I say that out of habit. I gave up blogging a long time ago – I’d be incredibly surprised if anyone read this. Which is kind of why I feel able to write it here. No one that I know will see it, yet it’ll be out there.
A warning: this post will not be beautifully crafted, nor will it flow. Right now, I feel like shit, so my writing will be shit. Because I don’t have the energy to even try any more. Even writing isn’t enjoyable right now.
So, this weekend has been tough.
Yesterday I went to London with my family to see Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella (which was as amazing as expected, by the way). After arriving at our hotel and changing into our clothes for the theatre, we went to a nice restaurant for dinner before watching the show. Sounds like a lovely, normal family outing, right? And don’t get me wrong, it was. For everyone else, anyway.
For me though? It was awful.
I felt anxious and slightly sick before I had even looked at the menu. I couldn’t stop sporadically shivering for no apparent reason and my stomach felt a little on edge. I tried my best to ignore it and just sip my drink, but it wouldn’t stop. It kept coming in waves, getting worse and worse each time. I couldn’t stop nervously fiddling with my hands and taking shallow, quick breaths.
But just when I started to think that I couldn’t bear it any more, it started to get a bit easier. I relaxed a little more instead of over thinking everything and was even able to join in with the conversation. None of my family seemed to notice that I had been uncomfortable, so everything was okayish.
But then the food came.
From the moment I took my first bite of salad I knew things were only going to get worse. The anxiety swept back in as the food hit my stomach, five minutes after my first mouthful (as always happens). I began to shake again and became mute, staring at my plate and pushing bits of my burger around with my fork.
This is where the weighing up always happens. It’s a gamble, you see – do I eat more now and deal with the immediate consequences of feeling sick, or do I stop eating at the risk that I will feel incredibly sick from hunger later? I always chicken out and choose the first option – I’ve never been much of a risk taker. (In some ways, it has saved me – I narrowly escaped the beginnings of an eating disorder after the hunger made me feel so sick that I got scared I was going to be sick and forced myself to eat again.)
This time I chose to go half way – to finish my burger, but not the salad (because, as I reasoned, that wasn’t going to fill me up anyway). And it was horrible. I eventually finished the burger and got up to go to the toilets and calm down. By the time we’d left the restaurant and were walking in the cold air, I was feeling a bit better.
But then we got to the theatre.
Our seats were amazing – right in the middle of the stalls, so we had a full view of everything on stage. The only issue was, we had to squeeze past about 20 people to get to our seats, but it was fine. Until I started feeling sick. I felt trapped and began to panic more, desperately trying to decide what I should do. By the time I knew if I was going to be sick or not, it might be too late. So should I just stay in my seat if I felt my stomach flip, and hope that my tiny handbag would be enough to catch anything from my mouth? Should I push past everyone, treading on their feet with a hand over my mouth?? I had no idea. All I could do was concentrate on the feeling in my stomach, and hold on to the hope that nothing would happen. After all, I tried to tell myself – I hadn’t been properly sick in over 7 years. Why should I be now?
The performance lasted for 2 hours 30 mins, with two 15 minute intervals. Actually, it lasted 2 hours 27 minutes – I know because I was counting, obsessively checking my watch every minute to see when it was going to be over.
And do you know what makes it all worse? It’s not like I don’t enjoy ballet, or am uninterested in it. I LOVE ballet with a passion. I’ve done it since the age of four, and get so excited to see ballet shows (particularly the Royal Ballet productions). Matthew Bourne is one of my favourite choreographers, and his version of Cinderella was set during the Blitz, one of my favourite periods of history. So looking at it from that perspective, I should have felt awe, wonder and rapture watching, as I have watching ballet before. But instead all I felt was anxiety, guilt and the pulsing of my stomach in time with my elevated heart rate. And that’s the most galling part of this whole thing. That’s why I’ve hit the low that I have. Because I should have been enjoying that performance. I should have been enthralled. But instead I was sitting there, staring blankly at the stage as my concentration flickered in and out with the strength of my anxiety.
And so, that night at the hotel, I hit a new low. Lower than I’ve ever been before. So much so that I was feeling urges to scratch my arms over and over again, to wash my hands until they cracked and to dig my nails into my palms until they bled. For a brief moment, I felt so empty that I considered suicide. Only for a moment though – a few seconds later I came to my senses and realised that I had too much to live for. But it scared me nonetheless.
I wrote a vent post on my instagram and went to bed, clinging to the hope that I might feel fine in the morning.
Spoiler alert – I didn’t.
I still feel how I felt yesterday. People’s kind and supportive messages did numb the ache somewhat, but only for a while. That’s what it feels like, you see. An ache. Nothing painful, nothing even tangible, just a dull, strange feeling that pulls on the back of my throat and the pit of my stomach and makes me feel constantly like I’m about to cry (but the tears just won’t come out). I can’t even describe it. It comes and goes in intensity, but has been there ever since I stepped over the threshold of that stupid, stupid restaurant yesterday.
Actually, that’s unfair. The restaurant isn’t the stupid one. I am.
Or more specifically, my phobia is. But separating the two is getting harder and harder as time goes on. It’s my fault, all my fault that I’m like this. I’m the one stupid enough to get worried about a fucking family outing. I’m the one who sat there, ungratefully wishing that I’d never come whilst the ballet was going on. I’m the reason that I’m one big motherfucking mess who can’t even get her shit together for ONE FUCKING WEEKEND so that she can ENJOY the Christmas present that her family organised as literally any decent, grateful human being would.
Even my writing is shit. I’m useless. I’m supposed to be good at writing. What a surprise, another let down. Good job, Alice. A breakdown wasn’t enough. Why don’t you fuck up the rest of your life while you’re at it?
The tears still aren’t falling.
I think I’m going mad.