Today, my anxiety has anxiety. I am experiencing my own personal apocalypse.
I am entirely aware that the visions of catastrophe in my head are irrational, imagined and impossible (or at least implausible), but they’re there nonetheless. A cacophony of intrusive thoughts, false assumptions and self-criticism rattle round my hollow skull, a jarring, overwhelming rush.
Counting to ten isn’t helping. Telling myself I’m being illogical isn’t helping. Distracting myself isn’t helping. Self-care sounds like a waste of time, when I’ve got so much work to do. I need to just sit, ride this wave out and hope it doesn’t ruin my evening.
I’m going to a gig. I love gigs. I love live music more than anything else.
I desperately do not want to go.
I’m lying facedown on my bed, trying to muster the courage to put a jacket on and locate my house keys. Everything is impossible.
What if everyone hates me? What if I look odd, going to this gig on my own? What if I’m the only one dancing, or singing along? I’m embarrassed by my own enthusiasm.
Oh God. I might have to talk to people. They probably think I’m boring. I don’t want to waste their time with my dreary conversation.
What if he’s there? He hasn’t replied to my text. He must hate me. What if it’s awkward?
What if she’s there? That girl, the one I’m avoiding. The intimidatingly cool one. She must think I’m a waste of oxygen. What if she tries to talk to me? Or what if she doesn’t – what if she just ignores me instead? Which is worse?
What if they’re there? I haven’t seen them since that time I embarrassed myself at that bar. What if they remind me of the things I drunkenly forgot I did? I don’t want to know.
What if you hate me for not coming to your show? You’re the promoter, you’re my friend. You’ll expect me to be there. The band are friends of mine, they’ve driven four hours to get here. It’s only a 20 minute bus ride for me.
They’ll hate me if I don’t show up. They’ll always remember this, they’ll know I wasn’t there, they’ll think I’m a shit friend.
Here’s the thing, though. I did go to your gig. When I said ‘hello’ I probably seemed fine. When I chatted to you, I might have seemed distracted, like I wasn’t quite paying attention, or like I’d forgotten how we knew each other.
Then I had a beer and, as it drained out of the glass that was yearning for another pint, I got more chatty. I came and struck up a conversation. Yeah, I thought that last band were great.
I went out for a cigarette between the first and second bands, just for something to do with my hands. I didn’t want to stand in that room alone, listening to the soundcheck, the first few bars of Reign In Blood and kick drum thuds. I don’t even want this cigarette.
The band were great. After an hour I got settled and started enjoying myself. The beer helped. I had a good time.
I went home and wondered whether everyone hates me again.
This isn’t every day. It’s not even most days. Going to gigs with your friends is the most fun in the world and everyone should support their scene… but it’s okay if you’re not feeling up to it. ‘Not wanting to go’ is a valid reason not to do something, don’t feel like you have to give excuses.
This is part of our #MentallySound series, discussing mental health in music. We believe that openly discussing mental health challenges which music lovers face may help to remove the stigma surround it.
Read more from Sarah Williams here.