Each month me, Glen and my friend Barry try to go on a little adventure. A little trip out, to help encourage me. To make me more confident in challenging my agoraphobia.
So yesterday we had decided to visit a local Castle, which was something I had personally been really looking forward to.
Going on the train and finding our way around was pretty fine.
I felt confident about where we was going as I had done lots of research before hand… I was fully prepared with maps, taxi numbers, and route photographs! But when we got closer to the Castle it became a bit of a struggle, not due to my anxiety but due to the amount of bloody steps!
I am not kidding you! It felt like I was climbing Mount Everest!
Me and Barry where struggling but Glen was fine, bouncing between the two of us to keep us going.
I was slightly worried by the fact that I could faint which, then led to the anxiety thoughts, but I slowed my pace, took deep breathes and carried on.
I made it to the top without fainting and was rather pleased with that!!
We got our tickets and then went on our little adventure of the Castle.
We walked all around the exhibitions and had a good nose at the different things the place had to offer, then following the guide map, we made our way to the Medieval tunnels.
We down a really steep slope that led into a large and very dark tunnel.
At the time I was a little panicked but felt quite comfortable enough to carry on.
We carried on until we got to the end of the tunnel where we then found a set of stairs leading further down.
They where very steep, more like a slightly-wider-then-average ladder, leading us to the next destination within the tunnels.
This was when my anxiety levels started to rise to an uncomfortable level, fear was beginning to creep in and I was starting to get worried.
I will freely admit I am not great with confined spaces but I wanted to be strong not only for myself but also for the boys. They where enjoying themselves and I didn’t want to ruin it for them.
I tried to keep my head down and focus on the history, but with every step I took another wave of anxiety would hit me. Battering me with panicked thoughts and spin tingling fear.
At the end of the other tunnel there was yet more steps leading down, which both Barry and Glen headed down.
By this point my legs started to shake and I all I wanted was some fresh air.
I didn’t like it anymore and I wanted to get out.
However me being the stubborn cow that I am, I didn’t want to listen to my thoughts, I didn’t want to make a scene and I didn’t want to alarm to boys… So I followed.
When I got to the bottom of the steps I was absolutely terrified.
The new tunnels in front of us where pitch black, there was some small lights on the ceiling but they didn’t make the faintest difference. It felt damp and cold. The air seemed stuffy and my breath caught in my throat.
I grabbed Glen’s arm and told him I needed to get out.
I felt trapped, scared beyond belief, my only thought being that I had to get out.
I was having a panic attack.
To get out though I knew I would have to walk all the way back through the tunnels, which with my legs shaking like jelly seemed even more impossible then going forward. I felt stuck and it was making my panic attack even worse.
Glen rubbed my back trying to calm me and suggested that we carry on forwards as there was bound to be an exit that way sooner.
We walked the length of the tunnel and I could start to see sunlight which at that moment felt like the best thing in the world!
Relief was starting to wash over me and all I wanted to do was run into the fresh air and rejoice!
That plan didn’t quite work out though…
There was sunlight but it wasn’t from an exit like we had all thought. The light came from an arrowslit, at a dead end, in one of the most scariest rooms I have ever seen.
The room was covered in etchings, with weird metal things that looked like torture equipment centered in the middle of the room.
Now with my imagination it didn’t take long for it to go full throttle into unrealistic thoughts mode: Torture chamber! That’s what this is! People where forced down into these tunnels and tortured, that’s why there are names etched all over the walls, that’s why the door is locked! Oh my god, I’m going to get stuck here too! I’m going to die in this scary room! I need to get out now!
If I had thought the first part of my panic attack was something to shake about then I obviously wasn’t prepared for the second half.
Total and utter fear consumed me.
Fear was all I could think and fear was all I could feel.
Glen must have noticed because at this stage he was leading me back through the tunnel to find the first set of stairs.
I think I blacked out as I wasn’t even aware that we was moving.
I was just surrounded by my own thoughts. Devising possibilities of how to get out.
My plan was either:
A) Knocking a wall down with sheer force from panic
B) Try to break the lock on the door
C) Clawed and crawled my way out to the very top
D) Or from confusion caused by the panic try to fit through the slit window which would inevitably mean getting stuck and having to call the fire emergency
All rather unrealistic but it’s all I could conjure up.
Relief rushed over me as fresh air hit me in the face like a baseball bat.
IT WAS GLORIOUS!
I wanted to inhale as much air as I could, run around like I was dancing in the rain and do some kind of weird tribal dance as a thank you to the Gods.
I sat down on some nearby grass, cherishing the feel of it, fighting the urge to roll around in ecstasy on it, as I was free!
GRASS! Beautiful, solid, out-in-the-open, grass!
After calming down, I sat apologising to the boys. They said they didn’t mind but I felt awful.
I had ruined our day out.
I decided to carry on, on the condition we avoided all tunnels.
Truly I wanted to go home but didn’t want to put an even bigger downer on the day.
I was still shaky and couldn’t stop the negative thoughts for the rest of the day so I didn’t really get to enjoy the rest of the exhibits.
I felt drained and upset.