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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4 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/

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    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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  2. I love this post, im so glad that you spoke about your anxiety, im in the process of putting together my own little list of mental health bloggers and you are deffo on my list, your adventures you have inspire me to push the boundaries on my anxiety and prove to myself i can do it too!

    Www.pinaforesandposies.com

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    Replies
    1. Tori you're the best. You definitely can do anything you want and any time you need a chat you know where I am. xx

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