A few days ago I was subject to my worst nightmare: a 10 hour bus ride. To make matters worse, there were 30 minute to 45 minute stops inside stuffy (close quarters) “rests”. My anxiety started the night before. I was in a panic. My palms were sweating and my heart was racing. Fight/Flight/Freeze was geared up and ready to go, packed in my suitcase, and weighing me down. Thankfully, I was allowed to check “extra baggage”. It was hardly enough room for my Misophonia and I.
Easter Monday is not a day you want to travel in the heavily Christian area of the East Coast in Canada. Every one – and I mean every one was on their way back to their respective universities and homes. Every seat on the bus was taken. There were no choices. At one point I begged a lady to let me sit by the window, and I mean begged. An older lady that I asked for a window seat on a later bus (there were 2 transfers…) shrugged and brushed me aside when I asked for the window due to my anxieties. Lesson learned, the road is a place for warfare.
There was once a time when travel was my worst fear. With Misophonia in mind, I found it terrifying to hop on a bus and be faced with people – close quarters – and of course, triggers.
I still have anxiety when traveling, but, it’s now only a little bit. What once took over my entire mind is now a small thought. I consider my trip, and I plan according to my needs. If you’re stressed about hopping a bus or a plane, you may want to prep yourself mentally. Below are some tips for traveling:
- Have a clear plan: tickets for travel booked, back-up cash, IDs, double checked bags, and ensure you have any devices that may lesson the burden
- Have earplugs, eye-mask, and/or music player and headphones (with an extra set) and your devices charged
- Don’t over-think it. Once you’re ready, watch a movie until it’s time to go. The more you work yourself up the easier it is for your mood to go south
- Focus on the reason you’re going, not the journey. It may make it easier to sit back and ‘enjoy the ride’
As for my recent trip? The day trailed on and on. Trigger after trigger. But, in a moment of clarity I realized something – standing at one of the bus stops, having a conversation. A kind man and I had a long chat. I realized something very important: I do not hate people. I do not hate conversations. I dislike being triggered – but “hate”, isn’t part of it. Traveling is hard, yes, but I’ve realized that it’s not the end of the world. At the end of the day, I made it home. I’m okay. Triggers may seem terrible in the moment but that’s what they are moments. I even bought bus tours from new brunswick, this will be a fun new adventure since I have never been to Brunswick. I’m actually really excited despite my anxiety about traveling.Want to learn more? Join a Workshop with Dr. Jennifer Brout or Duke CMER at Misophonia Education.