Today I went on a train, 4 trains actually. I spent an hour and a half travelling to Brighton to spend the day with my boyfriend who is now truly in exam mode, we had lunch, went shopping, went to the beach, and then at the end of the day he trundled off back to Southampton and I got the train home. No big deal right? I love trains. I've been on hundreds of trains in my life. (I have this picture of my train ticket collection from the past few years to prove it.) But that's the funny and awful thing about panic disorder with a little side helping of agoraphobia, it robs you of abilities that are natural to you and you never used to think twice about. You have a panic attack on a train and suddenly all public transport becomes off limits to you. You have a panic attack at a party and suddenly you can't face going in to any social situation. You have a panic attack at a friends house and suddenly you stop going to any house that isn't your own. Or at least that's how it happened for me.
This time last year I was about to move out of my flat in London, where I'd spent about 9 months living in halls of residence with the most insane and hilarious bunch of people I've ever met, doing my art foundation in which I was studying photography at pretty much degree level and achieving a distinction grade despite the fact panic had robbed me of A levels and a fair few GCSEs, running around London on tubes and buses and going to galleries, bars, clubs, parks, cafes, restaurants, etc on a daily basis, zooming off to Southampton every other week to visit my boyf, and just generally living my life. The fact that I did that seems incredible to me, especially now a year later, now I'm living back home again and I'm too scared to go to the shops in case I see someone I know or panic on the bus.
I guess it's best not to question it too deeply, the fact of the matter is this is the way it is now and I just need to focus on improving the way it is now with small and manageable steps. So today I got on a train, and as small an achievement as that may seem to some people and would have seemed to me last year, it was hard and I did it and I need to take note of that and congratulate myself for that so I can move on to the next step. It's definitely not going to be easy, but I look forward to the day when I can accept an invitation to a party again without freaking the fuck out... Here's hoping!