Above link is theme tune to TV series Tales Of The Unexpected
In this section, I’ll describe some of the moments in my life when anxiety has taken over and more or less tried to destroy it.
Late August 2011. It was a year and a half since all the major problems enveloped me and consequently, I was going through a very difficult spell. I hadn’t umpired any cricket for the majority of that outdoor season. Then, one week, my cricket club needed me to umpire one of their important matches in their battle against relegation. In fact, their opponents were also involved in a relegation dogfight.
I must confess to not feeling at all good about fulfilling my duties. Then the day itself. I set off from my home to the cricket club, which is about 20 minutes walk away. Well it would have been 20 minutes if it weren’t for a panic attack. So riddled with fear did I become, that on no less than six occasions I felt like turning round and going home. If I knew what was to befall me later, that option would have made things easier.
We had to travel to the game, and I wasn’t feeling any better. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t good enough to be out on the field, that I wasn’t well enough to be there. To my horror, I had no colleague to help me through the afternoon. It was little old me, against the world.
The match started, and all the routines and rituals that help my cricket umpiring were sadly missing. I felt helpless, alone and afraid. All the last 24 years were going to waste in one dreadful afternoon. Then it was about to take an even bigger lurch off the rails.
Inevitably, in an English summer, it rains a lot. And it did on this occasion. I decided to call a halt to play. The players trooped off, including one particular individual on the opposition side who accused me of being biased and being a cheat. Now that was the final straw. Having not wanted to be there in the first place, I now decided to stage a one man strike.
I took my cup of tea and plate of sandwiches and locked myself in the umpires dressing room. I refused to come out, and the two captains who did come to check on my welfare were told that I was refusing to continue. My self esteem, so badly shattered over the previous 3 years, had gone completely. I was a wreck. I looked outside. It was still raining. The grey skies and the pitter patter of raindrops reflected my sombre mood.
I then rang up one of my umpiring colleagues and told him what had happened. If only I had listened to the demons earlier, the nastiness that followed wouldn’t have happened. The phone call helped to a point, but I had no one to support me or help me in my time of need. I was literally on my own.
The rain was still falling. Then, out of the blue, our captain came in to say the game had been called off. A crumb of comfort for me. The decision to come off for rain had been correct. Despite the pathetic entreaties of a member of the opposition, who incidentally had an appalling reputation for bad behaviour, I felt slightly easier as I walked back to the car, ready for the journey home.
The lads in the car were talking amongst themselves, possibly knowing the torment I was going through. It was a silent journey for me, alone with my thoughts, wondering whether this was it, for my cricket and for my life. With panic setting in here, what price lasting through another period of isolation and fear?
So, that’s just one tale of anxiety and panic, there will be many more dredged up from the recesses of my declining brain cells. I hope you can appreciate what goes into anxiety, panic attacks and general foreboding. A whole lot of worrying over very little, usually.
Peace and love