When I was a little girl my family went on a trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. We were there for about 7 days, and during those 7 days I got the stomach flu (basically the worst possible time to be sick as a child). It was also the very first time I had an anxiety attack on a bus a few days later.
Since that day I avoided public places at all costs and surprisingly without much effort, it almost became second nature to avoid situations that I feared would bring on another attack. School was a nightmare, school events or field trips were even worse, busses became an enemy and I can’t even being to tell you how many restaurant bathrooms I’ve laid down on trying to breathe properly while my amazing parents told me “it’s fine we can leave now, the food wasn’t that great anyway”. It was simply easier to avoid things that made me uncomfortable. Which is why I’m sure it surprised the hell outta a lot of people when I decided to pack up and move to New Zealand.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when I changed my outlook on my life. Maybe I just woke up one day and clued in to the fact that I’m the one who decides how my life is spent, and that I desperately needed to do more of what made me happy regardless of how ‘uncomfortable’ it made me. And the thought of never leaving simply because my mind was telling me that if I did something horrible would happen, was a terribly claustrophobic thought.
When I moved to New Zealand I expected it to be hard. I was literally moving to the other side of the world, starting a new job and moving in with a guy I had met 4 months ago (thankfully that last part worked out). And I was right, it was a terrifying experience, just in a way I wasn’t really expecting. Over the last year I had spent the majority of it in a deep anxiety spiral that I thought I would never get out of. It came on so slowly that I didn’t even realised that I had started avoiding things again. I felt like I had no way of controlling it, I had left everything back in Canada. All my safe places were there. I was literally terrified to leave the house most days and would over analyse everything anyone said to me (generally between the hours of 1-4am).
Thankfully, I can say now that things are getting better. I’m dealing with things in a more er, productive way (instead of just avoiding the problem and waiting for it to go away, which for the most part hasn’t worked too well). But I still have the thought in the back of my mind wondering when it’s going to come back again, and when it does how bad it will be then? And even though things are getting better by my standards it certainly doesn’t mean it’s gone.
This post is something I started working on a little over a year ago and never could find it in me to publish it. To be honest I didn’t think anyone would really be interested in knowing how rough the last year was for me. And it wasn’t until I went home for a month in July and people started saying how “awesome” it is to move to another country that I realised they had no idea how horribly lonely and terrifying it was everyday. Over the last year I spent everyday battling my mind telling me I should just stay in bed because the world out there is terrifying and if I leave the house I’m going to die. It wasn’t something I talked very openly about, and that made me feel like I was lying to friends and family about a big part of my life. So here it is. The dark and twisty part of me that’s hard to see over the ‘happy Canadian’ persona I put out into the world.