The Anxious Wanderer Returns, Take Two

In three short days I’ll be in a rental car driving the Golden Circle in Iceland. I’ll be flying there from Toronto tomorrow, and meeting one of my dearest friends in the world in Reykjavik. Following a few days in the land of ice we’ll be flying back to her home in London, and later I will continue my adventures solo around England, Denmark, and Norway.

While this certainly isn’t my first time heading off on a grand adventure, it will be the first time since my anxiety has become so severe. And that, for me, makes this one of the most important trips I’ll ever take.

To say that the past two years have been hell is an understatement. In that time I’ve been diagnosed with panic disorder, panic psychosis, and severe chronic depression. I’ve been through periods where I was unable to leave the house. I’ve experienced emotions so severe than I didn’t know how to cope with them. I’ve had difficulty maintaining friendships, employment, and my own physical health. And just a few months ago I had bout of depression and anxiety so severe that I tried to take my own life.

In this time I’ve been on a dozen different medications, seen countless doctors, counsellors, and nurses, and been admitted to several outpatient and inpatient mental health programs.

In moments of panic it feels like my mind has turned against me, and convinced me that danger lurks around every corner. My attacks, which had always been unpleasant experiences, have become unbearable episodes of sheer terror. The frequent fear and stress have become all consuming, and over the years has slowly chipped away at every aspect of my life.

Even in periods when the attacks, anxiety, and depression are less intense, I’ve discovered that it’s difficult to enjoy things I once loved, like theatre and travel. In the past few years these things have provided me with little more than fear and nausea. At one point I even thought that perhaps I’d just stop partaking, because what was the point?

But, at the end of day, I just couldn’t bring myself to give up my last semblance of hope. So in the spirit of ‘go big, or go home’, I’ve decided to get over my fears by visiting three countries I’ve never stepped foot into before (two of them on my own). I’m also giving myself London, because it’s the love of my life.

And I refuse to let my anxieties take it, or anything, away from me.

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Tomorrow! Tomorrow!

I love ya, tomorrow! You’re only a day away!

I’m off to NYC tomorrow, and if you can’t tell, I’m excited. I haven’t been since being stranded there for 12 days of November 2014– Almost an entire year ago! For shame. (I’m making up for it by going again in 6 weeks. Thank you MegaBus and your $1 tickets!) I’m not sure what I’ll get up to, but I’ve made a goal to go to 2 places I’ve never been before. We’ll see where that leads me!

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I also wanted to write a quick update to apologize for my pity party in the last post. I know there are people out there going through so much worse, and I’m trying to remember that and be more grateful for the little things. This too shall pass and all that.

Road Trip America

After a long,Β arduous winter a friend and I have decided to take a little time out this summer and do a mini US roadtrip. Nothing major. One week, traveling from Niagara to Savannah. It’s a 2 day drive, so we’ll head down to Virginia on day one, and then continue onto Savannah on day two, where we’ll stay for a few nights. We’ll take an alternate route home, stopping for a night and half day in Washington DC before heading home. It should be a ton of fun, and we’re really excited!

roadtrip

Since money is tight, we’ve decided we’re going to try and raise the money needed for the trip in a few different ways. We have a GoFundMe page for anyone who might wish to simply donate to the cause. We’re also holding an online rummage sale, with over 100 items available, and at the end of the month we’ll be holding a yard sale (more info coming soon).

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After only just a couple of days we’ve been able to raise nearly $400! The trip itself will cost about $1000, if we’ve budgeted correctly: $190 for a rental car, $250 for gas, $175 for hotels, $250 for food, $40 alt transportation, $100 buffer.

I said I wanted to go somewhere this year that I’ve never been, so I’m really looking forward to this. I’ve heard great things about Savannah! It sounds like it’ll likely been painfully hot and humid, but we’ll survive!

If you’re able to donate or grab a rummage sale item, we’d really appreciate it. There’s even some fun incentives for those who donate:

$10 Donation: A shoutout on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

$25 Donation: A thank you card that we’ll make ourselves and mail to you! Each card will be designed by us, and include a little something special.

