While this was over 12 months ago now, it is still as vivid as ever. This story still has so much relevance to the goings on in my life currently; look out for the next chapter of the story. I had known that there was this thing called anxiety out there amongst others, never did I think it would come to visit me.
I was excited about heading over to Melbourne to get away for a few days, catch up with friends and just relax. I was all smiles as the plane took off, I sat back in my chair with a smile on my face about what the weekend was to bring. As per usual, I am a sleeper when traveling so sat back in my chair to nod off for the short trip not knowing what was about to unfold. Some 30 minutes later I found myself awakening quite abruptly gasping for air, the scary thing was that I could not get any air, in or out. I remember sitting there for a good minute thinking, “this is it, I’m gone, on a Qantas flight.” “No one knows the pin to my phone to make the call” were the exact thoughts that came to my mind. A good 90 seconds went by which felt like an eternity and I was able to start to breath slowly again, I picked up a magazine to distract myself from what was happening and focused on breathing, very slowly but very surely. Being a very calm person by nature, it all came down to that, being able to remain calm and rational and take one breath at a time.
At this point, the plane dropped suddenly and it happened again, gasping for air, but none came in, again, I did all I could to distract myself from what was happening and focused on my breathing once again. I don’t know how I got through it but I did, once on the ground I still felt a bit rattled, afraid it was going to happen again and it took a long time to get back to feeling normal. I told my friend about it when I saw her and we put it down to abnormal cabin pressure and I continued to enjoy the few days off. In the back of my mind, I was starting to feel a bit anxious about the return flight and as the moment to head back came closer, I almost hired a car at the fear of flying again and being stuck in the air without any. The return flight a few days later was not much better, being that I was anxious already certainly did not help but I managed to keep calm and it was no where near as frightful as the flight over a few days earlier. Once back on the ground in Adelaide, I collected my bag and fell apart, I cried and was shaking and the whole time was thinking, “What is going on? What is this rattled feeling I have and where is it coming from?” I talked it out and managed to calm down and felt a sigh of relief at this feeling, little did I know these goings on were far from over. The following weeks were similar to what had happened in the air, 3-4 nights a week I would wake up during the night gasping for air, my heart was racing and it felt like an enormous surge of energy flow through my body to the point I felt like my veins were going to burst.
After a week or so of this going on I decided to go and have a chat to my GP and he referred me for a sleep study for a potential sleep apnea diagnosis so I agreed to do so. Given that there is heart conditions present in the family, I decided that this was a logical course of action to pick up anything that may be potentially unfolding. Due to my family history, I was fortunate to get in very quickly for the study and am currently awaiting my results. In the meantime, I caught up with an old friend and was telling her about my experience and she without hesitation said to me, “You’ve got anxiety.” At first this was very confronting for me as I have spent years working in welfare, disability support, youth work and a range of roles counseling other people and whilst I had always been aware of anxiety, my perception of what that actually felt like was completely different to what I had experienced. Once she mentioned the word, on a subconscious level I knew that she was right so we talked it out. I remember feeling like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, just saying the words and being ok with that fact that despite my calm and collected manner, I am not exempt from feeling something like this, after all, I am human, I am not above this.
When I think about this feeling of not being exempt, I look back over my life and realize that in so many situations, I have always been the pillar of strength and support for a lot of people in my life and very rarely do I seek support for myself. Thinking about this from a more spiritual/energetic point of view, its only logical to conclude that if there is more energy being taken from a source than being given back, then something has to give and perhaps the event on the flight was my time. Since exploring this feeling more and more since realizing it had occurred, I have been really focusing on what in my life is consuming more than it is giving back and have been actively making some changes in these areas.
Over two years ago, I left a long-term relationship because at the time, I felt like how I have mentioned above, I had been giving a lot more than I was getting back and I was starting to look external to the relationship for support, as I was not getting it within. I remember reaching a point where I just up and left one day, the thoughts had been on my brain for quite some time so the time came for action. It was all a blur in my life when I look back and I suppose at some points I was not really “present” at each decision point but that is where hindsight can be handy sometimes in allowing us to reflect on lessons learnt or lessons needing to be learnt but that is all a part of a process in this thing we call life.
Moving on, I have to be more honest and fourth coming with my emotions and completely honest with how much and what I am willing to take on. My time alone is time, which I cherish wholeheartedly, and more so than ever now I cherish the time I spend with others and am selective about with who and where that is spent.
Whilst anxiety is something I never thought would affect me, it has been somewhat bitter sweet as it is the reality check I perhaps really needed to bring me back to centre and re-evaluate a few things in my life which has now allowed me to move forward on a different wave of thinking and looking at a more authentic direction to take my life in and only time will tell how that will work out.
This piece was also featured on The Huffington Post