Our family loves travelling and adventures, unfortunately I have tremendous anxiety that can put a damper on the entire trip. It started to really impact my life when I became a mother and had gotten progressively worse until it was almost debilitating. At first I thought it was postpartum depression playing with me, which is tricky to come to terms with because of guilt that is placed on mothers. I didn’t want to admit I was having a hard time and Jonnie was terrified to make a wrong move and risk me exploding. After a few LONG years it finally came to a head where it was either I needed to get myself some help or I was going to lose my family one way or another. They were going to turn on me with fear and repress themselves emotionally or they were going to psychically leave. Treatment began with research, it turned out to be anxiety and not depression at all. I went to a couple of doctors and specialist to confirm. I didn’t want to jump to a medicinal approach without getting things figure out within myself first. Once, I had a proper diagnosis i was able to move ahead to better help myself and those around me. Alone time, exercise, journals, and yes, medication all helped me to become the person I was before and a new person ready to be the mother I wanted to be to my children. Treatment doesn’t mean that anxiety is gone it just means that it is more manageable now. I have resources around me to help me through when I feel like things are getting out of hand.
So, how does anxiety effect my travel?
One of the worst things about me being anxious is that I am always in a panic to get somewhere and then turn around and get home. When at home I was dreaming of being somewhere, when the time came to travel there I was a wreck and wished I had just stayed home. Saying “it’s not even worth it” was natural to me. When in reality, it is 100% worth it. Especially now that we have children and want to show them the world and cultures. When coming to Costa Rica 8 years ago to get married, I told Jonnie I wanted to get off the plane. I said I didn’t care about getting married anymore and just wanted to be home. We were sitting on the runway waiting for our plane to take off and I blurted that out to him. It had nothing to do with marrying him, I still very much wanted that, but I could not deal with the unknown of getting everyone to Costa Rica and spending a week in a foreign country. Once we got there I was in full panic mode barely holding it together, and had many many full blown attacks in bathrooms and hotel rooms, trying to hide from everyone what was happening.( though I don’t think I did a very good job.)Some members of our entourage thought it was wedding jitters and I am sure others thought I was just a total -you know what-. I didn’t even know what was happening and poor jonnie was witnessing that brunt of it.
After that trip I almost refused to travel anymore. Jonnie spent years running around the world and having the most wonderful experiences. We had traveled together before being married and having kids… how was it that now I was unwilling to explore anymore. I found what helps most for me in planning planning and more planning. I have lists of lists. I need to know the route and the timing of everything. Maybe it is a bit of a control thing, but honestly, it really helps my day go smoothly. Flying by the seam of pants makes me feel like I am going tear my own head off and others around me. I understand that nothing always goes as planned, but if I feel prepared and ready I am less tense and open to changes. When we travel I usually have my purse or a small carry on packed with papers and emails/confirmation numbers so they are at fingers reach when needed. I can simply look through my bag and calm myself by knowing that I am as ready as I could be and prepared for whatever will come. I have my daily planner that I fill out each day and night and jot little things down in. Getting everything out and written down also helps me to relax and prevents me from scrambling last minute or forget/ leave something behind. It saves everything from dinner recipes for me (to relieve the stress of meals) to jonnie works schedule and anything that happens with the boys.
Anxiety effects travel even now. A wrong turn at the airport threw me for a loop and I was dealing with three exhausted boys and a threatened attack coming on. You get through it, sometimes anyway that you can and then deal with the aftermath. (usually with a lot of apologies on my part!) My anxiety may never go away and I have learned to do my day to day life living with it. I didn’t want it to take over my life again and continuously need to remind myself that it is there waiting to come out again. The first couple of days and week here in Costa Rica were tough to get through too. We have been here before and I am comfortable with life here, the change in surrounding and language barrier make me sweat. Not everything is rainbows and butterflies, some of the time it is down right miserable. Those times are getting more rare and the wonderful times are becoming more common. I am finding a routine and coping with the changes, life in Costa Rica is amazing and I am so thankful we are able to provide our children with this experience.