Please note: I wrote this post last week. I am now 4 weeks from flight. Less if you’re not subscribed to my Patreon and reading this for free there or on my blog.
I’m traveling by plane from Boston to Florida in five weeks. You need to stop reading right now. Instead, please offer sympathy and a shoulder to cry on to all my co-workers, close friends, and of course, my family.
We both know you’re not going to, though, so let me explain why you’re wrong. I guarantee that by the end of this you’ll feel like a heel for not sending my husband a balloon-gram.
Normally, I am the calm one in my family. On the sliding scale of anxiety, my husband and my mother are the high points, leaving me to slip down into normal territory. And my sister… Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick, my sister is so bad that she fucking anchors the other end of our scale. She slams it into the ground with how many times she’s spent an entire day in the ER with anxiety so out of control it’s caused physical symptoms requiring an IV drip and morphine.
You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. I can think of three occasions since my daughter was born alone. Loved ones with acute anxiety is a part of my reality. I myself have anxiety, but it’s tendencies are normally curbed out of necessity. Someone has to act as a counter-balance to all the aforementioned anxiety, and that somebody is me.
(In case you’re thinking this is an unfair tradeoff, I routinely send messages to my sister and husband asking them to tell my child about me if something should happen to me. I’m just on the edge of suicidal ideation at my very worst and occasionally I dip my toes in. Usually around the time I’ve convinced myself that no one loves me and no one would miss me if I was gone. I send those statements to my husband as well…)
To summarize, I have depression and my husband/sister/mother have anxiety. Right up until air travel is involved.
My husband and sister are champion flyers. My mother is not. The only person who insists on getting to the airport earlier than I do is my mother… something that serves us well as she’s usually my ride. Though that also throws in her anxiety from driving in Boston and…
Okay, listen, we’ll circle back to my mother. (This is the working title for my biography). For right now, let’s focus on me. (This is the working title for exactly nothing in my life). The second I begin preparing for a trip that involves a plane, I lose my goddamned mind. We’re flying in five weeks. Five weeks. I’ve already had a panic attack as I was lying down to sleep over how we were going to get our booster seat to Florida. Did we have to check it? Would my child need it on the flight?
There goes my night of sleep as my heartbeat is suddenly going fast enough to travel back in time…
The next day it was panic over what kind of identification my child would need to get on the airplane. She doesn’t have an ID. Do I need her birth certificate? Everyone says they brought a copy, but does that mean an official copy or a photocopy? What if she gets selected for screening and has to get a pat down? What if she’s a smartass to the security guards? What if she decides to tell them exactly where she’s flying, who she plans on seeing, and who she saw last time and it takes so long we miss the plane?
Hello, headache and goodbye last hour of my workday… It’s okay. I like spending time in the bathroom huddled in a corner with my head between my knees.
This is not counting the panic over money. Or as I like to call it, my go-to panic attack. We’re going to Disney two days while we’re down there but haven’t bought the tickets yet as my sister-in-law can get us a better deal. But how much better? I know it’ll be less than the Disney site ($625 for three people for two days) but how much better? What is the exact cost of these tickets? Why can’t you tell me?
Right now, I can feel you saying “just don’t worry about it. It’s going to be less. It’ll be fine.” Just so you know, telling someone with anxiety to not worry about it is a surefire way to end up with a foot straight up your ass.
But moving on from the cost of park tickets (and spending money, checking bags on the way home, emergency expenses… let me go back to the bathroom for a few minutes..)
Moving on from money, there is also the fact that we’re going to have to check a bag. Check. A bag. This is going to get lost. My bag is already lost. I might as well throw those possessions away now. The ones not already packed only because someone hid all the suitcases in my house… Worry about lost luggage already has me so worked up that I have told my husband three times this week that all our underwear is being packed in our carry-on. It’s to the point where as soon as I say “underwear” he replies in a soothing tone I have not heard since I was in labor “in the carry-on. I know baby.”
I’ve started rambling to friends (because my family takes the wind out of my sails) about the underwear. One has actually suggested I just wear all the bras and I honestly considered it. Sure I played it off later… but there was a moment where I thought “well I could wear one of the lacy supportive ones under a sports bra…”
I’m not proud. I considered not telling you about my facetious reply, but I’m a little concerned that I will have a psychotic break while boarding the plane and actually make a scene. So if you see a woman wearing all her bras over and under her shirts topped with the nursing bra that’s too large now but I still own anyway, that’s me. If she’s treating this like a modern retelling of the Princess and the Pea but the bras are the mattresses and her nipples are the pea. Please send help. If suddenly she shouts “Can’t feel my nipples? You’re clearly not a princess!” at least cover my daughter’s eyes.
She doesn’t need to see mommy getting arrested.
And maybe call my mother to bail me out? Remember her? The crazy one I don’t usually message because I don’t want to trigger her anxiety or depression? Well yesterday I was freaking out so bad she had to talk me down from the edge. She had me taking deep breaths. She had to show me her puzzle because I was on the verge of tears over some noise I was convinced the car had just made and what happens if the car breaks down right before the trip?
I don’t even know how to end this right now. My head is throbbing and I’ve spent my entire break working myself up into a tizzy over things I’ve already panicked over. It’s like a greatest hits of travel anxiety, right now. All I can tell you is what I hoped to accomplish by writing this. If I’m snapping, on edge, or acting strangely between now and my vacation, know it’s my anxiety. It’s nothing you did. Unless, of course, you’ve been sending me videos of people being assaulted by TSA or airline personnel.
And also… you should probably send my friends, family, and co-workers some flowers. I’m pretty sure they’ve earned at least that much for dealing with my cloud of crazy…