So, if you read my last post, you’ll know all about my recent trip to Disneyland. It was quite a long post, so I decided to write about the anxiety side of things separately. Regular readers of my blog will know that my anxiety doesn’t always behave itself when I go on trips, and I was particularly nervous about this one because it was the first time I went abroad without my husband. It may not be a big deal for a lot of people, but I’m used to having him calm me down when I get anxious, and he knows how to deal with me when I have a meltdown. Having said that, Lillie, my best friend who I went with, has seen me in some pretty bad states, so I didn’t really need to be as worried as I was!
I think I was probably more nervous about the flight than anything else. If you read about my flight to Madeira a few months ago, you’ll know why. I was very concerned about who would be sitting next to us above anything else. In addition, I convinced myself that because there were likely to be more kids on the flight, the chances of someone being sick would be massively increased.
Thankfully, my nerves eased on the actual day of our flight. I stayed calm on the drive to the airport and as we went through security. My favourite part of airport travel definitely has to be the duty free, so that always helps to keep me feeling calm too. Unfortunately, when I was buying a drink in Superdrug, the guy at the till told me all about the many delays and cancellations that had happened earlier, thanks to French air traffic control going down. This made me feel pretty on edge, and since then I refused to take my eyes off the departure board. Thankfully though, our flight wasn’t affected, so we boarded the plane at our usual time.
This is where I start getting a bit panicky. I don’t normally do well with take off anyway, but thanks to what happened last time, I was extra panicky. Thankfully, my nerves eased massively when the lady who was in the spare seat sat down. She was really chatty, which put me at ease, and if I can see someone isn’t anxious about flying, it immediately calms me down too. As we were about to take off, I started to feel panicky, so Lillie did her best to distract me. While talking about all of the different fish we’d see if we crashed into water doesn’t sound like the best way to calm an anxious flyer down, it broke the tension and it made me laugh. We chatted for the entire flight and before we knew it we were getting ready to land. I don’t particularly like landing, but this was genuinely the smoothest landing I’ve ever experienced on a plane. We genuinely didn’t feel the plane touching down. As we got off the plane, the pilot was stood at the front – he was incredibly young (and rather good looking if I’m honest!) and by the way he was talking to people, I think it may have been his first flight. Not entirely sure I would have coped very well knowing this before we took off, but by how smooth the whole flight was, you definitely wouldn’t have thought he was recently qualified!
We were pretty much on a high when we arrived in Paris, and the bus journey to the hotel (once it turned up!) was nice and stress free because we there were only a handful of people on it! I got a little anxious as we turned up at the hotel, because I was a little worried about the cleanliness of it and silly things like that, but thankfully it was all nice and clean.
I had a few wobbles during dinner unfortunately. Well, tiny ones anyway. I was told in advance by a number of people that I wouldn’t enjoy that part, so I think going in with low expectations helped with the nerves anyway. I don’t really like buffets as is – they’re too crowded and I don’t particularly like the idea of food being sat out for ages. Combined with the fact that there were A LOT of children at this particular buffet, I wasn’t exactly in a good place when we went to fill our plates.
I wandered around with an empty plate for a good 10 minutes before I helped myself to anything. I saw a big pan full of pasta which I went to grab a spoonful of, but because it was within easy reach of kids, it meant it was sneezed into by one of them before I could get to it. No pasta for me. In the car on the way back from the airport, Lillie said the look on my face when I sat back down with a plate of just carrots and runner beans was hilarious. At the time I was ready to cry, but looking back I think it must have been quite funny.
Because the buffet was Tex-Mex themed, a lot of the food was a no go for me anyway. Spicy food never tends to end well for me, so spicy food in a foreign country was definitely a no go. Thankfully, I managed to find some chips to go with my plate of vegetables, and I had a couple of meatballs too. I even managed a slice of cherry pie for pudding! The puddings they had at the children’s stand also looked really nice, but judging by the amount of kids crowded round it, you could also take your pick of childhood illness to go with your doughnuts.
My anxiety spiked a bit after we finished eating, but I think this was probably because I was feeling quite full. Thankfully, a walk around the gift shop got me feeling better! I didn’t feel great while we were getting ready for bed, but I usually get that problem when I travel. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that when I go to bed I’m left alone with my thoughts. It’s an easy way to wind myself up and get carried away, and before you know it, I’m having a full on panic attack. Luckily, my husband phoned me before I went to sleep, so that made me feel better. Unfortunately, I didn’t sleep much, and I managed to wake up during the night feeling sick and panicky. It didn’t last long though, and before you know it, I was woken up by my alarm.
