Throwback Thursday: To the Time We Got Kicked Out of a Weird Al Concert…..

**This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, a cause that is the reason why I started this blog last February. All this week, I will be collaborating with the Etsy store, The Leaf Pile to help raise money for To Write Love On Her Arms, a non-profit organization that is “dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.” The owner of The Leaf Pile is doing a 30 day art challenge and will be posting artwork every 5 days in her store for purchase during this month, with every $5 going directly towards TWLOHA***

**This week only she is also donating 25% of all sales on her ENTIRE site to TWLOHA

***ALSO September 10 is WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY and The Leaf Pile will be offering a large piece 9×12 for $30 ($15 of which will go directly to TWLOHA)


Ok, so maybe “kicked out” is a tad melodramatic. Technically we didn’t get kicked out of the theater till the concert was over and the meet and greet for Weird Al was about to start. The meet and greet was only for a select few that paid for VIP badges.

And we had no stinkin’ badges. 😛

So at the end of the concert where we were in the very back row, I decided I wanted to try going down to the front of the theater and looking up into the balcony.

As I’ve mentioned before I live with agoraphobia that makes it nearly impossible to enjoy theaters and stadiums without tremendous bouts of anxiety. Through the years things have gotten a tiny bit better and I’ve even been able to enjoy concerts and go to the theater without anxiety. This day was no exception.

I had no anxiety throughout the entire concert. So afterwards, I decided I’d be really brave and see if I could go down to the front to the stage and look up at the balcony.

This was something that in the past if I’d been able to tolerate the venue, I’ve NEVER been brave enough to go down front and look up.

And guess what? I did it. I went down to the front, turned around and looked up. It was a glorious anxiety free moment I never thought I’d have in my lifetime.

Then the voice of doom spoke out behind me: “Ok, we are about to start the meet and greet, so that means if you don’t have a VIP badge, that mean you gots to go!” In between wanting to correct his grammar, giving him my blog promo cards in an attempt to let us stay and explaining to him how big this moment was in my life, we decided to forgo all of those options and just head back to our hotel.

For the entire drive back to our hotel, I was basking in the glow of my victory. When I was a kid I never believed that I’d one day be able to go into an auditorium/theater without a lick of anxiety and at the end of the show go down front and look up.

So how did I get to this point of success? I have to say it took TIME and it wasn’t always pleasant. 😉

1. I think one of the biggest things that I did was starting to go to a very large church in a large auditorium when I moved back to the Midwest about 5 years ago. I do have to be honest and admit the first two or so times Chad and I went I was pretty anxious and I had to sit in the back near the door and I clung to Chad’s arm the whole time, but the more I went, the more comfortable I became.

2. After I became used to our church, I was able to gauge how big a space was and if I’d be able to handle it based on if it was roughly the same size. Sometimes when I’m in the middle of a panic, this can be hard to keep in mind, so I was glad when I had friends around me to remind me of this. It was because of this reminder that I was able to go to The Grand Old Opry and see Loretta Lynn perform.

Highlight of my life!

3. I married a concert junkie! 😛 Seriously, Chad LOVES concerts and music. And because he also enjoys spending time with me, I’ve gone along to many a concert in our almost decade long relationship. This has helped to desensitize me to venues and situations that would have caused anxiety for me in the past. It should be noted that for some of these concerts I DID have anxiety, but the more I went, the less I had.

I hope that if you live with agoraphobia like I have, you’ll find hope in this post. Also please be aware that although this has been my experience, this may not work for you. Remember you are NOT alone!

Cheers!

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 I got all fanicified for the concert 😉

Zero: How to Deal With Concert Anxiety…..

Chad and I just returned from a much needed weekend away. We came back refreshed and rejuvenated; or rejuveshed. 🙂

We had tickets to a Jennifer Nettles concert in Evansville IN. She was headlining a concert of all women country performers. Chad bought tickets as a late Valentines Day gift.

Now I admit,  I was anxious leading up to the concert, even though our tickets were on the lower level because of my agoraphobia. I just wanted to enjoy the whole experience and I didn’t want to let Chad down. And we didn’t have ear plugs and we were to be seated close to the front of the stage. My fear of loud noises was also something I worried about.

