The first weekend in January, I had the great honor to be the personal photographer to the incoming Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh. I spent Friday through Monday traveling around with him all day. We visited great education programs, homeless shelters, Children's Hospital, and other community events. There was also a youth event with many young people from around the city sharing their thoughts on their future. There was a senior event and a beautiful Interfaith Service. It was touching, chaotic, tiring, and absolutely AMAZING all at the same time. I was 100% focused on taking pictures everywhere we went.
Monday was a whirlwind. It started at 8:00 am with a motorcade to BC for the Inauguration. It was a few hours of pictures in private rooms and for the ceremony itself. I didn't even notice the crowd much, due to focusing solely on the stage, until I walked up behind the stage for a crowd shot. It was a huge crowd, but I was still focused on one area for the rest of the ceremony, the stage. We then went to City Hall which was pretty cool to see the little nooks and crannies of the 5th floor. After a short break to go home and change, I headed to the Hynes for the celebration. We started in the family and VIP reception which was just fast paced picture taking. It was a crowd, but we had four cops surrounding us at all times and the people were pretty friendly.
The second reception was different. They had their own photographer and did not want me to take many there. Because it was difficult to stay with them while not taking pictures, I ended up separated from the detail and the Mayor at one point. The room was packed and I found myself in the middle of a large crowd of people I didn't know. And then anxiety hit. I found my way to my group again, but it was already too late. I held it together until we got out and went to a private area where I stayed in the dark hallway feeling what was coming. I had that familiar chest fluttering and had a feeling like my blood was literally boiling inside. Then, the awful headache and the crying. I was trying everything I could to pull it together; deep breathes, talking myself out of it, nothing worked. I think it made it harder that I was in this situation where I could not escape and no one around me knew about any of this. I texted people who I knew were in the building and finally my uncle and his family made their way to us. I was finally able to breathe normal, stop crying, and the headache slowly went away. And then I was exhausted as I always am after these things happen. We had to go back to the VIP room before heading to the stage. I felt fine going back into that reception because I knew we'd see people I know and I knew I could focus only on taking pictures and not be left in the crowd.
I made it through and the rest of the night was fine, besides being completely wiped out. I had a couple of drinks with friends and family once I got off the clock at 11:15 and then went home to crash.
I spent two weeks completely focused on editing and photo shoots. I immersed myself in work and projects. I did this because I felt like something was there, inside and I did not want to deal with it. The media has already begun to heat up with marathon related stories. The Olympics security worries were in my face. Some personal things came up again that were going on last year during the spring. I was having increased flashes of memory and dreams that were bringing last April back. However, I continued to ignore it and every time I felt a twinge of emotion, I pushed it down. I had years of experience at this when I was younger. Turns out, it's like riding a bike. But, then it started to push back and it won.
I was barely sleeping about 2 weeks ago and since. I was finding myself feeling more anxious in social and public situations. I was having those dreams (nightmares?). I went to a fundraiser and while I had a good time, I didn't feel comfortable in the room of people. To top it off, I had a couple of people who brought up difficult subjects. I started to feel pretty anxious but took a few minutes to go in another room and came back, pushing it all away again. But, once I got home, it hit. An "episode" like I hadn't had in a while. It was similar to the one at the celebration event, but more intense on the emotional side of it. I barely slept and spent the next day trying to make it go away again. No such luck.
I decided I needed some days to regroup. I wanted to be away from the media and from people. Besides a photo shoot, and a few errands I had to run, I stayed home for days. I hadn't felt this crappy in quite a while, and not to this extent or length. A friend I speak to (or at least text) almost daily noticed I was not really replying much and I had told her I wasn't up for talking. She continued to try until she finally told me I needed to talk to her because this wasn't like me. She was right. It was 100% not like me. Not only do I never really feel like that, but I don't hide out because of anything. I do the opposite and get out as much as possible. Back last year, I barely spent any time in my house because I refused to let it consume me. However, I think I just reached a point where I was just done with fighting it. I needed a break. The same friend called to vent to me about something the next day. I had woken up feeling a little better and that phone call helped even more. She pointed out that it must be nice to listen to someone else vent. She knows I hate having to put anything on others and I'm usually the "listener". Before April, I didn't need to really vent much about anything. Things were great. Now, I've gotten sick of talking about what i'm going through. And I assume people are sick of hearing it. So, it really was nice to have her call me to vent.
It's now almost a week later. I have felt better but the triggers are there. I try to avoid the media but it's hard and every time I see something marathon related, I feel it. I went to a friend's house for Super Bowl and for the first 20 minutes or so, I sort of hung back and got my bearings. This has become a new thing that happens. Some people notice it and luckily, I don't think most notice anything different. I used to walk in and be at ease and talking to everyone right away. I had a good time and I ended the night by winning a decent amount of money in a pool. And quite honestly, after I got home, I cried about it, in a good way. It was just something I needed after the last year, both financially and emotionally. I've been way more emotional in the last 9.5 months than EVER before. But, for now, I'm back out of my valley and feeling like I really do need to find the balance.
I started writing this a week ago and then just stopped. Again, avoiding the subject. Over the last few days I realized just how bad I want to get away. I travel a lot and due to all of the events of last year, I didn't go anywhere. I had a trip to Ireland planned for the end of April. I was going to drive around Ireland for a little over two weeks, half of it alone. With the state I was in, there was no way that was happening. And ever since, I haven had a fear of traveling alone. I've been to Europe three times alone and LOVED it, so this is a weird new feeling. I have one more month to decide when i'm rebooking that flight they let me postpone. And I realize that my need to get away, gain perspective, and live life to the fullest (especially with so many reminders of how precious and short it can be) outweighs my fear.
I was going to go back to Ireland, but the type of trip that would be (driving around alone for 3 hours or more between locations-quite a few locations since I had a lot to see) is not something i'm ready for alone. I'd love to go somewhere new because I try to see new places and there are so many on my list. However, I think to get myself back into the swing of traveling, I need to go someplace I love, someplace I feel free and comfortable. My place is Italy. It's funny because my friends immediately thought the same thing. They know how much I've loved my trips there. So, I will go back to Rome, a city I love. Then, I will travel up to the coast and spend 4 days in the most beautiful fishing villages I've seen so far. I will do 2-3 hour hikes up the mountains from village to village, drink cappuccino, take beautiful pictures, and meet up with a few people I met there before. As one friend put it, it's my "safe place". It's where I went the last time I needed to regroup and gain some new perspective and so, it just feels right. The only downside (or upside) is that the only time I can go is a week after the marathon. I don't know where I'll be at that point. I don't know if it will be hard or I'll be fine. But, I will still get on that plane a week later and do what I love.
There are things about me, some big parts of my personality and interests that have gone away (hopefully not forever) and it's time I take back the ones I can. Traveling is one of them.
I have a few marathon related events coming up that I'm hoping go well. I find some events are easier than others and the ones i'm a part of this month are looking to be positive experiences.
Until next time, people.
As always, Thanks for reading.