What If

My anxiety is always changing. I have confused psychiatrists many times because it can be hard to label. I started with the overwhelming fear of vomiting (emetophobia). I still have that, but at least I can go out in public and eat in some restaurants. I used to starve myself because of it. In my head, what goes down must come up. This was a particularly useless fear because I very rarely vomit. I can’t even remember the last time I did *knock on wood*. I spend years being terrified of it. Altering my daily routine and avoiding situations that “normal” people do without a second thought. All because I might throw up. The what ifs are the most debilitating part of anxiety.

I started with that, but found other things to be afraid of along the way. I need to be able to see exits in stores. I used to be able to go into stores and malls with no issue. I just did it. Now I am terrified if an exit is not in sight because what if I throw up and can’t make it to the door and throw up on the floor in front of everyone, who would clean it?  I have always had a bit of a fear of eating in public and in restaurants, but it escalated to the point that I was unable to even eat a piece of fruit or have a drink in a coffee shop because surely what I was about to eat would instantly come back up in front of all of these people eating their dinners and drinking their fancy lattes.

I am very logical about my anxiety and I am very aware that it doesn’t make sense. Here’s the thing, anxiety doesn’t give a fuck what you think. It doesn’t care if you’re the most rational person in the world. I know that the likelihood of me vomiting instantly after eating in a restaurant is almost nil, but what if. I know that I have never vomited in a store, but in my head, that’s because I have always left and stayed in eyesight of the exit. If I break those rules, who knows what could happen.

I move from one fear and one avoidance to the next. As soon as I manage to reason with myself enough to take the first step in facing one of my fears, a new one pops up. It could be one that was never there before. Something I never even noticed, something I have never thought of. All of a sudden, it’s an issue.

I used to have nightmares almost on a weekly basis. They were always the same. I was downtown or somewhere too far to walk home. Transit was either not running or there were too many train lines going in too many directions and I couldn’t find the one to take me home. I would end up lost on the train, not knowing which one to take, or the bus would have stopped running because it was late. The main storyline was not being able to get home. Transit failed me and couldn’t be trusted.

I haven’t really taken transit for years. I took the bus a couple of times up the hill because it’s one bus. I would walk home, so no issue there. I could have walked to where I was going but there is a huge hill in the way. Still, the nightmares happened weekly. I would wake up sweating and have to reassure myself that I was in bed, safe. I was already home. No need to be scared. I would try to reason with myself. We only have three train lines, they are easy to follow and it’s difficult to get lost on them. As long as I can get to a train station, I should be able to get home. Not that I would ever put myself in that scenario, being away from home without a cab or some other personal vehicle, because what if. 

Since I got the car, the nightmares have changed. I no longer have dreams about not being able to find my way home on transit. Now my dreams consist of stolen cars and being lost in parking garages. I still wake up sweaty, thinking the car has been stolen. I have dreams of being in a multilevel parking garage with what seems like millions of cars. For some reason I can’t find mine. I go to every floor, search every car, mine isn’t there. I go floor to floor, pressing the panic button on my fob hoping the alarm goes off and I can follow it to the car. I always wake up before I find it. Just like I always woke up before I found my way home on transit.

Luckily, I find the car nightmares a little less scary. I know that I would eventually find the car in a parking garage. That being said, I haven’t managed to come up with a rational counter argument for the scenario where my car is stolen while I’m out somewhere, but I’m sure I will think of something eventually.

Living in a world of what ifs is exhausting. I have a very vivid imagination, unfortunately it prefers to drag me into the world of worst case scenarios when I would much rather be frolicking in a field with a bunch of puppies or something. I have always said that if there was a job where your main purpose was to think of everything that could possibly go wrong, even if it is the most unlikely thing in the world, I would be the best at it. Sure, that bridge probably won’t collapse if rush hour traffic stops on it, but what if…

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Johnny Boy

I have restarted this blog post three times now. I’m not really sure what I want to write. Sometimes it’s hard for me to put what I’m feeling into words. I do have a tendency to get sad after the holidays. My birthday is on January 7th and that kind of fucks with me too.

For some reason I have felt incredibly sad these last few days. Again, I’m not sure why. I am doing everything the same as I did when I was happy and felt proud of my accomplishments a week ago. I think I just get smacked in the face with loneliness sometimes. I felt a pang of relief when I typed that last sentence so I am going to take that as a sign that it is what is truly bothering me right now.

