I’m Smiling – agoraphobia update

imagesI’ve not really anything on the blog for quite a while.  I went and saw Ant Man, for example, and where that should have had a very good review, I just didn’t get round to it.  The reason for this apparent lethargy is mostly because that after three years of waiting, I finally got to the head of the queue for therapy for my agoraphobia.

It’s going well, except that the actual sessions can be a bit harrowing. It takes most of the following day to get back on balance, but the net gain is that things are getting better. Slowly, for sure, but things are shifting. I’ve been told categorically that after the end of the sessions I will not be “cured”.  To be honest, I didn’t think I would be. All these sessions will do is put me in a better position to manage the condition.

I’m okay with that.

Obviously, I’d like for it never to be a problem again, but realistically, I know that it’s a question of management, taking things a day at a time and not expecting miracles.

Of course, miracles have happened.  Really.

I get ‘homework’.  It’s practical ‘get out there’ type homework. Sometimes tiny steps; sometimes big ones. Mostly they’re scary; sometimes it doesn’t work at all. However in the last six weeks I have:

* Walked around a town I feel comfortable in without Andy (We had to go to Sheffield as I’ve never felt safe in Southampton)

* Gone somewhere new on my own (within my safe zone, but that’s still a huge thing)

* Made a phone call (that is a colossal deal, trust me!)

but most exciting, I went to a gig! It was a small gig, admittedly, by a band I know – Marla Black, fact fans! – but the act of being at the the venue where there were people I didn’t know – and a couple I did – in a social situation was practically revolutionary!

Music was a massive part of my life. I worked in the industry for years; working as musician, ghostwriter, A&R guy, band manager, tour manager, sleeve designer. Even had my own radio show.  I lived and died for music.  I still do, but it’s a lot more difficult now I don’t have John Peel, Gigs, Smash Hits, an NME that features actual journalism, Top of the Pops, The Box.  The internet is fine, but it’s no replacement for real gigging. Missing out on gigs is a terrible thing.

Music is such a primal force. Practically a religion and it’s the only form of ‘tribalism’ I have any time for. Seeing Marla Black, despite that fact I probably came across as a weirdo to anyone who cared to look, was a bizarre joy. All of the hang-ups I had about going out and watching live music again melted away pretty much as soon as the music started. It’s true that there weren’t that many people there, this worked for me.  They were first on and not even mentioned on the tickets, but fuck me, I had fun! (Btw, https://marlablackband.bandcamp.com/ buy buy buy! Especially Wednesday Addams which is fantastic!).

To give this some context, the last ‘proper’ gig I went to see was Sparks back in 2008, before this bout took hold. When I say ‘proper’ I mean sweaty moshpit – no seats – crowds of people,  that kind of thing.  I’ve seen two ‘concerts’.  Allocated seating, so own private space; both needed the assistance of valium.

This was the first ‘unaided’  and ‘real’ gig I’ve been to since then.  For me it was a monumental step to take. And I survived.

So seeing MB actually gave me the confidence to do something even more exciting.  Bearing in mind exciting is relative.

My world is pretty small.  I can normally get out of the house on my own and go to the coffee shop and back.  Usually it’s touch and go as to whether a panic attack happens. This, all told, is – according to RunMap – just under half a mile for the return journey.

Today I took a gamble and walked for 1.5 miles. That’s not three times round my usual route, but into whole new areas! Again, it might seems like a small thing but it’s bloody HUGE!!!

I need to try and stretch this out some more and hope that the confidence getting out more, coupled with the trial gig allows me to get to see the Polyphonic Spree in September.  We’ve already got the tickets, but that means nothing.  Over the last three years I’ve bought so many tickets and bottled out at the last minute… sad.

But I’ve been waiting to see them for fifteen years.

And one day I may tell about why I love them so much.

In the meantime.  I’m all giddy with the excitement of seeing a band and seeing several roads I’ve not since in three years.



One thought on “I’m Smiling – agoraphobia update

  1. That’s so awesome! I’m seeing a band this week, which will be the first in about 7 or 8 months (used to go see live music every week until I became totally housebound for a while). Music is so powerful and healing. Also, I get you about the phone call thing! It can be a huge deal! Sounds like you’re kicking ass!

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