Today I travelled to London to join in with a Time to Change event.
It has also been one of the worst days anxiety-wise that I've had all year.
I love events with Time to Change & Rethink Mental Illness.
I love hearing other people's stories and feeling encouraged by their responses to mine.
I was so looking forward to this.
I woke up with that familiar, yet somehow always unfamiliar, sense of dread and impending doom that feels like it has access to every cell in my body.
I am grateful for my beloved, who encouraged me to get out of bed, fed the cat, helped me choose what to wear, made breakfast and drove me to the train station.
Some days I am 100% capable of being an independent adult. Today was not one of those days.
I got to my reserved seat to find that someone was sat in it.
There were so many available seats and he was sat in the one that had a reserved notice on that little screen above the seats.
Most days I would be able to easily shrug this off. Accept and let go.
I sat in an available seat, seething that he was so self-entitled.
I managed to settle to some degree but then the train stopped. We were going nowhere. The announcement man didn't know when we'd be moving again.
I was trapped. Every announcement gave no more answers. More people got on the train. More noise, more movement, more anxious energy buzzing around me. The heat started to get to me. I'm sure my seat got smaller, or the space around my seat got smaller. I was trapped. An announcement that another train was going to London Euston from the station we were stuck on, should I get off and try that? Turns out I was stuck in my seat and my brain couldn't possibly comprehend the decision to get on a different train. Jeez, it got so hot. My body was so uncomfortable, dizzy, shakey, sweaty.
When I finally did get to Euston, I had to then walk to the event in the rain.
Silly choice of shoes for a wet day. Soggy feet.
So. Many. People.
So. Much. Noise.
I had a lovely welcome when I did arrive and I felt better...ish.
I'm usually in my element at events like this. Conversations about mental health are my favourite (Well one of the very few topics I can actually hold conversations about)
Today it was a bigger challenge than usual, but I stuck it out. I made it until the end (even if I did leave as quickly as I could)
For that I am proud.
I have some great ideas and things to take forward; things to ponder on.
I met some wonderful people who I hope to work with again.
I got that reminder that talking and hearing other people talk about mental health, ignites something in me that not much else does.
I was foolish to think that the issues with the trains would be sorted nearer the end of the day.
When I got back to the station, I was met with absolute chaos.
So. Many. People.
So. Much. Noise.
Crowds of people looking up at those boards, waiting for the platform of their train to be announced so they could rush forward.
Panic well and truly set in. Heart racing. Struggling to breathe. Feeling sick. Shaking all over.
I couldn't help wonder how everyone else was feeling.
Did their emotions differ to mine?
How much was the stress affecting their physiology?
Was this simply mild annoyance to them?
Was anyone else feeling like the station was caving in on them?
I am glad I went. I'm glad I stayed. I'm glad I had this experience today.
It was a messy, exhausting day but it was a challenge that I made it through.
Life is messy and it's exhausting, but I'm glad to be living it.