I know that I have come a long way in my life this last year but I still find myself alone more often than not. This is mostly due to deliberate isolation on my part. I hid for years because it was easier than having to answer to other people. My anxiety makes me say “no” a lot and frankly it’s just easier to have no one around to ask you to go places or do things than always have to say no and explain why. The problem with that is now I am more open to experiences and am trying to say “yes” more but there is no one around to say yes to.

I am tired. Emotionally, physically and mentally tired. Sometimes I just want someone that I can collapse into to feel safe. Someone that I know will look out for me and let me just stop fighting for even a few seconds. Anxiety and depression are exhausting. Fighting in your head everyday to act like things are fine when you know that you are slowly falling apart. Slowly falling back into the pit that you spent so long trying to crawl out of.

I have been on the go a lot recently. I think I’m trying to distract myself from what’s really going on in my head. When I drive around by myself, I do feel lonely and I really just want to go home but sometimes home is even lonelier. I have been distracting myself trying to act like everything is still okay, if I just ignore this for long enough it will go away. The problem with that is when I am in bed at night with nothing to distract me, the feelings creep up. I want to cry and that would probably help but for some reason I just can’t. I’ve never been much of a crier as an adult. I tend to just smile and pretend everything is okay unless I am incredibly overhwlemed or one of those sad SPCA commercials comes on. I suppose I am doing myself a disservice in that regard.

I am trying to be compassionate toward myself and give myself the space to feel the sadness and anxiety that have been creeping up. At the same time, I’m trying not to fall too far back into the place I was before because crawling back out was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

Get up Johnny boy, get up Johnny boy
Get up ’cause the world has left you lying on the ground.
You’re my pride and joy, you’re my pride and joy.
Get up Johnny boy because we all need you now.

So, About Last Year

I get it, 2016 was a shit show for a lot of people. The majority of the North American population was glad to see it go. We lost a lot of music legends, actors and personalities that many people had grown up with. It was also shitty for a lot of people personally. And obviously, Trump happened. For me on the other hand, things went pretty well.

The year started as usual. I hit the after Christmas slump that I’m used to. Once the lights come down and reality sets back in, I tend to get pretty blech (that’s a word, I promise). My birthday is early January so usually after that things go back to dull reality. Add to that the fact that I turned 30 and I was even more shook up. A 30-year-old living with mom…nice.

I had bought an electronic keyboard in hopes of learning to play. I found out shortly after that lessons are expensive as fuck. Luckily, the internet exists. I subscribed to a few teachers on YouTube and even bought a subscription to a midi based learning program. I had every intention of learning, I just never managed to find the time. The internet sucks as a teacher, there is too much other stuff to look at. I started to drift away from it. I didn’t have the motivation. I just wanted to be good, not to have actually work at it. I’m part of the instant pay off generation. I want it and I want it now.

Later in the year, I made a resolution that I would either learn to play piano or learn to drive before the year was over. I highly expected the one I would achieve would be learning piano. I didn’t have a car and I sure as hell didn’t think my anxiety would let me even attempt it. In May, I bought a car so it would be easier for mom to get to and from work, later that month I went for my learner’s license. In October I took my test to get my Novice license. I don’t think I have ever accomplished something so fast. My mind is still blown that learning to drive was what I accomplished. How insane is that?! This is something that I thought I would never be able to do because of money and anxiety.

I also managed to snag a promotion in 2016. I went from getting paid by the line to getting paid hourly. That made my income shoot up dramatically. I have never kept a job for more than about three months. I have kept this job for almost 2 years now. Insanity. More money leads to a car which leads to a license which leads to independence and spending way more money so now I don’t have money…What a circle.

I also jumped off the imaginary anxiety cliff and went to a concert. I wouldn’t have risked it for any band other than Twenty One Pilots. They were worth the risk. That led to more concerts, Awolnation, Alice Cooper, Rob Thomas and have USS coming up in February.

Of course I couldn’t have done a lot of this without my mother. She has been a constant throughout all of this. She is by my side when I need her and reassures me when I feel like everything is ending and horrific things are happening (when in reality, I’m lying in bed having a panic attack).

Having said all this, the end of the year was rough. I had all the usual stress of Christmas and family coming over but I also had the added stressors of a half ripped off eaves trough from all the snow we have received this year (which still hasn’t stopped) and Daisy’s vet bills skyrocketed in December. She had some issues with her paws and then more seizures and she is due for her vaccines and all sorts of things happen with her in December. Christmas snuck up on me. I was still wrapping the night before.

