Yesterday was a great but difficult day for me. I’ve been doing my baby steps for the last months and have made some good progress with going out among people. Putting myself in uncomfortable places and working on keeping the anxiety down.
If you have read my previous posts, you will know that I managed to go to the Eye Clinic in Galway with a friend and only had one little ‘wobble’ . On the way back we stopped at Supermacs and with gentle coaxing from my friend managed to sit at a table and eat our meals. Previously I could not do that as I would get overwhelmed by the people and the noise and just burst into tears or go into a spin. It was not easy but by doing my grounding exercise and focusing on different items to divert my attention, I did it.
Well, now comes to yesterday (Saturday). I’m a crafter and used to go to the Castlebar Family Market every Saturday. Mostly I went to meet up with my co crafting friends and spend a fabulous day with everyone. Last time I tried that just before Christmas I had to escape as I was totally overcome with panic and just needed to go home. My friends were so kind and helpful and I finally got home in bits. I’ve not gone since then but missed my friends so much. One of the worst parts of having anxiety is getting lonely in my case. I’m so used to being surrounded by people and many could not understand the change in me.
I had planned to go to the market on Saturday but started shaking badly every time I thought of it. I had already decided that it would be too big of a step and had already decided against it. I had to remind myself that I must still do baby steps. My friend had told me the day before that this was a big step I’m planning to do and I should not force myself and just do what I felt comfortable with . He told me that if I don’t do it, I must remember it was not the right time and not beat myself up about it either. So I decided I would go to Lidle and do some shopping. This would be the first time in a long time that I would go into a big shop. Usually I’ve been sticking to my local small shop as I felt comfortable going there.
So I grabbed my bag and drove towards Castlebar to go to Lidle. On the way, feeling good, I decided to just drive past the market and go to Lidle. Once I was parked at the market, I sat in the car shaking. I kept telling myself that I don’t have to go in as no one was expecting me to arrive. I must have sat in the car for 30 minutes trying to lower my anxiety. Once I started relaxing a bit more, I grabbed my bag and walked towards the hall. My heart was racing and my whole body was shaking, but I knew it would be ok once I get through that door.
As I stepped through the door, I heard people say things like, ‘Look, Celia is here’. The first person to greet me was Liz and she hugged me and made me feel very welcome. She was very gentle with me. I told her that I’m feeling a bit light-headed, so she took my arm and walked me towards my other friend Kathy’s table to sit down. I noticed that everyone waved and greeted me without crowding the table I was at. This made me feel more in control and more relaxed as I was not overwhelmed with many people around me at a time. Kathy invited me to coffee and cake in the little area at the back of the market. We sat and chatted and one by one more people came to join us. Soon we had a lovely big circle of my friends around the table, chatting and laughing. My anxiety was really low although my hands were still shaking. I noticed that everyone was very gentle and understanding towards me and that made me feel very welcome and happy to be there.
The person who runs the market came up to me and asked me to help him with something. I was a bit nervous but soon found out he wanted me to pick the winning ticket for the voucher they had for the day. Kathy, took a video of the draw and a photo for their Facebook page. Strange enough, it seemed to be a perfect distraction to my anxiety. Everyone clapped and congratulated my friend Susan who won the voucher and I felt part of the group again. It was not that my co crafting friends had banished me from the group, but this little task of picking the winner made me feel part of it all again.
Later in the day I found out from another friend that someone had spoken to all my other friends and explained my situation of what had happened to me, so they all made a plan that if I ever come to visit, they would not crowd me as they usually do, but take their time one by one to welcome me back. I can only explain it as being loved and understood and am so thrilled I decided to go see my friends at the market on Saturday. It was a big step but so well worth it. Thank you to all my friends for your understanding, your hugs, smiles, giggles and making me feel human again.
I wish that everyone who is going through this could have such friends… because with their help, it makes it so much easier to not feel ‘crazy’ but part of the world again.