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Deep Space and Calcutta. Wednesday June 14, 2017

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here:]

"You'll be fine, Mummy," said my eldest. "You can do it. I believe in you."

"Take the "Kalms" and you'll float above it all," said my friend. (Kalms is a herbal remedy for stress and anxiety).

"You can stay behind if you want to," said my husband, in that voice which meant I would lose serious wife points if I chose that option.

And, "Mummy, why does Daddy want us all to go, anyway?" said my youngest. She has the anxiety thing too.

It was half term and we were all going to Madame Tussauds, in London. I was apprehensive; for although the depression is now managed very nicely by the pills, her nasty little sister Anxiety, is still very much around.

So, I did take the Kalms. I did practise mindfulness, I did do the tapping (EFT), and I did manage. I even enjoyed some of it. My youngest struggled, but the joy of seeing Zoella and Alfie on the iconic bed, quite made up for it.

It was a useful exercise however. For the first time, I could analyse just what sets off my anxiety in crowded spaces; that clammy handed, choked throat and panicked flutter in the heart; the feeling that one must get out, get away, find a quiet place in which to just - breathe.

The train is fine. Everyone is calmly sitting down. It gets bad if the train is overcrowded, of course, but I think everyone gets a bit claustrophobic when a perfect stranger is almost sitting on your lap, or checking your armpit for BO. The train station is fine; everyone is walking with a purpose. Queuing is fine; everyone is in an ordered line, moving towards a destination in an organised fashion. Where it all goes horribly wrong is where those crowds start to mill like a flock of woolly-minded sheep, especially in an enclosed space; especially with a plethora of sensations – lights, music, smells… Even though the ceiling is high and the crowds were not too bad for half term, it felt like the Black Hole of Calcutta. Without the Kalms, the mindfulness, the EFT – I think I would have taken a sharp right at Jonny Depp, walked straight past the Queen without even a curtsey, charged past all the men who were President, dodged the Incredible Hulk and got out – out into the relatively fresh air of central London; heart pounding and longing for a brown paper bag – into which I could either breathe or be sick!

People who do not have anxiety, cannot understand. They are quite happy to join the flock and baa contentedly (and that's not meant to be an insult – I envy them). They cannot understand the feeling of being sucked into a black hole of madness, where you feel as if you will implode.

But, anchoring with mindfulness, tapping on meridian points and yes, the Kalms; they all help. You too, can get through it. I believe in you!

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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LP Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 6:49am

Hi Mary,
Thank you for a great blog on anxiety. I loved your " fine" list! I could feel and identify with the tension in "fine", although my anxieties are different.
I don't know about EFT, meridian points and tapping they sound interesting and might have helped on the rare occasions that I have to speak to an audience in a formal way.

Loved the description of a potential hasty exit/ charge past the various dignitaries and celebrity wax works too! :) Joking aside though I was so impressed that you went all the same and were able to enjoy some of it.
It's great to have recovered from the knock back and anxiety That took me by surprise last week.
Thanks for an inspirational blog Mary. It's a beautiful morning in London and going to be a lovely day.
Wishing blues skies and sunshine inside to you and all :) LPxx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 7:19am

Thank you LP. Glad it struck a chord. I am happy to explain the tapping and point you to some explanatory videos. I have found it to be an enormous help in managing pain, insomnia, fighting off colds and yes - anxiety. Dashing off right now, but I'll post them later. I might even blog about it at another point.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 9:46pm

This is a useful video. For anyone concerned that you will look like a right prat tapping yourself, then you can just choose a few unobtrusive points and rub them gently. It gets easier with practise!

Orangeblossom Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 7:34am

Thanks Mary. I found the suggestions very helpful. Anxiety is a big bugbear when visiting certain people & when we have to make the Transatlantic crossing it adds to the stress & anxiety levels. We were there three years ago. Crossed the Atlantic to do so & flew on Ascension Day. It went rapidly downhill after that. I am not in a hurry to repeat the experience. Had two reprieves so far this year. Hoping for a third.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 9:47pm

Ironic, crossing on Ascension Day. Hopefully *decension day" too!

The Gardener Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 8:39am

Mary, my morning was already awful and your blog made it ten times worse. NOT your fault!! You opened a scar which I felt had healed. Mr G utterly miserable, demanding, horrible news of fire, and it is a lovely morning, market outside - seems to make it worse. Your description took me straight back to pre-France, going to London and big stores. I'd get to the floor I wanted, then panic - the heat - couldn't use the lifts, more claustrophobia, and the notices to elevators always hidden. But the scar covered the sore of travelling with Mr G's anxiety. We travelled so much, long-hauls, lots time in departure lounges or in long security queues. Mr G's anxiety started the night before - which lead to our never going to the last night party - often package tours, and we had absolutely NO responsibility. Before 9/11 I would knit - doing a project on 2,000 years of fashion on Barbie dolls. A crowd would amass, particularly Japanese, fascinated, questioning, instant friendship. But the still sore spot you've opened up is me doing the Cinderella, crying with childish disappointment in the hotel room while listening to the racket of music and people enjoying themselves. With Alzheimer the anxiety is now paranoia - Mr G is 4 metres away from me - every minute he asks me where I am. Sorry Moodscopers, it's SUCH an awful morning, from so many aspects. Will go and sit in the door of my shop - the stall-holders are so cheerful - a woman from Africa who makes lovely baskets, Viet-namese couple making delicious Nems, a man etching glass as original presents.

