The calm after the storm

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” Vivian Greene

I have always been an anxious traveller, the worst-case-scenario type of person, the type of person who checks for her passport twenty times before leaving the house, who arrives at the airport four hours in advance and looks for the departure board every thirty seconds even when the flight is not due for another three hours.  It’s not something new. I have been like this since I was a child. My children are used to it and learnt to entertain themselves for hours, but some of my friends find it highly irritating.

Lucky for everyone, I was travelling on my own last Friday evening. It was a short flight to France, so there was no reason to feel overly anxious, especially since I do this journey frequently. However, when I woke up on the morning of the flight, I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest and that butterflies were fluttering in my stomach. I felt ripples of anxiety. My breathing was shallow, my mouth dry, my heart palpitating and my body trembling uncontrollably. It took me by surprise as things had been going well recently and I was looking forward to spend some time with my family.

I guess that PTSD does not vanish suddenly and that I have to expect symptoms to manifest themselves now and then. Fortunately, I am now able to recognise the onset panic attacks and I am better able to minimise their intensity and duration.

I had not eaten anything that morning and all I had consumed was a black coffee, which was a mistake as caffeine can be a trigger for panic attacks as it leads to an increased heart rate. Moreover, dehydration and the drop of sugar levels from lack of food can cause light-headedness which can also intensify anxiety.

First, when I arrived at the airport, I sat down and try to concentrate on my breathing. I have recently discovered that abdominal breathing is very useful in calming me, so I did this for a few minutes and my breathing became more regular. I felt slightly less anxious.

Then, I went to a café to get something to eat and drink. The mechanic of eating grounded me slightly as it took me back to the instant. Therefore the nervous feeling in my stomach lessened slightly.

While I was in the café, I decided to distract myself by writing some haikus for the website I have created with two of my friends (https://postscriptumpoets.wordpress.com/).  Writing haikus is very therapeutic as it allows the cathartic release of negative or traumatic experiences. A lot of my haikus are quite sombre, but I also try to write some more cheerful ones!

Here’s an example:

Roadkill

I have now become

Yet another casualty

Of your brutish games

Rebirth

Primroses blossom

Project a radiant glow

Unto my dull soul

It’s not Shakespeare, but I became so intensely focused in the task that the anxiety disappeared and I felt calm return to me. I spent the next two hours writing haikus and then it was time for boarding.

I am now in France, feeling calm and relaxed enjoying the magnificent views and the beautiful spring flowers.

After the storm, the calm always returns and the sun starts shining again…

20 comments

  1. Your writing has always been engaging and this one is the same (:
    The haikus are deep and meaningful.
    I hope you have a great time in France. 💖

    I’m slightly envious of you because France is my dream. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope you have a great time visiting! Thank you for sharing your experiences with flight anxiety. One of these days I would like to visit France.

    Flying is not a favorite of mine, and I tend to avoid it when possible. I don’t get nauseated, but when there is turbulence, it sets off my vertigo and makes the whole experience more stressful. I’ve found that watching movies on my phone/tablet while I do something like crochet helps make the flight more comfortable.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hope you had a good time in France. PTSD strikes out of the blue sometimes doesn’t it?
    I had the phrase from Richard Grannon,”it’s just an emotional flashback” up on my wall. I found it very reassuring to read if ever I felt the symptoms of PTSD cropping up.

    Like

  4. We share this travel anxiety, dearest… it’s strange, because, on a side I do wish to travel, on the other side it makes me anxious (I really don’t know why: the uncertainty? The unknown?). But I am becoming less affected with time… probably I will get completely anxiety free at 80, when I won’t be able to travel anymore unless I undergo a hip replacement… 😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Traveling, to me, is the best possible way to leave the past behind. It allows us to focus on something other than what we’ve been through. I mean, c’mon now, who wants to be thinking of other things and then possibly miss g our flight cuz our minds were somewhere else? Focus…focus. On the task at hand. I hope you are having the a great time in France!

    Liked by 1 person

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