Warning: description of a panic attack in the first paragraph.
Imagine you’re in a city centre. There might be quite a lot of people. It might be noisy. Imagine feeling fear. Imagine your breathing becoming more difficult. You may begin to feel hot or clammy. You may feel sick or need to use the toilet. You may feel trapped.
If you experienced this on a regular basis, would you want to repeat the experience? Probably not.
These feelings are what I have lived with on and off for the past twenty two years. Since I was fifteen years of age, I have lived with an anxiety condition. One of the ways it manifests is overwhelming fear in some public spaces. There have been periods of time in my life where I have felt unable to leave my house and if I did leave, it was only to go to places where I felt secure. This left me feeling isolated and with little hope.
Since my last relapse in 2015, I have built up a process of how to access places in ways that feel comfortable to me. Most importantly though, I tell people about it. This is not easy. When trying to explain to people why things that most people find easy are extremely difficult for me, I’ve received a variety of reactions. But the more we talk about anxiety accessibility, the more people can become informed and then we can do something about it.
That is the very core of the Mind Map programme. It is about creating practical solutions for people living with anxiety to be able to access public spaces. By creating networks of venues who demonstrate that they can be a place of support, by creating toolkits for people to design their own networks, by training businesses and organisations to make their venues anxiety accessible, we can reach out to thousands of people experiencing similar feelings of anxiety and show them that they are welcome. We need this now more than ever.
The pilot network is taking shape in Nottingham. If you are a business, organisation, venue, group or individual that would like to be involved, please get in touch.
Together we can make this happen.