I don’t really do well with breakfast. Often, the thought of eating first thing in the morning makes me feel sick, but I usually end up having to eat something so I can take my medication. Because I’m so anxious when I travel, I tend to struggle even more when it comes to breakfast. However, because we had a meal plan, I thought I should at least try to take advantage of the hotel breakfast because I’d paid for it. I wasn’t really brave enough to eat any of the cooked food, so I had a couple of croissants and a cup of tea. I even decided to have a coffee to give me a little bit of energy.
I am so grateful that my anxiety and my bad stomach behaved itself for the day when we visited the park. For pretty much the whole day, I was just a normal person. I didn’t have anxiety, and I didn’t have IBS. It was lovely. However, my OCD was still lingering in the background, as I had to crack out the hand sanitiser every five minutes. Although, when I travel, I generally allow myself to use it as much as I feel I need to. I know it’s not particularly healthy when you’re in recovery to give into your compulsions, but if it keeps me calm when I travel, I’m happy to let the rules slide for a couple of days.
We went for dinner in the Plaza Gardens restaurant, and while the quality of the food was much better, the state of the toilets set me off a bit. One of them was blocked, there was toilet roll all over the floor, and they absolutely stank. It was a shame because up until that point I thought it was a pretty nice place!
After a little shopping I felt a lot better, despite us both getting a bit cranky with the crowds by this point! We soon cheered up after watching the fireworks though, which was definitely one of my highlights of the trip. Unfortunately, on the way to the bus stop we got completely lost and ended up walking around for over an hour until we eventually found it. Combined with the exhaustion, I wasn’t feeling particularly great by the time we got back to our hotel. Although, after a shower, I felt much better once I was in bed. I had another quick phone call with my husband and I went to sleep. While I still didn’t get much, it was definitely more than what I had the previous night.
We decided to skip breakfast this morning because we weren’t very impressed with it the day before, so we went to Starbucks instead. Usually on the last day of any trip my anxiety calms right down anyway because I know I’m going home soon. Again, my mind and my stomach seemed to behave itself for the entire morning, which meant we were able to enjoy the Walt Disney Studios park before we had to go to the airport. I was beginning to run out of hand sanitiser by this point, so I tried to be a bit more frugal with it. It was a lot easier than I thought, although I think this was mainly down to the fact that I knew I’d be disinfecting everything once I got home anyway.
I started to feel a bit funny on the bus to the airport, but I’m putting it down to the fact I had a large coffee beforehand and that it was caffeine related. I managed to calm myself down and of course, once we’d got through security, I felt much better because we were so close to going home. I even managed to eat a chicken salad baguette before we got on the plane!
The flight home wasn’t too bad – a girl of a similar age was sat with us, and it was clear that flying didn’t bother her either so that meant I could stay calm about that side of things. Unfortunately, my seat was in front of a very young child who liked to kick it. While her nan kept saying “You’re being such a good girl” when she was clearly being annoying AF, I started to feel a bit wound up. Things got even worse when the little girl started crying and I could hear “it’s okay, Nanny will clean it up, I’ve got some fresh clothes for you, it’s fine” along with one of her siblings asking “has she been sick?” I instantly went into panic mode and started fumbling in my bag for my headphones, but this was short lived as it turned out the little girl hadn’t been sick, what happened was actually hilarious. The nan had gone to open a can of Coke, which had exploded all over the little girl and soaked her. Obviously fairly traumatic for the kid, but Lillie and I both found it highly amusing. Schadenfreude and all that.
And that was it. We landed (not quite as smoothly as before) and before we knew it we were in my husband’s car going home. I did it! I got on a flight and stayed in a hotel in a foreign country without my husband as my security blanket. I’m super proud of myself. However, I don’t think it would have been possible without Lillie. I think the reason why my anxiety didn’t show it’s head too much is because we were constantly laughing. There was always something funny going on, always a picture to be taken, always something to take the piss out of – it was like there was no time to feel anxious. So, not only did I have a fantastic trip with my best friend, I am so grateful to her for making me laugh when I needed it, and for chatting shit to me about fish and cows during take off.