High Anxiety

I recently got back from Israel.  My husband has wanted to take me there since he has married me.   He decided this year was the year and I said I would go as long as we could go with Daniel Peterson, a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at BYU.  (The only person you should go to Israel with, in my opinion.)

I wrote here how I tried to get excited about this trip, but I was still nervous.  I was nervous up until the day of the trip and then I was nervous the whole time.

Anxiety is an odd thing.  You can tell yourself that your anxiety has no basis; you know a rational person would not feel that way.  It is like you are looking at yourself from outside somewhere.  You can know for certain there is nothing to be afraid of, and yet the fear will be there.  Hundreds of people can tell you that the situation is safe and it doesn’t matter.  You are anxious and there is nothing you can do about it.  It is so completely and utterly frustrating, but it is still there.

So I went to Israel anxious out of my mind.  I told myself that I would feel better once I got there, but I didn’t.  I told myself that after a day of touring I would feel better, but I didn’t.  I told myself that I was in Israel, a place so many people go to feel closer to God, but that didn’t change anything.  The longer I was there, the worse it got.

He was completely alone walking on a random road. Might have been part of the problem.

I only really lost it once.  It was the day Bin Laden was killed and a man got on our bus and let us know that there was a travel warning for all Americans.  I turned to the window and cried.  No one heard or saw me, and after a few moments, I was able to pull it together, barely.

So I went to Israel to learn more about Christ, but instead I learned that I could make it through a week of complete and utter fear.  I didn’t hide it completely – a couple people thought I was having a rotten time and I hugged my backpack like a security blanket, but I did not rock back and forth mumbling although that could have been fun too.  I didn’t handle the trip and all of its circumstances as well as some might have, but I did a pretty good job for me.  I made it through to the other side and realized that I am a pretty strong person and I made some amazing friends in the Petersons.  In fact, I plan on going to their house for dinner next time I am in town.  I wonder if I should let them know that.  Probably not; if I give them warning, they might not be home.

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3 responses to “High Anxiety

  1. Wow, I’m proud of you. Anxiety is one of those unpredictable, uncontrollable, unexplainable things that I often have anxiety about. LOL. I didn’t really understand or recognize what it was until I got to know my mother-in-law (who I adore). Growing up in Hawaii, where “hang loose” is the motto, anxiety appeared to be non-existent. Nowadays, watching the daily news can initiate surges of anxiety. It’s not so much for myself as it is my desire to keep my children safe. I’d love to know what was going through your mind when you turned towards the window and cried on the bus. I can’t imagine being in that situation. I hope you’re finding effective (fun) ways to alleviate the anxiety back in the safety and comfort of your home.

    • Perhaps I should move to Hawaii – but then living on an island would make me nervous. While living on Long Island, I wanted a canoe just in case. I don’t think that would help in Hawaii. On the bus, I don’t think anything new was going through my head, I just couldn’t stop the reaction. In some ways, it actually helped because it was sort of a release. Looking back, I wonder if I should have been more vocal instead of going it alone. Landing in JFK helped, but it wasn’t until I was home that the real anxiety was replaced by dread due to laundry, swim practice, and coaching three year old soccer. That is how I handle “mother” anxiety – forcing myself to do all the things that need to be done; along with a lot of Beverly Hills 90210.

  2. Oh noooo, sorry to hear that! Did you at least get some good food or was your appetite supressed by the anxiety? Too bad we can’t bottle anxiety and make it useful!

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