Thursday, 29 August 2019

Throwback to Isle of Wight Festival 2014




I wasn’t sure whether to talk about this or not, but I’m actually quite proud of how far I have come. I was going to post this on my social media channels but once I had finished writing this I realised I had accidentally written a blog post, so here you go!

Over five years ago I went to my first festival; Isle of Wight Festival 2014 with my boyfriend and one of our friends. We were all really excited as the line up was incredible! Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Biffy Clyro and Kings of Leon were the headliners and then the likes of The Pretty Reckless (who I was mad about at the time!) Nina Nesbit, John Newman and Rudimental to name a few. And of course the Ska legends; The Specials. I grew up hearing them on the radio on various car journeys with my dad and hearing Ghost Town on a Halloween radio station. We just so happened to have stayed at the front of the main stage ALL DAY. Pure accident and unplanned, we weren’t hungry or thirsty and didn’t need the loo, so we thought “why not try and stay here until Red Hot Chili’s?”. That would be an amazing memory. All was going well, that year there was a big football game on (can’t remember off the top of my head, not really a huge football fanatic so don’t shoot me) and I remember a lot of people getting more drunk and rowdy because of it and acting a bit “hooligany". As the day went on it got really hot and humid and more and more crowded, but we soldiered on. Right, The Specials started their set. The atmosphere was incredible! Everyone getting a bit of a dance on, getting whacked on the head by guys behind me (short person problem) but it’s fine carry on! And then pushing and shoving and more invasion of my personal space occurred. I remember being irate that a woman next to me was wearing this fluffy woollen jumper (a texture that makes me cringe and repulse) and because of the lack of space the texture was constantly touching my skin in some way. After a few more pushes and shoves I decided I couldn't hack it anymore, my friend felt the same, being that she was smaller than me it must’ve been worse for her. We left my boyfriend and I started to confidently make my way through the crowd heading backwards. Getting past the first few rows was fine as people were eager to get us out so they could get closer, and then it was like hitting a brick wall made of people. No one was letting us through any further and all these people were looking at us and I couldn’t see a way out, we were just smack in the middle of a crowd. A lady saw me and said "you can't go any further".

That’s when I lost it. I didn’t see it coming. I fell apart as a human being. A full blown panic attack. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t see and my eyes were streaming with tears. All I remember was my friend walloping people out of the way to get back to the front to seek medical assistance whilst she also was having a panic attack. I don’t even recall how I got carried over the gates I literally lost my sight for at least five minutes and then once I was out of that environment and the welfare team sat us down with water I started to reappear. 

It was such a strange experience. That had never happened to me before or at least not on that scale. This was years before being diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression and mental health wasn’t in the media at all so I didn’t know what had hit me. For the rest of the festival I didn’t get back in the crowds for fear the same thing would happen again. I didn’t really get to fully experience The Specials and only saw the Red Hot Chilli Peppers from way back by the Ferris wheel and it didn’t sound great and couldn’t even see the stage. 



So, the point of this post. Last weekend The Specials played at Victorious and I was so excited to try and see them again. This time though, I’ve experienced far more mental health problems (than one person probably should) and kind of know how to handle it most days and I’ve been to gigs and festivals since where I’ve been at the front and not had a panic attack. I finally got the see The Specials at a fairly decent distance and relax with fellow Ska lovers. Not a panic attack or anxious feeling in sight. I even lost my friends several times over the weekend and there was no signal or internet, I guess due to the amount of people there the companies couldn’t keep up with the demand. I just found myself on my own in big crowds of people with no way to find my own people until my signal came back. And you know what? I coped. I made my own plan of action and even enjoyed just roaming around on my own, getting a drink, having a peek at other stages. Of course I know that last weekend could’ve gone the other way if I had let it. But I am mentally stronger (sometimes) and I try to keep that pesky anxious voice out of my head. 

All in all it was a lovely weekend, except losing everyone constantly and the heat was just a bit much at times especially in the crowds, we were quite lucky that most of the other festival-goers were quite friendly and lighthearted. My Victorious round up will be up soon!

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3 comments

  1. Nasty experience, glad you managed to control it later but not drinking for a long time could have been a part of the problem. There is a saying that if you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Not sure how credible that is but always have water if you are on your feet for a long time. It does have the disadvantage you will eventually need the loo, but that is easier to manage than the effects of not drinking enough.

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    1. Thank you Pete! We were given plenty of water from event security being that close to the stage and unable to leave to get more water. So we might've had enough to sustain us, it might've been a whole mixture of components. But, I am glad that I seem to be more in control in the same environment now!

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