I finally feel like I’m starting to relax after all that mayhem. I have finally been able to just sit on the couch and veg out to crap TV. Daisy is back to herself, the eaves trough is back up, I have my license, I have my mom, I have my animals, I bought a new bed so no more shitty sleeps, I have managed to pull an incredible amount of bravery and confidence out of myself that I didn’t know was there.

To think that all of the changes I made this year started with a bored day on the couch listening to Spotify is insane. Here’s hoping for an even better 2017 (for all of us).

Guess Who’s Back

Wow, it’s been two months since I’ve written. I have thought about it many times but usually by then I’m in bed and not about to move. I wish there was a way to just mind meld my thoughts onto a blog. It would be so much easier. First world problems I guess. So here we go, this might be a long one.

Let’s start where we left off. I had just gotten my N. Since then, I have managed to not wreck the car. I have had a couple of close calls but luckily I have a quick reflexes lol. I’ve been driving all over the place. That of course also means I spend a lot more money because I have access to more stores! The car has improved my quality of life so much, I don’t know how I went so long without it. I still can’t believe I can drive. It’s something I never thought I would achieve because of anxiety. I still get waves of fear while driving but am confident enough in my abilities to stay safe. For now at least!

I also went to the Alice Cooper concert with mom recently. That was an amazing show. I have never seen such theatrics in a concert, mind you I haven’t been to many. There was a guillotine, a giant Frankenstein, sparks and smoke and all sorts of stuff. We had aisle seats which was nice because we weren’t crushed like at the TOP concert. I had two guys sitting next to me that were dressed fully in latex and wigs and brought their own flasks of rum. I will tell you one thing, I won’t be forgetting the smell of sweaty latex and damp wigs mixed with rum any time soon. Still, that was one hell of a show and their female guitar player was INSANE.

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The closing shot from Alice Cooper

Since I have the car now, I have seen a psychiatrist at the TriCities Mental Health Team. I was to scared to access that before because it would have been quite the bus ride. I got a referral from my GP and went over there. She stopped my respiradone because frankly no one knows why I was on it in the first place. Apparently someone at some point thought I was psychotic. I’m happy report that I’m not. Since being off that, sleeping has been more difficult. I think it was acting as a bit of a sedative at night for me making it easier to fall asleep. I have more energy now as well. Not as lethargic, again I think because of the lack of sedative in my system. It feels good to know I’m not on that medication anymore.

The psych also recommended that I start Yoga. I did Yoga in New West through the mental health group there and found it beneficial but it was highly discounted at $2 a class. When I left New West I was no longer eligible for that so I stopped. I did some research and tried to find a Yoga studio that wasn’t too far away, not overly expensive and seemed non-intimidating. Yoga can be very judgmental if you are in the wrong studio. Luckily, I found a great studio that is no pressure, great people, the instructors are a blast and it is just regular people. No judgment and no professional yogis that can twist themselves in six different ways at once. I had been going twice a week, once to Hatha and once to Chillout which is soft yoga by candlelight (fake candles). The Hatha was a bit too intense for me so lately I have only been going to the chillout. Now that I am earning more at work, I am able to afford it.

Before I started Yoga, I was quite lonely. I had no idea how to meet people or make friends. I am doing so well and frankly was a bit depressed that I was doing so well, had my license, was working and all that and yet still had no friends. No one was noticing me. No one was there to see how well I was doing and how I was starting to function as a “normal” human being. I realize that this can make it seem like I am doing better for someone else and that I wanted to do this for attention from someone else. Maybe that is partly true. I guess I thought that if I did all this and became “socially acceptable” that people would want to be around me. People would see me as successful and think I was worth being around. Maybe if I looked like I had my shit together (even if it was only on the outside), people would want to hang out with me, see me as a fun person and stop turning me away. The fact that I had all of this together and yet was still so alone, was devastating to me.

Yoga gave me a way to meet other people in a non-threatening environment. The first class I went to, a girl instantly introduced herself to me. She was very welcoming. I kept going and a few classes later met another girl. She was super nice too. So that made two people that I might be able to be friends with. Then the last class another girl came in and we got along too. This may sound very juvenile and maybe even a bit pathetic but I am hoping these can turn into friendships and I can stop taking my mom with me everywhere. I sound like I am desperate for someone to like me and want to spend time with me and I think that’s true. Humans need human contact and locking yourself away for years can be damaging psychologically. I’m glad that I took the leap and I’m trying to make connections again.

