Posts Tagged by fear

How One Day Can Change Your Life

Here I am…on the longest flight I’ve been on in over 10 years, writing to you at over 36,000 feet.  I’ve shocked myself today.  I woke up focused and had very minimal anxiety getting to the airport and even boarding the plane.  Maybe I was just THAT tired or maybe I’m actually dealing with this better.  I took an Ativan once seated so I could take a nap for a while, but that only lasted about 1.5 hours and once again…I’m ok!

This all might seem silly to a lot of people…this fear of flying thing, but it really is rooted in a not so pretty place that I’ve never gone into detail about here.  You see, I wasn’t always liked this.  I LOVED to fly when I was younger.  I traveled all over the U.S. including San Francisco, San Antonio, and Denver.  I traveled internationally to England, France and even spent 2 months abroad in Ireland.  Traveling was exciting…so many opportunities are available once you step off that plane!  

But when I was 21 years old, the world changed….September 11th happened.

33-Gold-Street-World-Trade-Center

On that day I was living 5 blocks from the World Trade Center in a studio apartment at 33 Gold Street.  I had just started my final year at New York University and I was working in the Box Office at the Hammerstein Ballroom, one of the top concert venues in NYC at the time.  To say I was loving life was an understatement.   Well you know the story of the day so I won’t rehash that business, but to say the events greatly effected me is an understatement.  And it didn’t happen right way either…  

Soon after 9/11, I traveled quite a bit…to England, Arizona, Florida…but with each trip my anxiety grew.  I moved out of the city to Hoboken, NJ across the Hudson river, but I was still commuting in for work and school every day.  Soon I started having trouble on the subway, going through tunnels and being on bridges.  This is a problem when you have to use at least one of those things to get in or out of NYC.  My fear of being trapped, like I was on 9/11, was becoming overwhelming and crippling.   

I ended up having to leave NYC because the stress of having to go there everyday was too much.  Well that wasn’t the ONLY reason, but it played a large part in our decision to move to CT.  However the problem with that was now that I no longer had to face those fears everyday, my reactions were 1,000 times worse when I actually did.  I would have a full on panic attack driving over the George Washington Bridge.  I wouldn’t take the train into NYC or take the Subway for almost 8 years.  Getting on a plane was out of the question.  B and I actually DROVE to Florida for our Honeymoon…it’s amazing that man actually married me.  And the worst thing about all of this was that it was affecting my health because all of that stress would cause my UC to flare on a regular basis.

It was after that long drive to Florida that I finally woke up.  I couldn’t live my life like this anymore…I was missing out on LIFE!  B also turned to me and said, if you ever want to go to Disney again we are flying.  Well that right there is motivation enough to change! 🙂  With the help of a low dose of anti-anxiety medication and the will to face my fears, I am slowly working through all of my fears.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I need help here…

Now look at me.  As I finish writing this, I am sitting in my hotel room at the Disneyland Hotel after taking a non-stop flight from NY to LA.  That’s almost 6 hours on a plane people!!  I am having a blast at The Happiest Place on Earth with the love of my life and later this week I get to go the the CrossFit Games!!  How could I have denied myself these experiences?  

Sarah-Disneyland-2014

I’m not saying it’s easy, it’s far from it!  Last week I had a panic attack just thinking about traveling, but I’ve learned how to calm myself down and try to relax a bit.  Exercise really helps!  I’ve also learned that talking about it helps.  Sometimes you just ned to get all the crazy out because you otherwise feel like this…

Sarah-Disneyland-2014-Wild-Animal

So there’s the backstory to all of the anxiety-ridden posts you’ve seen and probably will continue to see over time.  It’s amazing how that one day almost 13 years ago completely changed my life, but looking back now it has only made me stronger.  I’ve had to overcome some major shit, but I’ve been trying to do it with a smile.  🙂   

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I Made It! Anxiety and All…

Two weeks ago I wrote about my super fun struggles with anxiety (insert sarcasm here).  Well anxiety aside, I overcame those fears and made my way out to Colorado and California.  Ok, ok…it wasn’t as easy as just overcoming my fears but what matters is, I made it.

Shockingly, B and I were packed and ready to go early in the day so we managed to get a good night’s sleep.  I think I’ve gotten this packing thing down to a science now, which clearly eases my anxiety.  All the flights were thankfully uneventful and I made it through with minimal problems.  I also had the help of some medication so I could relax and sleep….that’s always a bonus 🙂

Still a bit doped up... What's going on with my hair?!?

Still a bit doped up in Denver…
What’s going on with my hair?!?

Well tonight it starts all over again.  I’m leaving for Florida tomorrow for a relaxing trip with some of my best friends.  I’m definitely not as anxious this time around.  I feel like the more I travel the better I get at it.  And now with California under my belt, the flight to Florida will seem short…I hope!  Plus, I get to spend the week here:

Vero Beach

Nothing but excitement here!  Thanks again to everyone who shared their stories of anxiety with me and how you overcome your fears…it was all incredibly helpful!

