Today was a big day. It might not seem like a big day for most people but it was for me. For the first time ever, i went to a blogging event on my own where i hadn't met a single person there. I drove the two and a half hours to the event by myself, walked into the event by myself and i managed to talk to lots of people and sit next to two wonderful bloggers. But i nearly didn't do it. I have awful anxiety and the thought of meeting strangers and being on my own is terrifying to me. I have never been to a place before on my own where i don't know any body. I have always said no or had someone with me to hide behind. I have never been confident enough to say yes. But for this event i did. I excitedly said yes because it was weeks away and i didn't think it through too much at the time.
I spent yesterday feeling sick with a tight chest and i kept telling my husband that i needed to cry. I felt that lump in my throat the whole day and couldn't shake off the feeling. I woke up this morning, got in the car and started the drive. I felt positive and even a little bit excited but as i drove, the tightness in my chest came back. I started to feel really sick and shaky and i ended up stopping at the services and having a panic attack in the toilets. I sat myself down and breathed through it and i was ready to call Gilles and tell him i was going to turn around and come home. I really didn't think i could keep driving. The night before i had gone to see one of my favourite singers, Kate Rusby at the theatre and i bought her new album. She performed a song called Ghost and it made me cry so i got in the car and put on that song. I turned it up really loud and started driving. I was battling with myself for the next hour as i got nearer to the City. I kept the song on repeat and breathed slowly. The song is so haunting and beautiful and i just allowed myself to be vulnerable and to feel the way i did. I allowed myself to cry a little and to see saying "oh my god!" over and over. I told myself that i was going to write this post and that if i didn't go through with it, i would disappoint myself. I kept imagining what i was going to say and i was telling myself out loud that i can really do this. I got to the City and parked up and sat in my car for a few minuets before giving myself another talking to and going to the venue. I walked in on my own and instantly found another blogger who was in the same boat as me. We stuck together and i found my confidence. I talked to other bloggers and i kept reassuring myself in my head that nothing bad was going to happen. After the event, i felt so overwhelmed all the way home. I was so proud of myself and when i got back to my husband, i explained about how i felt and he said he was really proud of me too.
I think for people that don't have anxiety, it can be hard to imagine how difficult it can be. I have an intense fear of failing, being rejected or being judged. I find it so hard to talk to strangers and i am constantly worrying about what they think of me and when people don't talk to me, i think they must hate me. It's irrational but it is real for me. I have worked so hard on overcoming these feelings and taken huge steps to become a better person. This time last year, i wouldn't have been able to do what i did today. I would have cried or freaked out and would have gone back home to my comfort zone. Pushing myself to get out there today has opened up a whole new world. I won't have to say no when i am asked to events now like i have always done. It won't be completely easy for me but i know i can do it.
Looking back at the drive to Bristol today, i am actually glad it happened. It was such an intense feeling and normally i have the girls or people around me and i just bury my feelings and try to forget them but it was just me and allowing myself to be fragile and stripped back allowed me to deal with those emotions. I hardly ever let myself get sad or upset because i try my hardest to always be positive or always show happiness around the girls. Now whenever i listen to that song, it will be with a smile on my face. I achieved something i thought was impossible for me to do.