A lot of people have asked me why I chose ‘Bursting My Bubbles’, as there isn’t any reference in its title about travel or mental health. Which are the two themes of my blog! You see my mind convinced me that if I travelled I would put myself in danger. So I put myself in a ‘bubble’ and yet I soon learnt that if I burst those bubbles nothing bad happened….
So lets start at the beginning, as the beginning is a very good place to start ….
I’m 5 years old and I have just had a huge panic attack about death, specifically, my mum dying. At the time I didn’t realise it was a panic attack, and have only learnt this as I have gotten older, and become more aware of my mental health. Now I have panic attacks on a daily basis but unless it’s a ‘biggie’ people won’t even know it’s happening as I have them so regular and, NOW I am pretty good at dealing with them. Now this first panic attack was a biggie, my chest felt tight, I couldn’t catch my breath, I was inconsolably crying and hyperventilating, my head was spinning and my hands felt huge in comparison to the rest of my body. My mum having no experience as to what was happening soothed me as best she could and got me through it (thanks mum, you da best).
People told me as I got older my fear would simply disappear, I am currently 28 and it’s still here, and has actually gotten worse. Now 23 years ago this innate fear of death was just getting started, the panic attacks continued as did my fear, I became terrified to do certain things, in case something ‘bad’ happened and that pit in my stomach would grow. Because of my fear of death I became scared of the sea and of space, to the point I can’t (even when writing this blog post) go into too much depth as it could send my head into a shitty place. Also and I’m fucked if I think I can watch Brian Cox’s documentaries on space as I completely freak out.
Yes I have been called irrational, dramatic, and to just ‘get over it’, and if I could don’t you fucking think I would.
The Sea fear: You see the Earth is covered by a lot of the sea, and then that leaves me to think about death
The Space Fear: The sun exploding …. death
This then developed into Complex PTSD, and began to seep into all areas of my life … including travel. I used to get so worried about travelling incase anything ‘bad’ happened. Flying seemingly overnight became a huge source of panic, getting into taxis, and walking around quiet areas are just a few panic sources. It got to the point where I was questioning if would ever travel again! I just wanted everyone I loved and cared for to stay in this tiny bubble of ours, live for ever, never have anything ‘bad’ happen to them and we’d live happily ever after.
Of Course that’s not the case, but in my niavety (and sanity) this is how I thought. These bubbles kept getting burst by other things happening out of my control, such as attending 10 funerals in 2 years then 6 in the space of another year. Honestly for someone who is scared of death, I’ve had to face it ALOT in my life.
Life was passing me by and I was staying in my comfort zone becoming more and more unhappy feeling stuck in limbo. And I got to the point where I had to start bursting my own bubbles, take steps out of my comfort zone, and ignore these intrusive thoughts that had set up camp in my mind.
So I booked a holiday to Marrakesh, having never left Europe before, and never been on a holiday with a ‘responsible’ adult. As I mentioned in my first post unfortunate incidents happened, but I got through them, and I did’t die! Therefore my bubble was aloud to grow just a little bit. Then as an 18th birthday present I was taken Skiing in Aviemore, having never been skiing in my life and there being complete white outs at the tops, I was not a natural, and looked more like a moose on ice (luckily I have plenty of cushioning on my bum which helped ease the landings). I cried, and I wanted to give up, because my stupid head was telling me I couldn’t do it. So I took a break, had a serious word with myself, and from my instructor and partner. And got back at it. I even did the big hills, desperately clinging to the back of my instructor screaming the entire way whilst young children zoomed past me perfectly independent, but I did it! And nothing ‘bad’ happened. And again my bubble started to grow a little more as I began to keep bursting it.
It’s those little bursts and steps that gradually allowed me to make bigger ones, such as Island hop around the ‘Canary Islands’ despite the fact I fucking hate the sea. Swim in the sea, (with over half an hour of my partner convincing me to) with my head underwater for a couple of seconds in Cyprus, before clinging to him for dear life until I felt my face had dried in the sun and I got put my feet back on the ground, and then solo travel and bloody snorkel in Bali! And do you know what, each time I did those things that I was so scared to do, to the point I would be having a full blown conversation with myself challenging these intrusive thoughts, NOTHING BAD HAPPENED!
Charlotte 1 – Mental Health – 0
You see if I didn’t start and choose to burst my bubbles, and challenge myself to do things I never thought I could, then I’d still be stuck in limbo letting life pass me by. It’s not an easy thing to do, it can be scary and requires support outside of yourself at times. I sincerely hope that this blog will be the support you need. So that we can all start to burst my bubbles just a little bit more.