Traveling With Anxiety
I've tried to write this post at least ten different times hoping that I'd find the right words to say that could magically help people that are in the same situation as I am. But if you have anxiety you know that it's different for everyone, hopefully this post will at least make you feel like you're not alone.
Anxiety is hard enough to handle under normal circumstances, but when you pile on the jet lag, culture shock and exhaustion it can be pretty overwhelming. It's so much more than worrying about missing your flight, or being nervous about hiccups in your itinerary... It's complete break downs on the street at the thought of things going wrong, it's locking yourself in your hotel room and rolling yourself into the blankets even though all you want to do is go out and explore.
I spend a lot of my time traveling, so in turn I also spend a lot of my time struggling to keep those feelings at bay. Because of that I tend to micromanage my trips, hoping that will give me enough control over every possible outcome just in case something goes wrong. I research endlessly to calm my nerves, I watch videos of people driving the same roads I would be driving, make countless charts and even look at menus before hand so I can choose what I want and budget accordingly before we even step foot on the plane... I do a multitude of other things too just to try to have some kind of reassurance that everything will be ok.
While we were in Naples over the summer I had a really bad panic attack at our airbnb, the loud noises outside and the flashing lights in an unfamiliar place really triggered my anxiety and instead of leaving with T to go pick up dinner I crawled into the bed shaking and crying uncontrollably. All I wanted to do was go outside and experience the city, but no matter how hard I tried I failed and I couldn't get the pain in the pit of my stomach to go away long enough to allow me to stand up and go anywhere. I had this awful voice in the back of my head telling me that I wasn't worthy of this trip if I didn't get out of bed, that if I didn't make myself stop I'd be taking this trip for granted, and I struggled with that for a long long time.
At that moment I had to remind myself, it's ok to take a break. There's nothing wrong with ordering take out and eating dinner in bed while watching a movie, even if you're on vacation. There's absolutely no reason to feel guilty about taking the necessary time to take care of yourself, it doesn't mean that you're not taking full advantage of your trip and it doesn't mean that you're weak, it just means that you're putting yourself first and that's ok.
I'm not sure what else to say. I just wanted to remind anyone that may be going through the same gut wrenching guilt, or anyone that's hesitant to follow their traveling dreams because of same overwhelming fear and anxiety, that it's ok. It's ok to be scared, surround yourself with people that will understand and support you and it will make traveling that much less scary. It's defintely worth it.