Sunday, December 21, 2014

Doing the thing I fear and hate to do

This year I was on more than 75 airplane flights. I travel more than any of my family or friends, perhaps even among my co-workers. I’ve been as far west as Seattle and as far east as Miami—and had a five-and-a-half-hour trip between the two.

Throughout these experiences, I have had symptoms: racing thoughts, imagination on fire, heart palpitations, blurry vision, sweating, loose bowels—classic anxiety. Yet I did not let this stop my travels. At times I was extremely uncomfortable, but I would remember Dr. Low’s words that comfort is a want, not a need. I never truly was in any danger.

Perhaps the tool I used most frequently was that “feelings are not facts.” I might have felt that the turbulence was intense, that the take-off wasn’t quite right, that the plane was in jeopardy, but the reality of the situation was always quite different. The facts were clear: I was usually experiencing normal turbulence and, at times, feeling panicky for no reason at all.

Next year promises the same level of travel—perhaps more. I have fantasized about telling my boss I “can’t” fly, that the symptoms are simply too intense. But I recognize that the only way to maintain self-esteem and overcome symptoms is to do the thing I fear and hate to do. Feelings and sensations cannot be controlled, but thoughts and impulses can be. I can control my impulse to not fly again, and I can continue to change my thoughts using Recovery tools to replace insecure thoughts with secure ones.

Thus, I’m going to give myself a hearty endorsement for practicing Recovery in such uncomfortable circumstances this year. Feeling anxious on a flight is not a failure—we endorse for the effort, not the outcome. In years past I might have indeed told my boss that I can no longer travel by plane, but a life chained to anxiety is not how I plan to live.

12 comments:

harrietsuz said...

as a person living with anxiety and previously having the worst experience when getting on my first flight with anxiety I really enjoyed this post as well as many of your other posts! im new to this blogging thing and only got 2 posts, but ide really appreciate it if you had a read of my anxiety story on my first post! thankyou x http://harrietmilnes.blogspot.co.uk/

Anonymous said...

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Erica for Improved Healing said...

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Lauren Hayley said...

Hey :)

I've been reading your blog and it's incredibly interesting!

I wanted to quickly message you and find out whether or not you'd be interested in taking part in my Mental Health Art Auction.

It's a new project I'm running whereby we aim to raise awareness, fight stigma and raise money for charity.

The bloggers that will take part will be required to write posts -
promoting the auction
talking about their experiences
explaining why they're taking part

However the level of commitment is completely up to the individual blogger - any help is appreciated!


Please check out this link and let me know if you'd like to become involved -
https://bylaurenhayley.wordpress.com/the-mental-health-art-auction/
We'd love to have you on board.

Lauren Hayley

Anxious Guy said...

Your blog is very interesting! I've been suffering from extreme social anxiety for a long time now and reading articles such as yours makes me feel and know I am not alone. I've also started writing my own blog about anxiety and depression http://fightdepressionandanxiety.blogspot.com/ and I hope I will read much of your great content in the future.

Chicago Clinical Therapist said...

Thank you for taking the time to write this. It cannot always be easy.

Erin said...

"do the thing I fear and hate to do"... Exactly! I came to this conclusion myself as well, because I finally realized that I was planning my life around my anxiety. I doubt anyone likes having panic attacks, but having to figure out constantly how you're going to avoid feeling anxious just causes you to be more anxious. Once you face your fears head on, they start to lose their power over you. Do you want your anxiety to control your life, or do you want to be in control of your life? It's a tough battle, but it's worth it.

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Rumon Mridha said...

There are many different things that can trigger anxiety attacks or depression. Things like moving to a new home or getting ready for marriage can cause various physical and emotional manifestations of panic attacks like palpitations, cold hands and feet, sweating and even fear.
anxiety depression disorder

fahiamjfb said...


Mixed anxiety depression disorder is a relatively new diagnostic category that identifies patients who exhibit signs of both anxiety .
Once mixed anxiety depression has been diagnosed, the treatment of choice usually involves a combination of medication and some form of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behaviour therapy.
For more information: anxiety depression disorder

uzzal said...

This high-level anxiety makes normal life difficult and relaxation impossible.
They may also feel nauseated or have to go to the bathroom frequently.
For more: anxiety disorder