Five weeks ago I had a breakdown. It was ugly and frightening and I spent most of the next month in bed or on the couch. Last weekend (with the help of my therapist, more drugs and the support of you all) I started to come out of it, and last night I actually left my house and went – alone – to see Amanda Palmer in concert. Or at least that was my intention. Instead I went to a hotel room a few blocks from her stage and cried pathetically because I didn’t think I could handle the crowds. I was afraid of being alone if I had a panic attack. I was afraid of not being alone if I had a panic attack. I was just afraid in general.
This probably comes as no surprise to any of you because you all know I have a severe anxiety disorder and that fear is my constant companion, but it’s usually sitting quietly beside me while I watch Doctor Who in my pajamas rather than with a thousand strangers in a new city listening to songs that seem rawly pulled straight from my head. I watched the clock click past the time I was supposed to leave and I was still trapped in the hotel room. Then two things happened. An amazing songstress sent me a song she’d written for me:
And I listened and realized that she was right and I was building my own terrible cage to keep myself in, watching life at a distance. Then I checked my phone and saw that Amanda had arranged for me to watch the concert away from the crowds because she knew I wasn’t quite ready for that yet.
And so I went.
And it was amazing.
And as I sat, huddled with my arms around my knees in the corner, I felt safe and secure and…brave. And then I laughed to myself because I looked around me and realized that I was literally inside of a cage above the stage, peeking out at life below.
PS. The great thing about cages is that if you put your face in between the bars the world looks just as beautiful and free. So here’s to each of you, reaching through your own personal prisons. I hope you all find helpful hands reaching back.