Traveling with Anxiety

Hi. I haven’t been around in awhile. I was feeling so awesome for so long. When I was feeling good I let go of most of my self care and just did nothing.

I had invested so much in myself not that long ago. I was exercising, eating right, resting when it was necessary, and making me a priority. Stress at my old job had me tossing out myself as a priority and just stopped investing in me. And that all lead up to a tumble into anxiety, panic, and depression.

So getting back on the “me train” has been baby steps forward. Then I was feeling good so I stopped with the baby steps. When I did that I tripped and fell into anxiety and panic. It took me by such surprise that I could not believe it.

Fast Forward.

I am trying to regain myself and my self confidence. Its been a struggle. I want to hide under a rock and hopefully a magical cure will land at my feet. But I know that will not happen.

I am on a work trip. Its 3 days. One day travel, one day meeting, and one day travel. So not too bad. I am about a four hour drive from home.

But I feel like hell. My anxiety is sky high. My IBS is reminding me chill out.

I know I can do this. I have done it before for a lot longer. I have the tools I need to get through this. I have great co-workers in the same hotel as me so I am not alone. Its just getting through it. There is no reason to feel scared. I got this. I don’t have to do a presentation. I don’t have to do much other than sit and smile. And heck, I could leave early with a “migraine.” And thats it. It will be time to go home. Once I get home this will be a fantastic accomplishment for me.

I have been having panic attacks since I was a wee child. So I am an expert at this and know I can get through it all.

This is my time to show my employer that I am committed to this organization. I will learn from the meeting and take away from it to give to others. If that makes sense at all; it does to me.

But what is it that is so awful? I did not have to do any driving. Woot woot. I am not alone. I know darn well I could call on any one of my coworkers to sit with me. I think my biggest fear is I will panic. That is like the ultimate fear. But there is absolutely nothing to panic about. It is like the ultimate vulnerability.

Beyond My Comfort Zone

I challenged myself today.  Pushed myself beyond my comfort zone.  There I was standing in the shade of frozen fear.  My arms and legs were moving as they were supposed to, but my mind was scrambling to exit the situation in the most peaceful, respectful, and speediest fashion.    I told my brain to quit the four alarm anxiety attack and let me be here and figure it all out on my own.   

I signed myself up for lessons on horse care, handling, and riding.   Sounds great doesn’t? Nope.  I love the beauty of any horse.   But put me within touching distance of any sort of horse and I get scared.   I’ve ridden a few horses as a child and absolutely loved it.   Nothing ever happened between me and horse.   In my mind anything bigger than me must be dangerous.   Here it was my challenge; get over the fear of this animal.    

Yes, my body flashed through moments of panic and anxiety through my first two hours.    I requested to be given, “Nikki,” the oldest, most docile, and smallest horse of the group.    There I was with Nikki learning how to brush her and get her clean.   With a brush in one hand, I laid my other hand on her muscular and sleek back and asked her, “Nikki, can you feel my nerves?”  She blinked with her gorgeous eyelashes assuring me to keep brushing and get over myself.   

Next, I was to untie my pal Nikki from the fence and lead her around the ring and learn to hold the lead and control her.   YIKES!!! What?! This animal is taller, more powerful than me, and I am to lead HER around the ring?! OMG I THINK I AM GOING TO PASS OUT.   Then I remembered to breathe.   I told myself, do it and quit thinking.    I figured Nikki realized she got the dud of the group and let me lead her around.   The next thing the small group I was in was to trade off horses and get to walk with each horse.   OMG how quickly could I exit this entire situation?!  Too late someone came to take Nikki.   I ventured off to the side of the ring hoping no one would notice and continue the lesson.   There it was, I heard my name being called to lead Celynas.  Oh Celynas, so much taller than me and so alert to the wild rabbits hopping outside of the ring.    There was one moment when Celynas appeared to be excited to see a rabbit and I was the one telling her she would be fine let’s just keep moving.   I handed off Celynas hoping that I could go lay down and recover from the fear that was raging on and off through me.   Nope.    There he was, my final horse to lead.   He liked to nip, lick, and do anything but be lead around the ring.   Oh, and yes, the tallest of the horses we were using.   His name is Callahan.  I took the lead and just about passed out.  My trainer noticed and did half a lap with me, giving me a pep talk that I am in charge.   There I was leading Callahan, I begged him to behave and I would respect him in return.   Callhan and I worked our way for a few laps without and affection from his mouth.   

Next was riding and we were all going to use the same horse; Callahan.  Oh dear me what Callahan has gotten himself into.   It came time for me to get in the saddle and in a moment of anxiety I blurted out to the trainer, “I am terrified of heights and horses!!!!”  I got on and immediately started laughing; it is what I do when I am scared.  Callahan wouldn’t budge.  He wouldn’t go forwards or backwards.   The trainer asked me if I understood why.    I had no clue; maybe I should just end the evening?  The trainer indicated to me that Callhan can feel how scared I am and he was not going to move until I let go of all my fears and trust him.   OMG.  Seriously.   Ok, and there I did it; I let out a huge sigh of air and my shoulders fell to a relaxed state and just like that Callahan started moving forward.   With each of his limbering strides, I had to get myself secure in my head and body, because I was sure I was going to tip off the side of the horse.   I got off the horse and leaned on the gate and smiled.   The one of many lessons were over and I did it.   I conquered my fear of animals larger than me.    Yes I will still be scared each time I go back.     But nothing will feel like how proud I am of myself in putting complete trust in something so unknown.   

