Hi! My name is Tracey, and I am an anxious carnivalist. Now, you might be wondering what an anxious carnivalist is. To me, it is someone who deals with anxiety or other mental health disorder but remains a carnival chaser despite the challenges of the condition. When Caribbean Carnival was introduced into my life, I had no idea how liberating and healing the experience would be. And so, I want to encourage all people from various walks of life to try Carnival: Mental Health warriors included. Here are some guidelines I apply to ensure my carnival jumps are enjoyable. Read on!
Honor your boundaries.
Nothing ramps up my anxiety more than doing something I do not care to do. Carnival chasers will often travel with a crew, leaving the anxious carnivalist in surroundings or situations they know are uncomfortable. Carnival is a place to honor whatever works for you. If the scene is not working for you, leave it, and don’t feel bad about it.
Choose your crew wisely.
Likewise, some people will not prioritize your needs at carnival or a fete, so it’s essential to choose wisely. In my previous blog, I pressed upon things we should all look for in potential carnival crew members. I strongly encourage you to travel with people that know you (and your triggers) well. In a previous interview with @carnivaljedi, she discussed her circle and how they care for her at carnival. I hope you find a crew that is gentle and as understanding as her friends. Alternatively, I suggest you seek individuals with similar fete-styles as you. You may not do well with the all-night reveler and be best suited with those who go to smaller events or don’t stay when the crowds get larger.
Consider small-medium bands
I tend to stick to small and medium bands when I can. Because of my Anxiety and PTSD, I need to be able to see exit points at all times, or my anxiety kicks in. While at Trinidad Carnival this year, I had a great time with Lost Tribe. Friends in my crew were with Tribe, and I sought to find them on the road. I became overwhelmed and stressed because I was shoulder-to-shoulder and couldn’t see anything but bodies. If you are like me and are stressed in situations like these, a small-medium band with plenty of room to revel will work best for you.
Have your own exit plan
You may share a vehicle to get around when traveling in a group. But if your anxiety gets too intense, you should be prepared to find your way back (or out) of carnival or fete whenever necessary. This means carrying “vex money” or being ready to hail an Uber/Lyft on you if you need to leave in a hurry. Let your crew know you’re leaving, and stay in touch until you get where you’re going.
Don't skip your treatments
Therapy and your medication do not take a back seat at carnival or a fete. If you manage your mental health with medications or therapy, staying on track is essential even while traveling. Listen to the recommendations of your therapist. Take their advice if they feel going to a large carnival event isn’t in your best interest. Skipping medications while traveling may also cause unwanted side effects, such as headaches, increased anxiousness, fatigue, etc. So make sure you stay on track!
Minimize alcohol consumption
I prefer not to consume a lot of alcohol at carnivals or fetes. My anxiety is increased when I feel I have lost awareness of my surroundings. If you are like me, you also may choose to minimize your alcohol use while at public events.
Honor your limits and have fun!
Caribbean Carnival is such an exhilarating experience! But remember that it is a personalized experience as well! If you are an anxious carnivalist or a newbie, I salute you for stepping out of your comfort zone to #tapinplaymas.
If you are an anxious Carnivalist, what other tips do you have to share with others? Comment below! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below or email: firstname.lastname@example.org