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Anxiety or Excitement?

I have a big trip coming up.  I’m heading to Colorado for a few days to visit family, then I’m off to Disneyland to run the Dumbo Double Dare Challenge!  I’ve been planning this trip since January when I signed up for the race so I’m super excited that it’s finally here. However, as usual for me before I travel I’m a bundle of nerves, but sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the two emotions.  Am I freaking out about traveling or an am super excited to finally get to see Sleeping Beauty Castle?  

Here’s a little back story on my travel anxiety.  Until my early twenties, I LOVED to travel. I’ve been all over the United States and have made numerous trips to Europe, including a summer semester abroad in Dublin.  Flying was exciting, travel was an adventure!  I couldn’t wait to take my next trip.  Then September 11th happened.  I only lived 5 blocks from the World Trade Center on that day and I was trapped in my apartment for several hours.  It was one of the most terrifying days of my life and unfortunately it sparked a new anxiety within me.  Call it the fear of the unknown, the fear of being trapped, the fear of not being in control, or all of the above.  I would become paralyzed with fear in certain situations.  Riding the subway, driving through tunnels or over bridges, and the thought of flying was out of the question.  I actually went 5 years without flying and even made B drive to Florida for our honeymoon…he’s such a saint!

Through medication and some sheer will power I have started traveling again, but it’s not easy.  The longest flights I’ve been on in recent years are just over 2 hours to Orlando and those are often difficult to get through.  So you can imagine my anxiety about going all the way out to Califorina.  Gaaaaahhhhhh!!  Since about Tuesday, my stomach has been in knots and my head has been going around in circles.    Anxiety up, then down, excitement up, excitement down, repeat.  A roller coaster of emotions!  And don’t even get me started with what this does to my digestive system.  Sigh….

Here are a few ways of I’ve found to get relaxed before flying:

Lift Heavy Things

Exercise is always highly therapeutic and proven to take your mind off streesful situations. Never underestimate the power of sweat!  For me, I love to challenge myself and lift heavy things!  If I can lift 98# over my head, I can surely get through these flights.

Clean-and-Jerk

Cuddle with Cats

Pet therapy is the best therapy!  There isn’t much that a strong purr and a soft belly can’t fix, especially when you’re not feeling your best.    

Cat-Cuddle

 Get Organized

Chaos feeds into my anxiety, so the more organized I can make my packing the better.  I like to get a list together and get everything set in the guest room before I pack it.  This way, I wont forget anything while away and it gives me some sense of control.

Packing

 

I’m still freaking out a bit about traveling, but I’m surprisingly doing pretty well today. Just relaxing and taking it easy.  This trip is a HUGE step for me into getting back to normal and being able to travel the world again.  I want to see and experience all that life has to offer…I can’t let this stupid anxiety control my life.  Hopefully pretty soon the excitement will be the only butterflies in my stomach leading up to a trip 🙂

Do you deal with anxiety?  How do you manage?

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Settling the Sand

I love the Saturday morning Yoga class that I found at Ganga Flow Yoga in Milford.  The instructor Stacy is not only a great teacher, but she always begins and ends the class with some words of wisdom to reflect on throughout the practice.  Today was about settling the sand…  

Beach_Sand3

Emotions are powerful.  They can dictate our mood and behavior.  So why is it that we put so much energy into negative emotions like anger, fear and anxiety while pushing the positive emotions of love, happiness and amusement to the wayside?  We dwell on these things, let them bring us down, let them effect out health.  Something I know all too well. Not good…  

Stacy had us look at all of these emotions and experiences in our life as grains of sand. There can be so many emotions swirling around chaotically like waves crashing in on the beach.

Waves

As the waves hit he beach, it is full of sand and foam making things look murky.  

Beach_Sand4

But then the sand begins to settle and the water gets clearer.

Beach_Sand2

We need to settle our sand, our emotions, and let the water clear.  We can easily become overwhelmed with the negative and forget to see all of the beauty and joy that surrounds us everyday.  Stacy emphasized the importance of taking time throughout the day to pause, reflect, and settle that sand.  All the emotions, both negative and positive, are beneficial and make up who we are.  We just can’t let one or the other overwhelm us because the entire picture is quite beautiful.         

Beach_Sand5

I needed this today since my sand has seemed like it’s been in a hurricane lately.  I found that centering my mind and body with a yoga class like this has already begun to help me find more calm in other areas of my life.  These small tools, like settling the sand, are a great way to bring perspective to tough situations at home, work, school, you name it! The sand won’t always be settled and the water won’t always be clear, but at least I can figure out a way to get back there.

How do you settle your sand? 

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