I should have known that my body and brain would process the entire day in my sleep.   Here I am in the middle of the night woken up by night terrors.   I started laundry, turned on the Golden Girls on the tv, drinking ice water, and having a protein snack.   It has been an hour and half and my night terror has mostly faded.  I still have Callahan on my mind; thinking about the next time I will see him. All positive thoughts.  

Callahan

Right now.  I am Having a Panic Attack

Real Time 

I am going to give this a whirl.   I am having a panic attack right now.   I am experiencing a tremendous amount of fear.  I am remembering to breathe, in and out, in and out; controlled.    I feel like the whole world can hear me breathing.  I am panicked.    I want to run out of my house and find safety.    I am trying to tell myself that I am safe in my house and that I will be okay.    Of course my bladder and bowel are now in overdrive and i want them to know I dont have the time to sit and let them relieve themselves.    Does bladder and bowel not realize I need to find safety?!   I give in; breathing in and out; letting my body give some relief.    I am on my couch; play solitare! I cant even think to what moves to make to win a game.    I feel like the panic is subsiding.    I take that moment and take an even bigger breath.   Wow it will end.   I get cozy under the blanket thinking I should relax.    Oh no.   My legs and arms feel like they are getting electric shocks.   Its coming again.   Breathe.   Nope this one is going to be a dozey.   And like that I am in a total state of fear; I am not safe.   I must get out of my house.   I am standing on my doorstep and the wind is strong.   Ground myself, feel the wind, feel how cool it is on my face.   I tell myself I am okay and I know how to keep myself safe.  I do.   I am a smart person, I know I can keep myself safe.   I go back inside.     I keep up my breathing; in and out.   I am sitting on the couch again and as soon as I sit I am in a state of fear once more.   That’s it I am leaving my house!  I am going to go where I am safe.   I am going to drive myself to my parents house.   My safety and security is there with them.   I get in my car; controlled breathing.  I am sure the other drivers can hear my breathing.   I play a grounding game with myself; name five red things, name five blue things and on and on with different colours.   Its helping.   I am okay.   It hits me again, I will not make the 30 minute drive to my parents; I am feeling fear again.    That’s it am going to the hospital.   I have no traffic, the drive is effortless.   I park in the hospital parking lot; I know there isn’t much they can do for me here.  But I feel better knowing there is safety in here for me.  I challenge myself to stay in the car.   Nope my bladder and bowels need relief again.   I as I am walking into the hospital I feel a small amount of fear and a lot of shame.   My bladder and bowels thank me.   I go back to my car and I am having what I call small waves of fear rolling in and out of me.   I do the “call of shame.”   I dial my mom.   She answers and all I can do is take a deep breath and she immediately knows its me and I am having a panic attack.  She instantly says “you are going to be okay..”  I in turn start crying.   She knows what she has to do is to distract me and she does, I answer her robotically and eventually in 15 minutes of distraction I can hold a bland conversation with her.   It feels like we have made it through the rough part but then her mini yorkie and seven month old husky pup are barking like the house is under seige and they must alert the world.   My mom apologizes for the dogs and curses them for breaking my calm breakthrough.    My bladder and bowel need relief.    I tell my mom I have to go in the hosiptal and use the washroom and I will call her back.     After returning from the washroom and opening my car door to once again seek refuge behind my tinted car windows; I see a shiny unopened can of club soda.   The can is so cold from the overnight temperatures.   This is probably one of the best things of my day.   Why?  Because my panic attack gives me dry mouth; I call it desert mouth because it’s so unaturally dry.   I call my mom back so she can feel relief that I am still okay.   I tell her I am feeling like “its” passing and I will call her in an hour.   She knows this does mean I will be okay.   I am still sitting in my car at the hospital,  i feel okay, i feel secure, i feel safe.   I think my panic attack is over.   Time check – 2.25 hrs of panic.    My breathing is relaxed and I feel so good drinking the cold club soda.  

The Truth

Why did this panic attack happen?   A series of events led up to this.    About four days ago I was talking with a friend on the street when my ex boyfriend who was a passenger in a vehicle happen to slow down near me.   He and I spotted each other and he looked at me and laughed.   My ex was emotionally and physically violent with me when we were dating.  I had some great friends save my life and hid me for a few months until I could relocate to another town.  It took years and years of therapy to have me in a much better place.  

So his laughing at me played on my mind a lot.   I was angry.   I had a variety of emotions.   I still need to talk them out with someone.  

Last night I wanted to watch the season finale of, “Bloodline.”   But I could hardly get through most of it.   Lots of violent innuendo and fear based storylines.   It was making me feel unsafe.    I turned it off and realized its just  not the right time for me to see this show end.  

After I turned Bloodline off, I turned on the Sex and The City movie for some easy storylines.    I was feeling a bit more relaxed.   Then it happened.   I swore I heard a gun shot.    And then it happened again and again.   I realized the USA was celebrating Memorial Day with some fireworks.    Lots of time would pass between each round of fireworks or firecrackers.    But I recognized my body was getting scared because sometimes those sounds reminded me of someone knocking on my door.    For instance when my ex would knock on my bedroom window at 3 am because he wanted to make sure I was alone or he needed to pass out; either of which came with violent expletives.   

So there I have it.   An accumulation of events over days triggering me into a state of fear.    

I feel like I can drive back to my home now because it is safe.    And I really am okay. 


My living room looks just as cozy as this one.    My absolute heaven when I need self care.