The kindness of strangers

Yesterday was not a particularly good day. I’m getting increasingly unable to cope with changes to my routine – I suspect it’s because I’m also at the limit of what I can mentally cope with, considering everything else that’s going on in my head at the moment. So it doesn’t take much to push me over the edge.

And I’ve never been good with buses. I don’t like them. The physical sensations; the noise; the crowd of people waiting to get on – I can’t deal with all of that. So when there’s a rail replacement bus, that’s a bit of a problem. Usually I try to avoid travelling or just drive when I know that’s going to be the case. But yesterday I had an appointment in Brighton that I didn’t want to cancel and I don’t know where to find parking in Brighton, or – more to the point – where there is likely to be a space on a Saturday morning. So the bus was really the only option.

It was all OK, transport-wise at least, until it came to the time to get the bus back home. And it was late – five other buses turned up first, plus there was no information. There was also a large queue building, and I’m not good with queues when I’m on my own – I need someone that I’m comfortable around to stand with me and act as a barrier to the mass of people.

Eventually it all got too much and I had to step out of the queue and try to find someone to tell me what was going on. But unfortunately the person I found wasn’t particularly helpful and that just raised my anxiety levels even further. I was almost completely overwhelmed, barely able to speak and started stimming fairly obviously, without really realising what I was doing.

And that’s where the kindness of strangers comes in. Because – to my surprise – someone did try to help me. She got me to stay with her and told me I was safe. She made sure I got on the bus when it eventually turned up. She didn’t have to do that, and I am grateful.

But it made me think.

If this happens again – when this happens again – can I rely on a stranger being a decent person? I can deal with being ignored, but what if someone I think is trying to help is actually dangerous? Because when I am in that state, I can’t tell whether someone is a threat to me or not.

That’s a frightening thought. Because although I honestly believe that most people are decent, I’m also aware that not everyone is as kind as the lady yesterday.

I need to think about this more. I don’t want to put myself at risk. But I don’t want to lose my independence either, or be scared to go out in case I get overwhelmed and become vulnerable.

I don’t have any answers at the moment.


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