There’s actually been a ton of times I’ve had the 'nervous sweats’ so much so I could probably make a series out of them… You Better Sweat Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself? An idea for the future, perhaps.
Anyway, this particular case involved a flight to Seattle, travel anxiety and an expensive Jack Wills t-shirt (that didn’t even fit).
THE UNCERTAINTY OF TRAVEL
About three months prior to this episode, a friend of mine did his very best to persuade me to spend a month travelling down the west coast of America. It might sound odd that he had to convince me to go on such a fun adventure but travelling spikes all sorts of worries for me.
What happens if I have a panic attack on the plane?? What if I get sick abroad?? What happens if I get socially anxious around all these new people?? I think it all really comes down to a lack of control and when travelling, control is usually thrown out the window.
About a week before we were due to fly out, I began getting real anxious. First it manifested in me packing obsessively, making lists of what I needed, downloading films to watch on the many greyhound buses ahead and other things that gave me a sense of control.
Before I knew it, this ‘high functioning’ anxiety turned into pretty intense panic attacks. I wasn’t really sleeping well, had very little appetite and I was obsessing over every worry that popped up in my mind. If I’m being totally honest, it was a pretty terrible few days but in the end it was absolutely worth it.
THE BIG DAY
I woke up at about 6am the day of the flight. My aunt and uncle were kind enough to offer me a lift to the airport so I had stayed at theirs the night before.
I had visited a doctor a few days before and he had given me some 5mg diazepam to take on the morning of the flight. I personally have a huge fear of addiction but convinced myself it was alright to take half a tablet. It mellowed me a bit but my mind was still wired.
We arrived at Heathrow and I met up with my travel bud. After going through security (an anxiety inducing experience at the best of times), we sat down waiting to see what gate to head to.
I was feeling pretty warm so I took off my jumper. I was greeted by an odour unlike anything I had smelt before...
A little explanation of nervous sweats. When you experience high levels of anxiety, your body temperature heightens and as a result you sweat to cool yourself down. I’m not sure if the following is a scientific fact but it’s certainly the case for me; if I’m super anxious and I sweat, it smells horrific. Like, when you walk past a gorilla enclosure at a zoo, bad. (I am single, ladies).
THE NOSE BOMB
Upon gracing my nose, and everyone else’s in the waiting area with such a smell, I decided it would be best to go get some deodorant. After running to the bathroom and spraying myself down, I realised this smell simply could not be stopped. Last thing I wanted was everyone on my nine hour flight to think the cabin crew had let on the love child of a skunk and gorilla.
‘Ah ha, I’ll just go buy a cheap t-shirt and change!’, this thought was followed by the realisation that for whatever reason, our waiting area only seemed to contain stupidly expensive shops; Ted Baker, Burberry and Jack Wills.
I went with the latter and was conned into buying a plain blue t-shirt with a tiny Jack Wills logo for £40. I changed in the toilets and the smell was slightly better. I blasted a ton of deodorant over the t-shirt and headed back to the waiting area.
Our gate was soon announced and we headed off to our boarding area. I sat nervously waiting to get on the plane, my legs were jittering so much I thought they might detach from my torso. After what felt like an age, we were called up to board the plane and begin my first, proper travelling adventure.
All in all, the flight was actually okay and I cannot express how grateful I am that I did go travelling. It was so much bloody fun, I still had a few anxious wobbles here and there but ultimately it was one of the best month's of my life.
WHAT I LEARNT FROM THIS EXPERIENCE:
Getting yourself through an incredibly anxious period can be very rewarding and worth the pain and discomfort it produces.
That I personally can travel. Before I held the belief that I could never go travelling because of anxiety issues, so that was a HUGE realisation. (Don’t get me wrong, I still get reaaaal nervous before travelling but I know I can do it now).
To always pack a spare t-shirt in my carry on case, ready to battle the nervous sweats!
If you would like to submit a story, anonymously or under your name, please get in touch! You can fill out the contact form on the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org!