Last night I did something completely new. I am trying to keep pushing my boundaries whilst I feel well. Yes, I can quite confidently say I am kicking anxiety in the teeth one tooth at a time. She’s going to need a lot of dental repair by the time I’m done. I went to an improv class. A few months ago I would have never gone to anything like an improv class. I mean, people, was reason enough to not go.
I still have a slight aversion to people, but as a species they are starting to grow on me. They’ll never match up to cats though. For starters, we have only two legs, our ears aren’t lovely and soft and when we purr it’s just creepy. I was slightly anxious about going. When I voiced this to my friend who I had told about the class she just said, ‘well you better get going then, bye’. It helped. She was right and because I didn’t bail I reaped great rewards in the form of a brilliant evening being silly with a group of people I had never met before. The space provided a really great and safe space to explore our inner creativity and just have fun.
There were no rules. There was no pushing anyone to do anything they didn’t want to. We were free to opt out of an exercise if we wanted and just having that option made it much easier to participate. I would definitely recommend trying improv if you’re anxious but feel that maybe there’s a small part of you that’s completely bonkers in a sane way that you don’t get to express in your normal daily life.
One of the first exercises made me uncomfortable and allow the discomfort to ride on through and pass as we went around the room naming what we saw to familiarise our surroundings. Then just to mix things up we named things what they weren’t, “that’s not a chair, that’s a smoking pipe’ and ‘they’re not people, they’re mushrooms’. I mean, in my normal surroundings of being in a mental health supported accommodation I could never get away with this and play it off as play in a sane state of mind. It did feel a bit mad in a good way and if we did this outside in the public space we would probably be viewed as completely bonkers – so being able to let that side of yourself free, being able to explore your playfulness and creativity in a safe space where odd behaviour was the order of the evening was a great relief.
For someone who spends a lot of time trying to be as normal as possible and having to take time to tame my behaviour at times it was like setting myself free. I was a bird being set free to just fly. By the end of the evening I was definitely flying.
I don’t know much about the world of improv, or the benefits of participating. Having said that I definitely felt the freedom of allowing myself to participate and actively pushing myself to do so. I don’t think it would have worked so well or felt so great had I not – and this too is a new concept.
When you live with any form of illness or condition that stops you from participating in the life we see around us it can become marginalizing by all the things that you can’t, and therefore don’t do. In this space everyone was able, no matter what they did. We all participated and by doing so, there was a lot of fun to be had.
These particular nights are running for another two weeks through August until the 18th. A donation of £5 is requested for room hire costs with all excesses going towards the Basic Needs mental health charity. Here’s the link.
If you’re about in London and you fancy an evening of being silly with no boundaries or need for alcohol then definitely come along. If you really want a drink on a Friday night however, it is in a pub so you can grab one if you want. All you really need if yourself, you sense of humour and to allow yourself to be care free and embrace that side of yourself.