I was so proud to see it trending on twitter, as it means that people are speaking about mental health. Do I think that everyone with a mental health challenge is tweeting? Of course not. Is it likely that the some people are tweeting often about the subject, upping its rankings? Absolutely. Does this matter? I guess maybe the question should be “how many people will still be talking about it tomorrow…”
I have always said that I want my blog to be an open account of my anxiety and have sat here for a while wondering what I can tweet about on this important day.
Then I thought about how I still have my blogging about the Cake and Bake Show (London) to share with you all, and I thought that this was a great subject. After all, I hadn’t been to London alone for nearly 2 years, so what happened when I attempted it last Friday?
For me I need to plan for things such as this journey, as my anxiety starts before I leave home. I do have a couple of tricks that I would like to share with you, which help me when I need to drive somewhere scary.
The first is my Disney CD. Seriously. Singing really helps, I think it is because it regulates my breathing without me consciously having to manage it. Add to that the cheery beat of “I just can’t wait to be King” (and of course “Let it go”) and you have a driver who appears to be happy and carefree.
The second is my Wonder Woman cup. It’s silly, but I LOVE it. It was a treat that I bought myself when on holiday in Vegas, and so it is a reminder of a great week spent with a great friend. It is also meaningful to me as I find it very hard to spend money on myself – I feel too guilty when I do. So the fact I let myself purchase this and work through the negative emotions attached to doing, so is actually very empowering.
As I set off I had checked the route and I knew it was fairly straight forward, within an hour I was pulling up at the Excel and finding a parking space. Right. Now what?
I knew I needed to report to the press office, but that was way out of my reach. So I decided to venture into the ladies, purposefully leaving some bits in the car so I wouldn’t feel the pressure to go straight to the show. I knew I would have a number of challenges in getting to into the show and so I didn’t want to add any extra pressure, or opportunities for “failure”.
When I got back to my car, I tried to take a minute to reflect on what I had already achieved. Getting into London, and getting out of my car were actually big things for me. I jotted them down in my diary, took a deep breath, rolled some ‘this works’ onto my wrists and then opened a guided meditation on my phone.
I struggle with meditation as I find my mind won’t turn off; however guided meditation helps as the talking becomes like white noise, allowing me to relax more. 20 minutes later I checked I had my bits together, and once again stepped out of the car to take on the next challenge.
As I walked up to the show I was suddenly very aware of how busy it was. With people everywhere it did feel that they were closing in on me, however I had already worked though how it may feel and so kept reminding myself that it was all part of the plan. I told myself that my car was only 5 minutes away, and should I need to I could leave at any point.
I found a sign for the press office and paused outside. I was terrified of going in and babbling; or worse still, freezing. So I sat down for about 10 minutes just outside the office and worked through the key things I wanted to say.
One thing I noticed as I sat there was how cheerful everyone seemed. I think there is something about baking; it brings people together and is such a supportive and positive community. The signage was so pink and pretty, and even the folks working on the ticket desks seemed happy to be there. All in all the show appeared to be for those who loved baking, not just those who were professionals in the field. It was non-threatening, and most importantly for me, welcoming.
I think what I said went something along the lines of “
Hi, I’m Liz, from BuBakes, BuBakes cakes, I am an official blogger for the show, is Martha here? I have the email to prove it? I need a press pass. Am I in the right place? Sorry if I’m babbling, I have anxiety. That’s what my blog is about – mental health. Oh and baking of course, well, more cakes and decorating, that’s what I do. I make cakes and I blog. Did I give you my name?”
As I eventually stopped for a breath, the man took may pause as an opportunity to respond “come on over here, we’ll sort you out a pass – and can I get you some water?”
That was it. I’d done it. Admittedly not quite with the level of poise I had hoped for, but it was done. I registered, took my pass, and stepped though into the main show arena…
I will of course be posting more about the actual show, and also sharing how my anxiety dictated what I experienced over the three days there. For now though, I shall finish by saying that on World Mental Health Day lets show people that they CAN take on new challenges; and whether that be going to a show or going to a public toilet – both are challenges that deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated.
Just to add, the man who greeted me was called Freddie - and I very strongly believe that had Freddie not been so welcoming and patient, I may have turned straight around and ran back out. So let’s also remember the positive difference that people can make, and all try to be a little more “Freddie”.