Sunday, 10 May 2015

The Unlikely Ice Princess

So there are a few things that I have been meaning to write about recently. This is one of them:

I don't like slopes, or ice, or wet grass, or basically anything that you could fall over on. I can't pinpoint when I started not liking them but that's how irrational things start don't they? You don't notice until it becomes a problem. So I guess for a couple of years I had this strong aversion to all these things. It became so second nature to me that I would avoid man hole covers in the street in case they were slippery without even realising I was doing it. Most of the time it didn't interfere with life though.

I can remember one time in Australia when I had gone for a walk along the cliffs and beaches with my housemates and there was this big patch covered with algae. My housemates tentatively made their way across unaware they were leaving me stranded on the other side. That was probably the first time it was truly an issue for me. I just had a mental block about being able to cross that patch so I went a really long way round and even scrambled up some cliff to avoid stepping on the green slime (hooray for being part of the climbing club in Uni).

It didn't bother me much for a few months and then it was winter in final year and it had snowed a foot overnight! Surrey does that most years now so it wasn't unexpected but I hadn't had much of an issue with it before apart from it being cold and wet. But I think I had coursework to hand in and my course-mate convinced me that walking would be good.  We made very slow progress and by the time we got to campus I was sweating buckets, shed several layers, and very wobbly which didn't happen on the beach. I think she still has my fingernail marks on her hand.We took the bus back.

Then again it stayed quiet for ages and it was the following winter and I had been sent to a different site for work. I was excited to be representing my trust and was suited and booted... well not booted as that might have been ok; I was in work heels. I was happily following my google maps when with only 200m to go I found myself on the top of a steep hill. Also it was still early morning so the night's frost hadn't melted yet. I took a few tentative steps and slid a few inches. Then all the symptoms from last time came back but even stronger. This was my first panic attack.

I went to my GP who referred me for CBT and in half a dozen sessions I had mapped my thought processes. I was perfectly aware that yes these circumstances were more slippy than others but that's not something I should fall to pieces over. It was more the slight anxiety from the situation that would spiral as I got anxious about being anxious. With that in mind we were set to start exposure work with one major issue... no hills near the Drs and being in Manchester means rare ice. We waited all winter but nothing more than a 7am light frost was ever seen.

However I didn't want all my hard work so far to go to waste. So after half a bottle of wine and watching Ice Princess on Netflix, I had a brainwave: ice skating lessons! If the ice wouldn't come to me then I would go to the ice. After a quick google I found a rink nearby that did lessons and even did a free block of lessons for 18-25s!! A quick phone call later, I was all signed up (as was a friend who I'd convinced to come too). Tipsy me is surprisingly proactive!!!

So week 1 came and I was so nervous!! I nearly cancelled. If it wasn't for my friend not letting me out the car I might not have gone through with it. There were lots of people there and the first thing they asked us to do was skate across from one side to the other. I was barely coping with just standing up so I didn't even attempt it. Turns out this was how they split the group by ability.

Week 2 came and I was still very anxious about it. It didn't help that it was after work and therefore I had to rush home and out again with no time to breath. But with the comforting thought that I survived last week; I stuck with it.

Week 3 I missed because my friend could make it and I chickened out of going by myself.

Week 4 I'd had two weeks since I'd last been on ice and that was my own fault. I was shaky and disappointingly felt like I'd lost all of week 2's progress by leaving it so long.

Week 5 I was starting to get it. I was still using the edge to run a hand along as I skated but it was a lighter and lighter grip I was using.

Week 6 I'd had some good news so I was feeling more confidant to start with! I skated away from the edge and felt I could do it... kinda. We also got a certificate to say we had completed level 1 skating which is now proudly displayed on my fridge!

So now it's a few weeks after and I am keen to get back to the rink to build on my skills and confidence on the ice. I want to be good enough to buy my own skates and then I'll have to keep going because I've invested in it. It might not seem like much to most people, and I'm sure getting to level 1 standard is something that most people would do in an hour or so on the ice but not all achievements have to be big, sometimes it's the little ones that make all the difference. I might not be an ice princess yet and I probably never will be but this is something I am proud to say I have done!