Here’s a fun (?) fact about me… I have anxiety. Like really, really, really bad anxiety. It’s not something I generally like to talk about, but it’s something that I can’t really avoid talking about – or at least acknowledging in some way.
Right now, my life is busier than ever. I’m working full-time at a new company. I’m managing my clients full-time (so in the very early hours of the morning, or the very late hours of the night). I’m planning a wedding(!!). And Chuck and I are in the beginning stages of looking for a house to call our home. So yeah, there’s some stuff going on.
For the last few months I’ve thought I’ve had a pretty good handle on my anxiety. Sure, I’m not making the huge forward strides that I was a year or so ago, but I’m not getting worse. And for me, that’s huge. Because let me tell you, there have been some huge backslides in the past. In fact, when my anxiety kicked in for reals (in 2010) I was fine one day, and a complete wreck the next. It literally happened over night. (Or at least it felt like it did.)
So what does that have to do with anything? Well…
That new job I mentioned. It requires a trip to NYC for a huge meeting with some very important people. And I’ll be traveling with my boss. Oh – and I hate to travel. I don’t really do public transportation. I can’t really handle being in crowds. I don’t like feeling “trapped” – which happens any time I’m not 100% in control of a situation (as in “I like to be the one who drives the car” not “I’m a control freak who has to be the boss all the time”). And I am completely terrible at handling new situations.My boss and I will be taking the train from Providence to NYC… and I’ve never been on a train. (Okay – I took the T in Boston once in high school. We went 2 stops, and – again – it was the T. So I don’t think that really counts.)
I’m anticipating this trip to be my own personal hell. Traveling three hours away from home, without anyone in my family (or anyone I really trust), on a train where I’ll have absolutely zero control over when we stop, how long we stop for, how many people are around me, whether someone will bring a food onto the train that will freak me out (long story), what I’ll eat once we’re in the city, staying in a hotel alone, etc… I’m beginning to get chest pains just thinking about it.
Oh – and I can’t even really take medication. If I start to get anxious on the train I’ve kind of got to just deal with it – because we’ll be going right from the train to a meeting. I can’t exactly be out-of-sorts.
I spoke to my boss about it. I tried to explain (without making myself sound like a complete loon) that I have anxiety, I’ve been working on it, and I wasn’t anticipating that this job would have travel associated with it. She was firm but kind and basically said “Well, this is part of your job – so you’ll need to adjust.”
The problem is that this isn’t something I can just snap my fingers and do. It isn’t like deciding I’m going to start running more often, or eating healthy. Making it through a very average, event-free day of work is difficult for me. Facing 12930 different anxiety triggers at once… ugh.
So here’s what I’ve decided to do.
I’m just going to deal with it. I’m going to buy some noise canceling headphones (the big ones, so people know I am actively trying to ignore them), a travel blanket (so I can cover my seat and not have to sit on the grossness that is public transportation), and a neck pillow. I’m going to load up my iPad, iPhone, and computer with movies, books, and soothing music. And I am going to try like hell to make it through the 3 hour train ride without having a panic attack.
And if I do have a panic attack… well, that’s a bummer, I guess. But I gave my boss fair warning, and she didn’t really give me a way around it… so … she’ll just need to deal with me dealing with the situation in the only way my brain knows how (which is to freak the eff out). Is that fair for her? No, absolutely not. But I can’t really think of what else to do at this point – if I freak out, I freak out. And I guess that’s all there is to it, really.
After all that, I’d like to leave you with this – a video by Zoe Sugg (aka Zoella). She’s one of my absolute favorite bloggers/YouTubers (her daily vlogs are my favorite!) who also deals with anxiety and has been very – refreshingly – open about it. This video is from 2012, and I find myself turning back to it every few months just to kind of remind myself that I’m not the only person going through this type of thing. And not only is she dealing with her anxiety, but she’s thriving with it. She’s wildly successful, and doing something she clearly loves – anxiety be damned.