You may already know that today is World Mental Health Day.
I live with someone who has struggled with mental health issues and I asked him if I could write this post. He had doubts at first but we share the opinion that it is important to talk about these things.
About ten years ago, he went through a very difficult time of not being able to leave the house without vomiting. We didn’t know the cause of it, it was hard to even get him out to see the doctor. His weight plummeted and he couldn’t get to work.
Once we found out what was making him ill, he had to deal with judgement from even his close friends and family, because people don’t always understand what they can’t see – he was suffering with Anxiety and Panic Attacks.
Eventually he was sent to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I don’t know what was involved in the sessions – it wasn’t something he wanted to talk about, and that’s fine. All I know is, we are forever grateful he was taught how to control the Anxiety. Day-to-day we pretty much forget about it now.
The beast does still rear its ugly head every now and then and funnily enough it chooses to do this when we should be having an amazing time – going on holiday!
His Panic Attacks are so extreme when we are travelling. On our ‘worst holiday ever’ he suffered a seizure during the flight, which frightened me and the cabin crew half to death… he, on the other hand, thought he had just woken from a nice nap!!!
Since that time we have figured out, in our own little way, how to best manage it. We have got travelling down to a fine art. He still suffers with the attacks, so we plan and prepare every fine detail to make it go as smoothly as possible, with no surprises.
Here’s how we do it.
Plan Plan Plan – You might already know I’m a sucker for a list and a spreadsheet. Travelling is no different. I make sure I have sorted every little thing. I do this for the packing; schedules; documents and details for every possible scenario I can think of. It is extreme organisation, but it helps.
Professional Advice – About a month before we are travelling he visits his GP to discuss our plans. They provide him the advice and medication to deal with it correctly.
Upgrades – We upgrade wherever we can afford to. This isn’t to be flashy; it’s purely because upgrades usually mean quieter areas with more space and less hassle.
Airport Transport – Trains are booked well in advance, upgraded if possible. We allow plenty of time to get to the station.
Airport Hotel – We book a hotel near to the airport for the night before our flight. It gives us time to relax and helps make the morning a bit less stressful, with no rushing for our check in time.
Entering the Airport – This is one of the more difficult times. I handle the majority of the luggage. We get the odd funny look as to why I’m dealing with all the bags whilst he just walks at the side of me, but who cares – He’s busy trying to not be sick! We’ve got four-wheel suitcases and a hand luggage bag that attaches to the case for this reason.
Check-in – I do the talking to the check-in staff, I hand over all the documents. At this point I make them aware that it is a difficult time and explain why. Usually they are extremely helpful and have previously arranged for us to board the plane first to make it easier.
Security – We pay for Fast-Track. I think it is about £3.50 each and means we don’t have to wait in a long queue. We make sure that we have checked the security rules well in advance and have everything ready as it should be, a hiccup at this point would be the worst!
Boarding – As mentioned earlier, in the past we have been able to board the plane first. If this isn’t possible we usually wait until last so that we avoid the rush of people and big queues.
On the Plane – He has to have the window seat. I’m not sure if he really does, but we go with it anyway, ha ha! With the exception of take-off and landing the flight is usually okay.
One thing that people often confuse his Panic Attacks with is a fear of flying. He is not afraid of flying and actually loves it.
It all might seem straight forward – when I read it back, I guess it is. In a way, it’s just the little things that make it easier. If it wasn’t for working through it like this then I’m not sure if we would still go on holiday. These small changes are what make us able to fly.
It’s not too long now until our next holiday… let the planning commence!