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Candlelight Yoga, usually there are more people but the weather was shit (and still is).

Let’s see, what else has happened….I got my hair dyed the other night. I decided I wanted to go a turquoise color next. It took 5 hours to strip the current color, bleach and dye and Olaplex my hair. The girl that did it took her sweet time but I don’t mind because it came out well. I tried to book with my usual hairdresser but couldn’t because she was booked up past Christmas. I guess I waited too long. Anyway, I’m pretty happy with it. Still getting used to it though. I have had pink hair for so long that now that it’s darker again, it can be weird to look in the mirror in the morning not to mention my pillowcase is now green.

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It looks different in every light

One of the curses of anxiety is that when things are going so well, you are waiting for it to all fall apart. History has shown me that when I get up, it will all inevitably at some point come crashing down again. Sometimes farther than I was to begin with. It is always lurking in the back of my mind and I know it’s there. It’s waiting for me to show the slightest sign of weakness and it will pounce. I am waiting for the morning that I wake up and am scared to the leave my room again. Not long ago I was unable to go as far as the mailbox. I try to stay positive but history tells me it’s coming. Hopefully with the music of Twenty One Pilots (that gave me the strength to crawl out of my hole to begin with) I will make it through this time. I might stumble but hopefully I will catch myself and won’t face plant like I have before. Even if I do, I know Twenty One Pilots will be there to pick me up again.

  |-/ Together We Go |-/

Freedom

One of the biggest effects anxiety has had on me throughout the years is essentially keeping me trapped in my house. My anxiety made me terrified of transit and terrified to be away from home without a quick way to get back. For many years I only went within walking distance. If I couldn’t quickly walk home or catch a cheap cab ride back home, I wasn’t going. Cars were okay, so long as mom was driving. She is the only one I trust to bring me home if I say I need to go home. When you don’t have a car, having a fear of public transit is pretty inconvenient. Rationally, I know there isn’t much to be afraid of with transit (other than buses that don’t show, train breakdowns, drunks and the odd violent incident). The problem with anxiety is that it doesn’t care about rational thinking. I know it is relatively safe, but do you think I am going to risk it? Hell no. Luckily, five months ago I realized that I was probably stable enough in my job to afford car payments (read about that here).

Having a car was great and all but I still wasn’t really free. Everything I wanted to do was still dependent on whether mom was willing to come with me. She often would drive me when I asked her to, albeit begrudgingly. Even though she usually said yes, I always had that sick feeling in my stomach when I wanted to go somewhere. I knew it meant having to ask mom and dealing with the sighs and the eye rolls. I get it. She works outside of the house and when she gets home, she wants to stay home. I work from home so when I’m not working, I want to be out. There are always festivals and parks and all sorts of things I want to check out when I am not riddled with anxiety. Unfortunately, for the most part mom isn’t really up to them.

I got my learner’s license shortly after we got the car. Mom tried to teach me but she was pretty freaked out with me behind the wheel which wasn’t really helping me feel confident either! I decided to drop some money on driving lessons. I did my research and found a school with good reviews and at a reasonable price. My instructor was great. We got along well from day one. I was always comfortable with her and she was never stressed about the roads or traffic conditions. She remained calm in all situations, which in turn made me calm. She had me on the roads within about 20 minutes of driving in an empty parking lot. Buying those lessons was probably the best decision I could have made for myself. Mom knows how to drive, but teaching someone how to drive is a different story. I started driving every time we went somewhere.

I was usually calm driving, which I attribute to my instructor. Having anxiety like I do, which includes intrusive images, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle the constantly changing traffic flow. I worried that I would be afraid of cars acting erratically, jumping out from intersections, slamming on breaks, all that nonsense. Now yes, cars do that occasionally, but I keep my eyes sharply on the road and react if I need to. I have the general sense that most people want to get to their destination alive and without an accident, so I try to trust people to drive safely and follow the rules of the road. I have had a couple of anxiety episodes while driving. One episode actually required me pulling over and letting mom drive. I was just not in the right state of mind to be driving during that level of anxiety. Another time, I was very anxious on a busy road, but I kept going. I drove through the anxiety. If it reached a level where I was losing focus, I would have pulled over, but I managed to handle it and drove until the anxiety subsided to a lower level. I say “lower” because my anxiety is never really gone. It’s always there, it just has states that are more manageable. It ends up being an annoying little thought picking at the back of my brain instead of a monsoon of terror.

