Monday, 7 March 2011

Chapter 3: Travelling with a Phobia

My year long journey around the world, like what most other backpackers experience, was one of the highlights of my life. Four continents, twenty countries, countless memorable experiences and the delightful companionship of many interesting, fun and stimulating friends along the way. It was a fabulous experience and the year which I completed that trip still remans a benchmark year in my life from which other years have become relegated to either before the trip of after the trip. ie. bt or at.

But as I mentioned in my previous blog, my anxiety enjoyed the trip as well. Contrary to my most hopeful belief the whole travel experience didn’t make the crippling feeling go away. It acted upon me in just the same way as it did at home.

Once again to try and avoid the feeling I began refusing or ignoring invitations, pushing new friends away, deliberately changing or rescheduling my travel plans to avoid oncoming situations, continually consciously predicting future scenarios and sidestepping them and generally finding that being by myself was a “safe” option. Also when an unavoidable potential anxiety hotbed was looming the fear that I experienced consumed the moment so all momentary enjoyment was lost. I was reluctantly forced into antisocial and irrational behaviour and indecision became my mainstay. My journey was only half travelled as instead of immersing myself with unencumbered enthusiasm in all experiences and opportunities that presented themselves, I became controlling and censured what I experienced and what I didn’t. To this day I am still saddened when I think how much richer the journey may have been without travelling with anxiety.

And of course depression was waiting for me when I completed the trip and arrived home. What self confidence I gained from completely such a remarkable journey was quickly eroded once I was back in familiar surroundings. Also, I was confronted with the reality that nothing it seemed was going to make the anxiety attacks go away. I was forced to resign myself to the fact that anxiety was going to be my constant companion for the rest of my life. It was a gloomy prospect and one that overshadowed my every move until another major event occurred in my life several years later which would turn everything around.

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