I feel that before I can start any topic on my road trip to Mexico, I must talk about my anxiety. My biggest fear leading up to the date that I left for my 2-3 day drive was, what am I going to do if I get an anxiety attack? In moments of vulnerability I don’t think about anything but to cry and well… feel vulnerable. My father, my brother, and a family friend was in the car with us. Yup, that’s right. Three men and one girl. None of them being educated with anxiety or have any bit knowledge on what to do if it happens.
My biggest fear.
Where do I begin? The road trip or the trip in itself? Well let me just say that it doesn’t matter because I did not get anxiety. Fuck, that feels so good to say. From the 21st of December up until the 5th of January my body was anxiety free. Up till this day, I have been anxiety free. Thank God.
I should mention though that I had a small panic/anxiety attack at a rest stop one hour into the road trip. Partially because I mentioned that nobody in the car had any clue what this mental illness that we call anxiety is.
I’m still going to write a rather long blog post for it though.
From the minute we left my house, I decided to write on my Notes section of my phone to take note of every time I had a feeling of anxiety. Here is what I have:
12/21; 5:00am: My first anxiety attacked my body. God, put a rest spot in front of our eyes at that VERY MOMENT when I turned to my dad and told him “me siento mal”. We pulled over in the rest spot and I sat in the car as the fresh cold air hit my body. I want to go home. My dad came around the car since I insisted that I wasn’t going to go to the bathroom alone. Once we were away from the man we were giving a ride and my brother, I lost it. Tears ran down my face and I stopped being strong. Vulnerability arose. I was weak. My body was shaking from the cold and the anxiety. I want go back home. I can’t do this. I need my mom. I’m sorry.
12/21; 6:04am: Saw a shooting star and wished for no more anxiety attacks. I ask God for forgiveness for being selfish and using that wish on myself.
12/21; 6:07pm: it’s getting dark and I’m starting to realize that my anxiety is going to start kicking in. I have PTSD and driving at night reminds me of the night at the gas station. I think I’ll be fine. We are on our way to the hotel room.
That’s all I wrote down.
When we pulled over to the rest stop and my father walked me to the restroom, I reminded him that I didn’t feel good. I hugged him and actually broke down in his arms, which I forgot to mention in my notes. I found it very comforting to hear my dad tell me that if I needed anything he would pull over for me and that he would drive at a pace that I felt comfortable. He reminded me that he is going to be there for me just like my mom is when I have anxiety attacks. Hearing those words come from my dad made me feel so good. Not only that but I saw the fear in his eyes. My mother is usually the one that handles my anxiety. He is normally the one that stands by in case of an emergency. Once I got back in the car, it was as if nothing had happened. My anxiety had vanished.
I also took note on how I got through the little bits of anxiety I felt when I had gotten back in the car:
- Hug. Asked my dad to give me a tight long hug. Doesn’t make sense reading it but trust me it helps a lot. The comfort of someone holding you does a lot more than you will ever imagine.
- Music. Now I usually listen to upbeat music like “electric avenue”, “living in a prayer”, and others. For my anxiety, I knew listening to these songs wasn’t going to be helpful since I am very sensitive. I put some low slow tunes on such as Therapy by Khalid, Not about Angels, feeling Whitney and others. It helped me a lot.
- Warmth. I covered myself more and the warmth felt like hugs.
- Water. I took a couple of sips of water and it helped settle my stomach. The nausea started to disappear and anxiety tagged along.
54 hours later we got to our destination; Amatitan, Jalisco, Mexico.
I stepped out of my comfort zone a lot during this trip and I don’t regret the slightest bit of it. The first couple of days that we were in Mexico it was just my mother (she arrived on a plane due to work), my father, my brother, and I. Of course there was about 50+ family members there, but I am talking about my siblings and parents. I found this comfort in knowing that my sister was going to be my backbone during this trip. If we went swimming out of the city, to get ice cream, or simply anything and my parents weren’t around, I was going to be turning to her for comfort and help. So, the first couple of days she was still in Ventura, California working. My cousins insisted on taking me to El Centro to get some ice cream, tacos, churros, chasca, etc. These girls are about 8-12 years old so it was quite difficult for me to say no to their little cute faces. I caved in and once we started walking, I had a thoughts and questions at the back of my mind:
How far is this? Would if I get an anxiety attack? These 2 girls are 9 and 12 years old and have no idea what anxiety is. Should I just turn around? Is this a good idea? Irma?! What do I do??? Can’t you just wait until your sister comes home?
By the time we crossed a main road that crosses through Amatitan, every inch of fear that I felt I had disappeared. Everyone in this city knew me. From left to right. People were greeting me and asking when we got to town. I felt safe. El centro ended up being a 10 minute walk from my house. I was going to be okay.
Before leaving to Mexico, my mother had a talk with me. Due to work, she was going to have to fly back home the 25th of December, but she would be coming back the 28th of December. I was dreading this day. There was no way I was not going to have an anxiety attack. No way. On the 24th, we stayed up until 4am, which in California is actually 2am so my sleeping schedule was already used to going to bed at the time. I was so tired that when my mother left the 25th, I didn’t really notice. On the 26th we ended up going swimming and having a blast. My family knows about my anxiety and how I get so the did everything in their will to make sure I was okay. When my mother left, my aunts arrived at the house early in the morning everyday they took care of all of us. From cleaning to cooking to simply making us laugh.
Over here in California or the United States in general, I don’t have a lot of family. I have one uncle that lives in the same city as us which I communicate with a lot because of my cousin, then an uncle in San Jose who I never see, an uncle in Texas who I don’t see often but we do talk, and then an aunt in San Diego whose name I don’t even know. The holidays has become a time of being lonely and bitter. It’s usually my mom, dad, brother and I. Time to time my sister tries her best to come to town, but it’s pretty rare. On top of that I don’t really socialize. I’m your typical anti-social girl. Mexico was an overall different environment and living experience for me. The minute I entered this country it was as if border patrol didn’t let my anxiety pass.
You’ll travel safely, you’ll neither tire nor trip. You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, Because God will be right there with you; he’ll keep you safe and sound.– Proverbs 3:23-26