Having done all that driving, I booked my road test. I had originally booked it for next week but because of mom’s crazy work situation right now, I had to change it. The location near me is incredibly busy and when I was looking at rescheduling, the soonest appointment they had was in December. I remembered my driving instructor telling me to just keep checking and keep refreshing and see if someone cancels and I can get a spot. Luckily, I was able to. I found a spot for today (October 3rd) at 9:30 AM. I had my last driving lesson yesterday and my instructor took me on the route that the test takes, went over every little detail with me again and left me feeling confident.

So today was my road test. I was half an hour early but I wanted to give my nerves a chance to wear themselves out. The road test waiting area got crowded quickly. People of all ages were there, from teenagers to seniors. Even though I was the first to be there, I was the last to be called for my test. When my examiner called me up, she told me her daughter was in love with Twenty One Pilots as well (I was wearing my TØP hoodie). This put my nerves at ease a little bit, we had something in common.

As I was taking the test, I couldn’t help but notice the examiner ticking boxes on her grade sheet. Every tick made me think I was failing. I was making mental notes of all of the mistakes I was making. I didn’t shoulder check, I waited too long to go around that corner, I didn’t pull my wheels to the side when I parked uphill, I stopped when there wasn’t even a stop sign and let’s not even talk about the fact that I pulled out of the parking lot with the E-break still on.

Half an hour later when we pulled back into the parking spot at ICBC the first words out of my mouth were “I failed, didn’t I”. She smiled at me and shook her head. “No, you didn’t fail, but you have to work on your observation skills”. I did manage to keep my speed right on the dot. Even in the school and playground zones. I watched my signs closely and I was proud that I achieved that as it is something I had struggled with during lessons.

I passed. I passed my road test on my first try. I was in shock. My driving instructor told me about students that had passed on their first attempt, but I am a nervous wreck, surely something like that would never happen to me. I would need four or five test runs before I got it right. I walked out of that office with a shiny green N magnet for the back of my car. No more red L screaming about my lack of experience. I slowly pulled out of the parking lot, still in shock.

On the drive home I started breathing again. I’m pretty sure I held my breath for the majority of the test. I just kept repeating it in my head, “I passed, holy shit, I fucking passed”. I don’t think the gravity of the situation has sunk in yet. I still think to myself “Oh I wanna go…” and then I get that feeling again, “Mom won’t want to come with me” and I slink into my seat, only to remember that I can go by myself now. If I want to take daisy to the park, I can. If I want to go hunt Pokemon, I can. If I want to go get Doritos at 3 AM, I can. If I want to go hang out in Starbucks for an hour, I can. The entire world just opened up for me and the feeling is indescribable. I often daydreamed about being able to drive but always shrugged it off as something that people like me can’t do. I have realized that I tend to underestimate myself. I have found over the last year that I am far more capable than I give myself credit for. The more boundaries I push, the more freedom I discover. If I just let myself try, chances are I can do it. I need to stop saying no to myself because “people like me don’t do that”. Well guess what, I just did.

Sold

The Blink 182 concert is tonight. It’s happening right now as a matter of fact. I’m sure that place is going insane with the opener…unless Blink have already taken the stage. I had tickets to the concert but after thinking about it, decided to sell them. I sold them for a few reasons.

Firstly, I was stressing out about it. Sure I was excited about it, but that is a huge venue for a band that I’m not absolutely in love with. I listened to their new album a while back and it had one or two good songs. Seems to not really be my type of music anymore. I do like some of their older stuff though. I’m sure they will be playing a ton of the old music as well as the new. Maybe if they were aisle seats I would have been more inclined to go. I had enough trouble at the Twenty One Pilots concert and that was a way smaller venue and I had sight of the exit the entire time. I have been trying a lot lately to face my anxieties and not let the fear stop me. By doing this, I have discovered that I am capable of a lot more than I give myself credit for. If I at least try, chances are I can do it. This just wasn’t really worth the immense stress for me. It would have been really hard on my body to sit through that. Maybe next time they will be at an even smaller venue.

