Travelling with Anxiety

Do you ever do something and think afterwards how the f**k did I do that? IF ONLY IT COULD BE BOTTLED, THAT COURAGE.

I am talking about traveling with anxiety.

I have suffered with anxiety my whole life. It has limited my life to the extent I don’t go out, and if I do it’s after dark and to the supermarket to stock up on pasta and ice cream.

I have a partner I have been with for a few years. We did attempt to go out as a couple to restaurants and the like, but quickly had to knock that on the head because my anxiety did not make the experience at all fun. Then shit happened and going out at all became impossible.

But.

That said, we have gone on holidays abroad. This is the point I think HOW?

Going on holiday is stressful, if like me you have agoraphobia and anxiety. For my partner it is enjoyable. Yes. Enjoyable. What a strange old word. Let’s break it down.

Travelling with Anxiety


Writing a list. A travel inventory. Nothing must be forgotten. Shades, toiletries – are they in a clear bag and to the measurements required, pads – you never know I might start my period, notebook, books, flip flops, charger – spare charger, snacks, magazine, toilet rolls, an outfit for my hand luggage – in case I puke over myself on the plane (keeping it classy) blanket, towel, sweeteners – am I the only person who feels bad when someone on the plane has forgotten their sweeteners and the cabin crew don’t have any, raincoat, tickets, printout of travel/hotel info, wipes, soap, money – in all currencies, tissues, water bottle.

Yes, this stuff can be bought in Spain or Germany or wherever. Yes, it is ok to forget something. TELL THAT TO MY BRAIN.

Packing the suitcase. Have to remember carrier bags, day outfits, socks, underwear, night outfits, evening outfits, pyjamas, loungewear, OH MY GOD THE SUITCASE ISN’T ZIPPING SHUT.

Traveling to the airport. That involves a train into London, an overnight stay in a hotel, worrying about dinner, and breakfast, trying to sleep in a bed that is not my own, what if my alarm doesn’t ring and we miss our flight, what if I don’t have time for a shower – I don’t want people to think I stink, setting the alarm 8 times so it goes off in the lift, and in the taxi on the way to the airport AND NOT BEING ABLE TO TURN IT OFF, worrying I may have left something in the hotel when I leave – I DIDN’T UNPACK ANYTHING.

The airport. Oh the airport. Trying to navigate the way into the airport, onto the shuttle, finding the toilets, waving off our suitcases, trying to hydrate and simultaneously trying to finish the bottle of water before we go through security, finding another toilet, queue at security, sweating because – you never know – I might get arrested, wondering if you will ever see your hand luggage again when you have relinquished it, the waiting, the delays, wandering through endless cold corridors – which always make me think of the time corridors in Doctor Who – my partner gets thoroughly annoyed every time I mention it,

all this while trying to rearrange my face to appear ‘normal’ while inside I am losing my shit, having no idea what to do with my hands, trying to not get stomped on by people in a bigger rush to get this done with than me,

then asking myself if my face has changed from my passport photo and they won’t let me on the plane, more waiting, waiting, getting onto those stairs to the plane – they frighten me – I don’t like heights, knowing as someone with a large chest someone is going to elbow my boobs, or going to get them in their head or back, and how on earth you get comfortable in a plane seat I do not know. As soon as I am sat in my seat I want to leave. There is no personal space, my knees are in jeopardy, and I immediately get a headache as soon as the plane takes off. 

You think at this point I would have a chance to breathe, but no. I am counting down the minutes until the plane gets back onto solid ground. I’m not quiet about this either.

Being in a foreign country unsettles me. It’s because home is a bit too far away for comfort.

Queuing for the toilet, queuing, more queuing, and finding our suitcases. Is there no better way? Maybe it is just me, but how do I pull my suitcase off that thing without me landing on my backside.

I don’t know why, but we get a coach transfer to our hotel. It is a new kind of hell. Waiting for everyone to get onto the coach, onto the right coach, the relinquishing of luggage again as it goes in the boot, I worry about all of the kids running around, I worry about how the rest of the day is going to pan out now we are actually HERE.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It takes me 2 days to recover. So why do I do it to myself?

Because my anxiety is limiting, it also limits my partner’s life. I’m not going to tell him we can’t go on holiday, because there’s already a lot we don’t do because of my anxiety.

It’s like a bruise. Curiosity makes me keep prodding it. Travel is exciting. I like the idea of it. I like experiencing new places. New foods and new people not so much. Anxiety inducing.  The holiday we had last year was relatively less stressful, which I think means I may be getting used to it. Also the airport was trying a new way of easing queues and getting people onto their flights quicker. That worked like a dream.

It’s a privilege to travel as well, my family could never afford to take me and my two siblings abroad. I think my parents probably had enough of taking us to stay in a caravan for a week. The memories I have of that are being in a stuffy car, ants and endless walking. I still had anxiety then. I will forever dislike piers. How can walking along slats of wood across the sea ever be fun? I used to have nightmares about falling into the sea. It doesn’t take a lot to fuel my imagination.

Photo by Marianna on Pexels.com

Thanks for reading!

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4 Questions with James F. Miller

1, Tell us about you, and your writing (themes, influences etc.)

I am an outdoorsman, survivalist, recovered addict, musician, father, and so much more. I began writing in elementary school as song lyrics. This changed to poetry around middle school. I have been in and out of multiple colleges with various majors since the late 1990s. My range of interests is exceptionally large. Music management and live sound were my life for many years after I concluded my 8th semester in college. It was on the road, in the steady presence of excess that I found my weakness. My first book A Footnote for Tomorrow was about my struggles with addiction and my journey along the way to recovery. My second book is about the decline of society, morals, and values as both a broad spectrum and as it applies in the building block of society, the modern relationship.

