Personal // Talking Fear & Anxiety...

January 20, 2018


This is another of those personal posts, a short essay, that I only really write a few times a year because I guess that I'm scared of what people could think when I press publish. Which is ironic given today’s subject. I know of course that it's ok to talk about mental health and there should be no shame in discussing it at all. But there's always that thought in the back of your mind that some people will view you as weak for sharing your deepest thoughts? A few of you on Instagram encouraged me to share and start a discussion, so let's discuss your greatest fears? I don't think you'd be human to not fear anything, it's inherent, an inbuilt response to keep us safe. And what about anxiety? At what point does fear turn into a serious crippling anxiety? Fear can cause anxiety and anxiety can cause fear. I’ll share with you my anxieties if you’ll tell me yours...
Fear wise, the things that I have bad dreams about on a regular basis are crocodiles and sharks, I’m also stupidly scared of spiders and snakes. But we live in England so 90% of the time there's nothing to worry about. I come across the odd spider in the house and shriek until my husband comes to get rid of it. Although we are off to Australia on Tuesday, home to all of the above....

But anyway, that's not what I wanted to talk about. I'm here to talk about my crippling fear of trains. And crowded places and terrorism. That’s where my real anxieties lie. I haven’t got on a train, or bus, in England for probably 5 years now. I tell people that it’s quicker and cheaper to drive. Or that I like the walk when in London compared to getting on the underground. But in truth, I’d almost certainly have {and have had} a panic attack if I did. It was kind of weird when we were in New York and we used the subway. I felt ok there? At that point New York hadn’t had any terrorism since 9/11. I was nervous when in train stations in Lisbon. But London is a complete no go for me. Even when I was commuting back in 2013/2014 I used to have to get the main line train to London Euston but I could never wait inside in the terminal for my train or hang around in the coffee shops/shops inside because I was so convinced there would be a terror attack. In the press almost everyday at that point there were warnings of gun attacks and mass drills and advice for if you’re caught up. It was a matter of when not if.

So ever since then I drive into London. Which of course rationally and statistically I’m probably a lot more likely to get caught up in a car crash than terrorism. But cars don’t scare me. I’ll happily, and do most weeks, drive right through central London, it doesn’t stress me out. People are always shocked 'you drive into london?!!!' But make me get onto a packed tube train and I’d instantly be freaking out. I remember in Italy a few summers back crying outside of Rome’s train station as we were about to travel north to Tuscany. Again it was a heightened summer with the threat level and there were soldiers on patrol everywhere. At the colosseum I was convinced there was a cleaner who looked suspicious and wanted to get out of there pronto.

Flying can be just as bad. The number of times I’ve pressed the call button sobbing to the stewards that I saw somebody on a phone looking suspicious. It’s crazy. It drives my husband insane. He told me once that we’d have to stay in the UK for any future trips because it was getting me so worked up every time we flew. Going to America always makes me feel even more anxious. Especially the time we were flying home from LAX over July 4th weekend where there was a named bomb threat in the press for both LA and Heathrow flights. I went to the staff at the boarding gate begging them to check everyone again, telling them that they’d feel responsible forever if our plane went down. My mum had to give me a sleeping tablet to make me stop shaking on the plane. It’s not just planes, ever since the Belgium airport bombings I’m anxious until we get safely through security. Always scoping out the exits where I’d run to if there were anything to happen. I couldn’t go to a Coldplay concert at Wembley we’d got tickets for, again stadiums and large crowds are prime targets. And instead told everybody we had too much going on at the time to go rather than tell everybody the truth that I was convinced we'd be caught up some atrocity. The NFL game in America made me fearful but the security was extra tight there and you could only take a tiny clear plastic bag in.

I’m unhealthily obsessed with watching things like Homeland or reading the Daily Mail online about thwarted plots and terror raids {why do they always report so much more than the Times on it?}. Is this common for others to feel like this? Is this just part of the world we live in now? Ben doesn’t get scared by anything other than heights. He stays so level headed and often jokes that terrorism in the news is just for governmental control. But I know that it’s a real threat and of course last year was very real for England with attacks. We’ve stopped going into central London as much over the last couple of years too which in some ways makes me feel sad, but equally I wouldn't be able to relax much. I do go in for work but again I drive and I walk once I'm there. Don't even talk to me about Westfield or Brent Cross, I haven't been there for years and years. I'd be on edge.

It’s funny though isn’t it how I travel so much for both work and pleasure. I love the destinations and mostly don’t mind flying. Any turbulence and I’m a wreck for a little bit until it settles. But then I have a few good flights and I’m ‘cured’ again. Happy to be soaring in the air. Enjoying relaxing with movies and books. Feeling calm and planning future trips. So I've forced myself to try and enjoy flying.

Do you think I’m crazy for sharing all of this? I don’t particularly know if it’s worth writing or sharing on the blog. It’s just part of who I am. I would think of seeking medical or professional help. I don’t want to be popping xanax pills. I know it is an anxiety. But I don’t want, or need, to get on trains. Nowadays I have no option but to drive, or get an Uber or walk when in town, but it’s not something I’m looking to change. I’m quite fine with the situation. It won’t stop me flying because the greater destination is too good to resist. I just grit my teeth and cross my fingers and toes.

There are other things. Like most others, I'm scared of getting cancer, or any other kind of ill health and equally worry about any of my loved ones suffering from illness or getting into a car crash. But that kind of fear doesn’t stop you from doing things. It’s just something you push to the back of your head and hope will never happen.

I don’t really talk about my anxiety to anyone because I don’t even really think of it as anxiety. I mean, I know that it is but I feel like others suffer much worse with their mental health than I do. It’s just become my normal and I’m ok with it really. I’ll just say no to things I don’t think I'll feel comfortable with. But maybe we should be more open with talking about things like this. What do you think? What are you scared of? Sending you all a big hug and thanking you for listening to my ramblings. 

R <3 xx 

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6 comments

  1. Thank you for such an honest post. I think it’s important to talk about mental health and anxiety.I don’t have any real words of wisdom. Except to say that sometimes your worst fears come true and then you realise that you can still survive, you can get through it. I got diagnosed with incurable breast cancer at 35 and as the mum of 2 very young boys it was literally my worst fear coming true. But you know what I’m still here and living with it and it’s shown me I can do more and cope with more than I ever thought possible. (However I’m still too scared to do the helicopter trip my husband and I got given as I’m convinced something awful will happen - ironic right?!?!) I love reading your posts x

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  2. Staying away from Daily Mail online (or in any form) will help. They exist to frighten the general public-horrid publication.
    Take care
    X

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  3. My worst fears came true, my mum got cancer and died and within 3 months i too was diagnosed. But i came through it all and have no more anxiety about that sort of thing i just enjoy life. None of us should expect to get through life unscathed, but we all have the strength to get through the horrific times too x

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