There is nothing quite like a conference to being on a bout of anxiety in me. There is the interaction with people you don’t know, the unknown factor of exactly when food is next going to be available, the awkwardness of mingling and small talk, the fact that you may need to go to a place and navigate somewhere you may have never been before. My blood pressure is rising just thinking about it. Never mind the fact that I am at an education seminar today and will be at a national conference in another city for the rest of the week.
In truth the anxiety started today when I knew that there was no way I could get to the seminar today at the time it was supposed to start. The options of how I could possibly make the logistics work started racing through my head. How on earth was I going to get there by 7 am when I needed to get a child to child care, pick up the car from work and drive the 20 mins to the venue. It just wasn’t possible- I was going to be late.
Late- the word in itself could bring on an an anxiety attack in me. In my mind being late is simply not an option. I don’t do late well. It brings on all of the negative self talk in my head. ‘oh no- what are people going to think of the girl who was late- couldn’t she organise herself to get here on time … Etc’
So I was late – not just a little bit late – a good hour and a half late. Then I had to negotiate my way into a Secure building that I had never been to before- all the while hoping that I wasn’t going to be stopped at the security checkpoint for being a Fraud – I mean do I really deserve to be spending g a work day at this seminar?
By the time I got to the entrance to the seminar to find that they didn’t have a name tag for me and there were no seats left so I couldn’t sit down. Clearly, every person in the room was now going to be focused on that girls standing awkwardly at the back of the room.
From that point on my mind was racing around and around in circles and the degree to which I felt out of place and unable to interact with anyone at all rose proportionately.
When the next session commenced, I found myself a seat, but I still could not calm down. I did not in fact calm down until well after lunch. This meant that every interaction I had was strained and resulted in my drowning myself in negative self talk after speaking with people – even with people I knew. Lunch? well clearly I was the most awkward eater in the room!
Eventually, when the speaker after lunch caught my attention, I cam around and began to feel somewhat normal again. I spent some time writing it all out on my phone – just to try and get the words out of my head and onto paper.
This is a strategy that appears to work for me – if it is available to you it might just work for you also.
The crucial thing is being able to get out of the negative thoughts cycle that is going around and around in your head – I know from experience that this can be easier said than done.
(This post was written in May 2012 and published privately – after having some feedback about my earlier anxiety post – I decided to publish it – If you would like more of these types of posts – I would love some feedback)