Tutti Frutti Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 8:52am

Hope going to sit by your shop makes you feel a bit better Gardener.

The Gardener Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 11:40am

Thanks TF - non-stop friends and chat from 10.30. Mr G had a monumental sulk because he hates me talking to people - most make a huge effort to include him, but it's tough going. Stall holders, me,and regular visitors are starting a club 'The Optimists'. The entry fee, a smile

Mary Wednesday Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 9:48pm

Oh Gardener - so very sorry to have triggered all that with you. But - thank you for venting - and then taking such pleasure (and giving that pleasure to us) in the stall holders at the market.

Tutti Frutti Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 8:49am

Mary My comment disappeared into the ether. Here's the shorter version.
1) Well done on your trip and glad it was enjoyable in parts
2) hope you can pass some of the strategies for dealing with anxiety onto your daughter
3) For anyone who doesn't know, be careful with taking herbal remedies and psychiatric medications at the same time as sometimes they interact. A chemist should be able to answer any questions.
4) loved your description of rushing out without curtseying to the Queen.
Sorry for bullet points today.
Love TF x

Mary Wednesday Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 9:49pm

Good point about some herbal remedies not reacting well to psychiatric medicines. For instance, one should never take St John's Wort with anti depressants.

The Gardener Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 9:24am

Finish my 'rant', but, it may be common to others to such an extent that they cannot travel. Once in the airport Mr G would hover in front of the departure board in case anything should change (still 3 hours to go). Then he would try and persuade me to move nearer departure gate - pack up my activities, often no seats. This resulted in our starting a 13 hour flight near nervous wrecks. Why did we travel? Son and family in Far East, sponsored children in India.

the room above the garage Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 9:34am

Ah Mary, we are again twins! I did this trip in our Spring half term and with my (and youngest child's) anxiety! Nobody in my family knows about my anxiety but I manage it through managing my child's. The 'cinema' part was worst for me...a hot, crowded queue with no real view of escape. And I agree, an unmanaged crowd brings me nausea (except at a live gig...that works for some reason). Well we've done it! And I admired a lot of it. I'm just someone who needs tree, beach, hill to be able to not suffocate. Funnily enough...the London eye is no less busy, no less contained and yet I felt far less anxious. Is it because I could see the elements? I still felt free whilst trapped. It's all so interesting to me and thank you for it, love ratg x.

the room above the garage Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 9:39am

And that makes me see a connection in why I was ok in the London eye. One of the coping techniques for my son is to place yourself inside a bubble. You can see everything, hear everything with less volume and nothing can harm you. Another way to feel this effect is to put a finger in your ear (one in each ear is best but one if you're trying to go unnoticed) and listen for your own breath. It instantly cuts out the world and brings you a 'bubble' feel.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 9:50pm

Interesting idea. I'll try that. And yes - some day we must meet up - we have so many similar life experiences!

Geoff Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 1:12pm

Dear Mary,I must admit that I tried EFT a couple of years ago. At first, I actually paid someone to teach me and go through the methods with me. Then, my "mentor" disappeared from my life and I found the positive effects that I had felt through tapping, get less and less. The big shift in my fight against anxiety and panic attacks came when I had a hypnotherapy session in January of this year. Combined with a shift in my thought patterns, I have now gone 5 months with a marked reduction of anxiety, and not one single panic attack.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 9:53pm

I find I do have to persist with the tapping. A couple of times round is no good. Last night I couldn't sleep. I tried lots of things - from midnight to 4am. Can't think why I didn't try my tapping before then. I have no idea if it worked or not, but the next thing I knew was the alarm going off at 6am! Hypnotherapy is great too. They are all useful tools in the toolbox. Sometimes you need a hammer and sometimes a spanner and sometimes a wrench, (That's wrench, Geoff, not Wench, okay?)

Leah Wed, Jun 14th 2017 @ 11:45pm

Thanks for your blog.
I am glad tapping has helped you. You are probably aware that many people think tapping is a not helpful and could be harmful. I had never heard of EFT and will research some more.

Mary Wednesday Thu, Jun 15th 2017 @ 9:00pm

Hello Leah. No - I had not heard of anyone who thinks tapping is harmful. I have only every heard positive things about it.

Molly Thu, Jun 15th 2017 @ 12:15am

Anxiety is an awful thing, I have only experienced the full extent of it in about the last three years and it has really restricted me. I would rather not plan anything than get myself so worked up about whether I will be okay or not. I have missed invites etc. It is interesting though how some things feel ok and some do not - as others have said. Some things are more manageable and it is hard to make sense of it. I did write a piece about panic attacks once and I might submit that as a blog. Luckily I have not had a panic attack for a while now but I still get that scared feeling that it could happen at any time and I dread even going to a shop, luckily I can buy everything on line. But my life has really come to a halt with regards to the outside world, due to anxiety. Thank you for the blog. M xx

Jane SG Thu, Jun 15th 2017 @ 6:15am

I would like to see your blog on panic attacks Molly x

Molly Thu, Jun 15th 2017 @ 1:35pm

Thanks Jane, I will dig it out and see if I think it is worthy! xx

Jane SG Thu, Jun 15th 2017 @ 6:14am

Hi Mary, I loved the very first line of your blog, 'you'll be fine Mummy, I believe in you.' Fantastic. My children give me the biggest boosts of all.

Mary Wednesday Thu, Jun 15th 2017 @ 9:01pm

They do indeed. My eldest is wonderful like that.

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