Ocean Beach Calif. : Be Nice to Yourself

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the story of how i got to san diego:

i had my first panic attack when i was seven, i’m 31 now. over the years the things i’ve been afraid-terrified-anxious about have evolved but the bedrock of the fear was flying. i didn’t fly, wouldn’t step foot near an airport, a plane, sometimes just seeing a plane on tv would make my heart race. i would drive or take a bus or train to get to the places i wanted to go — new york, philadelphia, lexington, louisville, richmond — to get to a dear friend’s wedding i roadtripped up the east coast to maine. i would not fly. i would not take the chance that… we would crash, i’d get airsick, i’d have a panic attack in front of people, i would cry or scream or lose control. nuh-uh, no way, i would not.

but then this thing happened. i wanted to go to italy. not gonna lie, it was after i read eat, pray, love by elizabeth gilbert — i wanted to go to italy & darn it i wasn’t going to take a boat over there. so i needed to work on this fear. i went into intensive therapy last year, a form of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT for short. a wonderful amazing doctor worked with me for three months, basically teaching me how to stop the anxiety as it starts, giving me tools and methods to help alleviate the physical symptoms of anxiety so that i could talk myself down, for lack of a better description. it helped me so much.

but i still didn’t fly anywhere, there wasn’t a need for it & also i was still just a bit chicken, i still didn’t trust myself, not really. fast forward to last month. i found that that i’d be attending the annual meeting of the organization i work for, this year it was held in san diego. i live in DC. i pretty much immediately put my head between my knees so i wouldn’t pass out, looking back it was funny, but at the time i was so scared.

and then… and then i wasn’t so scared anymore. i was excited, i was thrilled, i was nervous, but not anxious — and that was amazing.

i flew out to san diego last friday, i worked my butt off, saw the pacific ocean, touched the pacific ocean, ate amazing food, experienced jet lag, slept on a king sized bed, bought cheesy souvenirs, met so many people. i did it, i did it all, & i feel so strong, so powerful.

i know that i can do anything. i believe that i can do anything.

disclaimer : for me, for my situation, CBT was a huge help in overcoming my fear of flying, this isn’t a magical cure-all, i still live with anxiety, but CBT has been instrumental in helping me manage it.

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