Note: This blog was written last week. No airbag sickness bags were actually used, lol
Iâ€™m on a plane as Iâ€™m writing this, on the way to enjoy a much needed getaway with my husband, but I just canâ€™t get in vacation mode because of my brain. Always my brain.
Iâ€™ve been on at least 20 flights in my life, and theyâ€™ve always gone smoothly. But that doesnâ€™t stop my anxiety from putting a damper on the trip. Apparently, anxiety flies for free along with my bags.
Here I sit arguing with myself whether the plane is going to crash. This is what people misunderstand about anxiety â€” these arenâ€™t fleeting thoughts I have as Iâ€™m boarding. No, this is my brain telling me over and over again that Iâ€™m going to die despite part of me knowing Iâ€™ll be just fine. It causes a physical reaction, and my body becomes full of tension. My head starts to hurt, and despite the comfortable temperature, Iâ€™m sweating. I look for the air sickness bag but can’t find it..
I did find a seat in the exit row because my husband wanted more leg room, so then I worry that I wonâ€™t be able to get the door open in an emergency. That Iâ€™ll accidentally touch the door and get sucked out into the air, and again, die. Thatâ€™s not a logical thought, and Iâ€™m clear enough in my thinking to know itâ€™s illogical. But I canâ€™t stop that stream of thinking. Even with three anxiety pills I may or may not have taken.
I kid, but itâ€™s important to know that anxiety takes over your thoughts and catastrophizes. Itâ€™s not like Iâ€™m nervous about a job interview or going to the dentist. This is my own treasonous brain, betraying me and making me wonder how my kids are going to live without me with every bout of turbulence.
I can learn tricks to distract myself. I feel I have an arsenal of coping mechanisms, but itâ€™s still hard. My anxiety doesnâ€™t just manipulate me when it comes to death and disasters. There are times I hear that nobody likes me, Iâ€™m unlovable and unworthy. It exploits me in almost every aspect of my life. And at times, itâ€™s debilitating.
I can do everything right when it comes to being mentally healthy, but my anxiety will still be there, waiting to pounce. I havenâ€™t been able to escape it since the seventh grade.
Anxiety is all-consuming and causes pain. I know being a friend to someone with anxiety is at times exhausting. I know those struggling need lots of reassurance, among other things, but please know theyâ€™re needy for a reason â€” itâ€™s uncontrollable and scary. Please know that people with anxiety almost always have another diagnosis. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), some estimates show that 60 percent of those with anxiety also have depression. Some of us are dealing with a lot of demons, and patience and understanding is a must. It isnâ€™t always talked about, but it needs to be.
And just like that weâ€™ve cleared 20,000 feet, and itâ€™s smooth sailing. Itâ€™s peaceful, even. A brief respite. I can see everything on the ground, looking so small and far away. Iâ€™ve stopped sweating. Worry has loosened its grip on me as we cut through more clouds clouds. I can finally look forward to my vacation.
Right after we land.