The second reason is that quite frankly we can use the money from the sold tickets more than we can use a Blink concert. Things are tight right now (they always are) and money is better than the stress it would cause, that’s for sure. I tried selling them for more than they were worth (only $20 more) but was nervous that they weren’t selling so I lowered them to cost. I won them so they really didn’t cost me anything. It’s money in my pocket (well, mom’s actually). Once I lowered the price, they sold pretty quick. Still waiting on the money to come through from StubHub though. But I know PayPal is extremely slow. Hopefully it will come in this week.

The third, and most important really, is that mom has come down with pneumonia. She is coughing constantly, can’t sleep in her bed because of coughing and has been sleeping in her chair in the living room so she can breathe better. I sure as hell can’t drag her to a punk concert in a huge venue with people everywhere when she has pneumonia and can barely walk around without coughing up a lung. I got sick after the Awolnation concert (of course) and she ended up with it. She got a bit better and then all of a sudden got smacked with pneumonia. She seems to be really struggling with it, plus her coughing all night is keeping me up all night too.

Even though I have what I think are legitimate reasons for selling the tickets, I still feel a bit of FOMO. I feel like I should be there regardless of anxiety and that it’s a failure in the fight against it if I don’t go, even though there are reasons other than anxiety. Just something I need to get figured out for myself I guess. The last time they came and I chickened out at the door, I was devastated and was convinced that I would never get another chance. They have come back twice since then, to smaller and smaller venues. Hopefully next time they come to the QE or something. I will most likely get another chance and if not, it’s okay. At least this time, it wasn’t only my anxiety stopping me. I am trying to hold on to that thought.

Acoustic?!

Last night was a bit of a dud. I went to see Rob Thomas at the Hard Rock Theater. I went to that same venue for Three Days Grace a few months ago and it was pretty awesome. I guess the venue itself was alright. But some strange things happened. Not to mention I waited in line at the bar for 20 minutes for a bottle of water. Slowest bartenders in existence. If I remember correctly, I had that same issue the last time I was there. Anyways, on to the concert.

As soon as I got there, I noticed a trend. A bunch of middle aged soccer moms out for a night on the town with that hunk Rob Thomas. I think I was probably the youngest person there, or at least one of the youngest. I got in line at the bar at about 7:45 and stayed there until after 8…so shitty.

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Not exactly a full house

The first thing I saw when I walked into the actual theater, was a woman sitting on the floor with paramedics surrounding her. I figured maybe she just had a bit too much to drink. Not used to the hard stuff or something. It was surprising though because the show hadn’t even started and there was already someone laid out. I moved on, took my spot along the wall and waited for the show to start while trying to remain relatively calm. Even though I have been to this venue before, it is very close to my house and it was the second time I have been to a concert alone, I was still a bit of a wreck. Fucking anxiety. After a few minutes, the woman on the floor was escorted out to a waiting ambulance.

Suprisingly, Rob didn’t have an opener. In the states he had the Counting Crows open for him. I think Daughtry even played with him once. Not at my show though. I guess no one wanted to come to Canada…or maybe they weren’t allowed….He was supposed to go on at 8 but ended up going on at about 8:15 ish..which is fine cause I was still in the line at the bar at 8. I was a little surprised to see him walk on the stage with just an acoustic guitar in hand. There was no drum kit on the stage. There was a grand piano and two other guitars. I talked to a friend that had gone to the concert in her city and she stated it wasn’t an acoustic event. The tickets certainly didn’t say acoustic. Not sure if I would have spent that much on the tickets had I known it was going to be acoustic….It was acoustic, or at least what I consider acoustic. I just said acoustic way to many times.

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Just a man and his guitar

About 15 or 20 minutes into the show another person hit the floor. He was helped out of the theater and placed on a stretcher, oxygen mask on, blood pressure cuff and all that. At this point I was a little confused. This person clearly wasn’t there with the lady that left earlier in an ambulance. This was an older audience but the show was far from rowdy. Everyone was kind of just standing there during the show, apart from the drunk assholes in front of me that were just idiots. At this point, I resigned to the fact that this was not going to be a rock show….not even a good pop show, more of an intimate MTV Unplugged type thing. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if there had been chairs and tables to sit at, but this was a standing only event unless you were on the balcony. It was pretty lame.

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Does this look like a shitty prom to anyone else?

