I was always an energetic and fidgety little girl. I’d get excited, and I couldn’t control myself. I’ll admit I could get a little out of hand. And I wasn’t afraid of anything either. So I guess you could say that first panic attack in New York City caught me by surprise.
Anxiety can be devastating, and the longer you pretend it isn’t there, the worse it will get.
It was almost like one day the switch was flipped, and I had anxiety. The trigger may be an obvious one, but it wasn’t at the time. I had just moved to New York City a week earlier, and it was the first time I was completely on my own.
I was alone and confronted with myself for the first time. A lot of the traumatic experiences from my past showed up unexpectedly. I didn’t have any friends around. And I was dealing with a break up with a guy who was able to move on within weeks despite the years we had spent together. Let’s just say it was a lot for a 21-year-old girl.
I’ll never forget the first flight I boarded after the anxiety started.
Flight anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks, and since then, I’ve been trying to figure out where it came from.
I was looking out of the window, and I felt trapped. Not claustrophobic trapped, but trapped in my own head. I felt like I had one million things to say, and I was unable to say them. Like I needed someone next to me, but the seat was empty. I needed to get off the plane, but we were moving. I had never been afraid of flying. Where was this flight anxiety coming from?
In the next year, I would find myself afraid of everything from riding the train to stopped traffic to being unable to reach anyone on the phone in the middle of the night. If I had even the smallest reason to be afraid, I would be, but it was always the worst when it came to flights.
I assumed that if I panicked on one flight, I would panic on the rest.
So I would build up fear for days before a flight and have to calm myself down the day of. I even convinced myself I had motion sickness (a very new development), and that any medication to take care of that motion sickness would hurt me in some way.