As you may or may not know, my agoraphobia caused me to housebound and stop going out at all. Obviously this meant everything else stopped, but first to stop was travelling.
I used to use buses or taxis to get everywhere before I could actually drive myself. I had a few major panic attacks on buses which had pretty much left me scarred and not in a hurry to get back on one again.
Meeting with my new support worker she acknowledged that I could drive but felt it was important that I could still travel by bus too. What would happen if one day my car didn't work, or if it was in the garage? My life couldn't just stop until the car was back in action, I should be able to use public transport and keep up my independent living.
At first I thought it was a bit of a waste of time. I would make more progress quicker if I could concentrate on driving in the car, but Margaret, the support worker, explained that If i felt comfortable travelling to places by bus, then it would be really easy to do it by car. So i understood her logic.
I probably put it off for a while, while I waited for my bus pass to arrive. Really I could just have gone anyway and paid the fare but anything to put things off eh. However, the bus pass arrived about 4 weeks ago and it was time to face up to the challenge.
I suppose to most people this doesn't seem like a big deal, and I guess it isn't really, but I hadn't been on a bus for probably about 9 years?
The first trip was actually quite funny. How was I to know that bus 'etiquette' had changed?? I seen people with bus passes before and they would walk on the bus, flash their pass and take a seat, so that's what i did. I was lucky this day as I arrived at the bus stop when a bus was pulling up so I didn't have to wait around. Waiting for anything doesn't seem to sit well with me. And So along with my support worker I got on the bus, flashed my pass and sat down. I was called back quickly by a puzzled looking bus driver who explained I didn't have a ticket. Apparently you need to sit your pass on this little ticket box, it registers your card as if by magic, and then gives you a ticket. Margaret had a little giggle, i just felt like a total dunce! But I got my ticket and took a seat.
Immediately the same thoughts that i always had on buses came back to mind. The most crazy thought being 'this bus driver is on a suicide mission and is just gonna crash' and to be honest the guys driving wasn't really doing anything to put that thought to rest. Also i was on one of the 'bendy buses'. I have never been on one of these before so this made it even more strange. I hear they are trying to ban them in London but I'm not sure if they are going to do the same thing here, whatever, i didn't walk beyond the bend because the back of the bus looked like it had a life of its own.
We only rode a few stops for my first time and although the bus driver was a total misery (aren't they all) I actually enjoyed it. I probably found it as thrilling as any 'normal' person would find a trip on a roller coaster. Within minutes it was over and I was quite happy with myself. But Margaret wanted to know how i would push it further the next time I met her. So it was decided that I would go to a bus stop further away and that even if a bus pulled up, i would ignore it and wait for the next one.
It was a nice day when we set off but i was definitely a little more nervous knowing i could be standing waiting for a while, and while waiting on anything my mind can have too much time to think. But really it wasn't too bad at all and my anxiety levels were pretty minimal. The bus journey itself was also fine, thoughts not too bad since this driver didn't seem to have a death wish. I do seem to panic when the bus is making turns though, thinking that hes going to go a different route, which is certainly not part of my plan. I guess its about handing control over to someone else, and obviously on a bus your handing the control to a complete stranger. Margaret joined me on the trip again.
So how could we push it further again next time? Well I guess I would have to do the bus trip myself. I wasn't bothered at all to be honest. The only thing I don't like is the waiting but it couldn't have been to bad cause i don't actually remember it. I got the bus no problem and was shocked to find I had a pleasant bus driver!!! I took my seat but he shouted back a little conversation with me and I laughed at his small talk. I still didn't travel very far, and the bus drivers could think I am just extremely lazy, but since I'm pregnant and sporting a fetching bump, its a good cover and seems to make my small trips acceptable.
I thought i should update you with something a little more progress related and not just baby stuff. I do get really frustrated with myself because I always make comparisons to how I was last year. And back then I as definitely travelling further and had more confidence. But going out was so new to me then that i was always buzzing with every little thing I did, every little walk or trip to the shops. Once that becomes the norm, you don't get that high anymore. But I wouldn't change it for the world and am grateful to be where I am now. You just need to keep on going, keep on trying. I think you really only get that buzz when you try something that is pushing your limits, but we all know how hard that is and that's where I am struggling at the moment. But hopefully over the coming weeks that's going to change and Ill have lots to been buzzing about.