Disclaimer: this post deals with mental health, specifically my experience with anxiety at a concert, just so you’re aware before reading.
“You don’t look very good, why did you even try?”
I rushed to get ready after work on Friday so that I could have some dinner and a drink out before heading to Rod Laver Arena. I caught a glimpse in the mirror at the restaurant and although my hair looked alright, I’d taken the time to straighten it the night before, it wasn’t very vibrant because it needs recolouring and it had dry shampoo in it.
“Yeah, but she’s thin and pretty.”
I wore my black ripped jeans, they’re pretty old now and pretty ripped but they’re comfortable. My black combat boots, they’re falling apart, literally. They barely have any sole left, they’re ripped at the seams and the material is wearing away. I didn’t ear my Twenty One Pilots shirt form last year’s concert because a) I couldn’t find it and b) it probably needed washing, I haven’t worn it in a while because it’s not the kind of shirt I can wear to work and I haven’t been doing much on the weekends. Instead I wore an oversized “boys” charcoal t-shirt that I feel comfortable in. There was a girl there who practically had my hair colour and a girl who almost had my outfit. Both gorgeous. They mightn’t think so but I did.
“People are looking at you and wondering why you’re here all alone.”
I made it down to my seat, which was at the very front of the lower seating area and on the left of the stairs, meaning it was all by itself, right at the railing. I remember making sure I got a good seat, especially at such a big venue, I wouldn’t be able to handle being the general admission area on the ground, being jostled around by everyone, from all sides. I couldn’t afford taking a day off of work to line up all day to get access to the front. It’s just not plausible. I belong in the seated area.
“They can see right through you.”
There were people shouting across sections to friends that they’d spotted, others singing Happy Birthday in a huge chorus, people rushing around everywhere and laughing. It was that middle section between the supporting act and the main event. I didn’t want to take out my book and start reading, I thought that might be a bit too weird.
I started feeling like I was suffocating and I didn’t want anyone to know.
I just tried to keep my head down while sitting in my seat, all by itself, and tried to block everything out. Tried to breathe and count to ten. I focused on my fingers, wiggling each one by itself then all of them together. Next on my toes and repeat the process. I straightened my jeans, they felt twisted. I straightened my t-shirt, the neck felt too tight. I shuffled my feet. I readjusted my bags on the floor, made sure they were properly under my chair. I tried sending some messages to distract myself. Social media isn’t a place you should visit when anxiety is peaking. Everyone’s having a good time and the last thing they’re interested in is you not coping. Don’t say anything.
When Twenty One Pilots came onto the stage and their concert begun, I felt like it was their concert. I mean Tyler and Josh’s but also everyone else here. I felt like an imposter trying to be a part of they concert. I tried everything I knew to get into the concert and for a while it almost felt like it was mine too. I closed my eyes and just took in the music and the beat and the atmosphere. I shook my hair and moved my feet. I participated when they said, Yeah Yeah Yeah, I got down, I jumped up at the right time, I put my hands up and swayed, I turned my hand into a fist. I yelled, I sung along. My heart jumped with the explosions. I did all of that. The part where I entirely forgot and felt like I was just there was when they both left the stage and came onto the ground level, just below me and onto a little stage in the general admission area to play three songs; Ode To Sleep, Addict With A Pen and Cancer. Two songs and a cover that I love. They were so close. When they left to exit back onto the main stage, they passed right below me. So close. In that moment I understood why people were willing to camp out and wait for hours upon hours just to get those front row positions at the barrier. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I was an imposter.
I was scared of my anxiety.
How could it take this away from me? Not just this, being something I’d been looking forward to for the longest time, almost a year since I’d bought the tickets after seeing them for the first time at the end of last April, but anything. How could this horrible thing take something from me? I was so mad at it and then I was so mad at me for not being able to control it. I couldn’t take it back. The concert was almost over. The damage was done. What else was it going to take from me? When was it going to take something else from me? This was important to me and I wasn’t strong enough to take it back. Was it really that important if it could just be taken from me? So quickly and definitely?
I felt like I’d let Tyler and Josh down.
They’ve done so much for me and the least I could do was show up and actually be present at their concert. But I couldn’t. I had this sudden urge to just get out of my seat, not that was sitting but vacate my position, and just leave. Just run away from the venue. It felt like such a stupid thing to be thinking (how could I think of leaving?) but at the same time it felt logical. Thankfully I didn’t but staying felt like I was taking something away from the excited, ecstatic, energetic concert atmosphere, kind of like the way my anxiety was taking away from this experience for me. I was taking it from everyone else.
I know that by staying I was trying to fight it. That gave me something back at least.
My anxiety stayed with me, depression joined in on Saturday, completely draining my day. I left my house at 10:00 pm just for the sake of not actually staying inside all day.
I didn’t know if I should write all of this. I’m not sure if I’ve got the energy to read over it just yet. But I can say that I can barely see through my tears as I type this, which I’m going to take as a good thing because if it still hurts it should be addressed and not hidden away. Even if no one reads this I’ve gotten it out there, which is why this is my somewhere and nowhere place.
“I’m just being dramatic.”
I don’t know if I’ve written this very articulately or if anyone knows what I’m talking about. They might think it sounds so stupid and I’m having a cry over nothing but believe me if you experienced it you wouldn’t be saying that. I wish I could have a bath and wash it all away. If I drink enough water will that flood it out of me. I know it won’t. It’s stupid but somehow it’s real and I’m emotional because I’m tired and I know I have to get up soon and go to work for another week and pretend it’s all okay. When in actual fact I’ve just written over 1,300 words on why it’s not okay.
To Tyler, Josh and the crowd around me, I’m sorry. Not that I think I have the ability to affect anyone’s mood or experience around me but I feel guilty just at the possibility.
I just want to breathe without feeling like I’m suffocating and to sleep and be okay.