Traveling is an experience. An experience that gives us a sense of calmness, adventure, and excitement at the same time. An experience to get a break from the monotonous life. The lush green trees, the endless sea, the snow capped mountains – oh what a scenery!
But that’s not the ‘experience’ for all. Sometimes, despite being in the shadow of the tall mountains and surrounded by the sight of a beautiful endless sea, it makes you feel restless. It makes you nervous, breathless, nauseated, choked, numb, anxious – as if you’re not going to survive for more than a minute.
Being a person who has a love for traveling and exploring new places, I discovered this uneasy and difficult-to-cope-up-with feeling every time I travelled to a new place, for the first time in 2011. At that time, the feeling was given names such as ‘indigestion’, ‘homesickness’, ‘being fearful of the world’, ‘a problem of me not adjusting to the environment’ and so on. But it wasn’t named what it actually was until the very end of 2017.
What I had was a Panic Attack.
People were blatantly calling me names and putting tags on what I was feeling – sometimes empathetically and sometimes for the fun of it. I was expected to ‘snap out of it’ and ‘have fun’ as that was what I was supposed to do! But what they weren’t understanding was the struggle that I had to go through each day to get up, cope up with my feelings, and my sudden bouts of crying. I could not help but think of the ‘wrong things’ that could happen to me if I step out of my room.
All these years, these experiences have made me fearful and reluctant to travel to any place new. But, was sitting in my house for the rest of my life the solution to my problem? No. It wasn’t.
With proper guidance from my doctor and the support of my family and friends, what I did was to embark on a journey to fight my anxiety, my panic, my thoughts and myself. I traveled to some of the beautiful countries in the world, knowing what was going to happen to me. And it wasn’t as if I didn’t feel anxious again. But, now I am more confident and determined to expose myself to what I feared, because well, I had to fight it. Fight it and eventually conquer it.
– Aprajita Sharma