (for a second time) and headed back to bed. I fell asleep straight away and although I felt exhausted the next day... it was like the panic attack from the night before had never happened. Nobody mentioned it, I tried not to think about it and every other part of my four day mini break was perfect.
That weekend taught me that you can always find a safe place when you are in a time of crisis. That the people you want to hide your problems from, actually don't mind helping you solve them (even if it is 2am) and that one bad moment (ok, one really bad moment) does not define the rest of your weekend (or your life).
A massive thank you to those that attended for helping me create even more fabulous memories; until next time...