$50 Donation: All of the above, PLUS we’ll Photoshop you into some of our photos. It’ll be just like you’re there with us!

$100 Donation: All of the above, PLUS you’re very ownΒ custom embroidered wall hanging from Mommy’s Lil Monkey.

$150 Donation: All of the above, PLUS an invitation to hang out with us on one of our future adventures.

$500 Donation: OUR SOULS.

Regardless of whether or not you’re able to contribute, please stay tuned for updates on our trip. I’ll be posting a ton from the road! We plan to hit every wacky water tower, world’s largest ball of twine, moth man museum, and buffet that America has to offer on our route. It should be quite the adventure!

Time

728 days, 14 hours, 24 minutes and 59 seconds.

How much time I will have in the UK before my presence becomes illegal.

378 days, 14 hours, 24 minutes and 59 seconds.

How much time I will have to complete my internship upon entering the UK.

1 day, 2 hours, 32 minutes and 46 seconds.

How much time I have until entering the UK.

19 hours, 31 minutes and 46 seconds.

How much time I have until I leave Canada.

13 hours, 55 minutes and 22 seconds.

How much time I have until I leave for the airport.

3 hours, 6 minutes and 24 seconds.

How much time I spent tossing and turning in bed tonight before writing this blog.

3 seconds.

The time it took you to ask yourself: “WTF is this post?”

I can’t sleep. This is my version of counting sheep ; )

Regrets

So, as some of you may know my London planning has been on the rocks as of late. I’ve managed to get everything done that I needed to, but it’s cost me more money than anticipated. And by “more” I mean my entire savings fund to move. UGH.

As such, I’ve spent the past week debating whether or not to go as soon as planned. I still don’t have a flight, so it wouldn’t be a huge deal to push it back a few weeks. People have been giving me advice for days, and almost all are encouraging me to head over as planned.

I’m trying to make the decision of what to do based on practical, and not emotional, reasons. I’m way too anxious to make decisions based on my level of nerves! I’ve spent the past year living my life by the anxiety’s standards and it was terrible. I didn’t take advantage of so many opportunities put forth while in grad school. Hell, I barely socialized with people in class. I’m sure everyone thought I was a bitch, or weird, or just anti-social. I didn’t want to be, but I think I managed to be all those things. It felt like my panic attacks would last days and it just became so much easier to shut as much of the world out as possible on the days when I was actually able to face it.

I definitely regret how most of the past year went. And I don’t want to regret the next year too. I need to suck it up and just DO it. If it’s a disaster, so be it. When I think about not going to London I feel completely heartbroken, which sounds silly, but it’s true. I may move their a discover it’s completely wrong for me, sure. But I won’t know this unless I DO it.

I have a lot of regrets. But I also have a lot of amazing experiences that would never have happened if I’d never taken chances like this. Life is short and I’m sick of spending it cooped up in my room panicking about trivial things.

And the official freakout begins… NOW.

I think it’s safe to say that my official freakout over moving has begun. I’m trying to rationalize that all of the things I’m freaking out about aren’t as catastrophic as I’ve made them out to be in my head, but my right and left brain are not finding any common ground. Current freakouts include:

Money

I know, I know. Who isn’t freaking out about money. This is the first summer since I was 15 that I haven’t been working 40+ hours a week. In fact, I’m working no hours a week, as I don’t have a job! Or, I should say, I have a job that has no hours. Same difference at the moment. My place of employment for the past 5 years went under, leaving me with a decision at the end of classes late last month: Find a job for 6 weeks, or travel. At the time travel won out, but I am regretting that decision a little bit at the moment. My trip was fantastic, but chewed up most of the savings I had put away. But, realistically, it would have taken me a couple weeks to find a job once I got home, and I would be handing in my 2 weeks notice right now. This leads in to my 2nd freakout…

