Traveling with Panic Attacks
Traveling with panic attacks...
...is like standing in front of a cliff when you're afraid of heights, but you are not afraid of heights. And there is no cliff.
What It's Like to Travel with Panic Attacks
Have you ever felt like you are a failure to your bone? You screwed something up, may it be minor, may it be bigger. There might not even have been a trigger. Suddenly this feeling of worthlessness closes your throat, wraps around your chest like an iron chain. It stops you from inhaling deeply, the chain is tightly wrapped around your ribs and expanding your lungs fully seems sheerly impossible. And has that ever happened to you in a public space?
Why You Need Cool-headed People in Your Life
Panic attacks belonged to my youth and all their various forms and abnormalities. Well, I should not call them abnormalities. People often say that I tend to think I am the only one struggling like this, due to these insignificant reasons that others swallow like it is their first piece of breakfast. I don’t. For me, they get stuck in my throat. Although they may be right, I am not the only one. I still feel abnormal and hideous when these feelings numb me to the deepest part of my soul. When people say that, sometimes I get mad because it feels like they discredit what I am feeling as nothing but an exaggerated reaction. They do not understand and probably never will.
But maybe that is why I need cool-headed people in my life so much, who have never swum in that dark ocean that's so hard to get out of. They stay at the shore to pull me out, even though it's not their responsibility.
Losing Phones, Breaking Things, Falling Down, Panic Attacks
In my life, I probably have lost about seven phones, broke the same amount, and dropped around three into the toilet. Forgetfulness and clumsiness have always been part of me, and have kept a strain on my wallet, as well as my conscience. All the girls that keep losing their valuables will nod their head in shameful silence.
The feeling that I was not worth anything, let alone not good for anything when repeating the same mistakes over and over again, has accompanied my mind. I always feel torn. One day I am strong, full of life and ideas, imaginations, colorful pictures, a bright future, motivated and never tired, and then I show one moment of weakness, a second of distraction, and I fall, fall without a net, no ladder insight to climb back up on.
That Dreadful Panic Attack on the Plane
Yesterday I lost someone else's phone. I promised to guard this with my life. And when the gate at the Bali, Denpasar airport suddenly changed and everyone rushed to board the delayed plane at another one, I forgot the phone at the charging station. Ten minutes in the air I realized what I had done.
I completely lost control, burst into tears, a sharp pain spread from my stomach into my lungs and later into my whole body. I couldn’t breathe and with each thought of my utter failure, my breaths kept getting shorter and shallower. I had a window seat and luckily was shielded by my boyfriend. Other passengers must have thought that I was raving mad because of flight anxiety. He tried to calm me but had no luck for a long time.
Often I feel like I am an abomination of nature, that I don’t deserve to live even if I cannot take care of someone else's phone. My first reaction would have been to run. Run far away. Or clean. Cleaning is also a relief! Cleaning up my head, so to say. But there I was, cramped up in the window seat, nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, my naked emotions on display.
Since I am already appalled by myself due to my supposed failures, I am even more appalled by my weaknesses. My uncontrollable crying, my sissy whining, my sharp inhaling. Why can’t I handle this like an adult, like a normal person? But instead of looking for solutions I beat myself up until I am bloody on the inside. And you know what the funny thing is? That fact makes me hate myself even more. Especially when I think of my loved ones. How can I keep them by my side while being a piece of work like this? Friends and family who have mental health issues can be draining... The wisest thing for my loved ones would be to leave before they feel like they have to stay with me out of pity or a bad conscience.
This is what anxiety feels like
If anything, this is what anxiety feels like. It cannot be described as a whole feeling, but as a process. As something that comes over you as some higher power, but that you associate only with yourself.
So why am I telling you all this?
I'm telling all the people with anxiety out there that they are not alone. I struggle, you may struggle and many others may struggle. Do not beat yourself up over the imperfections of life.
Instagram Perfection Is not Real, We All Have Our Fears
What I simply cannot look at anymore is the Instagram-Lifestyle girl that does not let you in on their actual thoughts. For Marketing reasons, for whatever reason, they display an image of a female traveler that has an amazing life, is always happy, does not have anxieties, and ALWAYS feels comfortable in a bathing suit. It's unlikely that they are always comfortable in a bathing suit because if that was true, then why does everyone on social media edit their photos to no end with FaceTune and Photoshop? Fears and other mental health issues are parts of life and need to be talked about. Especially in this oh-so perfect travel Instagram industry. I say no more. I want the real stories!
Theeverygirl put out a guide on how to handle a panic attack on the road, and I loved it! Check it out!
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