When you have social anxiety disorder, every time you go outside your own front door is hard work that deserves a little pat on the back. I’ve been dealing with my anxiety really well for a couple of months but today was a horrible dark day with the Anxiety Gremlins. The weather has been pretty bad here in the past few days with wind and rain and I woke up this morning feeling rather sluggish. I decided to try and take Nico to his grooming appointment on the town service bus. Now, my biggest social phobia is public transport. I have a bus pass because of the state of my health so all I have to do on a bus is place my card down and say a destination. It still utterly terrifies me but the thought of dragging a wet dog being blown into this, that and the other along the way was too much so off we went to the bus stop. The driver look one look at me after giving me my ticket and went ‘no dogs’. I freaked out and started to hyperventialte because of course dogs were allowed.This was a bus. I just said ‘oh. ok’ and stood there. Then he smiled and said ‘I’m only kidding’ and I just sort of stumbled towards a seat and fell into it, dog sitting nicely at my feet. I proceeded to have a complete panic attack on a bus. It is unnacepptable to treat a customer like that. I had just handed over a disability pass for one thing. He could have no idea what my disbalities and ailments are and even if I was completely healthy and able bodied, it still isn’t ok. It is not funny. He doesn’t know me. He doesn’t know how I think or how I will react or anything like that. Lucky for me an older lady came onto the bus and sat next to me and distracted me out of my attack by talking abut how well behaved and nicely Nico, my dog, was sitting and asking about him before rambling on about her own dogs over the years. By the time she got off the bus I found I was breathing normally (for me. I always breathe too fast because my anxiety is always there). I’m so very greatful to that woman.
So, off Nico and I went to the groomer and by that point, I had congratulated myself for having stayed on the bus, for getting on with my journey and for recovering pretty quickly. Nico was over the moon to see his groomer and wagging his tail before flopping to the floor and demanding belly rubs as she laughed at him and talked to me about what I wanted done. There are few things in life that calm me down and cheer me up more than seeing my dog happy. And silly. So, I left Nico in her hands and headed off for the second challenge of the day which I always attempt when Nico is getting pampered and that is by going to a local pub and having a meal and a single glass of lovely red wine. I had got it down to being able to do it without thinking about it and without worrying as long as it was the exact place. I’d look up the menu and choose my food in advance and guess my carbohydrate for my diabetes the best I could. One day I will just go in and pick but in order to stop me worrying about my diabetes, I just remove that obsticle for now. Anyway, I thought I would be ok but nope.
I must make a point to say I had my first burger in a bun with chips in over 2 years and it was GOOD. I stopped having them when I was on a weight loss plan becaue it took up too many of my daily calories and left me hungry and then just sort of …didn’t miss it but wow, burger was good. I was reading a zine while I was there, one on feminism, and there was a rather chatty weightress. I felt she was asking me about my meal, if I wanted anything, and commenting on my clothes a little more than was required and more than any other staff in the place in question ever have but I brushed if off. Then she asked what I was reading and I paniced. I said ‘a feminist mangazine’ and watched my fears unravel before me. I got a ‘…oh, right’ and she all but fled the table. I don’t know what she was thinking but her actions were enough to get me thinking and there came panic attack number two of the day.
I got myself together, saw it was time to fetch my boy, and went to pay only for the woman to ask if I lived in town because she saw me a lot on the weekdays which she usually works. I told her I did and I came in when my dog is at the groomers cause we both deserve a wee treat no? I went outside and promptly stumbled my way towards the groomers in a fit of panic attack three of the day. Blimey. I don’t know but…being seen as a regular in a pub just, makes me anxious. It raises a new set of questions I haven’t confronted on my worksheets yet about what she might think. I’ve now done said sheets and she probably just thinks ‘hey, that person lives here’. My cousin is in there every Friday night. I’m in every 6-8 weeks. It doesn’t mean anything. In that moment though it did because it wasn’t my routine. It wasn’t expected. My illusion that I can cope fell apart. I can cope with controlled enviornments. I did well but I have ways to go. I went to get Nico and saw all these children and thought ‘I can’t do this. I can’t walk home in this. So many people I can’t’. I saw a another pub with a sign saying ‘dugs welcome’ (I’m Scottish) and felt my escape was to grab Nico and hide in there with a juice, or something, until the streets were quieter. Thankfully, Nico’s groomer was all cheer and there was a lot of banter over the name of the puppy my mum is getting and I left feeling brighter. Plus, I am always calmer with Nico by my side. I think that is why the bus bothered me so much. I could have walked fine, even if I’d be tired and wet, but the only message my brain was getting was ‘he’s going to take Nico away’. Nico is my lifeline. He’s not trained but he should be as an anxiety dog. He’s magnificant. I felt better and we went to get the bus home, this time with no comments and that is a huge achievement because I faced the very thing that gave me my first panic attack of the day mere hours later.
I’m now utterly knackered and when I came home earlier I had to just lie on my bed for an hour in the dark with my dog and stretch my muscles out until the anxiety faded away. I’m proud of still getting everything I needed done but it still frustrates me to think that the simplest things from other people can upset me so much. That guy shouldn’t have made that joke but I KNOW dogs are allowed, he’s been on before. It doesn’t MATTER what that woman thinks of my zine, I’m proud to be a feminist. I do go into the pub on a semi-regular basis and that is ok. Good things are the things I MUST focus on. I faced new challenges. My dog is now clean, cut and pretty. I went on the bus, twice. I did enjoy my food, wine and the reading I did. Positives. You have to cling to them.