Minor Setbacks Aside…
Have you ever had a day where you wake up and honestly don’t know if you’ll be able to handle what you have to do that day? Well today was one of those kinds of days for me. I woke up early, despite this being the first day in a long time that I could sleep more that 7 hours. I lay there, dreading being awake because exhaustion only makes anxiety worse, and began to worry. I realized I might not be able to pay for tuition and also afford rent and food next year. I’m sure things will be fine, really, but what if I just… ran out of money?
I got to work feeling tense. We had to do two performances today for the military tattoo in Quebec, Canada. A military tattoo is just a series of military bands doing acts, as well as a combined opening and closing. Well, I stood out there for the opening, and could feel my heart pounding with anxiety the whole time. My legs turned to jelly. I couldn’t get my mind to focus on what I was doing, instead it just ran to every terrible thought it could come up with. I was worried I might have a panic attack and faint, but I stuck it out. Still, after I got backstage, someone asked me if I was okay. I put on my best liar face and told him “yeah, I’m fine”.
Unfortunately the panic didn’t subside after that opening scene. I went outside to get some air, but it didn’t help. I wanted to talk to my boyfriend, James, but he was off doing some other work at the time. I also didn’t want to sound needy, so I just waited until he came back to where we were waiting for the next scene, and asked if he could go for a walk with me. That was all I could get out before the tears started to flow and I was left just feeling weak and broken. I don’t know why today was so difficult when I did the exact same thing yesterday and the day before without any issues. I hid my face, and when I got the chance I went to wipe my eyes and try to conceal it.
It was my officer who finally got the truth out of me. She just looked at my sullen face and asked if I was okay. This time I couldn’t hold back. I started crying and she led me to a room where we could talk one on one, while I hyperventilated and admitted I have anxiety problems sometimes. Even after working with her for three months, she had no idea. I guess I’m good at hiding it most of the time. Finally I gave her a real answer when she asked if she could do anything to help; I asked her to bring James to see me. He’s great at calming me down, as much as I hate to admit it because I hate being needy.
After talking with James for a bit and going for a walk outside once the puffiness in my face went down a bit, I got calmer. I had been told that if I didn’t want to do the finale, I didn’t have to. The finale is about 45 minutes long, and we are standing still the whole time in wool suits in a room that has to be at least 40 degrees Celsius. We are all drenched in sweat by the end of it, and this challenge presents it’s own group of anxieties. It’s not uncommon for people to faint on parade from standing still or from being too hot. I guess we are just supposed to be okay with the fact that this is a possibility. Well, it freaks me out, even after 4 years of military service. I told our officer that I wanted to be on the finale, despite my panic only 30 minutes prior. I didn’t want to be afraid.
The good news is that I not only survived that finale, I did the entire show a second time without issue, despite being exhausted and hungry. It doesn’t matter that the opening scene filled me with so much anxiety that I could barely stand. I did the scene, and then I did it many more times. I didn’t let the panic I felt hold me back, and I’m hoping to continue not letting my anxiety get the best of me. Minor setbacks aside, I didn’t miss a single scene today, and I didn’t let the anxiety win. Despite how easy it would have been to just say that I couldn’t handle doing my job today, I didn’t do it. And to be honest, I’m really proud of myself for not letting a breakdown get in the way of how I feel. If anything, the breakdown helped me to let it out and move on. Maybe there’s something to be learned here after all.