I’m waiting for my computer to update, which means I’m drafting this on my iPad. I’m used to using it for reading articles, games, making notes, and chatting to people, so this feels rather peculiar. I hope downloading Windows 10 on my computer doesn’t turn out to be a mistake. I still confuse myself navigating Windows 8, so goodness knows what’s going to happen now.

I was a little brave today.

Last night my friend Alex stayed over. We met last year doing our Masters together, but now he’s buggered off to Oxford to continue his education there. He’s often back in Brighton at weekends though, partly because it’s an excellent city that’s housed him and many of his friends for the past few years, and partly because his fiancé lives here. I’d like to think it’s more the former, but it’s likely the latter.

I agreed I’d join him, his friend and his fiancé at his fiancé’s pub for a late lunch today. We haven’t seen each other for a while, as he went to his parents’ in America before starting at Oxford, and I’ve been hibernating from the world since he returned to this island’s soil.

It turned out to be quite a challenge for me this afternoon. I hadn’t thought much of it, but after Alex left my flat and I’d been alone for an hour, I began to doubt whether I had it in me to go. It wasn’t the idea of having lunch with a friend that was problematic, but the other factors involved. These included:

  • Removing myself from bed and into the shower.
  • Finding clothes suitably well fitting and protective for a drizzly November day, yet loose enough to accommodate my constant overheating.
  • Getting ready in a timely manner.
  • Getting myself into town alone, without feeling so panicky that I felt conspicuous (either walking: Is there time? Am I wobbly? Would I be exhausted?; or getting the bus: my bus card has run out! I have no cash! What if I have to walk halfway to get cash out? What if I catch a crowded bus and panic?).
  • Dealing with the number of people that might be in close proximity in town.
  • Meeting two new people, and then spending time with them when a) they might not know I haven’t been finding things easy, or b) they might know I haven’t been finding things easy.  Could (b) be harder? (Sometimes I can’t decide which I’d prefer between these two possibilities.)
  • …etc.

Alex is generally familiar with and understanding of my anxieties so knew there was a risk I’d bottle out last minute, especially given my recent hiding, but I wanted to get myself there – not only for the company, but to show myself I could, and to mitigate later disappointment with myself. I spoke to Jane, who kindly kept in virtual contact, providing me with encouragement whilst I prepared myself to go.

The following things helped me deal with some of the above concerns:

  • I realised I could buy a bus ticket through my phone, negating my need for cash.  I also knew I’d be annoyed if I paid for a day ticket and didn’t use it. Therefore, I started by buying a bus ticket and activating it.
  • I told myself I could have a very quick shower and ignore my hair if the heat of the shower was too much. I have quite a lot of curly hair, and as is often the case for such hirsute individuals, it tangles itself within half a day, so washing it properly is a palaver involving liberal amounts of shampoo, finger combing, teasing, conditioning, more finger combing, more conditioning, rinsing, more finger combing… You get the picture. I showered and went as far as giving my hair a quick wash, but decided I could see to it properly next time.
  • I texted Jane in between each ‘achievement’ to help myself feel accountable whilst simultaneously supported.
  • I tried to minimise my clothing to as few items as possible.
  • I did the most pragmatic thing I can with my hair: I piled it on top of my head and tied it there. This isn’t going to be something everyone would be happy with if they’re struggling but I recommend doing whatever is the quickest thing you can manage.
  • I popped everything I needed by my bag as I came across them so I knew it was there (I would keep my bag ready at all times, but I keep many of the items by my bed too. I need to get duplicates of most of them).

By this time, I should have been ready to go, but was getting more antsy about venturing out so I needed to cool myself and calm. Furthermore, since I haven’t braved the world much lately, I wanted to put a face on. Whether I wear make-up often depends on my mood and activity, but if I’m going somewhere, I prefer to wear it. I almost had a meltdown trying to find my make-up bag: I turned half the bedroom around, and searched other possible locations, all the while beginning to hyperventilate, and feeling my heart rate and heat increasing. It seems to have evaporated. I might have left it in Southampton when I stayed at my parents’, which would be thoroughly inconvenient, but I might have missed it with the panic.

In the end, I took several deep breaths, and found some make-up hidden in a pot in the bathroom cupboard. This was great, as it means I don’t need to buy more (hurrah for tidying things into unexpected places), though it did mean I went out with a foundation that was a shade too pale as I usually mix it.

I messaged Jane to keep me distracted on the bus, and once I got to the pub to meet Alex and his people I was alright. In the end, I had a really lovely time, and a delicious Sunday roast at The Dorset. I also found out that I’d been asked to be a groomsmaid* (something I hadn’t quite understood when asked the other day), so I’m a happy bunny tonight.

Also, my computer is still updating, three hours after I started it. I hope it hurries up.

*Like a bridesmaid but to the groom.