What if I had stayed in my room? It is a valid question. The answer wasn’t easy. I very easily could have stayed in my room. My mind was telling me to stay in my room. My anxiety was way up. I felt overwhelmed. My thoughts were racing and I couldn’t focus. How am I going to get the strength, the will, to do this all over again? I’m tired from my victory of night one. Maybe night two is too much and my mind is trying to protect me. Maybe I should stay in my room. I conquered and jumped over a huge hurdle the night before. Now, somehow, I have to do it all over again. Maybe, a break is what I need. What do I do? Maybe I should just stay in my room.
I woke up Saturday morning after an awesome soul filling show the night before. I was still riding an emotional high. It felt good. I felt a sense of victory and I know I deserved to feel this way. Crowds never really bothered me before, but things were different now. Things have changed. I have changed, but I did it. I conquered a huge fear and issue of mine. For one night, my social anxiety didn’t get the best of me.
I put my head down, and no matter what my mind tried to tell me, I plowed forward. There were a few times I could have let my anxiety get the best of me and I could have retreated back to the car. It would have been understandable. I would try not to beat myself up too bad if I did decide to retreat, but I kept telling myself it wasn’t an option. Of course it was an option, but I really wanted to win. I wanted to jump over this huge hurdle in front of me.
I told myself it was all temporary and the situation I found myself in would soon pass and I would be OK again. We have to remind ourselves that even the worst situations are always temporary. In the moment, it can be hard to see, but this is the mindset I was trying keep.
I kept going. I wasn’t going to let my anxiety win today. I was back in my element. An element which fills my soul and I really needed it. My low fuel light has been on for too long and I’m not sure how much farther I could push it. I needed this, so I kept going.
I am so proud of myself for keeping my head down. I am so proud of myself for staying the course. I am so proud of myself for hanging in there. The concert was everything I needed. I felt old-me-ways being strengthened and I noticed some of the new-me-ways gaining more steam.
What a night!
Now onto night two.
I laid in bed the next morning tossing around the recent memories of the night before. I could still feel the energy. I felt good. I felt like I could do all of this again, which was good, as we were doing it again that night. OK, I thought to myself, I can do this. You now have a model in which to draw from. You know what you had to do the night before and all you need to do is repeat those steps. Seems easy enough, especially after having just done it.
We headed over to Top Golf for some golf fun and some lunch. There was a six hour wait. Scratch that…we headed over to a brewery, in a really cool district, and had lunch. It was good. We joked around, as guys will do, and it was enjoyable.
After lunch, we hit the store up for some provisions for the coming evening of tailgating. Really the provisions were for the pre-show tailgate and, well, because we never can get enough…the provisions also were for the post-show tailgate. Why the heck not? The parking lot is a mess at first, so it is a good way to wait it out. Plus, you can gain a few friends in the process. People love a lit grill. Especially after a show. We tend to make friends and feed those around us too. Good times!
So we hit the store. I could feel things beginning to turn in my mind. A grocery store full of people, all doing their own tunnel visioned thing, is one of my social anxiety hang ups. People everywhere!
I am one who likes to go to the store and get what I need and get the heck out of there as fast as possible. I am not one to mill about and look for the best deal or the best loaf of bread. A lot of people do and it gets in my way. At least this is what my mind likes to tell me. People being people is OK. I’m good with it. We need to be good with it. How else are people supposed to be?
My mind likes to tell me that I am losing control. Sometimes you have to wait your turn, as pushing through people is frowned upon, so you have to wait sometimes. This is OK. It is part of the experience, but my mind is telling me to go go go.
So I start to feel overwhelmed. I begin to feel frustrated. Uh oh…I know what these feelings can lead to. I cannot let myself spin out of control. Normally, I would get what I need and bee line out of there, but I wasn’t by myself. The guys where there too, so I had to be patient. I had to take my time. This is the exact opposite from what my brain was telling me to do.
We check out and walk out the door back to the car. It wasn’t like we were there very long, but it felt like it. But now we are out and I should be OK. We head back to the hotel.
I was glad to be back, but the overwhelmed and frustrated feelings were not going away. I had removed myself from the situation, but I wasn’t feeling better. I was feeling worse and I could feel it spinning out of control. Oh great…now I am going to lose it in front of my friends.
These are the people you should be able to lose it in front of. They have been along for the ride, mostly, and understand how I feel more than a lot of people. I have been talking a lot about not doing it yourself. These guys are part of me reaching out of myself and bringing others in to help get through all of this. These guys are a part of my team.
So, why did I not want to tell anybody what was going on in my mind? Old ways are hard to break. I can write about getting help. I can talk about getting help. I can do videos about getting help. I believe every bit of what I write and say. Why would I say it if I didn’t? It doesn’t mean I have this all figured out. It doesn’t mean the old do-it-myself ways don’t and won’t come out sometimes.
I tried so hard to not show it. I tried so hard to hide it. I couldn’t do it. I got up from the couch in our room and went over to my bed and started to cry. Oh great, I thought to myself, here we go. My anxiety, the feelings of being overwhelmed and frustrated, decided it was time to boil over. So I began to melt down.
