Last January, almost exactly one year ago, I did something I never thought I could do. This ‘something’ may sound silly, and maybe even a little bit pathetic to anyone who has never experienced an anxiety disorder, but today is Bell Let’s Talk Day. And since today is all about ending the stigma of mental illness, I’m going to talk about one of my more embarrassing anxiety moments.
Last January, Jefferson (my husband) went on a week-long trip to Florida. There was a big family ministries conference going on down there and our pastor at the time thought it would be a great experience for Jefferson.
As soon as I heard about this, I was, of course, super supportive.
Nah, just kidding. I was horrified. I immediately said that this could not happen. That I could not handle it. That it wasn’t safe. That he needed to stay here.
The flight to Florida is only about two hours, but I heard there were sometimes hurricanes there in January. And I also heard that our winter weather was supposed to be pretty terrible around the same time they were scheduled to fly there and back. Even though I wouldn’t be on the plane, I was absolutely terrified that this is how my husband would die. A terrible, fiery plane crash.
Even if he did survive the flight (which I was convinced wasn’t even a possibility), what would I do for the week? This is the part that I think sounds sadder and possibly pathetic. I couldn’t handle a week without my husband? One. single. week. What happened to good ol’ independent Lauren? As much as I wanted to reclaim my independence, I didn’t think it was possible. I was having severe panic attacks just thinking about it. I knew I just couldn’t do it.
But after a few weeks of begging my husband to stay, we finally had a serious talk about the possible trip. Eventually my mostly joking (but kind of serious) “Don’t go to Floooooooridaaaaaa, pleeeeease” turned into a silly saying of, “Don’t go. To Flo. Don’t go to Flo! don’tgotoflo!”
As the trip came closer and closer, we couldn’t joke about “Flo” anymore. We had to make a decision. And I knew the right decision was to let him go. This was a great retreat and would be the perfect opportunity for him to connect deeper with our senior pastor.
So he went.
And I survived.
I not only survived, I actually had an amazing week. I stayed over at my parent’s place (an hour away from where we were currently living) so I wouldn’t be home alone for a week. I caught up with old friends I hadn’t seen in ages, I drove all over my old neighbourhood, went to my favourite mall, visited family friends, took care of my idiot adolescent dog all by myself, and enjoyed time to just breathe.
I made my husband’s birthday present (a scrapbook with special notes and items I had been saving since we began dating) and planned a secret trip for him. I got coffee with my mom and got my work done, even though I had just started back at my job a few weeks prior.
That was a year ago. A week away from my husband may seem like nothing, but it was huge for me. My anxiety got the better of me for weeks before the trip. I worried about everything that could go wrong, and how much I would miss him, and how I would work and watch my dog at the same time, but everything was okay.
And I also did reclaim some independence during that week. It was a great reminder that I can do things on my own and I’ll be just fine doing them.
I haven’t talked a lot about Florida because I was pretty embarrassed. Embarrassed that I was so worked up about a single week away from my husband. But this is anxiety. It doesn’t make sense and sometimes, it makes me feel like a 10-year-old. But I’m not ashamed, and I’m still fighting.