Another 20 or 30 minutes go by and yet another man is helped out by security. He walks to the lobby and this time I didn’t bother watching. Mostly because I had relocated to the center of the room to try to get away from the drunks. I had a nice fancy post to lean on and was just sitting there. I had a great view of Rob and the two guys he was playing with. One of the things that kind of bugged me about the concert was that he seemed to spend more time telling stories and attempting jokes than actually singing. When he sang 3 AM, he actually stopped mid song to talk..what the fuck. I don’t mind the little nuances between the songs, crowd talk to get people hyped and stuff, but this was overkill. After he played 3 AM, I left. When I went to the lobby to leave, the guy that had been helped out earlier was there getting ready to be loaded on to a stretcher. Three people down within the first hour of the show. No one left that place on a stretcher when I went to Three Days Grace and that concert had crowd surfing and mosh pits. Mom is convinced it was fentanyl laced coke..I’m not sure what it was. I left the show early, got a giant container of pasta salad and called it a night.

Stretcher
Another one bites the dust

I was pretty disappointed by the show. I really wish they would have stated that it was an acoustic set. Not my kinda thing I guess. Now I have to decide whether I am going to sell the Blink 182 tickets or attempt going. Am I too old to go to a Blink 182 concert? I think it’s more for redemption than an actual love of the music…and I love money too. I guess I will have to ask mom as technically she won the tickets. Then after that, Alice Cooper at the QE and then this wild streak of concerts will be over. I still don’t know why I am doing this to myself.

It’s a Jailbreak

So I went to the AWOLNATION concert Friday night. I was pretty nervous about it for most of the day. I was trying to let the excitement override the nervousness but that didn’t work so well. I find that for the most part I suffer from anticipatory anxiety more than during the actual event. Of course that depends on what the event is. My fear in this case was based on the fact that it was in downtown Vancouver in an area I am not at all familiar with, in a club that I have never been to before, on a Friday night on a street that is pedestrian only during the weekend. Add to that the fact that someone was beat to death on that same street two nights before and I was pretty freaked. Mom drove me downtown and parked as close the venue as we could find. Downtown is not the most parking friendly, let alone on a friday night. We found a spot about two blocks from the venue, and only around two corners so it wasn’t too bad.

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The Commodore Ballroom is a gorgeous venue (aside from the sticky carpet)

Unlike the Twenty One Pilots concert, there was no line up to get in. That’s probably because we got there about an hour after the doors initially opened. I didn’t want to be there too early and get overwhelmed and have to leave before the show even started. The venue was a lot smaller than I had anticipated. I had done my research beforehand and from the pictures I saw and the square footage I found, I was expecting it to be quite a lot bigger. I’m glad it was smaller though, makes for a better show in my opinion. It wasn’t that packed either. The show was apparently a sell out but I’m not sure all 990 people showed up. Maybe it’s just roomy somehow. We got there in the middle of The Darcy’s set. With my trusty bottle of water in hand and a cup full of ice from the bartender, I was trembling as The Darcy’s finished their set.

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The Darcy’s

About 15 to 20 minute after The Darcy’s finished, AWOL finally took the stage. At this point the crowd started to get a little tighter as people moved closer to the stage. The good thing about being so tall is that you can stand behind a lot of people and still be able to see. I didn’t want to be in the pit or at the front of it. We kind of lurked in the back but I still had some people behind me. For some reason part of the floor was carpeted right by the bar, man that thing was sticky…so gross. Who puts carpet in a club like that? Especially right by the bar!

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He played all the hits of course. He mostly played songs from his new album but played some from the old one as well. I will say that the sound was pretty shitty. I don’t know if they had it too loud or what but you couldn’t really understand a word he said, good thing I knew the songs anyways. There was also quite a bit of feedback, feedback in a room that small with the volume that loud is horrific.

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I was surprisingly calm through the event. I stopped shaking after The Darcy’s finished their set. I was still weak in the knees and nervous and I still glanced over my shoulder to make sure the exit door didn’t move. I still had my water and my ice and my essential oil for aromatherapy. I don’t mind having to use those coping mechanisms because they allow me to do these things. We don’t hate on people that need glasses to read (at least most of the time). I’m just impressed that I was as calm as I was and rocked as hard as I did.

I will say that wearing brand new shoes was probably a bad idea. By the end of the night my feet were numb, my legs were exhausted from standing and dancing so much. I was pretty much deaf cause it was so loud in such a small room. But man it was fun. Before I did this I was wondering why I put myself through this stuff. Why do I stress myself out so much when staying at home is so much more relaxing. So much “safer”. Well after last night I remembered why I do it. It’s an incredible feeling going to a concert, singing, screaming and dancing with hundreds of other people. Just feeling the music and letting it take over all the fear you have built up. Music has become a sort of therapy for me and I can’t wait for my next session.

