Agoraphobia recovery - a day in my life

by Charlotte Fantelli

Deep Purple at The Royal Albert Hall

Most of you will already know that six years ago I was agoraphobic and housebound, so you, I hope, can imagine just how thrilling this post is for me to write.

Last Friday I was invited to my first proper gig - the Sunflower Jam. I have been a rock fan for decades so the chance to see Deep Purple in such an incredible venue - and of course for a wonderful cause, was just too exciting to miss.

In 2006 I got my hands on tickets to see The Who at Beaulieu, but alas, I was unable to go, for those of you who follow my blog you'll know it was my anxiety disorders that stopped me. This time I was determined not to let my fears get the better of me!

We were set to meet other 'press people' at the stage doors at 6.30, so we set off at 4.00; plenty of time, or so we thought. We proceeded to sit for and hour on M3, 45mins on M25 and two whole hours on the M4 before we even hit London! Needless to say we didn't make 6.30. However hard I try I am ALWAYS late!!!

Sat on M4 with MILES of gridlocked traffic my heart started beating faster, my hands started to sweat. My darling Gabriele even started moaning 'there's not even a slip road for miles we'll be here bloody hours... '

In years gone by this would have been the end - the end of the trip (I'd have driven the hard shoulder or left the car if I'd had to) - the end of my 'gig' dreams, and quite possibly the end of me ever trying to go out again, but I have learned how to deal with this anxiety please see 'Anxiety, stopping fear getting a hold' for more on this.

So after braving a four hour journey (one that normally takes just over an-hour-and-a-half). I now had to park, dash though London's streets (in an area I don't know well), meet the PR company backstage and then brave the crowds to my first proper gig.

I say first proper gig, as you can't really count Glastonbury 2000; after climbing the fence along with most of the 200,000 other revellers, I managed to catch two Macey Grey sets before having a massive freak out - Paranoid someone had spiked me on acid I walked for three hours, found a taxi and hid under my coat on the back seat all the way home, costing my mum £140 for the fare at the other end!

We were so late we were unable to do much before the gig started. We finally get to take our seats before the charity auction commenced.

Walking through the doors into the hall was awesome, the venue is glorious and really did take my breath away.

An ill person!

I started getting comfortable and was feeling great, until people came into the box next to ours and the wife really looked unwell. 

'I don't feel well' she said to her husband who quickly escorted her to the ladies room. That was my cue to leave. 

I grabbed my coat, my bag and pulled an unsuspecting Gabriele by the arm. The expression on his face was one of 'I am not amused!' I think he expected me to leave. But I had a plan. I knew sitting there with a sick person next to me all evening would have ruined any enjoyment whatsoever as I would have panicked about getting ill as opposed to focusing on the gig.

Now, it is against my nature to lie, and anyone who knows me, knows I am a crap liar, but... When faced with a panic attack a lie does seem a better option. I found a steward and said 'Excuse me, I am terribly sorry but I suffer from vertigo, it would really help my enjoyment of the evening if you could find me a seat on the ground floor...'

Sure enough they kindly did - THANK YOU ROYAL ALBERT HALL!

I have no idea why I should feel vertigo is any less embarrassing than the real reason of 'I have OCD and emetophobia' but I admit, I succumbed to lying!

Our new seats were awesome, just to the right of the stage within touching distance of the acts as they came in and out the hall.

I did freak out a bit that we were so close to the exit that there were sooo many people coming and going and the box was a little dirty smelling, which preoccupied me. But as Newton Faulkner took to the stage and did a Bohemium Rhapsody solo I really started to forget about these things and by the time Deep Purple played smoke on the water at midnight I was actually on my feet dancing :-)

The funny thing for me is writing this, trying to remember the trials of the day and how I overcame them, because all that really remains of last Friday evening is a few wonderful memories of a night out at a wonderful event with my husband. The little bits of fear and difficulties pale in comparison to the blessing of being able to experience such an event, and next time I am sure will be even easier.

So is there something you want to do but are fearful of? What is holding you back? Days and weeks will pass, do you want them to pass with happy memories, or with regrets? I hope this has inspired you to go and do something that would be challenging yet rewarding, please do let me know.



I'll try to put this to good use immedaietly.

Please do let me know how you get on, so lovely to have feedback - Best wishes

i went to royal albert hall for a tour on birthday afew weeks ago i was nervous before i went in cos i thought once i go in with the other tour visitors il feel trapped cos if i panic then everyone will think im a weirdo if i run out, but i was fine i was so into it i really enjoyed myself x

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