On Monday I made the trip to London and back to visit the Ideal Home Show. We booked tickets a couple of months ago and it was one of my goals to work towards. I went to university and worked in London for four years, however after I was ill in October travelling up to London was something that my anxiety prevented me from doing.
Just before Christmas I made the very stupid decision to travel up to London on my own to have a walk around and then come home with my boyfriend, once he was finished work. I was going through a really bad time and just wanted to get away from everything and so my mind suddenly decided I was going up to London. On the train up I had a bad panic attack, made worse by being surrounded by people.
I made it into London and got off at the first stop I could. My boyfriend left work early and came to find me. We spent a couple of hours just walking. I couldn’t bring myself to get back on a train. The anxiety inside me kept bubbling up and we began to look at hotels in London so that I could attempt the journey home the following morning. The prices of hotels were ridiculous and I knew I had to get home somehow. Driving wasn’t an option, it was rush hour on Friday night and so it would have taken hours. I decided the best thing to do would be to walk back to the train station and take it one step at a time.
We got to the station and I popped to the loo. As I came out of the loo I saw there was a train leaving in 5 minutes, I took a deep breath, grabbed my boyfriend’s hand and got on the train. I can still remember that journey home. My grandad agreed to pick us up one station away from ours, which cut the journey down by 10 minutes – it doesn’t seem like much but it meant that the overall journey would only be around 30 minutes. Between watching stand up comedy on my boyfriend’s phone and texting my brother I made it home.
Once home I felt a mix of emotions. I was so grateful to be home but so disappointed with myself. I’ve done that journey countless times so why should my anxiety now stop me? My head was spinning but I pushed it to the back of my mind. My boyfriend and I decided that since we had saved hundreds of pounds on a hotel that we would treat ourselves to a takeaway that night. With my food in front of me I decided to push the events of that evening to the back of my mind and deal with it another time.
That other time came on 25th March 2019…
Myself, my boyfriend and my nan ventured up to London together. The Sunday before we went was a really positive day for me (you can read about it here). This positive day gave me the confidence and the motivation to tackle London. I woke up nervous but excited, nothing was going to stop me attempting to do this. Had I not woken up with such a positive mindset then I’m not sure whether the day would have been quite so successful, but that’s not something I want to dwell on.
The train journey into London was not too bad, occasionally I felt my anxiety creeping up on me but I successfully pushed it back. I kept distracted by talking and using my phone until we arrived in London. Getting off the train in London felt like a huge achievement, which spurred me onto the tube. We had seven stops to go on the circle line but it was okay. I knew with the underground the stops are close together and so if it got too much I could just get off at any time.
An overground train, a tube and a bus later we arrived at Olympia. We were greeted by vibrant colours and fancy foliage. Now that the journey was over I was excited. I could enjoy our time at the Ideal Home Show and put the journey home to the back of my mind.
We queued up, had our bags checked, our tickets scanned and then we were stood inside the huge exhibition hall. I had been worried that I’d feel overwhelmed once inside but I was okay. Although there were lots of people the space felt quite open and so my personal space was not being invaded.
We queued to go into the exhibition house that they had on show. The queue was nerve wracking as we stood in line for close to half an hour. A few times I felt a hot flush come over me and my heart began to race. I was not going to let my anxiety get the better of me. I had not tackled the journey there to have a panic and go home. Eventually we got to the front of the queue and we got to walk around the house. I love interiors and so I enjoyed seeing all the different rooms and how they had decided to decorate them. All too soon we’d walked round the house and were back onto the exhibition floor.
It was around lunch time and my stomach was beginning to rumble. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find anything vegetarian and gluten free so we decided to have lunch so that I could forget about one worry. There wasn’t much that I could eat, I had resigned myself to some chips until I came across a stall named ‘Bombay’. Their menu had vegetarian signs and gluten free signs. Not to mention the vegetarian and gluten free option was paneer – I love paneer. I got my curry and sat down at a table with other people. My boyfriend and nan went off to find something for themselves. I knew that if I was going to panic it would be now. However, I was too busy trying to save our seats in-between eating spoonfuls of food to worry about panicking. I ended up sharing my lunch with my nan, the anxiousness bubbling away within me prevented me from wanting to eat too much.
After lunch we walked around the food festival, marvelling at all the yummy foods.
The stalls of fudge were endless – I even got to try some! Unfortunately my partner has given up chocolate and sweets for lent and so I had to taste on his behalf too. Poor me. I unsuccessfully tried to push my way to the front of a stall with tasters of vanilla rum. I envied my boyfriend who had managed to grab a taster of cranberry gin – although from the way his face scrunched up I had no reason to be envious.
We came across this pink kitchen diner and I just had to take a picture of it. I love the pinks and the chairs. My boyfriend decided not to comment, knowing that when we eventually get our own place he won’t really be getting a say in the decor. Perhaps I’ll allow him a corner?
In an attempt to talk everyone into these chairs I marvelled at the fact that they had zips and so could be washed. I think I was really scraping the barrel at that point.
They’re very pretty though.
There were a few points when walking around the stalls upstairs where it became very busy. I fought my way through the crowds and stood in an emptier spot waiting for everyone to catch up with me. This trip has taught me that I have made progress with my anxiety, however I still hate crowds.
Whilst the train was busy, it was not packed and there was the odd spare seat. The gorgeous weather continued on our journey home and I felt it was reflective of my mood. This was a huge achievement for me and not only did I do it, I also enjoyed it. With aching legs we got home and I treated myself to pasta and mozzarella sticks for dinner. Cheese will always be my reward food.
I’m looking forward to planning my next adventure.