We’ve been in San Francisco for a couple of days, and there are some things I’ve noticed about how anxiety functions when I travel.
- Sleep matters more than normal. The bed in our room is shoved up against the corner(which is on my side) and the room is only a foot wider than the bed is long. So not only do I have to crawl down my side if I want to get out, I also have to crawl on the stupid shelf they put on the end of the bed(why?!). Getting up to pee in the middle of the night is like a whole hullabaloo. Add to that the fact that this bed is literally the loudest solid object I have ever encountered, the lack of actual doors, and the weirdly flat and unshapable pillows, and I’m definitely not waking up feeling rested. As a result, I’m just a little more sensitive to everything: I take everything a little more personally, I’m quicker to get frustrated or upset, and I feel the need for alone time a lot more strongly. I’m learning that I when I’m picking a place to stay, I need to really concentrate on the things that affect sleep instead of if the airbnb is cute or the hotel is near public transportation. That stuff matters, but sleep’s gotta be the first priority.
- The anxiety never goes away like it does at home. When I feel anxious at home, sleep is usually the thing that takes it away completely. Sometimes taking a walk with the dude or cuddling with the dog can do the trick. That’s not happening now, though, partly because there are 2.5x as many people in this space. I want to be clear that it’s no one’s fault: my nephew has been super awesome and my sister and her husband are great as ever. But because my brain loves anxiety, I find myself having all these new thoughts about the new things in my space: I woke up around 4:00 this morning and I couldn’t hear my nephew breathing and I was like oh my god he got wrapped up in the blankets and he’s getting smothered. No. First of all, my sister and her husband are excellent parents and light sleepers, and there is no way that would happen. Secondly, I’m predisposed (and have been taught) to put other people before myself, and that’s a natural avenue for anxiety to take. It makes total sense to me that my brain assumed responsibility for things it has no business being responsible for and then started to worry about all of them.
- I want to withdraw more. And it’s definitely a self-preservation thing, not an unhappy thing. I can feel that I’ve got just the tiniest bit of anxiety humming in the background all the time, and my instinct is to avoid anything that I think might spike it. But since anything can spike it because anxiety is a cold and heartless mistress, that doesn’t make sense to actually do. It’s like anxiety is the pavement I’m walking on: it’s there, and I’m not really thinking about it unless there’s a pothole or it’s uneven.
- I’m surprisingly ok. I really thought I was going to have more trouble than I’m having. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always uncomfortable being out of my space, even if I’m at my mom’s or something, but I definitely thought I’d be like actively worried the whole time, and I’m not. It just pops up every once in a while to remind me that I’m still there, then kind of hunkers down underneath wherever it’s hiding and leaves me alone for a while.
- I am so thankful for the dude. Seriously. I know I write about him all the time and I’m like disgustingly in love with him and it’s probably really annoying, but he is just the fucking best. It is so nice to have someone here with me who can read every little shift in my mood, who can anticipate how I’ll react to things, but who also doesn’t make a big deal out of it and thus make me more anxious. He checks in, asks if he can do anything, and then we go from there. He’s the shit. My jam. The peanut butter to my jelly.
Even though I kind of knew all these things already, it’s nice to be reminded of them. The more I encounter these things and have to deal with them, the more I expect them. The more I have to practice feeling tired or mildly anxious or whatever, the easier I can let it just be background noise. This is harder on bad days like Sunday, but that’s ok. Being able to recognize what’s going on with myself has been a great gift of therapy, and I intend to take full advantage of it.