I was LARPing this weekend. It is an activity that has given me an arena to play with different pieces of myself. Explore extrapolations and exaggerations of character in a mostly socially safe setting. It is where I learned how loud and how long I could shout (though I had done so singing at concerts before, my voice is not lost in a sea of them) it is where I let little eccentricities have a home. This is where I first genuinely spoke to the air/myself to Loki. But that is not the story I am telling today.
This weekend, a new friend was brought along. Someone who I have often been told has no fear. Someone who I have always seen as confident, a person who cannot be startled or ruffled. A person who would take pretty much anything in their stride. Colourful and stoic. One morning he was missing. Tent packed and gone. We found out he had had a panic attack and left.
I have had panic attacks before. When I was young. And social anxiety problems a mere few years back. When I was young I had deep nightmares, and I had waking times of pure horror and hopelessness that had me sitting wordless and shaking until they passed. Where as the social anxiety had me for two years mostly not bothering with people, because the hassle and worry of interaction was more weighty than the reward. I also had depression as a teen, that everyone around me recognised but no one seemed to openly acknowledge or help with.
I keep hearing other people going through these things. Things I recognise from my past, that I faced alone and without help. Things I would rather others did not face alone, and yet I know no way to help them. All I can do is offer recognition of it, and try to keep an eye on them for the chance to dance them away from the edge. I wonder how many people face these sort of things alone, where they may not even have any clue what is going on, as I did not in the past. I wonder how many around them notice. I wonder how many win, in the end.
It is amazing to me that I have won my battles so far, there are scars, but I am more or less whole. If I can help bind the wounds of others, or show them how to set their feet, I want to do that.
But the reality of it is wholly different. I worry I sound patronising and that it is invasive, and I worry it is useless.
I know the way through the dark. I have crossed it many times. But I cannot lend a torch to another, just describe the smell of the fire.