But you know what? For the first time I can remember, I had absolutely ZERO anxiety the entire time, from the time I entered the venue to the end of the concert. ZERO. Even when they changed the lighting after the intermission…..ZERO!!!

I couldn’t have been more excited about being able to enjoy an entire concert in a large arena without a lick of anxiety. To freely enjoy myself and the beauty of the music around me. With the love of my life by my side.

So today on the blog, I thought I’d give you some tips on enjoying a concert in a big venue if you have agoraphobia or any other anxiety disorder.

  1. Nap, nap, nap: If at all possible a few hours before the concert, take a nap. One of my anxiety triggers is doing too much or too much going on at once. If I haven’t had sufficient rest during a long day and have a high energy night, I’m more likely to go into a panic attack. I found that with a nap lasting at least an hour this weekend on the night of the concert, I was able to enjoy myself without panicking.
  2. If you aren’t familiar with the artist or band, do some research and play some songs online before going to the concert. I find that if I don’t do this and don’t know the songs, the instruments can overwhelm the artist and I can’t hear the lyrics. When I can’t hear the lyrics and it’s just loud music with a heavy bass and drums, I get frustrated and can’t enjoy the performance.  
  3. I’ve used this tip as far back as I can remember: Chew some gum and have something with you that you can do with your hands, like a purse. Chewing gum can help calm your nerves and having something to do with your hands can help to ground you and take your mind off what is going on around you.
  4. If you are able to, go to the venue before the event (like a few days before) and try and sit down in the seat you’ll have. Now, if you are extremely agoraphobic, you may need to try to do this as soon as you buy tickets for the event. Call the venue where the concert will be and ask if you can visit special when the venue is empty. In living with agoraphobia, I’ve learned that venue managers can be extremely understanding and want to give their guests the most comfortable experience possible.

So there you have it. Having concert anxiety that is multi-faceted can be embarrassing and frustrating, but I hope you found these tips helpful.

Remember you are NEVER alone!

Cheers!

tara thompson picture

Here we are with Tara Thompson who opened for Jennifer Nettles. She’s amazing and SO funny! And moments after this picture was taken, she signed my purse. 🙂

 

Irony and Agoraphob….What??!!

Do you wanna know the irony about starting a blog about living with anxiety?? Constantly second guessing myself and being worried about what I’ll write about first, thinking, “Well, I need to begin like this so people understand…..the flow won’t be right unless I say this first…” So in honor of this being my inaugural in-depth post, I’m throwing caution to the wind–in an orderly fashion, I can be a bit OCD–and letting the following serve as an introductory post:

My first inkling of anxiety happened pretty early in my life. I remember being in an auditorium at my sister’s spelling bee when I was about 5. I was pretty tired so I fell asleep and when I woke up, the bee was over. For some reason the next time I went into an auditorium, I felt a sense of doom and was panicky the whole time. It wasn’t until years later when I was able to put a word to my panic: Agoraphobia.

According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, agoraphobia is defined as, “a fear of being in open or public places”. I’ve also heard it described as being afraid of large open spaces. So it does stand to reason that I would panic in larger places like auditoriums or theatres. Going to a sport’s arena was out of the question. For me having agoraphobia is a double whammy because I also have a fear of heights. Yep. I’m that awesome! 😀 So if I go somewhere where the only available seats are in the balcony, it’s a total no go.

Through the years things have gotten marginally better. I am now able to go to concerts in larger places as long as we have floor seats, and in some instances, seats that are on the floor in a covered portion of the theatre. Even then I more often than not have a few minutes of panic, but return to normal fairly quickly. An understanding spouse and ushers have been a God-send through the years.   The one bright spot about having agoraphobia, is that once I’m in a place and am comfortable, I’m able to go back to that same place and enjoy myself with no panic at all.

Living with agoraphobia has taken a whole lifetime to figure out that, 1. It’s a very real fear even if most people don’t understand and, 2. It can be managed as long as you are open to exploring what works for you.

I think I’ll end our first conversation here. I hope this has been helpful to you if you struggle with similar feelings. Remember, you are not alone.

Cheers!