You know when you are on a plane (sigh…. remember those days) and once everyone is seated and it’s almost time to fly, the cabin crew start to talk everyone through the safety presentation. They show you where the exits are as well as how to put on your life jacket – we all sit there, some people paying strict attention and others loosely watching, but all the while a little niggle at the back of our head is saying ‘I hope I never actually have to put my life jacket on and jump out the exit!’ But at least we will have an idea of what we need to do, in amongst the blind panic, should this ever arise.
Anyway, this isn’t about a potential plane issue, this is about the feeling you get when anxiety can hit you. That rising feeling of something that is coming for you and you just have this need to run, run, run! That fight, flight or freeze moment has kicked in and take flight is what you really want to do.
Although generally my anxiety is under control, at times, it can appear when I’m in a familiar place, but can still carry a sense of dread. When that awful feeling hits and I want to leave, more often that not, I’m with someone and I am not about to get up and run from whatever situation I’m in. Usually it comes when I’m out for a meal, or in a shop or in a crowd. Running is realistically impractical at the time and what would it achieve – there is no real sense of danger, there is no real threat. Yet my body has perceived it to be the case. Sitting eating a meal with Scott, is fun, not something I usually think about, but very occasionally, I feel anxious and this makes me want to get out and remove myself from the situation. Even if the situation is a meal! But, I sit with it. I sit with that feeling of anxiety as it washes over me. I know deep down, there is no threat, but my mind disagrees, it is screaming at me to get out, leave, and know that I will be safe when I do.
So whilst I sit there with all these thoughts and feelings going through my head, Scott is carrying on as normal. He knows nothing about what is happening in my head. On the outside I look normal – not a word I like – but he isn’t noticing the inner turmoil that I am going through. Because nothing is showing on my face, unless I say to him. I can feel really anxious and my brain is telling my body to run, Scott won’t know. It can come out of no where and be more prevailing if I have had a particularly anxious day or week, but usually I’m in a restaurant or pub that is well known to me and it still happens.
That is why, for years I have always made sure I know where the exits are, I know how to get out of a building if my anxiety takes a hold of me and my usual strategy of sitting through it, wont work, Those exits will be available to me when my head wants me to tear out of there and breathe. It’s odd, but it can often make me feel trapped inside, so getting outside feels freeing and calming.
Exits are important to me as they are important as knowing what to do in an emergency on a plane. There will be times, people are with me, and this overwhelming need to find that exit will be there. But every time I’m somewhere familiar or somewhere brand new, I know how to get out, I have worked out and remembered the route, even if that exit is behind me or to my side. Knowing how to get out is what helps me to remain seated during these anxious moments, I know that may sound weird or strange, but if that reassures me, then hey, I will happily have that in my anxiety toolkit!
As I’ve said, you’ll unlikely know I am going through this, unless I tell you, I’ll look the same, I’ll act the same. But inside my head I am talking myself into staying seated and that nothing bad is going to happen, enjoy that meal or the shop I’m in, don’t leave as you will be hungry or will have to come back later to shop. Facing up to the anxiety and acknowledging it helps me stay. I know there is no need for me to run and that exit always gives me an option. My husband or my friends, would forgive me if I did run out, but the likelihood of me doing it, is very slim, I want to be there. So to leave is not something I want to do. Most times, the feeling passes and I can just get on with what I am doing but there are times when it does last all day and it’s may take a few days for the anxiety to pass.
I should point out that I have never, ever felt like this on a plane. I certainly wouldn’t be rushing to those exits.
My strategy is exits, maybe you have the same or maybe you have a different one, please feel free to share. It may just help someone else when the overwhelming sense to run hits. We need to find strategies that work well for us, this may mean experimenting until you find something useful, but give it a go, you never know if it can help unless you try.
Take care, have a lovely week and as always, look after you!
Love Emma xx 😊