I’m going on a road trip with Fiona tomorrow. I’m really nervous. We went away to Manchester last year, to meet up with some other mutual friends, and I was terribly anxious then too. Last year I was nervous because I hadn’t slept anywhere other than my own bed for about a year because at the time I was still suffering quite badly from agoraphobia. Everytime I left the house I was worried that I would start feeling really sick again – this was about a year after my digestive system decided to quit working on me, and I hadn’t really gotten over it mentally even though cutting out all the food I was allergic to had helped quite a bit physically. I found it amusing that I had a group at the EDU immediately before Fi picked me up, so I had to take all the allergy-friendly food I needed for the weekend along to the group with me. I was sitting there with ten other anorexics and bulimics wondering what they would think if they knew that my backpack was full of gluten free chocolate muffins, marinated butterbeans, rice milk and chocolate marzipan 😛 heh. Actually, the road trip was a lot of fun. We picked up another friend in London and stayed overnight in Manchester, before spending the next day with two other friends. We stayed in the hotel for one more night and then went home again. I was really proud of myself for coping with two nights away from home, and this went a really, really long way towards my recovery from agoraphobia.
I spent from last October until this February living in York, so clearly agoraphobia is not nearly as much a problem as it used to be. I am 95% fine with sleeping in unfamiliar places, although I’m still a little nervous that I might feel sick I do recognise it as being far more of a habitual thought pattern than a likelihood. That’s not why my stomach is in knots. This time it’s not the actual going away that’s the issue, it’s where we’re going.
Background. I met Fiona on a website for people with eating disorders about eighteen months ago. The Manchester trip was a meet up of other people who belonged to this website, and since we both live down south we arranged to go together. We got to know eachother pretty well while we were planning, driving and staying at the hotel. Coincidentally I had just been offered a place at the university of York in four months time, and she was due to start at Durham university a week before my term began – and Durham is only about 45 minutes away from York by train. So we got to share in all the excitement of moving half way up the country, and planned on meeting up a lot while we were up there. Unfortunately, as you know, I started relapsing even before I left for York…and so did Fiona. We both ended up leaving university within weeks of eachother at the start of this year. Oops. I probably would have completely lost my marbles without Fi this winter, but at the same time I wish like hell that she hadn’t had to go through a similar thing.
Anyway. Any guesses where we are going yet? Well. Although I am not going back to university again now – I’m sticking with distance learning via the Open University – Fiona is. She’s going back to Durham in October, and we thought we would go replace some of her crappy memories with nice ones. So tomorrow we are driving up to Durham, spending a couple of days hanging around, seeing the sights and meeting some friends, and then on Wednesday we are going to York for the day.
Argh. I love York, it’s a beautiful city. Absolutely beautiful. I’ve always felt safe there, ever since I first visited on a school trip when I was 10. I went up there on my own five years ago when I was in the midst of PTSD to check out the university and I felt safe in the city then, too, although I didn’t feel safe anywhere at the time. I stayed there overnight again with my ex when I was 20 – we were on holiday in Edinburgh, and due to spend a night in London to go to a concert before heading home. Unfortunately the concert in London was on July 7th 2005 – the day that the London underground suffered a horrific terrorist attack. We were literally half way to Edinburgh station to catch our train when my mum phoned and told us to stay where we were. We couldn’t go back to our hotel because it was booked up, but we managed to get on a train later on in the day and stopped over in York instead. And despite the fact that Britain was under threat from terrorists, I felt safe in York. I always did.
Then I went and fucked it up. York is full of memories of being crazed with hunger now, of desperately wanting to reach out and connect with people but being unable to tell anyone what was going on. Of being colder than I have ever been before, inside and out. Of walking around the city for hours in the snow because I had to burn calories, however exhausted and faint I felt. Of being alone in my room for five months, watching other people in their late teens and early 20s walking to lectures together, going out to the student bars, having snowball fights and not having the energy to get myself out there with them. Of getting sicker than I had ever been in my life, and not having anyone to tell me that I would survive and that things would ever be OK again. Of finally realising that anorexia is an illness, not something I can control and manipulate to cope with my anxiety, just at the point where the downward spiral became far too strong for me to pull myself out of it by myself. It might sound terribly melodramatic but I felt so weak and so ill in the last two weeks before my parents drove up to get me that I thought I might die in York.
I want to go back there, now it’s summer, to replace some of those memories and make it safe again. But I’m scared that it will hurt. I’m not letting that stop me, I’m still going…I’m just scared. I wish I could say that I’m excited too, because it should be a fun week – I am really looking forward to seeing not just Fi again but our other two friends (who will be very glad to see how much better we are than in February 😛 ), and York has an amazing vegan and gluten free restaurant which I would love to go to for lunch or dinner, because I was terrified of the place while I was there – but actually the fear is drowning out all the excitement at the moment. Maybe tomorrow I will be excited.
We think there is an internet connection where we are staying so hopefully I’ll still get some blogging in 😉 but this is the only holiday I’m going to get this year so I hope you won’t hold it against me if I don’t!
Three good things about today:
1. Blogging rocks. I love getting emails from people who say that something I have written has helped them. It makes it feel even more worthwhile than it already did.
2. Packing! I love packing – am I completely crazy?!
3. If I get a move on I will be going to a nice village fair in an hour or so 🙂 summer in the country is fun.