Thursday, 14 January 2016

Anxiety and Me.


Unfortunately for me, not every post on this blog is going to feature a fun trip to a new location. As much as I wish travelling every week was a viable lifestyle, it's not looking likely.

This isn't all bad news though, as I am actually really looking forward to using my time on getting to know more about the areas of Scotland I have easy access to, including my own city. But for today, I thought that I should perhaps explain exactly what it is I mean when I talk about my "anxiety", and how it affects my big plans for travel.

I have two types of anxiety disorder: generalised and social. My anxiety has a number of physical symptoms. The most common is a racing heartbeat, and a feeling in my chest that makes me feel almost sick; a feeling of apprehension and nervousness. It feels like I am just waiting for something bad to happen, but I couldn't for the life of me tell you what that bad thing would be. My throat starts to feel like it is closing up, and I feel rolls of panic throughout my entire body. If it is a more intense episode, I will feel shaky, light headed and dizzy. I'll feel as if I can't take a deep enough breath. Despite my light head, my body feels like lead (oh, I'm a poet!) and I find it difficult to move my arms or legs. If it's worse still, I will have a full blown panic attack: hysterical sobbing, hyperventilating and genuinely convinced my heart is beating so fast that I'm going to die. Anxiety also affects my sleep and sleeping patterns drastically, but that's a story for another day.

I'm very aware of the scepticism a lot of people have towards those of us who openly admit to having anxiety; some people write us off as attention seekers, or as following a 'trend' now that celebrities such as Zoe Sugg, Adele and Emma Stone are speaking out about their issues. That's pretty frustrating. In fact, when I want to open up to someone about my anxiety, the social anxiety disorded part of my brain then starts to panic about how people will react: will they think I'm making it up? No one wants to hear about your problems, Beth, stop annoying them. It's a weird kind of circle.

Because I have social anxiety, I have the usual things of hating large crowds (I once had a panic attack while visiting my husband's family - even though I knew everyone in the room), I worry constantly about embarrassing myself (if I say something even remotely stupid or awkward, you'll probably see me instantly close my eyes, clench my fists and grit my teeth as I turn away, mentally kicking myself) and I hate, hate, HATE people looking at me.  The thought of walking down the aisle at my own wedding kept me awake for weeks - and that is not an exaggeration. Sometimes this social anxiety will get so bad that I don't want to go out in public whatsoever, and even when it's "under control" I still hate going out by myself. I don't want to be seen by people, because people judge you. Some people say or do horrible things. I do not want to be the butt of any jokes, even from strangers. So I feel much more comfortable with someone I know there.

All of these things make it hard for me to travel. Add in the constant, exhausting, mentally-draining worrying I do with the generalised anxiety part of my brain, and it's nearly impossible. If I'm not worrying about people in a new place laughing at me, I'm worrying about crashing the car on the way there. You can give me any scenario in the world, and I will list at least three possible ways that you could be killed in it. It's relentless. I am envious of people who can get through the day without a thousand miniature heart attacks because that knock on the door is obviously a very polite murderer, or the driver of the bus you're on slammed a little too hard on the brakes.

Getting up and going out for a nice day trip may sound like an opportunity that you'd grab with both hands; it sounds like the perfect way to spend a day rather than working or doing chores. But for me, it's a challenge. Sometimes, leaving my house is just too much for me. Going on holiday is a minefield. If I don't have a specific place that I want to go to, you might as well glue me to my hotel bed. Having a base to go back to if needed is so important to me. But I know that I rely far too much  on hotel rooms and the ability to hide myself away when I have any kind of culture shock. Any time I take the opportunity to wander aimlessly around a place I'm visiting, I learn so much more and usually enjoy it a lot.

So that is why this blog exists. It's a constant reminder to myself that I can do it. That I have made a promise to myself that I will at least try. That spending all day on Instagram looking at other people's adventures isn't enough to satisfy me, and that it isn't much of a life.

It's time to stop letting my anxiety win. 
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2 comments

  1. I LOVED THIS POST. it was totally accurate! I make advice posts and one of my topics was depression/anxiety.
    https://theworldofjodie.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/stress-anxiety/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I was a bit hesitant to post this in case people thought it was stupid but I'm glad you enjoyed it.
      I'll definitely check out your posts! x

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