2, What are some of the ways in which you promote your work, and do you find these add, or eat into, your time writing?

I promote via social media, occasional advertisements, and have a lot of help from outsourced marketing people to assist with my promotional activities. I could not say that it eats much into my time, because the bulk of my sales come through random meetings and conversations or successful marketing campaigns. I don’t really spend as much time writing as I spend on rewrites and editing of those hour or two here there writing sessions.

3, What projects are you working on at present? 

Presently, I am finishing up what will be my third full length collection, A Lesser Man, it’s a collection of poetry about person’s battle to find their way and identity in life, romance, career and especially faith. Those ups and downs turn arounds and revisions that we make along the journey that is defining us finding our own definition.

4, What does poetry mean to you?

Poetry is that first big, deep, fresh breath of air that starts our days off. Without its release, I am not sure I could have been able to keep my composure to make it as far as I have in any aspect of my life. It’s as vital as water and food, it is the sustenance that sustains us.

James Miller is a poet from the Midwest. His passion for writing began to burn for him once he learned to write in cursive.  Putting pen to page is what makes him feel alive.  His book, A Footnote for Tomorrow, has held the No. 2 spot on Amazon Top New Releases list and remained in the top 10 for two months.  He has been published in the Tecumseh Review (Vincennes University, Indiana), in 2000, as well as various anthologies between 1997 and 2000.

Jim was born in 1970s in a small town in northern Indiana.  His early life was spent between Indiana, Florida and the New York area. After his many years in college, he took to the road and travelled the country in a quest to find himself and some meaning or purpose in life.

During his academic career, James studied English, creative writing, journalism, advertising, philosophy and music/audio recording. During that time, he attended several smaller community colleges including Vincennes University where he studied English-Creative Writing, Journalism and Music-Audio Recording.  During his time at VU he held an editor position on the school’s newspaper, The Trailblazer, for four semesters. 

When he is not writing, working on the family business or at the auto factory, Jim likes to throw on a backpack and hike or load up the kayak and head out into nature. He’s a curious man who will speak to anyone willing to have a meaningful conversation. 


Book Review The Woman with an Owl Tattoo by Anne Walsh Donnelly.

This life-affirming poetry collection reflects on the author’s growth since the ending of her marriage and what it means to unearth one’s true sexual orientation, in mid-life. Anne Walsh Donnelly’s intimate exploration of sexuality and identity is both brave and touching, marking this debut collection as a triumph.

“Anne Walsh Donnelly is by far the most daring poet to emerge in Ireland of late. The starkly honest and overt sexuality which pervades Anne’s poetry make the work of pretty much all her contemporaries appear repressed and backward-looking in comparison. This publication would certainly have been banned in the Ireland of the past. Indeed, she is one of the few poets around whose work has the glorious ability to get moralistic, supposedly liberal eyebrows twitching. Anne’s poems are pretty perfectly formed hand grenades which she tosses about the place with abandon while maintaining a deadpan face. I think this publication is the beginning of something great.” Kevin Higgins, author of Song of Songs 2.0: New & Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry, 2017).

TWWAOT is an astonishing collection of poetry by Anne Walsh Donnelly. The poems talk of the end of a marriage, to a discovery of sexuality and identity. Animals feature in a few of the poems, with the setting being a farm.  I loved the imagery in poems Tawny Owl and Metamorphosis, After Franz Kafka. There are a series of poems in TWWAOT, with a range of different scenarios, titled Coming out to my therapist, myself, my son, my daughter, mother, and father. They have the varying reactions to the narrator coming out as a lesbian. They also have dialogue. I love dialogue in poems.

Lava formed sills on my surface,

flushed my cheeks, just as my plates

were supposed to settle and glide into old age

a woman’s touch smashed my crust

The Woman with an Owl Tattoo by Anne Walsh Donnelly

I like TWWAOT is a voice from an older woman. I think it is important to have visible LGBTQ + voices from people of all ages, to be able to talk about the different challenges we all face, and to appreciate being our true selves is a brave act.

photo credit Kate Lewington

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Outsider – a poem

Poem published in SUBROSA Curated by Estefania Schubert & Ingrid M. Calderón-Collins ✍️
TW suicide & self-harm.

This poem pretty much sums up my feelings of being an outsider. I have never felt secure with people, in friendships and it’s all been a fight to fit in, to be accepted and keep a straight face and not appear too ‘weird’. To be honest, looking back I think all of us kids were trying hard to fit in, because it was all about the hierarchy and being cool in school. Better to be in than out. I used to get bullied because I was naive, was shy and wouldn’t stand up for myself, I would believe what people were telling me … about myself. I gave up trying to make friends by the time I was 13 & social isolation accelerated my depression. Social isolation and depression made me both suicidal and self-harm. As did the dysphoria puberty gave me.


I was full of self-pity & hatred because no-one seemed to be able to help or understand me. I didn’t understand why I was struggling to function. I was walking around feeling I was repeatedly being smacked around the head with a frying pan.
Teachers only saw me as a pain in the backside, who wouldn’t do their work & would disrupt lessons. I spent so many years denying any feelings I had, feeling it was my fault & thinking no-one liked me because what is there to like?
It’s amazing& sad, looking back, at how much of how I behaved & thought was depression and stigma and shame and loneliness and what people had told me I was and should do.

I don’t need to carry that shit anymore!!!!!!
I don’t need to keep destroying myself.