Before I went to Paris just after my birthday, I got invited to a Christmas Event by Moonpig where we would be getting all creative with wreath making, designing our own Santa sacks, making cocktails and getting the chance to make our own card on the Moonpig website thanks to the mobile photo-booth they had!
On paper it sounded like the perfect start to my Birthday weekend celebrations and it would have been had it not been for the fact I had to walk into that room alone and feel instantly anxious.
All I wanted to do was leave and I was in a foul mood for the whole day because I felt so utterly and totally alone. A couple of days before the event though it had been the first anniversary of my Grandpa's death so all in all I was a bit of a mess.
I just wish I could have enjoyed the day because it really was great to get creative even though I thought I'd be completely useless! I managed to make a pretty good wreath though, even if I do say so myself!
If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that I've been writing about my social anxiety and how I've been affected by it. Ever since I moved to my new hometown I've been suffering with anxiety, something which I had never had to worry about previously.
Recently I thought it had been getting better but as you'll know if you suffer from anxiety or depression you're never really 'cured' you just manage it somehow, find coping strategies and hope for the best.
It's good to think you're going to be okay but then BAM, it comes at you out of nowhere leaving you feeling confused, sad and like the worst person on the planet for ruining plans with friends - that's if you make them in the first place because we all know that when you're suffering with anxiety really bad that's the last thing you want to do!
Anyway, I battled on (feeling intensely alone and completely and utterly awful!) going round the three stations to design my card, make cocktails, make my own wreath & try to come up with a festive pattern for my Santa sack!
The station I enjoyed the most was definitely the wreath making, it felt really good to give my mind something to focus on and get a little creative. I thought I was going to be useless as I don't have an artistic bone in my body really!
But the simple act of winding green tape around my circle, fastening it on with rose gold pins, going over again with Christmas ribbon and attaching the flowers was so therapeutic I think I am going to have to find somewhere to go where I can make something myself - I know in Harrogate we have a pottery painting shop so who knows, perhaps I'll go there next time I'm feeling anxious and need to do something other than blogging to calm my mind.
I was so pleased with my result and I can't wait to hang it up at Christmas time with pride. A reminder that I can get through any spells of anxiety I might suffer with from time to time and despite my misgivings, I can actually create something beautiful!
If I hadn't been in such a foul mood (thanks anxiety and grief!) I may have enjoyed the cocktail class and card making that little bit more.
Unusually for me I didn't actually want to drink anything more besides a couple of glasses of mulled wine so I stepped up to be the girls' photographers/boomerang collectors for this particular session! Not sure if I did a good job but for me it was where I felt comfortable.
We actually started our day at this station and so when it came time to make my card I really, really didn't want to! I was feeling so critical of myself that the last thing I wanted was to step into a photo-booth, don a Christmas hat and smile.
But I did, for my Granny because I know she would absolutely love it. It was easy to customise on the Moonpig website so at least that task didn't drain what was left of my mental energy.
The last task we had was to design our own Santa sacks. Something else which I was convinced I would be absolutely useless at, I don't have artistic bone in my body and painting/drawing is where I lack the most skills. But nevertheless I went over the table and thought about what design to do.
Thankfully there were stencils available and marker pens to get us started. As we were running late by the time we got to this task, my sack didn't quite turn out how I wanted it to but hey ho. Guess I'm destined to not be that blogger who has the amazingly designed Santa sack. (see below!)
I do like it but being self-critical just makes me want to scrap it and start again but then what else I would do?! I have no idea!! I do like the dinosaurs though! Will I get more presents if I leave this out for Santa on Christmas Eve?!
I honestly do love being invited to events and there are some brands and PR companies who do go all out and put on amazing events. I know that this post has come across as negative but that's more to do with how I was feeling on the day rather than how the event was run.
I was so honoured to have been invited to this event with Moonpig as I do find them to be a fab company who are always there for you in those 'oh shit' moments we all have when we realise we haven't sent that all so important birthday card! We've all been there!
With it being a Christmas event, there was mulled wine and mince pies aplenty. Not that I could eat any of them because they weren't vegan! It didn't matter, I just had mulled wine and carried on! This did mean that I had to grab a subway on the way home because I was starving! Ooppss!
Managing my anxiety will be something I have to do every single day and it will probably never go away, I just have to find ways to be comfortable at events. I guess the more I do the better I'll become but I always fear not knowing anybody whenever I get an invite.
Some situations are going to be more anxiety ridden than others but I guess we all want to still be able to enjoy life with our friends and not be held back by our mental health.
Sometimes it can feel like I'm the only one suffering with social anxiety but I know that that just isn't the case. It can feel isolating when you're suffering an anxiety attack in a public place and everyone around you just doesn't understand what's going on and thinks you're just being rude.
I don't like talking to people much, especially when I'm at an event and it's likely I'll not know that many people, so I just suffer in silence and hope that I can leave as soon as possible.
I wish more people understood what I go through when I gain the courage to go to these events, it sure would make everything so much easier. Unfortunately, I don't find that to be the case so I'm just left to suffer alone and made to feel worse for having a mental health condition.
I can only hope it gets better in time!
Big thanks to Search Laboratory and Moonpig for a great event.
Do you suffer with social anxiety? Have you ever found yourself in similar situation to me? Let me know below.
* Photos taken by Matt
Love, Sarah xoxoxo