Photos by Eric Riley, Zach Foerst, and Jenn Curtis.
There are plenty of possible negative perceptions that can be made when someone admits that they struggle with an anxiety disorder. They are perceived as vulnerable, unusual, unable to live their own lives outside of their own four walls. I myself struggle with an anxiety disorder. I was at my worst almost three years ago, when I had my worst panic attack, in an environment that I had grown up in.
I’ve attended shows since I was 16, spending most of my weekends in high school with friends at a venue close to home (RIP School of Rock), seeing artists like Cash Cash (pre-DJs), Cartel, The Ready Set, Stereo Skyline, The Friday Night Boys, and We Are The In Crowd, among many others. Being surrounded by music was all I’ve known, so when I had an extreme panic attack at almost 21 while seeing Yellowcard (one of my favorite bands) on their Ocean Avenue 10th Anniversary tour, I felt betrayed. I spent most of their acoustic set in the bathroom behind Starland Ballroom’s stage, unsure of what was happening. A security guard walked in to check on me twice to make sure I was okay as I leaned against a wall shaking, nauseous, and barely able to breathe. It was the worst panic attack of my life. As I heard Yellowcard playing through Ocean Avenue, I could barely find the strength to go back into the crowd and catch them perform at least one full song. In fact, I specifically left the bathroom to watch them play “Only One” and couldn’t even make it through the four minute performance without feeling like I was seconds away from passing out. Eventually, I made my way to the entrance of the venue, where two security guards gave me a chair and some water as they talked to my best friend and I, trying to help control my attack. Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that it would just be best to leave, but not before going back to catch at least a small bit of one more song, “Believe.” Since then, attending shows has been nothing but a continuous battle with both my anxiety and myself. However, when you know that all you want in life is to be surrounded by music, you never stop fighting.