The last day or so ( honestly my days are all screwed up because traveling between so many different time zones gets a girl confused) I’ve been traveling from Seattle Washington to Uganda. That consists of three flights and two layovers. Let’s just say travel started rough and the enemy was already getting a foothold in. I wrote updates every step of the first two flights and first layover so read below!
(Think of this more like a Journal! I just kept writing in my notes every time I felt like it was getting overwhelming. This is just about my personal struggles with anxiety and the prevelence it’s taken on the trip so far)
Ok so the flight took off and I immediately wanted to cry as I felt a panic attack set in. I haven’t had nerves this entire time waiting to head to Uganda and now here I am sitting in seat 31C Shaking, working to remember how to breathe, and texting my dad like my life depends on it. The only thing keeping me from breaking down into sobs hyperventilating is the Lorazepam prescribed and within reach. I’m really trying to understand these feelings because for the last four months all I could dream about was this country and now here I am so scared that I not even five seconds ago was debating not getting on my connecting flight. I’m sitting here full of nerves and wondering what is wrong with me that I wanted to do this. I want to travel 8,779 miles by myself, not knowing a single person I’m meeting up with. I want to sit in the humid air and connect with people that have experienced such hardships that I’ll never be able to fathom. I want to feel selfish for my first world American problems and ideology. I want to know more and experience more and I want to be uncomfortable. But you know what? The enemy knows I have anxiety. Satan knows what I struggle with and he will NEVER stop trying to take us further from God, our happiness, and his will. So why am I so surprised these doubts are creeping into my mind now? Why is thinking about scenarios I’ve envisioned and longed for for months now filling me with nausea and sweaty palms? Because the enemy knows how to get to me.
What I find most funny is that one of the main reasons I wanted to do this in the first place is to be uncomfortable. God does not call us to comfort, and knowing how much growth can take place when you step out of your box-well I’ve been craving that. But oh how much harder actuality is. It’s like signing up for a SoulCycle class for the first time feeling prepared and then realizing that pausing Netflix doesn’t count as previous exercise experience.
For the last two paragraphs I’ve felt calmer just writing these thoughts and realizing them. But guess what? Yup the panic is back.
Update (an hour after the paragraphs before) The panic is hitting extremely hard an hour in. I keep fighting off the edge of a panic attack. I’ll be fine for five minutes or so until another wave of anxiety crashed through my body holding me at its mercy until it subsides. This time I could LITERALLY feel my cortisol levels rise as my nerves started tumbling viciously in my stomach-the first true time I’ve ever believed I was about to throw up simply from how scared I was. Scared about nothing. It’s funny once it’s over, but absolute torture to live through. This last bout came a few minutes after I had stopped the panic again and this time it was because I couldn’t connect to the plane wifi to text my family. It’s like I keep forgetting this first flight is only to Philadelphia. If I truly feel like there is no way on this earth I’m going to be able to handle my anxiety in Africa then I do still have time to just not get on my connection to Doha. Of course that would devastate me and make me feel about two inches tall. Imaging going home after telling everyone and sharing my excitement and getting friends and family to donate would make me feel awful and like a baby and probably bring my confidence and self esteem in my capabilities a major demotion. But I also need to realize that this line of thinking, 1) helps keep my focus on one step at a time to try to alleviate the constant fear. 2) it’s true. And no matter how I would feel if it’s what is best for me then there is nothing wrong with putting self care first. But when do we know that line? The line of not being able to handle something versus being tricked by your own mind into irrational fear.
What exactly am I so scared of? Being away from my family, getting sick, living with strangers for two weeks, eating different food and wondering how my stomach will do (I’ve struggled with gastrointestinal issues my entire life), the fear (yes that’s right, I’m scared of being anxious-it’s honestly just so awful!) and the possibility it could strike at any moment and render me completely useless and with me away from all I know. I’m afraid of not liking this country that I somehow seem to already love.
(Update)I’ve landed in Philadelphia and now waiting out my layover before heading to Doha! I slept almost all of the flight here which was such a blessing! Less time to think and work myself up about all of the “what if’s”. As of now I’m still going-excitment and nerves mixing together. But you know what I’m not stoked about. The flight. 12.5 hours here I come!
Update: (4 hours later) We’re standing in line about to board our plane and I’m trying to hold back crying. The butterflies are full force and guess what? I get through check in to board my second flight and all of the sudden I start shaking uncontrollably feel this giant lump in my throat and next thing I know I’m puking in front of 50 strangers who no doubt are now not so stoked to share a plane with me. Oh Jesus, you must really have something grand in plan because you have stripped me of so much comfort and given me so much more you. My immediate thought was, “Ok I’m not getting on that plane. It leaves in 20 minutes and the entire rest of the mission team has made it through so at least they won’t witness my embarrassing break down, scared as a baby to simply leave the country.” But I got on the plane. Just trying to take it one step at a time.
Oh but how blessed I am to be a part of this team. Most of us are on the same flight from Philadelphia to Doha which I honestly probably wouldn’t have gotten on the plane if they weren’t here. I just met these people and already I’m met the sweetest caring people who truly want to shine the light for Jesus and more than that they want to help.
I eventually got on the plane and when I told them I almost didn’t make it (I’d already mentioned I’m a nervous traveler) because I got so anxious with a panic attack and threw up, they acted completely different then I would’ve. They were all concerned and making sure I knew they were here for me, trying to distract me and remind me of how mighty our God is and that he wouldn’t have called me for this if I couldn’t handle it. Because when it feels to us like we’re spinning out of control no, no idea, confused and scared, Jesus is always with us. And what feels uncomfortable for us he has a complete grasp on. My favorite verse to recite when I start feeling panicked is simply “Whenever I am afraid I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
Well the plane is toughing down in Doha – next step Entebe (if I make it let’s be real, I’m a mess😂)