Next up: Rob Thomas.

Going AWOL

I have the AWOLNATION concert coming up this friday. It’s downtown. Me and mom took a drive down there to scout out the area. That always makes me feel a little better. Of course I was freaked out to find that you cannot drive on the road that it is on. It’s “pedestrian friendly” so only buses and taxis can go on it. That freaks me out because then I need to be able to actually function and walk to and from wherever the car is parked. I have this fear that I will just crumble into a ball of anxiety and not be able to move. I have terrifying visions of being huddled up on the corner of a downtown street with people walking by me and I am just stuck there with no way to get home. That’s always the underlying fear, not being able to get home.

I asked my cousin if she wants to come with me this time. I had the feeling that mom didn’t really want to go and I didn’t really want to go alone. It’s a venue I have never been to before and it’s in an area I’m not familiar with. My cousin is much cooler than me and is well versed in the downtown area and has been to the venue before so she knows the ropes better than I do. I am trying to take solice in the fact that she knows her way around there, she knows where the skytrains are and she knows the blocks and what they lead to. Again, I am just hoping I don’t crumple into a ball and she has to drag me or go find my mom to come and carry me. That being said, I tend to be a runner, not a collapser. So when I do get super freaked out, I just bolt from wherever I am, not necessarily collapse.

I thought of chickening out. I really did. But then I listened to some AWOL songs and remembered how awesome they are and that I would of course be super bummed to miss this one because of anxiety. I am trying to stop the fear from taking over my life again. I fought hard to get some sort of a life going again and I am not about to let it gain any ground on me again. As long as I can get to and from the car I should be okay. It will be dark in the venue and hopefully will be getting dark outside. It’s on a friday downtown which is going to be a nightmare in itself. I will manage. I always do.

Scared to Blink

On Friday, me and mom drove two hours to Abbotsford to pick up the Blink 182 tickets that they said could be picked up that day. When we got there, the box office was closed due to maintenance…Two hours wasted in the car, but at least gas was cheap out there! We took the highway home which shaved a lot of time off the drive but we had to take the toll bridge and we were ticketless. I wrote them on Facebook when we got home and asked them why they told me I could pick them up that day if they were closed for maintenance, which I assume was scheduled. They apologised and told me they could e-mail me the tickets on Monday. So Monday I got a hold of them and they e-mailed them to me with no issues. At least we were saved from taking another trip out to the boonies.

The tickets are pretty good. We are near the stage but on the opposite side of the building to the entrance doors. We are about 8 seats from the aisle on the one side which is stressful. With Twenty One Pilots I think I was 5 seats from the aisle and that was hard enough. I kept looking at the door to make sure it was still there. I have been stressing about this concert since we ordered the tickets. My last Blink experience was not very pleasant. I got there and was too scared to go through with it. I cried the entire way home. That concert was at a huge venue, about 60,000 people I think. This time it is at a smaller venue but it is still going to be 6500 people. Twenty One Pilots had 3000 but it was a smaller building.

My dilemma now is, do I keep the tickets, go there and risk freaking out and not going through with it, dealing with the heartbreak of failing again, wasting time driving out there, being let down by my own brain, wasting mom’s time because of course she has to come with me, or do I take the safe route and sell them. If I sell them, at least I got money for them right? The money would go to mom because she is the one that won the prize that we used to get the tickets. At least that way we get something from it. If I keep them and go and end up freaking out and leaving, we are left with nothing and I am just going to be miserable and left with that familiar feeling of failure but if I keep them and actually pull it off, it will be amazing. I will have conquered something that beat me down so many years ago. I will prove to myself that I am capable. Is it a risk worth taking?

I decided after some time thinking that I have to at least give myself the chance to succeed. I won’t know if I can do it unless I go and try to do it. If I fail, at least I have felt that feeling before and know what to expect. If I make it, it might be one of the biggest triumphs I have had so far in this lifelong battle against anxiety. I just have to try to remember that my mind is lying to me and try my best to not let it make my decisions for me. Like I said, I have to at least give myself the opportunity to succeed at this. Even if it is terrifying, I have to try. I might just amaze myself.