Things I’ve done (still have anxiety, just do things with it).

When I was looking back through my phone to see what I’d been up to since April, when I last wrote what I’d been up to before that, it turned out to be quite a lot – also soooo many photos of animals and screenshots of memes… I was thinking, I’m doing well at the moment, but I don’t really have any LESS anxiety. It’s still there, I’m just dealing with it better at the moment and achieving more. When I first started struggling with stepping out of my front door (agoraphobia) I did some googling and came across a blog written by someone with severe agoraphobia in America. She was struggling to make it one street away from her home, her ‘safe zone’ and it scared the absolute shit out of me. I absolutely respect that she was writing from her own experiences and I am incredibly sorry that she was struggling to that degree, having been there myself I think she was being very honest and I appreciate that, but at the time it should have come with a trigger warning! It made me determined that if I ever wrote about my agoraphobia it would be to prove that you can have it and still achieve things, and that even when you can only just make it out of the door, you are still valuable and it shouldn’t be regarded as another thing to fear, but more as an opportunity to practice pushing yourself. When I look at this list I know that I’ve done all of these things ALONGSIDE my anxiety, not because of an absence of it. So…

  • I went on a date. Two dates actually. Possibly even three (you can tell I’m good at dating, I’m not even sure what one is…). In town, on a bank holiday (busy busy) and we went for drinks in a couple of different places, and I was forced to be spontaneous and independent and it was awesome and I had a lovely time and did I mention it was awesome. This is something regular humans do!!!!
  • Helped run two community picnics with so much cake I had start forcing people to eat it. (Not really, kind of).
  • Started painting again, really badly but I don’t care because it’s fun.
  • Went to a fundraising event with a meal and promise auction and dancing – no diazepam, no alcohol, lots of eating and dancing.

  • Went to a big birthday party full of people I’d never met before, in a place I’d never been before, and had fun times.
  • Went to get petrol by myself and took an awful photo of myself with the receipt to prove it (no one needs to see that photo).
  • Had a cookery disaster with a supposedly baked aubergine.
  • Gained two new additions; a miniature Shetland and a bantam hen. Affinity with tiny animals.

  • Did the make-up and prompted at a play competition. My make-up got a special mention from the judge and I was chuffed. Felt incredibly proud of my sister acting in her first competition.
  • Took my dog to ‘dog agility’ – hilarious and fun and I’ve wanted to try it for as long as I can remember!! I’m super pleased I did this because it’s been on my ‘I want to do this’ list for so long! We’ll be at Crufts soon…
  • Took a really cool photo of my cat.

  • Took part in the All Wales Final of the One Act Play competition, at a big, professional theatre, with actual lightbulbs around the mirrors! Doing make-up and prompting, with a tech rehearsal in the day time. A big audience that I avoided looking at until we’d finished! No diazepam or alcohol, except a G and T to celebrate afterwards!
  • Went to see my Uncle’s band play. No diazepam, no alcohol. Evening in a bar, drinking fancy mocktails, and drove everyone home after. Big deal.

  • Embraced the ‘standing in front of a mirror, usually in a toilet’ selfie when I go out (as you can see…) to document that I went out. Do it for the ‘gram.
  • Went to two of my friends’ baby girls’ christenings (two separate babies).
  • Heard these songs, you’re welcome –

  • Went shopping by myself in town, and ‘running errands’, like other humans. Even ventured into a supermarket 😮
  • Developed a strange new style that revolves around patterned trousers and makes me look like a Playdays presenter circa 1988-1995.
  • Had something very exciting happen / happening, which is a secret for now! 😀
  • Hatched a gorgeous little chick that has grown into a slightly bigger but equally gorgeous, neurotic chick that definitely isn’t the breed it was meant to be.

  • Did some dog-sitting.
  • Got an actual Farmers’ Tan.
  • Got some bangin’ eBay and Depop bargains including the jacket of dreams that has definite Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat vibes. The best kind of vibes.
  • Drove myself, by myself, to various meetings. Usually at the jobcentre, the DWP can’t get enough of me. Results in celebratory buying of magazines.
  • Went out for a meal for my sister’s 21st birthday with all the family. No diazepam, no alcohol. More toilet mirror selfies.

  • Went to the library. I love the library.
  • Rescued a racing pigeon, called it Sid and looked after it for two weeks until it was ready to fly away. If you love someone, set them free. Or something.
  • Went to Shrewsbury to meet a friend for coffee in a new place. Walked across town to the train station, much to my own surprise!
  • Went to a gig in Manchester. To see ultimate babe Kyla la Grange. Shout out to mother for driving us. I’d found parking just one street away from the venue, Night and Day Cafe in the Northern Quarter (thanks to the venue manager for advising me on close parking) and we went looking for somewhere for food – which is my WORST NIGHTMARE EVER. Middle of a busy city, on a time limit, and hungry. My sister got annoyed at my stressing because she was also hungry, and I replied, “I WILL GO BACK TO THE CAR AND CRY IF YOU DON’T LEAVE ME ALONE AND CHOOSE SOMEWHERE!!!!” …so much chill, no overreaction at all… After walking in a circle we settled on a Caribbean place called Turtle Bay, which was perfect as it was really cool, in all senses, and the service was quick and it wasn’t too busy. Ideal. It was also just down the street from the venue. We got to Night and Day and saw some of the support band, Fours, who were good. We had seen Kyla there a couple of years ago, and Mum had seen my cousins band play there not too long ago, so we were all familiar with the venue which is good for me. I was actually feeling pretty excited as we waited for Kyla to come on. It turned out to be the actual hottest gig ever, and I’ve been to a fair few gigs. I’ve never been so close to just stripping off. We actually drank the bar dry – of water. I spent the gig flitting between enjoying it and freaking out about the fact that we were all so hot, and also feeling just freaked out and panicky, but it was absolutely worth it. We were quite near the front because I’d decided that if I’d got as far as the venue, I may as well get near the front! The first song was Hummingbird, a song that (no lie, deadly serious) was the sole reason I got out of bed after 3 days and a particularly shitty meltdown last year. I surprised myself by spontaneously bursting into tears when the song started. I’ve never, ever cried at a gig before, and I’ve seen Guillemots live. We hung around after to meet Kyla and I told her about it and how the song meant a lot to me and she was so kind, saying she was so glad I’d come. Going all the way to Manchester, to a hot, sweaty, busy gig, is obviously quite a big deal. It feels very surreal that I actually went but it was so good and I’m so pleased I did. Achievements and fun despite the anxiety, YAY.

  • Went for a celebratory meal with everyone in the Drama society. Eating out is a particularly tricky thing for me so this was another big deal.
  • Went to an interview for some volunteering. An INTERVIEW. It was very informal but still, an interview.
  • Started the volunteering, doing Admin for a local charity. When they asked me when I wanted to volunteer, how often and for how long, I didn’t just do my usual “oh whenever, whatever you need”; I knew that I wanted to start off with one morning a week so that’s what I said and that’s what I’m doing and it’s manageable and doable and I’m bloody doing it!
  • Went to another gig (no diazepam, no alcohol), local this time but a blues band from Holland who were brilliant.

So yer, a long and possibly boring-for-you-reading-this list, but it serves the purpose of proving that you can have fun, get out and do things WITH anxiety / panic / agoraphobia. It might make things difficult, unpleasant and sometimes really uncomfortable, but you can still do them, and sometimes they’re actually just fun!

P.S. I’m not fine, I’m not ‘better’, I haven’t cured my anxiety, I haven’t got rid of it, I’m just living with it. It’s bloody hard so I DARE anyone to use these achievements to try and tell me I’m alright. (I’m looking at you DWP).