I recently read in awe a post by The Persistent Platypus on how she feels grateful for her anxiety disorder. I honestly thought to myself, how on earth can you be grateful for having an anxiety disorder? I have been through some of the most horrific experiences because of my anxiety, as I’m sure we all have. I wouldn’t even wish it on my worst enemy. So I was honestly amazed at how she had managed to find some light at the end of the very dark tunnel.
I have recently returned home from a family holiday in Menorca. Leading up to it, I spent most nights in tears contemplating everything that could possibly go wrong. What if I got ill? What if the water upsets my system? What if the flight experiences turbulence? What if the house gets broken into? What if my luggage gets lost? Quite frankly, I was dreading going away. As if I wasn’t upset enough over all these thoughts rushing through my mind, it broke my heart not to be able to look forward to a holiday the way ‘normal’ people do. Dreaming of the calming beach, cocktails in the sunshine, an escape from the worries back home. All my thoughts were the exact opposite.
I was googling the best places to hide things from burglars, crime statistics in the area, where about’s are you most likely to experience turbulence (like it’s worse in certain parts of the world, god knows?!) but anything to try and put myself at ease. I’m sure we all know this was the worst thing I could have done to try and settle my anxiety. At 1:30am with my valuables suitably stashed away, we were off down to Luton airport. True to form, by the time I was sat on the plane, my anxiety got the better of me. I (embarrassingly) burst into tears as I was so overwhelmed by tiredness, fear, getting an extra check through security, an overcrowded airport, rushing onto the plane worrying I’d missed the opportunity to put my hand luggage in the overhead lockers and then finally facing the fact we were taking off. I’ve coped with flights before, including one with a fair bit of turbulence which caused a child to be sick – the less said about that the better. But this time, I was practically drowning in my own anxious thoughts. Up until that point, I would have paid any money in the world never to experience anxiety ever again.
But as ever, with the incredible support from my boyfriend and family, I survived the plane journey. I survived staying in a strange place for a week. I survived eating out at a restaurant and eventually plucked up the courage to ask for BOTTLED coke and water. With already having such a sensitive tummy, I wasn’t taking any risks. I survived spending a number of hours in the lovely sunshine. I survived the flight home, hell I even had a cheese and ham toastie! I few years ago, with my emetophobia at it’s prime, that would have been completely out of the question. In other words, I actually had one of the best weeks ever, surrounded by the most special people in my life. I actually enjoyed myself, forgot all my troubles back home and relaxed.
Basically what I’m trying to get at, is even with my anxiety I had an incredible time. Everyone always tells you that you’ll be fine and my god I get sick of it (sorry!) but it is very hard to believe. But I was fine. Because of this, I was also beginning to see how in a way I could be grateful for my anxiety like The Persistent Platypus. If it wasn’t for my anxiety and all my initial fears, I wouldn’t have appreciated just how fantastic the holiday was and how much I enjoyed it. I honestly don’t think I would have felt so much happiness and calm in another country if it wasn’t for my anxiety. I would go back in a heartbeat. Now I can’t wait for my next holiday and I’m even more desperate to get to New York.
Now I can see my anxiety in a (slightly!) different light. This is why supporting each other and sharing our stories is so important, as I learnt from somebody else how to be grateful for anxiety.