Monday, January 27, 2014

One Day at a Time: Traveling with Anxiety

As many of you know, I have an anxiety disorder, and I have for most of my life.  It is pretty well managed, so most of my fears and difficulties are "normal" reactions to a given situation.  Sometimes things are still hard, but years of dealing have given me tools to be successful in almost any situation.

In my travels today, I went up and down and all around with my emotions. Things did not feel real, then I was elated, then I was nervous.  I think the thing that will be hardest for me is that I have never spent a significant amount of time away from home. This is a four month trip.  The longest I have ever gone without a hug from my mother is probably three weeks maximum.

Sometimes, when I think about that, I'm not sure I will be able to handle it at all.  My relationships are very important to me.  The only way I can deal with it is not to try to think about all four months all at once.  Sometimes looking at the big picture is very important and beneficial, or even beautiful, like flying over the Great Plains- watching the fields stretch on forever until they smudge into the horizon.  But sometimes it is overwhelming and terrifying and keeps you not only from enjoying the present or "living in the moment", as they say, but also from living experiences that could be really wonderful simply because they are overwhelming and terrifying.

When I am about to become terrified, I ask myself, can you handle this today? In my worst times, I simply focus on getting through each individual moment.  Luckily, I had a great day today, even including waking up at six, transporting a backpack that weighed as much as a small child through many airport terminals, and not arriving to a completely new city until nearly midnight.  So instead of looking at all four months, I just ask myself if I think I can do it for another day or another few.

And in a blink, I will be asking myself if I can do it for another day, and that day will be all I will have left.  And I'm pretty sure I'll want more days.

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