I should mention here, that I had not gotten much sleep during the night, I had eaten way too much sugar, and I was a bit hopped up on excitement and nervousness. But all things considered, I didn't feel to badly. Anyway, we all hopped into Caroline & Helen's car, and it wouldn't start right away, I'm not sure why, but it did end up starting in the end. But this made us all feel a bit wary of getting stuck somewhere, so we decided to go in Anya's little rental car instead.
We had planned to eat breakfast in Stratford, but the restaurant we wanted to go to was packed and the wait looked huge, so we grabbed a coffee and then were on our way. Oh, and this had been another factor for me throughout the weekend, I wasn't eating enough - I'm currently on a pretty strict elimination diet, so I'm not eating eggs, dairy, or gluten, among other things - and my plan is to be on it for at least a year, so I couldn't just go off of it for the weekend. I hate being such a pain in the butt when it comes to food (or anything really) and I was lucky that there were some gluten free options at the included meals, but staying away from eggs and dairy on top of gluten is really tough. So anyway, I had mostly been eating granola bars I had brought, coffee and some candy that Helen and Caroline brought (Sour Patch Kids? Yes please!).
Anyway back to the story, I was in the back of the car between Helen and Caroline, and I started to feel a little uneasy, but I figured I'd take a few deep breaths and be okay once we got going. So I did, but then I started to feel a little claustrophobic, and then it seemed like we were driving way out into the country, not on the main highway, and I started to feel more anxious. I had looked at the route on my phone before we left and I thought we would be on the main highway, which has lots of gas stations and places to stop (which was how I was reassuring myself about the drive), so when we seemed to get off that route, I started to feel even more anxious. Of course, we all had our phones and a car GPS, so we weren't ever going to get completely lost, but anxiety isn't rational - fear isn't rational. Anyway, I'm sure my breathing must have changed a bit, because Caroline looked over at me with concern, and said are you okay? And that was enough for the flood gates to open. The tears came out, and I couldn't stop them, and then it became a vicious circle. I was crying because of my anxiety, and because I was feeling trapped in the car, and then crying even more because I hate causing a scene, and then crying more because I was embarrassed and I felt like I was ruining everything and crying more because I'm 38 years old and I should be able to sit in a car for an hour and a half without having a panic attack. Then on top of that, I had to pee and my stomach started gurgling. It was not fun! But luckily, the car that I was in was full of amazing, caring and understanding women, (thank you again Helen, Caroline, Gillian and Anya!) and they took really good care of me. They made a bunch of stops, gave me lots of hugs and reassurance, and then helped me make a plan to get into a better space. It was really incredible actually. So what ended up happening, was, the ladies got the GPS reprogrammed to go off the planned route, and go to Waterloo which wasn't very far, and I texted John and Nick to come and pick me up at a Tim Horton's near the highway. I didn't feel really good about missing out on the day, but at this point, I knew that I wouldn't be able to calm down if I stayed in the car, and I also didn't want the rest of the group to spend the day worrying about me. And even now, I know it was the right decision. All the ladies were really great and texted me later in the day to tell me they still loved me, and to check on me, and that really meant a lot. I was sad to have missed out on the fabric shopping (and more camaraderie), but I think we all know I have more than enough fabric, so that wasn't the end of the world either.
You might wondering why I would share all of this. Well, a few reasons really. I feel like it's really important to be honest about who I am - I mean it can't be all sunshine and rainbows all the time. And, I really think that I am probably not alone in my struggles with anxiety. I was pretty embarrassed at the time, but I'm human, and I cry, and I have anxiety; it's part of who I am. I think that it's important to talk about our feelings and experiences, and also mental illness of all varieties. It's important to be open about not only our successes but also our struggles and imperfections. I mean we're all human and we all go through similar experiences, no matter how unique we think we are. I know I take great comfort in knowing I'm not alone, and when I read about someone else having similar experiences to mine, I feel less alone. I am a huge worrier, and that's one of the reasons why I love sewing. It really grounds me in the moment and keeps me present, so I can imagine there are other people out there sewing/knitting/crafting/arting for the same reasons.
So, do I regret pushing myself and going to PR Weekend? Absolutely not! I had a really great day that first day, and I learned a lot about myself on the second day. I wanted to go to support Gillian during her talk, and I did that. I am also proud of myself for not hiding my true self, and for being vulnerable. Would I go to PR Weekend or something similar, again? Yes! I know now some things I could do next time, to help make it better/easier for me, but I also know that I can do it. And I feel like I made some really true friends through all of this (hopefully, they feel the same way). So moral of the story, if you push yourself to go to a sewing meet up (if that's important to you), and your worst case scenario happens, it can still be okay - it's okay to be vulnerable, and to be yourself. Plus, this just gave me more evidence that sewing people are the best people. ;)
So there you go, if you made it through this super long post, thank you so much! I hope you aren't thinking, boy that Heather is a complete basket case, but if you are, that's okay too. Now you know. Ha ha ha! If you've had similar thoughts or experiences and you want to share, please do in the comments, or if you don't want to share publicly, feel free to send me an email.
As always, thanks for reading, and I hope to be back here again soon!