Feel the fear and do it anyway

Almost 2 years ago I was getting ready to set off for 3 months travelling solo around south east Asia. Which was something I’d been intending to do since graduating uni five years previously. It had taken a lot longer than I’d hoped due to struggling to find work in the area in which I had studied, and not wanting to give up and get a job doing something completely unrelated to my degree. But I had finally got a good job and was able to save up enough to make it happen.

As the time to leave got closer and I was thinking about all the things I had to do and get before I left. I was working full time, researching and planning and getting everything sorted to start travelling. Setting up this blog. Writing lists of what I needed to take. What I needed to buy. What I needed to do. Booking flights. Sorting out visas.

It’s funny because whenever I told anyone of my plans to travel solo – the first thing people would say is…

“your so brave”

But I didn’t really see what the big deal was. I’ve always been really independent and done a lot of things and gone to a lot of places on my own. I wasn’t even nervous. I wasn’t really worried about it at all.

Or so I thought. The easy going carefree side of me wasn’t worried at all. But as the time to go got closer. I guess the other part of my brain (as I often think of it) The part that the anxiety is in control of decided to let me know that actually I was.

It’s hard to explain exactly what was going on in my head at this point. After all it’s pretty much impossible to explain what is going on in your head when you don’t even really understand it yourself. How can you talk to someone about what you are thinking and feeling when your not even really sure yourself.

I started to have what I now know was anxiety attacks. But at the time because I hadn’t even really acknowledged that I was anxious or worried that thought never occurred to me. The first time this happened I was on the bus on my way to work, when I started to get numbness in my hands and legs, after a little while this wore off and I didn’t really think too much more about it.

Then at the weekend I got this feeling again, only this time it didn’t go away. I began to obsess over the feeling and the fact it wouldn’t go away. I remember starting to feel like I didn’t have control of my hands, and the more I thought about it and focused on it the worse it got. When I ate my dinner that night, I was convinced my mum & dad must be able to notice that I can’t even use my knife and fork properly.

I then did what was probably one of the worst things I could have done at this point – I started to look up symptoms on google. I had recently had my jabs I needed for travelling, I read about a side effect that can occur from this that effects your nervous system as well as lots of other potential reasons for my symptoms. This led me to start thinking there was something wrong that would mean I might not be able to go ahead with the trip, which in turn made me more anxious and made the symptoms worse leading to a vicious cycle that is hard to break out of.

This all resulted in a few days off work and an appointment at the doctors and a blood test. At the appointment the doctor mentioned anxiety and afterwards I started to read online about the physical symptoms of anxiety and it all kind of started to make sense. Once I had started to realise that it was anxiety causing the symptoms, and I didn’t have any physical issues that would stop me from travelling. I started to feel a little calmer and slowly the symptoms started to ease.

One thing I had noticed was that getting up and moving around was a good way to ease the numbness, and that being stuck in one place and not having the freedom to move was when it was at it’s worse. But of course this meant I started to worry about how the hell I was going to get through my 1st ever long haul flight without having a full on panic attack. And on top of that, once I had gotten through the plane journey – how was I going to come to terms with and manage the anxiety I had only just realised I was suffering with. As well as dealing with the general nerves and worries about travelling solo for the first time.

So I guess in a way the comment that all those people had been making about me “being brave” at this point had become a valid point. I guess I did have to be brave to force myself to get on the plane not knowing what was going to happen.

Although personally I’m not convinced if it was really about being brave. I don’t think it was bravery that made me go ahead with my plans and start the journey. I think it was my stubbornness and my determination to not let anything stop me from doing what I had wanted to do for so long.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *