Photo by Chelsea Laine Francis
I have a story for you. It's about my anxiety. I want to first say that this isn't a sad story, this is a story about progress. Who doesn't love hearing about progress? Isn't that what we're all here for anyway? To make progress? I say yes. So here we go.
I had an amazing time at Bonnaroo, I really did. But, on Saturday something happened. I don't know what exactly was the trigger but once we got to the festival grounds I started feeling super overwhelmed. And disclaimer- I kinda feel like I have to say this, since I was at a music festival and all, I was not on any kind of drug and I hadn't even been drinking when this happened. I was totally sober. Anyway, all of a sudden everything got louder, my heart started racing, my vision even started becoming distorted and my thoughts began flying all over the place, in a very bad, irrational way. It does kind of sound like I was having a bad trip or something, but this is just what a mini-anxiety attack can feel like. Kind of like you're dying, or you may die. It sucked. We were on our way to see My Morning Jacket which was one of the shows I was most excited about and when we got there I wasn't even able to enjoy it.
I think Nicole posted an article on Facebook a while back about defining what your personal hell is. This was mine. Being trapped in a huge crowd of people with nowhere to go. I wanted to get out but in my irrational thought process I felt like I couldn't leave or I'd loose my friends for the rest of the night (or maybe in that moment I felt like I'd loose them FOREVER). Phone service was shit, the grounds were confusing to navigate and the crowds were so big. I just didn't feel like it was possible to leave which made me even more upset. I sat on the ground for a large part of the show trying to push the bad thoughts out. I did breathing exercises, my boyfriend talked to me for a bit to try to help me clear my mind and I did end up leaving to go to the restroom and be alone for a few minutes. Then I just tried listening to the music thinking that might do me some good.
I did all of these things in an attempt to get myself through it and you know what, they worked. This wasn't something that lasted for 5 minutes. I felt this way for about 3 hours. But hey, I was able to work through it and by the end of My Morning Jacket I felt so much better. I didn't let myself dwell on what had happened and the rest of the night was a blast.
I used to let these kinds of experiences ruin my mood for days. I've really learned over the past year to just let it go and move on. I don't beat myself up anymore for being the way I am and I hope that one day these attacks won't happen anymore. But for now, it's OK. No one is judging me and I won't judge myself for being human. I'm OK and I'm proud of me for finding a healthy way to cope. Progress, indeed.