Travel (Things that make me anxious, part 12)
If I manage to get to the end of this post and hit "Publish", I'm going to be both surprised and proud; or at least I would be - if I had the energy.
I don't think I've written much about the relentless FATIGUE that goes hand in hand with anxiety, but it's certainly here today and it's all I can muster to prop myself up and type. I actually let a cup of tea go cold because the energy it took to sit up and drink it was all too much earlier.
Most considerate people will notice the effects my anxiety has on me when I'm feeling anxious, particularly those who are close to me. I get jumpy, I look around nervously, I might start sweating or shaking, I might be a little bit irritable. What most people probably won't think about is the effect that this has on me once it has subsided a little, which is that I'm crazy tired.
I've just spent a lovely weekend away with some of my favourite people in the world: my family. My nana had some health problems towards the end of last year, so we decided to postpone her 70th Birthday celebrations and have a fun packed weekend in the countryside once she was feeling better (which thankfully she is!). So I (badly) packed my bag, hopped on a train and started my weekend.
Fun itself is all well and good. Can't beat a bit of good ol' fashioned japes in the sun with your loved ones. But here's the thing: TRAVEL MAKES ME ANXIOUS
Don't get me wrong, it isn't all bad. I love a destination. I LOVE an agenda. I've been known to welcome the peace and quiet that comes with looking out of a train window. I'd go as far as to say that I get a THRILL out of flying. If you way everything up, it's definitely all worth it. Obviously it is, I keep booking trip after trip, you don't do that if you hate something, do you?
And I'm actually pretty good at it too. I'm a friendly, respectful, rule abiding passenger. I'm a pro queuer, quiet YouTube watcher, discreet snack muncher and I know not to put a lock on my case that isn't TSA approved. I move quickly through train stations, the London Underground and Airport Security, always reading the signs and rarely causing any hold up. I'm only really a top hat short of being Phileas fucking Fogg.
So what's the problem?
Well first of all, I'm alert. This sort of makes me the perfect travel companion for you. You can read Take a Break and eat a packet of Quavers, safe in the knowledge that I have located all the appropriate attendants for each package and piece of baggage in a 1 mile radius. You can probably even get some shut eye, doze off and dream of home, while I interrogate the child opposite us about the intentions behind their trip. But it makes me a nightmare companion for myself.
Here are SOME of the things that cause me anxiety while travelling:
- The night before. Chances are, I'm not going to sleep well the night before a journey that is going to be any longer than about an hour. If I'm lucky, I might get 3 or 4 hours. If. I'm. Lucky.
- Immediately before. Being anxious about a trip, tends to mean that I spend as little time thinking (and therefore preparing) for it as possible. My avoidance technique (not the best coping method in the world) inevitably results in a last minute dash.
- Queues. To me, standing in a queue is akin to sitting in a duck. Or being a sitting duck. Whichever, neither sound particularly safe and/or comfortable.
- Crowds. Crowds are just ducks upon ducks upon ducks. Never do I feel more vulnerable than in a crowd. For a start, everyone is far too close and mostly in my way. Also, people make for terrible windows and I just can't see through them to assess nearby danger. Nightmare.
- Toilets. I like coffee. I mean, who doesn't after 3 hours sleep right? My bladder doesn't like coffee so much. My brain doesn't like the idea of public toilets. My suitcase doesn't like being in a cubicle with me, but it likes it far more than being an...
- Unattended baggage. Why are people so stupid? Why would you leave your bag on it's own? You deserve to lose your belongings.
- Praying. People praying freak me out. I respect their rights to do so, but it always leads me to make one of three conclusions about them: 1) they are a religious fundamentalist, 2) they are worried that something is about to go wrong, which means I should be worried about something going wrong or 3) they are talking to themselves and need help, which I am incapable of giving them.
- The News. Turning to my phone as a distraction, I am confronted with unlimited amounts of articles about terrorism and transport accidents (unless I am in a tunnel). This is unnerving and it's never long before I am on WikiHow looking at survival methods.
- Other: this really can be anything. Some past examples include (but are not limited to) worrying about: zombies, train robberies, bird flu, poison sandwiches, thieves, muggings, getting lost, crashing into an orca, being on the wrong train, passing out and falling onto the underground line, creep (the film), an Irish man who asked me about semtex, something being on my face, drunk youths and the list really does go on.
There are also some worries/concerns I have that are specific to particular methods of transport.
Let's start small, with perhaps the most straightforward method of transport: my very own lil legs. It is by far the LEAST scary method of transport, but I do still have the following concerns:
- Having an aneurysm and collapsing
- Falling into the road
- A car losing control and crashing into me
- A car deliberately crashing into me (exacerbated by recent attacks in France and Germany)
- How my legs know how to walk
- Being followed by a crazy serial killer
Buses are OK. They are slightly more scary than trains, slightly less scary than the underground. Here goes nothing...
- The bus crashing off the road
- The bus getting stuck under a bridge
- That there might be a bomb under my seat
- That the driver might hold us hostage
- That another passenger might hold us hostage
- That I might miss my stop
- That I might get off too early
- That someone I know is on the bus
- That I'm sitting weird
- That I'm on the wrong bus
While trains are less scary than buses, train stations are a lot more anxiety inducing than bus stops. They also come with the following worries:
- Missing my stop
- Losing my ticket and have to pay £5m for another
- Someone accidentally taking my suitcase
- Someone deliberately taking my suitcase
- Someone shouting at me
- Someone shouting at me and then putting it on YouTube
- Wetting myself
- Someone pushing me in front of the train
- The train coming off the track
- A bomb going off in the carriage
The London Underground
- Falling in front of the track
- Someone pushing me in front of the train
- Being attacked
- Terror attacks
- The driver losing control of the vehicle
- Crashing at a roundabout
- Crashing not at a roundabout
- The driver falling asleep
- Any of the drivers around us being drunk
- My feet being sucked up into the engine
- The engine exploding
- The engine exploding, getting out alive and being plowed into on the hard shoulder
- Someone running in front of the car
- Someone running in front of the car who is a murderer
- Black Ice
Boats (big or small)
- Killer whales
- Other whales
- Creatures that live too deep for us to have discovered yet
- Megalodon/ Liopleurodon/ Kronosaurus
- Storms at sea
- Falling overboard
Whatever worry I'm Googling on any given trip, it's safe to say there's going to be something that's on my mind. A 4 hour train journey one day, really take it out of me the next - it's probably more akin to a 16 hour journey for someone without anxiety (which is why I'm talking to my dog and ONLY MY DOG) today.
I made it to the bottom of the post! Yay.
(You may have noticed that I haven't included planes on the list - I am keen to write about how scary air travel can be for someone with anxiety and I have a blog post AND podcast episode on this topic coming up soon)