Sunday, May 24, 2009

Travelogue Part One - Getting on the plane

Friday night before the big vacation takeoff:

I am feeling excited, shopping for last minute beach towels & sunscreen, packing into the wee hours of the morning. I write little notes for my girls and fight the urge to say things like, "If we don't make it home, I want you to know. . ." and fill up their journals with memories and dreams for their futures.

I crawl into bed & the anxiety steps things up a bit. Adrenaline becomes my bedmate & I know I'm not going to get much sleep. I remind myself that this is to be expected. I expect to sleep terribly and feel anxious, even panicky. I haven't flown in almost 3 years & I'm leaving my children behind for a week - something I've never done before. Next to my bed is a pad of paper for notes & I write down, "I want this anxiety" - just in case I forget when the alarm goes off. I snuggle up to my man & try to ride the waves while he snoozes with ease. Thank God only one of us runs anxious!

Saturday morning - 4:30am:

I wake up with a real sense of dread. I feel nauseous & panicky. I look down at my "I want this anxiety" note with a smiley face & say "screw that - what a stupid thing to write"! In the shower, I'm weepy and yell out to my husband, "I changed my mind. I don't want to go. I just want to stay home. I feel terrible."

It's so hard in that moment to believe all those coping statements and truths - that flying is much safer than driving; panic always goes away with time; panic & anxiety are uncomfortable, but not dangerous; it's very likely that I'll be able to relax into the flight once we get going & if not, I will survive.

The first step is making it out the door. Then, driving to the airport where I take .25 mg of xanax & review my options - "If we get to our first connection & I feel terrible, we can always come home, right?" Walking into the airport feels familiar - it's been a while, but I've done this before. After going through the security lines & randomly having my shoes checked (are my Keens too stinky? I ask) I rush over to the gate attendant, tell her about my flying fear & ask for seats closer to the front. At first she says that the plane is full, but at the last minute I am called up to the desk & the lovely Miss Tina from Delta changes our seating to bulk head. I think I love her.

As they call our flight to begin boarding, Steve & I wait & I take another .25mg. The funny thing about many anxiety superheroes & meds is that we're actually a little afraid of taking them. From the extremes of -- "What if it's too much & I stop breathing?" to "What if I take it & it doesn't work?"

Finally we take make our way through the line and warm tears roll down my face as we board the plane. As we buckle up and they seal the doors, I close my eyes and remember where we're going.

More to come:
*Travelogue Part Two: In flight adventures
*Travelogue Part Three: Island Mama


amy said...

Aww, you poor thing! Doesn't it just suck? Seriously? I found your blog through your comment left on "anxious no more" site.

I feel your pain, but you can do it! We end up "doing it", anxiety ridden, but we DO IT! It's all that anticipatory crap that is terrible. This anxiety thing is somewhat new to me. About 7 months ago I couldn't spell anxiety, and now it plagues me sometimes. Now I find myself defining who I am by this anxiety!

I admire your honesty on your blog and will continue to read it! I can't blog about my anxiety b/c I think my friends and family that read it will think I'm a little loopy...simply b/c I used to be (since about 7 months ago) the most outgoing, social, fun, upbeat, positive person and I've changed a little. I force myself through things, like I'm just going through the motions...

Well, enough about me! Soo much luck and prayers go out to you :)

God Bless,


Anxiety Girl said...

Hi Amy!

You're right - the anticipatory anxiety is always the worst, isn't it? All those "what if" scenario's that never come true, but feel believable in the moment. I think folks with anxiety have incredible imaginations & a lot of untapped creative resources!

I'm sorry to hear you've been feeling so anxious the past 7 months. The good news is that anxiety & panic disorder are highly treatable. Counseling is a great tool that I highly recommend & there are lots of qualified counselors who specialize in anxiety work. Also, check out the recommended reading section on the home page. If I could only read one book it would be the "Facing Panic" book.

Anyways, thanks so much for the comment & I'd love to hear how you're doing.

Sarah said...

you are such a freaking rock star. I can't wait to hear parts two and three. You are my anxiety superhero!!!

Fresh Squeezed Lemons said...

i am so happy that i just found your blog!!! i have only read your most recent post and already i feel like i am reading my own thoughts!!! i just started exposure therapy for my anxiety and i have been told to welcome every anxious feeling and look at it as practice. i have a note that i carry with me that says "i want this anxiety." how strange :) anyway, i can't wait to read more!

Anxiety Girl said...

Go for it "Fresh Squeezed Lemons"! I skipped over to your blog & read about how you got connected with a good counselor & are doing exposure work. That's fantastic! Yes, it feels harder right now, but you will turn that corner where you will ever so slowly will begin to think "Oh yes!" instead of "Oh No!" when you feel anxiety symptoms start up, whether they're physical or cognitive. Way to go & keep up the good work!

Fresh Squeezed Lemons said...

I really can't get over how much I feel like you are my kindred soul, haha :) The words you write could seriously have come from my own mouth. It's baffling to me, really, because I have felt so alone for so long. I just read about your weekend retreat like you suggested and it sounds exactly that the therapy program that I have just started at the Anxiety and Stress Institute in MD. I feel hopeful. Scared, but willing. And most importantly, able. Flying is my number one biggest fear and I am soooo happy for you that you did and you did it well! Anxiety and all. I am anxious (in a good way) to keep reading. Thanks!

Anxiety Girl said...

Scared, but willing & able is the only way to start - good for you! You can do this! So glad you found your way here!

Nikole said...

Brave mama! Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your adventures - here and hopefully in person very soon. xoxo