From Anxiety to Spontaneity...

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When I was 15, I went through a 'phase' (as the doctors liked to call it) of extreme anxiety. Only, it wasn't a phase and still affects me even to this day. Luckily, unlike my 15-year old self, I have since found ways of dealing with my anxiety and live a 'normal' (if you can call it that) day-to-day life. However, at 15 it really was getting to the point where my life was suffering because I was being crippled with over-bearing anxiety at every turn. I didn't go to school, I didn't see my friends... I basically did nothing for fear that anything would trigger a panic attack. I felt so alone and I thought I was losing my mind because at the time it felt like no-one else had ever experienced this and I was flying solo. It wasn't until I went to university that I discovered that anxiety is a very common problem for many people who, like myself, struggle to carry on everyday life whilst copying with anxiety.

But I'm jumping ahead of myself, because how exactly did I go from absolutely, 'no way, José am I stepping a foot outside' to moving away from my family & friends to another city to attend university? Well I have one word for you.... 'Spontaneity'. Now at first, that sounds a bit odd. How can a girl scared of stepping outside become spontaneous? Well, honestly, it was boredom and anger at how I was wasting my life, scared in my room whilst my friends were out there having fun. Something snapped inside me one day. I was tired of hiding, tired of being scared, and tired of not living life to its absolute fullest! So after seeing my friends having fun at a theme park without me because I was too afraid to go, I thought 'this is the last straw' and I begged my parents to take me to the theme park to 'test out the waters' so to speak. So, ok, I wasn't climbing Mount Everest after a day, but I was determined to move on from being trapped within my own fears. So, I went to the theme park and I was... terrified. Absolutely terrified. Where would I go if I couldn't cope and had a panic attack? What if people stared and thought I was a freak? These were the thoughts racing through my mind as I went through the ticket gate. But then I looked around and reminded myself who I was with. I was with my family, I was safe. 

As it turned out, I had a fantastic day. It had been the first bit of fun I'd had in over 6-months and I felt like I'd been released from captivity. When I got home I told my friends all about my trip and they invited me along to their next trip. I said yes. I was still scared. I probably didn't sleep for the whole week before the trip, but I was prepared for where I was going and this became my first step to tackling my anxiety. From then on, with every opportunity that came along I steadily grew in confidence again. I found the best way was to just say ‘yes’, and then deal with it when it happened instead of 'in-case' it happened. I had a few wobbles along the way. I distinctly remembering hiding in the toilets when out with friends for near on an hour because I had a particularly bad panic attack and didn't want anybody to know. Now I'm older, I know I should have let someone know, I know they wouldn't have judged me and would have helped me. These experiences were awful... while they were happening, but afterwards they became a memory that I now learn and grow from.

My progress wasn't over night, it took time, but within a few months I'd found myself a boyfriend, made new friends at college and gone on a train, at night...all by myself! This was a huge achievement and I think really pushed me on in my aim to live life to fullest. To get on that train and go somewhere I'd never been before opened my eyes to the realisation that there is a whole other world out there, you just have to go and see it! Knowing I could do this by myself, and not have a complete melt down convinced me that I could pretty much do anything, I just had to believe that I could. I've since gone to tons of new cities by myself and have even been to America! (Something that would never have been possible 8-years ago).

Fast forward to 2013 and I am a completely different person from my 15-year old self. I love to travel, meet new people and I try to whenever possible grab new experiences full grasp. I will probably never be 100% over my anxiety, it does come back every so often to bite me in the bum when I'm particularly run-down or stressed out. However, through tackling this illness, it has opened so many doors and brought experiences into my life that I would never have imagined when I used to sit hiding in my room, scared of the big, bad world. I really did have to lose what I considered 'routine' and become spontaneous in life to find the true me again.

Now I will admit, being spontaneous in life does actually get a bit harder when you enter the 'adult-world'. Your free time and money becomes precious and a whole new list of priorities takes hold. I became a culprit of running into a routine once I left uni, and once again it sent me ga-ga. It isn't until recently, especially in the last week, that I've really sat down and thought over what I went through, only to realise I was heading the same way again. When I realised this, it scared me, because I had come so far and anyone who has suffered anxiety knows how hard a relapse is. So, what did I do? Yep, you guessed it. I went a little crazy and had a spontaneous trip. This time it wasn't a theme park, but it was quite the rollercoaster. Last Wednesday was the 40th Anniversary of The Rocky Horror Show (Stage version). Anyone who knows me, who has read my previous review on the show, knows I love this production. I guess, like many other fans, I love that for two hours you are taken away from the serious real world and thrown into one big massive, Time-Warping, suspender-extravaganza. The perfect escape.

Having already seen the show in May, and loving the new cast, I had made plans to see the show again possibly later on in the year. However, out of boredom I thought I would just nosey at the ticket prices for 40th Anniversary show, and to my surprise I saw tickets for just £16! Now the show was in Manchester... which isn't exactly on my door-step so I looked into travel and hotels and it all became a bit much so I gave up on the idea. That was until Wednesday came around and I saw yet again there were tickets still available! Well, what can I say, I went into full-on spontaneous mode and started to call round friends to see who was free and wanted to join me. Come 5pm (3 hours before the show started) I booked the tickets, we drove to the train station (30 minutes drive), ran for the train (which we barely caught) which took 50 minutes, and navigated our way around Manchester to the Palace Theatre. Do you know what...? We made it... with time to spare. We had a whole 30 minutes to sit and relish in what we had just achieved! And best of all, it was all done without a ‘why?’ or a ‘how?’... we just did it.

Ready and waiting for the show
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It was completely worth it, not only was the show absolutely fantastic, I left buzzing thinking how great being spontaneous is and how great just doing something for the hell of it can make you feel. I felt like me again and ever since my approach to life is back to where it should be.

I'm sorry this post is soooo long, but I hope that by putting my story out there it will help anyone out there reading this and suffering with anxiety or something similar. I know it would have really helped me to hear about someone else’s experience, mainly to know that you can get through it and you are not alone. I hope if you are suffering that you can read this and know that if I can get through it then so can you. You just have to believe in yourself.

As a wider message, I guess I'm saying to everyone that you should always try to be a little spontaneous in life. Do something out of the ordinary, out of the blue, and live in the moment (unless it's actually dangerous, then I would say maybe give it a second thought). 

Life is too short to always be wondering 'what if'.

Live for now.

Until next time..



*If you are suffering from anxiety, please don't suffer alone. Speak to someone you trust or contact a support line to get the support you need from people who truly understand. I recommend: Mind or Anxiety UK*

Read my review of The Rocky Horror Show here
The show is currently touring the UK, buy your tickets here!