What started as a sob to myself, quickly became an all out cry. I think all of the craziness of the last couple of weeks was what led be to this. I made it through it all, but maybe I did too much too fast.
The week before the concerts, my wife and I spent a week with my family in the Lake Of The Ozarks. This is a yearly trip we all take together. We stay in a big house, a whole bunch of us, and we enjoy being a family all together. It was great and I did really well. I did not find myself retreating during this trip like I have for others. I felt good and I wanted to be out hanging with my family. It was important to me to be able to do that. I wanted the energy and the love that fills my soul and I didn’t want to miss any opportunity. I didn’t retreat. I did great and was really proud of myself.
Three days after getting back from a week in the Ozarks, I headed over to Indy for two back to back nights of the Dave Matthews Band with the boys. Another tradition I like to do. We try and head over to Indy for the DMB shows every year they are there.
So, there I was, laying in my bed crying. It was a bit out of control and I felt like a fool, to be honest. Again, old habits die hard. I think, as I look back on it, that the week in the Ozarks, were it was hard to get alone time, and now the fact that night one of the shows was under my belt, I was exhausted. I was emotionally and mentally drained. I went from doing nothing throughout the pandemic to doing everything I could get my hands on in a two week time period.
Maybe I should have spaced these activities out and eased back in a little more. Maybe this is what I wanted, but life events don’t always present themselves exactly how we want them presented. You sometimes have to do things when they are and roll with it. So I did.
Should I have been surprised when I broke down? I mean look at all the energy I have been spending. I went from a supercharged introverted, wanting to be alone, state and just floored the gas pedal and sped into being a social butterfly. Was I surprised? Honestly, I was a bit surprised, as it was more about not breaking down in front of my friends, but really there is no way I should have been surprised. I now don’t think it was a matter of “if” something was going to happen it was more of a “when” and also a “where” question.
Well it did happen and the answer to “when” was now and the answer to “where” was right here in my hotel room. My buddy, I was sharing a room with, sent a text to my other buddy and he came down to our room. By then I was out of the bed and talking a little bit with my roomie buddy when the other walked in. I was still crying, but I wasn’t trying to hide it. Not that I was succeeding at hiding it in the first place.
This all went down about an hour before we were to leave to tailgate for night two. My mind and my body had had enough. We talked. I didn’t just keep it all in. I remembered what the importance of talking was and the feeling of getting it all off-my-chest felt like. We talked about what I was feeling and why.
Honestly, a big part of why I broke down was frustration. I will never stop moving forward, but sometimes it is just plain exhausting. I was sick and tired of all I have to put into myself just to get me to go out and do simple things, let alone going to a crowded concert. It is a constant push. I am always thinking about every situation and how to do it. I think about how I am going to protect myself and also what is my escape plan. I think about this stuff constantly. It could be as simple as going out and getting a hair cut, but I have to psych myself up to do it. All in all, I was frustrated that I have to spend so much energy all of the time, and all I want is to go do the things I like to do, when I like to do them, and it be no big deal at all. Like it used to be.
Well, that is the past. I do not get to go back there. All I know is the present. I can think about the future, but I cannot predict it. All I know is the present. So here I am. Frustrated that things couldn’t be easier and overwhelmed that I cannot make it happen.
The guys were great. I calmed down, but I was already emotionally and mentally drained from the events. I did feel better. I always do after letting go of whatever is bothering me. Now I was faced with a question.
Do I not go to the show? Do I protect myself? Do I call my efforts good and wait for the next time? Do I stay in my room?
I could have. I think I would have been justified. I have learned to protect myself and always look out for me. Sometimes it means pulling yourself from a situation before you get yourself into said situation.
I did not stay in my room. In the end I couldn’t. I know I would have regretted not going to the show. I would have missed out on another good night!
I went. I conquered again! I won again! I jumped this huge hurdle again! The energy of the crowd was great. It was another emotional show. The people around us where awesome. I had all the nerves I had night one while in the crowds, but as the show started, it all melted away…again.
I would have missed grilling burgers in the ER parking lot after my buddy cut the tip of his finger with a chef’s knife. Now, of course I would rather my buddy didn’t get hurt. I don’t wish injury on anyone, but it makes for part of the experience of a night not spent in my room.
Who grills burgers in the hospital parking lot? Well, that would be us. You have to pass the time waiting somehow and we were hungry after an amazing night!
What if I had stayed in my room? We will never know.
You got this! I got this! We got this! Let’s keep walking this journey together.
Have a great day!
Feel free to jump over to my website (http://rockingmentalhealth.com) – Jason Kehl’s Basement Of Jams: Rocking Mental Health. This blog lives there along with a podcast I do. I also have some videos I have made and also some music. My goal is provide people with the strength and encouragement to ask for help it they need it and to also keep going on their journeys. It Is OK To Not Be OK. We are in this together!
Coming Soon…Stay Tuned! A not-for-profit endeavor I am working hard at making a reality. This will be a spot for mental health bloggers, podcasters, videographers, musicians, and artists to share their work as it pertains to their own mental health dealings. The goal is to have somewhere people can go to find strength and encouragement to fight their own battle. Through our many stories, hopefully everyone who stops by, can find something which helps. More details to come as day 1 approaches. I am going to need your help!