My anxiety has been awful this week – I’m blaming hormones as there isn’t really any other reason for crying all the time and being so anxious over everything. I feel totally out of sorts – and I just want to feel a bit more, well, normal again.
I’ve tried so hard to keep my head above water by doing little things to keep myself positive and happy, such as going out for a walk every day and keeping on top of my housework.
Although I can’t sing or play an instrument(apart from the recorder) music is my life and I always have music playing of some description. Musicals are my favourite and I love such a mix of genres, music truly makes me happy, it’s such a powerful thing.
Prior to parenthood I was always at the theatre or watching live music, I’ve seen such an eclectic mix of things across the years(Cliff Richard, Gary Numan, Britney…) and I really miss it these days. Childcare and finances mean its just not possible anymore.
I saw a trailer for ‘The Greatest Showman’ back in December and it looked right up my street. I was desperate to see it – however I hate the cinema, it’s one of the places that really triggers my anxiety and I try and avoid it at all costs.
Out of intrigue and desperation to see the film I eventually put on my big girl pants and went back in January and I fell in love with it – for 90 minutes I was completely sucked into the music and magic of the circus and I came away on such a high. The songs and story really got under my skin, and I’ve been listening to them on repeat for a month or more(my husband complains daily).
Last week I saw an advert for a singalong version and I decided to have a look at seats(anxiety and OCD dictates that I choose certain seats on public transport and places such as theatres and cinemas).
It was sold out, apart from one seat, right in the middle, on the aisle.
Without thinking I booked it. It seemed like it was meant to be – and so I’d decided in a split second to have a night out on my own.
What a saddo, right? Wrong – my weekly counselling sessions have taught me things about myself and the way I am, and challenging the social anxiety that cripples me daily.
For years I’ve convinced myself that anxiety has made me a loner, that anxiety has kept me away from being the centre of attention and that I’m a shadow of my former self. In my head I was once this super confident, outgoing person – but I never was.
For years I’ve been totally wrong – of course I have friends, and of course I love going out with friends, meeting new people and socialising.
But I’m most comfortable on my own. And I’ve become scared of being on my own, because I’m scared of the places my mind takes me.
The truth is that social anxiety and being so shit scared of what other people think has forced me into talking to people and mixing with people when that’s something I’m just not comfortable doing sometimes.
Of course I know that anxiety makes me want to hide away, but I’m learning to tell the difference between anxiety telling me to cut and run and my own personality coming through and wanting to be on my own.
So my little Friday night cinema trip became a night out, a me-date, and a special treat for myself, from myself.
Last night I kissed my boys goodnight, got in the car, drove the eight miles to the local cinema, and parked up. And all on my own. Of course I’ve driven myself places before but only ever to meet other people, never to attend somewhere or something on my own.
Of course I panicked and had a massive panic attack. What if people judged me because I was alone? Did I look like a loner on my own? What if I bumped into someone I knew? It was sold out, what if I panicked and had to get out?
It was 7:33, the film started at 8, and I just wanted to cut and run. Anxiety was taking me over, warping my thoughts and ruining my evening.
I took some deep breaths, and sang to myself. I just picked a random song, and sang the whole thing, focusing on remembering the words and nothing else. I can’t sing for shit – but when my back and leg pain is bad and I’m waiting for my painkillers to kick in I often sing to myself to distract myself from the pain, and it works for anxiety too.
7:39. With a clear head, I made a list in my head of pros and cons. I wanted to go and watch this film, I wanted to enjoy that 90 minutes of happiness, and that post-film buzz.
I decided that at 7:45 I would get out of the car and force myself in. It would be easy – I just had to walk the five minutes to the cinema, let the dude on the gate scan my ticket and find my seat. Easy.
Anxiety made it seem so complicated, I was fighting hard against it. I wanted to do this. I had to do this.
And so at 7:45 I got out of the car, and started walking. There were people everywhere. I focused on the ground, and just told myself over and over again that I could do this.
The cinema was rammed, I was alone. I bought myself a drink, went for an anxious wee and walked into Screen 4.
I found seat B10. My spot, my sanctuary for the next couple of hours. I’d done it. I was there.
And it was so worth pushing myself – being a singalong people were singing, dancing, cheering, clapping – it was just amazing to be amongst a group of people that were there for the love of the film, the music and there for a good time.
Such a silly little thing – but I was proud of myself for doing it and not letting anxiety win.
And my cinema phobia has been beaten – I’m planning my next ‘me date’ for next month 🙂
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