Traveling with anxiety can be incredibly difficult and draining. If you have anxiety you understand just how crippling it can be. If not, I'm hoping this little piece might give you a glimpse of what it is like, allowing you to be understanding of those struggling.
For me, loud noises, large groups of people, and crowded spaces are triggering. All of these are characteristics of your typical tourist attractions. For the most part I've done pretty well. We've spent the past four days exploring London. However, one attraction in particular really had me on edge, The Tower of London. Thankfully Jake is patient with me and is understanding of the fact that anxiety isn't something I can just turn off.
This beautifully built castle was incredible. However, I found myself struggling to enjoy it. Making our way through the narrow castle passage ways shoulder to shoulder with all the other tourists caused a feeling of panic. I started to feel overwhelmed by the number of people crammed into small spaces. My breath began to shorten. As I made may way through the crowds, I moved towards the back of the rooms to find some air. The heat didn't help either. I felt like I was suffocating with bricks on my chest and the walls were closing in on me. People everywhere. Loud, echoing sounds.
In general, I always try to avoid causing a scene with my anxiety. But I found myself wanting to curl up in a ball on the floor in a quiet corner. I kept telling myself, "You'll make it, it's okay. This is temporary." I didn't want to take Jake away from experiencing the sights. Jake, as the kind observant boyfriend he is, could tell I was uncomfortable. We sped up our castle browsing and continued on, but then starts the self blaming. I felt guilty that my anxieties caused Jake not to be able to fully enjoy his experience. I felt guilty that I couldn't just be in the moment, but was focused on getting out.
I don't really know where I'm going with writing this piece. I just wanted to share my experience in case you're struggling as well. Keep on fighting and continue to try to overcome and explore. Know that you are not alone. You are stronger than you think!