Good evening dear readers (or whoever may stumble across this on the search engine),
Tonight I did something which I haven’t done for quite a long time. I went out in the evening on my own, to a place I have never been to sit with a group of people I don’t know. Now, anyone who suffers as I do with anxiety will know that one of these things on their own is a big deal but to do ALL of them at the same time is just asking for trouble.
I turned up to the meeting hall in the middle of town and decided that I had to do a quick turn around the block, get some cash out and walk very slowly. All of this is of course a delaying tactic for the inevitable walking into a strange environment.
On arriving (after my little wander) I nervously looked for the signs telling me which way to go and saw a door with a handwritten sign saying ‘Anxiety Cafe’. Knocking gingerly on the door I went in, found a seat, said hello in a barely audible voice and sat down. All of this while not making eye contact with anyone. Once I’d eventually stopped fiddling with my hoodie and shaking my legs I looked to my right and was greeted with a smile. Then I looked around the table and was greeted by more smiles. One of those smiles then spoke to me and asked if I’d like a cup of tea. Milk? Sugar? I nodded to the milk and began to fiddle nervously with my hoodie again. As the evening went on I began to settle and at some points even contributed to the conversation without stuttering, fluffing my words or even forgetting everything I was going to say. This was something which I was enjoying. It was something which was absolutely terrifying but began to remind me that, given time, anything can be possible.
So, what is this new fangled thing I speak of?
It is called the ‘Anxiety Cafe’ and is the brainchild of 2 lovely ladies who have both suffered with various mental health issues over the years and who have both been helped by local support services. They wanted to set up something for people of ‘working age’ with anxiety on the island as they felt there was a gap in the services available for people between 18 and 65. The idea of Anxiety Cafe is to get together with others who are in a similar place. Perhaps have a chat – it doesn’t have to be about anxiety – but about family, what you watch on TV or your favourite kind of cake! To just get out of the house and have a cup of tea and a bit of cake or perhaps just get as far as the door and look inside, maybe smile and wave. The idea is that you can do whatever you feel most comfortable.
And it was for these very reasons that I decided to make an attempt to visit this cafe. I was not disappointed. Although quiet at first (think of a room full of anxious people who are all just as nervous as yourself and you get the idea how quiet it could be) it soon became a lovely warm conversation about anything. I am pretty sure that I’ll be going again as I feel it is something I can look forward to without getting myself in a panic.
Who knows, I might even join in and speak to someone new the next time I go…………………
p.s. For those of you who venture on the world of social media they have a Facebook page which can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/anxietycafeiow/