Anxiety or Adventure- The PTSD Files
As I board a plane a growing knot tightens my stomach. I quadruple check my ticket and stumble to my seat. If my husband is with me, he holds my hand once he gets settled because he knows the white-hot anxiety pings through my brain like a pinball machine. I recite scripture over and over to myself. I pray what must be to God, “The Airplane Prayer.” Lord, please help us to land safely.
I struggle with anxiety. Actually, I struggle to not have anxiety. Just keeping it real friends. I have PTSD, which basically means I am triggered by not only real threats, but also have triggers that send high alert signals to my brain in 0-90 seconds flat. Sometimes they come from seemingly nowhere. I thought everyone was this way. Turns out, not so much.
Hypervigilance is one of my super powers. I enter a room and scan for the exit signs. I sit in a restaurant and scenarios of someone entering with a gun enter my mind. What would I do? How would I protect my children? When hiking in west Texas, I ask my husband what to do if a rattlesnake bites him. I tell you what it’s a real party in my brain. Good job, neurological pathways. You are my “Stranger Danger Ranger.”
So when I think of flying, the answer is anxiety. But it doesn’t have to bankrupt adventure. Sometimes it is both. For me, anxiety is a physiological response. Adventure is a doing something new or challenging. It widens my experiences like changing the setting on my camera lens so that I get an expansive view.
For example, my youngest daughter asked us if we would go on a backpacking adventure to celebrate her college graduation. We gave her a budget and she sent us the information on the Four Pass Loop in the Maroon Bells in CO. It is rated one of the top backpacking trips in the country.
We enjoy being outside and have hiked many miles together. Great, right? Yes, until I read about the trail. Words popped like bold print.
28 miles. Difficult. 4 mountain passes over 12,000 feet. Bear activity.
“Stranger Danger Ranger” went through a lot of not so pleasant scenarios. I met my husband at the door that evening with my map in hand. “What are you two thinking?”
Words spoken by Jonathan Merritt and Margaret Feinberg at Writer’s Boot Camp in June bubbled up. Say yes to adventure.
I responded with anxiety initially. Was it still an adventure? Absolutely. Was it anxiety free? Um, no. It was without a doubt the most difficult thing I have ever done.
But it was worth it.
The vibrant emerald valleys that climb the iron-rich sienna mountains nourished my soul. Resting on top of each pass where cool breezes whirled were respites from the physical work. Awe filled my parched soul as I walked through fields of bright wildflowers, pine forests and groves of aspen.
There were treasures of lessons as we ascended and descended mountains. Etched in my memory is this daughter of mine who hikes Like. A. Boss. She often waved from the top, shouting encouraging words, like “Mom and Dad, you’re doing great.” It was kind of a lie but we found comfort in it anyway. When we were struggling to make it up Buckskin Pass on Day 2, I looked up and there she stood. She had come back down. “Mama, let me take your pack.” And I let her. We made it to the top together. I collapsed. Anna descended again and took her father’s backpack. The sacrificial gift, a lifeline of grace to us symbolizes our journey together. There are times people need someone to come alongside of them and offer a relief from their heavy burden. Click To Tweet It is both our call and privilege to do so.
To read more about this trip, head to my blog and read “What Living in the Wilderness Unearthed”. I think you will enjoy it.
Terri is a wife, empty nest mom, and mentor. She writes about faith, family, hiking, and mental health. She loves stories of redemption and things that are funny. She longs to encourage others to find hope and freedom. She is currently working on her first book. She is a contributing writer at Http://theglorioustable.com
You can read more of her writing at Conversations at the Table at http://terrifullerton.com
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