Hey everyone out there with anxiety and panic! Have you ever said to yourself,
“Gee wiz fellas, you know what I think would just be too great for my mental health? Extremely small, confined spaces, that are dark, smelly, and require lots of physical exertion?”
Well then, I have I got the place for you!
Do you know those Escape Rooms that are so popular? Well did you know that there is a chain called Boda Borg? It’s like a Chucky Cheese playpen for adults. You go in and it’s literally 20 escape rooms. Very elaborate, long, multiple-roomed escape rooms. Some are more mental, some are more physical. Some require both.
I’ve made a good group of friends here at Harvard through a gaming club. And it’s been discussed that we should do a Boda Borg day sometime. And well, yesterday ended up being the day.
***A brief history for anyone reading this post who hasn’t read my blog in the past***
I’ve struggled with depression since I was a kid (bullying and being gay in conservative America…blah blah blah, you get it.) And then after years of not taking care of myself and never addressing the depression, I started breaking out into anxiety attacks at 20. By 23, I was full-blown agoraphobic. That’s when I started writing this blog. And from there I started the very long, bumpy road of recovery from completely insane, to regaining my humanity in an attempt to live my life rather than hide from it…
So anyways, when I arrived at Boda Borg yesterday, I was like… Oh holy fuck.
Have you ever watched those claustrophobic movies like The Descent? Or how about weird torture movies like SAW? And have you been like, thank god I don’t have to go through that? Then great news! In Boda Borg you can do both!
Our first “Mission” was called PLATOON. And we walked into this room and had to find the supplies that we were told to get. Once we found them, A tiny little door that you had to crawl into was unlocked. And when I say tiny little door, I’m not kidding. Here’s an example of what the door-openings look like:
It was practically pitch-black inside, with only a few little orange lights to add just enough light to allow to see where the walls were.
Inside this dark box, you realized you have to crawl and snake your way between platforms UPWARDS in almost complete blackness. You climb your way all the way from crawling-height on the first floor, up to the second floor! (I graciously made a visual representation for everyone below)
Oh and I forgot to mention!!! So, every time you progress to a new room in Boda Borg, the door closes behind you AND LOCKS! So, we get into this cramped area and the door locks behind us, and it’s tight, and dark, so sort of disorienting. I try pushing the little door open to get some light in, but it’s locked… Now, I don’t believe in God. But in that moment, I silently said to God, or the Universe, or whatever, “Look, if you allow me to have a panic attack in front of my newfound friends, I swear, I will fucking kill you.”
We started snaking our way up the platforms, on our knees, bending our bodies, lifting ourselves up little by little. I could feel panic at my side. I could feel it just wanting to break loose and cause havoc. But, I stayed calm. Deep breath in, deep breath out, and lift! Up to the next platform I went. Then I crawled over to the next opening. Deep breath in, deep breath out, and lift! When we finally made it to the top and I could see the light of the room (which, the rooms themselves can be claustrophobic to some, but after snaking your way through that, the rooms are a refreshing wide-open expanse.
But soon you figure out that Boda Borg is filled with nothing but these panic-inducing tactics. Almost everything requires crawling through tight passageways, or climbing up tight passageways, or climbing across tight passageways (as I found in one tube that had monkey-bars running through it. The tube itself is lined with sensors, so if your body touches it at any point, you fail and have to restart the entire mission.)
As the day went on, it began to get fun. It’s like a panic attack actually. When you start getting panic attacks, you’re like,
OH MY GOD I’M DYING!!!!!!!
But after a hundred panic attacks, you’re like…
OMG WHATEVER, THESE HAVEN’T KILLED ME YET. I’M SO OVER IT.
It’s just like that. Another room, another insanely claustrophobic space that you’ve been locked into. But they haven’t killed you so far, right?
I started loosening up. I started really enjoying myself. I started to have a lot of fun! We ended up being there 8 hours! You can buy a 35 dollar day pass that allows you unlimited access the entire day. And we we’re determined to beat all 20 missions.
Here’s a great example btw: When I say these spaces are tight, I’m not kidding. They’e like the scenes in Alien where they’re climbing through the ventilation ducts
But here’s one thing I will say: Having friends there helped so much. Knowing that you were there with friends as a team, was amazing. Because you weren’t alone. You weren’t abandoned. And isn’t that really the root cause of most of our anxiety and panic anyways? It’s always the fear that we’re going to be helpless somehow?
But with friends there, it’s fun. You have support. You have laughter. You have fun!
And that’s so true with mental health in general. Humans are social creatures. We need meaningful interaction with others, otherwise, we lose our fuckin’ brains. I know a lost of us like to think that we’re the lone wolf or whatever, but take it from someone who literally had to be a lone wolf for some much of my life…
It isn’t fun and it isn’t glorious. It’s fucking miserable.
I fully believe that support is the number 1 key to helping us stay sane and happy. And I’m glad that I’ve made some friends here, and I’m glad that I’m in a place where I can challenge my depression, anxiety, and panic.
What do you guys think helps you the most when confronting your fears?
~ The Dark Horse
(And no, this isn’t proofread. It’s summer vacation, and I aint proofreading shit)