Thursday was a huge success! It was fantastic to see so many people who were openly talking about mental health. A special thank you to those who came on their own, (I won’t name names) but you know who you are. I think you’re incredibly brave and it was a genuine pleasure to meet you.
If I seemed tipsy at all that’s because…. Well, I was! It was due to nerves so we’ll gloss over that.
I couldn’t believe how happy and relaxed everyone was. I heard some of the most hilarious stories and it was great to see people joking about their experiences (laugher never fails to help.)
During the evening, one question in particular struck a chord with me: How long have you had anxiety? I was asked this multiple times and commonality never fails to arouse my attention. In answer to this, I honestly think that I was born with it. My parents often noted that I was a very sensitive child. I was easily distressed and would constantly worry about my health; Mum, how hard do you have to hit your head to die of internal bleeding? (I wasn’t allowed to watch Casualty after that.) When I was eight my dad made the mistake of letting me watch Brave Heart with him. Oh my God, the scene where he slices her throat. I couldn’t sleep for weeks and I still have a complex about my neck even today. Loud noises were also a problem (and still are if I’m honest, I’m easily startled.) Washing machines, hair dryers and drills especially would send me into hysterics… Seriously we couldn’t go into B&Q as a family for five years because the drilling freaked me out so much! My poor parents spent the first ten years of my life constantly reassuring me that everything was ok!
The most irrational and frightening thoughts would emerge at night (again, still true today.) Most children worry about monsters under the bed and this is completely normal, but I took it a step further. For example, I was so scared of being bit by a vampire that I slept with a scarf around my neck for six months.. this was particularly uncomfortable during the summer! I laugh about it now, because it’s silly.. but the signs were there from the beginning I think. One of the more ridiculous/hilarious incidents occurred when I was twelve. My brother and I were babysitting our cousins and we decided to watch The Exorcist (I think you can probably guess how this story will end.) We weren’t allowed to watch it, so obviously that’s the first thing we went for. Let’s just say that it pretty much scared me for life! The backwards crab scene… oh the backwards crab scene. For the rest of the night I was convinced that Ragan would appear and rip me to shreds. What’s worse, I actually managed to convince my brother that this was a perfectly feasible scenario. It could totally happen. Consequently we had to escort one another to the toilet with a bat (because if the devil walked up the stairs, at least we’d have a children’s plastic bat to defend ourselves.) We then barricaded the door and slept holding hands. Naturally, when the sun rose and everything was normal we never spoke of it again.
I could go on, but I think that I’m already at risk of getting myself sectioned!
To go back to the original point, I was intrigued by the similar response that I received to this question. Most feel as though their anxiety has been there from birth.
It makes me wonder about childhood observation. If such problems were spotted from a young age (in schools perhaps) could anxiety be prevented from developing as the child grows? We all know that I’m biased in regards to school because I don’t feel that I had a positive experience: Speak up, why are you so shy? Stop day dreaming, what’s wrong with you? You’re very strange Claire. This pretty much summarises how my nervous temperament was treated by teachers (with a few exceptions.)
However, perhaps this is an unfair evaluation? When I was at school Anxiety wasn’t as recognised as it is now. But then I’d be interested to know whether attitudes and styles have changed.
One of my biggest fears in life is that I might pass this on my children (if I have any) through genetics, and I’m sure that many share this fear. Nevertheless, I’m confident that if this does occur then I’ll be able to provide them with the best support and treatment, (as I could be considered a bloody expert on the subject by now!)
Anyway, the event was so much fun and I’m delighted that so many people attended. Perhaps we can make it an annual thing?
A big thank you to Phil for being the DJ and photographer, your photos are fantastic and I’ve included some below. A big thank you also to my northern girls who were on hand to support me all night (sorry about the pre-party freak out and all the wine!) Thank you to my loving parents for being so wonderfully upbeat and supportive… and for paying the bar tab. God I love them! A final big thank you to my gorgeous boyfriend who’s always there to hold my hand and who brought the most delicious anxious cake! J
This is starting to sound like an Oscar speech, so I’ll wrap it up….