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honeymoon adventures with a side of anxiety


I wrote this in the morning on the last full day we had in Lisbon. I woke up feeling very anxious and felt like I needed to write about what had occurred over the last few weeks so I could help myself process my anxiety and to share it with you.


As the last few days of our trip come to an end, I wanted to share something that I think some of you might be able to relate to. 


I hadn’t been on a trip lasting over a week since I was 16 years old. Being on this trip has been an eye-opener for several reasons, however; the biggest one being how heightened my anxiety has been. 


I am extremely fortunate and grateful to be able to travel to different parts of the world, take in their culture, and make memories with my husband. A N D at the same time, I’m so looking forward to coming home. 


In the past several years, I’ve done a lot of work on managing my anxiety as it started to affect my physical health. I had even got to a place in recent months that I was no longer struggling with my physical symptoms and was truly managing really well. Like it wasn’t even a regular topic with my therapist anymore! 


Being on this trip, it ALL came back. The overthinking. The quick emotions. The physical symptoms. All of it. In some moments, I felt frustrated that it was impacting my ability to be present with my husband and enjoy this time together. I felt angry towards myself because I felt I was regressing or “maybe I wasn’t doing that well.”


There was one moment, I was really struggling and I said to my husband, “I don’t know why I’m feeling so anxious on this trip.” He said “well how couldn’t you, you are away from your safe space, from your routine, your ability to control your environment, and your dog, so how would you think you’d be peachy keen?” And it was then that I thought, well two things… “I’m very lucky to have such a supportive and aware husband” and “of course when he puts it that way it makes sense.” How could I not feel anxious when I’m in a brand new environment, I don’t have the same level of control that I do back home, I don’t have my dog and our routine, I don’t have my safe space. 


At no point prior to the trip did I think I would feel the way I do. Maybe that’s a lack of foresight on my part but I also think it’s normal that when you are doing well and then something changes and rocks you a bit you can feel like you’re regressing. It can feel more intense. But like my husband said so simply, it doesn’t mean you’re regressing it just means your environment and routine have temporarily changed and you’re not used to it. 


So instead of engaging in the negative cycle of I begin to feel anxious > I start thinking that I ruined the trip > I then start to feel angry and anxious > I then begin to get snippy or quiet > which just makes me feel worse because that’s not fun for my husband or myself. I can do my best to utilize my skills to notice when something is becoming too much, communicate this, use grounding skills, challenge thoughts, and most importantly show compassionate and understanding towards myself. 


Now, did doing all these things make the anxiety go away? No. But it’s more so, how do I make this trip the best it can WITH my anxiety compared to trying to focus so hard on trying to make the anxiety go away when that isn’t realistic and only gets me caught in the negative cycle. 


So why am I writing this? To share my experience and normalize that even when there is growth you can still have difficult moments without it meaning there was no growth. To normalize that while trips can be relaxing, fun, and exciting; it can also be stressful, emotional and difficult at the same time. To also bring awareness that mental health doesn’t disappear when we go somewhere else or because we’ve been in therapy for years, it’s always there we just get better at working with it compared to against it. 


As I bring story time to an end, I hope you were able to relate to some of this or just know that the pictures you’ll see of me on the trip aren’t the full story. We share what we want people to see. I wanted to share this story to help highlight that things aren’t always as they appear to be and normalize things being difficult even when you’re across the world in a beautiful place with your favourite person.  


We have our last full day in Lisbon and I’m excited to explore the city and enjoy my time with my husband, while at the same time very excited to be home and back in my space, but most importantly with my dog. I look forward to some great opportunities and exciting things happening in the next few months and coming back to work with my amazing clients!


Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk. 


Ali 



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