Today I travelled from our farm in country NSW to Sydney to the AFI Film Awards screening of One Less God an Australian film about the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008 in India. My daughter was playing one of the lead roles. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress so it was very exciting. To see her perform in an international film launching her career and watch her on a cinema screen was such a thrill to look forward to though nerve wracking too. I was fine with all that side of things but the thoughts of coping with the social side of meeting the cast and crew plus mingling with the other audience were going to be a big anxiety inducing event for me to overcome but I wanted to see her on the big screen, so overcome it I did.
I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) as a result of my Complex PTSD. It really becomes exacerbated in social situations too. I knew I had to review my strategy for dealing with anxiety if I was going to get through the morning otherwise I was going to have a full blown panic attack before we even got into the cinema complex and that would even be with some Lorazapam on board. So a quick review:
- Acknowledge stress when you experience it
- Welcome the stress by recognizing that it’s a response to something you care about
- Make use of the energy that stress gives you, instead of wasting that energy trying to manage your stress
So steps one and two were easy but it was implementing step three was the secret to making the strategy work. Channel the energy positively and do not allow it to get out of control. Of course, I would need to use breathing techniques, positive thinking, “staying safe” by being near my partner and remember that the focus of the morning was my daughter. The pressure was not on me and I should not artificially feel it was. Not allow the nasty negative voice of anxiety to trick me into thinking any pressure was on me.
So my partner and I went through the plan going up in the car several times. I took the medication an hour away from the event so by the time we arrived I was as prepared as I could be. I had to do it for my daughter. There are times when you have to put yourself in uncomfortable and anxiety inducing situations for the sake of loved ones and this was one of those times. It was a big deal for her so I did it. I walked in there. My heart was pounding, the blood was swooshing around my head, my hands were clammy and I was sweating but I did it! I got through the Opening drinks somehow and with enormous relief sat down in the darkened cinema to watch the movie with the most amazing sigh of relief feeling very proud of myself.
I could not repeat the performance at the end of the movie however and we had to leave as soon as it was over. I could not face mingling with the crowd at the end. I had used up all my reserves at the beginning and had nothing left in the tank. I would have pushed myself too far and we knew it. My daughter was fine with what I managed. The movie was fantastic. I highly recommend it if it comes to a cinema near you.