Finding A Job in the UK

“What?! You don’t have a job in the UK before moving?!” Yes, this is very true. But, in my defense, my rational is that my choices were to find a min. wage job in Niagara and be paying a fortune in car insurance, payments, rent, etc, all the while not being anywhere near where I want to be finding my career. Or, I can move to London, find a min. wage job right away, work as much as I can while living very cheaply w/ friend before finding an apartment and the whole time be actively looking for a job in the city where I’m residing. Might be crazy, but I’m hopeful that it will work out. My main concern in finding an internship, but as I’ve already gotten offers that I couldn’t take because of my current location, I’m hoping my odds of finding something will be even better once I’m there! Right? Sure, why not.

And as for finding something right away – I have been applying, have friends asking around about openings, and have access to the SWAP working holiday employment program. I’m still completely freaked out, but I feel that I might be okay in the end.

Getting There

Going back to point number one – I have no money. And getting to London can be very expensive. Thankfully Air Transat has these fantastic seat sales where you can get a one-way ticket for $2. It requires a great deal of patience though, which is not my strong suit. I’m holding on though! My visa starts in 18 days, and their website sales section is slowly getting closer to my departure date. Just have to keep my fingers crossed on this one, as it’s really pure luck at the moment.

If not seat sale? Well, I’ll be shoving $900 on to my Visa card and figuring out how to pay it of later… Always a brilliant plan!

OMG WE’RE HAVING A FIRE sale

I need to sell my car. And my couch. And I need to donate or throw out about 3/4 of everything I own because I can’t bring it with me, or keep it here. In summation: My inner hoarder is losing it’s shit right now.

My Awkwardness

I’m awkward. Like, painfully so. If you know me, you know this. I’m okay with it about 99% of the time. However, this is the 1%.

Some wonderful friends have offered me immediate shelter and eventual flatmate status, and my brain is freaking out that when I get there no one will like me, and people will revoke said offers because I’ll turn out to be a pain to live with, and I’ll wind up homeless and broke and having a panic attack in the rain in the middle of Trafalgar Square with all my possessions. Slight overreaction? Of course. But, it’s my immediate assumption, so there you go.

Rational brain is saying it’ll be fine, even if we don’t get along swimmingly, things can be easily worked through, blah, blah, blah. I know. But, I’m awkward and crazy and don’t see the world the way I should.

Missing Home

I’m going to miss home. But, this is the sacrifice one makes when deciding to move halfway around the world. You leave family, friends, and familiarity. It sucks. But you do it in the hopes that the trade off will be worth it. You lose a lot, but you hopefully gain a lot in return. I’m hoping to spend the next few weeks spending as much time with family, friends, and Tim Horton’s as possible ; )

And thankfully the wonders of technology make separation less difficult. Skype, FaceTime, free international calling, and social media leave the ones you love closer than ever. It’s not the same, of course, but it’s still pretty awesome. Now, we just have to help my mom find that darn “Answer” button on her Skype!

The Gamble

At the end of the day, this is a total gamble. Maybe it’ll work, maybe it won’t. But, I know that if I don’t try, I’ll regret it forever. And maybe, just maybe, all the pieces will fall in to place. Bring it, London.

Disclaimer

I’m going to go ahead an apologize in advance for any over-blogging that occurs in the next few weeks.

My UK visa starts in 20 days (OMG) and I have 5 billion things to sort out before then. I’ve also only just returned from an almost-one month long holiday which I want to post a bit about at some point. So, be prepared for travel blogs, freaking out (I’ve made a HUGE mistake /GOB) blogs, procrastinating for said 5 billion things I need to do blog, and, what the hell, maybe even some excitement over moving blogs.

There’s a pile of things I want to write about now, but aside from real life, I’m also weeks behind on updating SJF. And since that takes my mind of real world freakouts, I’ll opt for that this evening!

HUZZAH!

Update to yesterdays post.

I woke up this morning to find the most wonderful email in my inbox:

Confirmation that my UK visa has been approved and issued. It will be ready for pick-up in Toronto in just 3 days!

London, here I come!