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Anxiety over travel could threaten my career - how do I get hold of it?

(26 Posts)
Anitee Mon 21-Nov-16 22:29:45

I have always been a confident person. I am a relatively well established academic and currently getting relatively high profile (in my field - not super star basis!). I am fine lecturing, talking, public speaking to 100s, but anxiety about travel is getting worse and worse. I went to a conference abroad a few months ago and had a full on panic attack on the plane. I put this down to flying, but was fine coming back. Now ever travelling to local cities in the UK worries me. Day trips are fine but over night trips bring on massive anxiety. I can't pin point it to anything. I have to go away again this week - just an overnight stay in a city about 3 hours away - and the anxiety is awful. Heart pounding, shaking and constantly worrying about it. I have developed a nervous thing where I tap my fingers and thumbs together. But I don't know what is triggering it - I do have a stressful, full on job but one that I enjoy and seem to be good at, I am not worried about public speaking, it is literally the going places I don't know, getting around places I haven't been to and being surrounded by lots of other people that does me in. However much I plan, make sure I know what I doing it doesn't help. I don't like leaving my children (both pre-school) or my husband and worry something will happen to me or them when I'm away - I imagine all sorts of scenarios where I can't get back to them in time. I thought it would get better the more I do it, not worse. But I am at a point where I seriously consider stopping travelling which will seriously damage my career. Is this anxiety, stress - I need to get hold of it now!

Rachie1986 Mon 21-Nov-16 22:31:55

Can you speak to your GP and get a referral for some CBT? I have found it helpful in the past with anxiety and am just starting it again.

Anxiety is horrible - well done for admitting you're struggling x

ZigZagIntoTheBlue Mon 21-Nov-16 22:35:31

In the short term maybe your doctor could prescribe beta blockers to reduce the fight or flight symptoms you're experiencing?

Anitee Mon 21-Nov-16 22:37:34

Thanks Rachie - I have to confess I am worried about talking to a GP - we are also foster carers and when we first applied the fact I had been treated with anxiety years ago (not in any way similar to now) went against us. I'm terrified of this impacting our future assessments. I have a really wonderful life, so confused why this is coming through now.

CrushCrazy Mon 21-Nov-16 22:41:05

Oh yikes, you sound just like me! Please go and get some CBT before it gets worse. Mine got so bad I couldn't even get to work (1-1.5h from home). I also have no anxiety about public speaking etc and am a very confident and sociable person. I didn't believe CBT would work for me as Im a very sceptical person and I don't like being told what to do, but actually it has really helped. Whatever you do don't stop the travelling or you will find life closing in around you and your career and happiness will suffer. You need to find a psychologist you gel with. If you can go privately and see a qualified clinical psychologist with a PhD - if you're anything like me, and I'm guessing you are although I could be wrong, you won't respect someone with lesser qualifications and you won't trust them and work with them. Good luck, it's a hard road but the quicker you get treatment the quicker it will be to overcome flowers

CrushCrazy Mon 21-Nov-16 22:44:17

Also worth saying if you go through your GP it could be months before you get treatment and then it could be someone with as little as 6 weeks training. If you can afford to go privately it is so worth it, but you need to find the psychologist you gel with. Think of the cost as an investment in your future happiness and career.

Anitee Mon 21-Nov-16 22:47:50

Thank you Crush for your post, made me feel better - I am happy to go private, I would rather keep it away from my gp.

Toffeewhirl Mon 21-Nov-16 22:55:45

I agree with the previous posters about the CBT. I suffered from anxiety about travel in the past and saw a CBT counsellor for help. I found it really helpful, particularly the education about learning not to think in rigid ways. I still use this, eg avoiding black-and-white thinking or imagining catastrophes. I also learnt that avoidance reinforces the fear, so you have to keep pushing yourself to do the thing that makes you anxious.

It's unfortunate that you don't want to see your GP because a trained therapist could help you so much. Maybe you could try a 'DIY' approach - there are self-help books and online courses listed here.

It's horrible having this level of anxiety - you have my sympathy.

Lolodizzyone Mon 21-Nov-16 23:08:13

Oh man, anxiety is awful but you got this. The key is to try not to give into but to face it stare it down and zap it.
Give anxiety an inch and it will take miles, I know it's so hard but find key phrases to calm reiterate to yourself when your feeling anxious. Mine was hang on in there and the fear/terror will dissipate, it always passes and will pass quicker if I face it.
That said it is hard but so worth it. I used to say to myself I will not allow my fear a focus too so that if I did dwell on say something happening to family etc. I would just focus on that phrase and calm reiterate to myself that however bad it feels it is just that a feeling and it will pass.
Thinking of you xx

Toffeewhirl Mon 21-Nov-16 23:46:58

I don't know if this will help you, but it helped me to know this: even if you don't do anything to help relax yourself when you feel panicky, the anxiety will naturally subside because the body can't stay at that level of stress. It's like a wave that reaches a crest, then subsides. It will rise up again, but each time will be less bad than the time before. I used to find observing this wave of anxiety quite a useful distraction in itself. Although it's a horrible feeling, it can't hurt you - and it will pass.

griffinsss Mon 21-Nov-16 23:53:23

Please get CBT, even a few sessions privately if you can afford it and you don't want to go to your GP. It helps me no end.

Greengoddess12 Mon 21-Nov-16 23:54:32

Hi op I see you have little ones but would you mind telling us how old you are?

The reason being I could be you and realise I was peri menopausal.

My anxiety levels hit the roof over things I had sailed through.

Greengoddess12 Mon 21-Nov-16 23:56:31


Your comment give anxiety an inch and it will take a mile

So so so bloody true.

Jedimum1 Tue 22-Nov-16 08:09:56

I had some similar episodes and in my case it was all down to me feeling guilty leaving the family and the conviction that they would miss me or DH wouldn't manage as well. I had the feeling that if I were traveling for work (as in "your boss tells you to attend a meeting 3h away"), I would not feel that way. It was the fact that in some way I was choosing it by submitting abstracts (nowhere as high in my career as you, I still don't get invited!). My anxiety, as I figured out, wasn't about the travel but about what would happen whilst I was away. It was about not believing my kids would be happy or as spoiled looked after. It was my lack of confidence on DH skills. He's great but when I'm home I tend to take control of things, leaving was making me nervous because I couldn't see what was going up. Totally unjustified too, he's brilliant with the kids and can step up and look after them, it was just that I wanted to be in control and I couldn't. I had to work a bit on building my confidence and let him do things his way. I called when away and spoke to the toddler directly, heard about her day, etc. I try to leave as much organised for them as I can, whether it's ready meals or those magazines with toys to distract them at any point. I also tell my DC I'll bring a present with me, so I make the wait a positive one and not just about an absence. It has helped me. I still don't like to be away, but I have toned down the worry and I know it will pass.

Pseudonym99 Tue 22-Nov-16 08:26:39

Could you register with a different GP under a pseudonym - a made up identity - to prevent this episode being linked to your main medical records?

Katy07 Tue 22-Nov-16 08:55:15

You could find a counsellor privately for CBT. My GP's surgery wouldn't even offer that sort of thing (none do round here) so I'd have to pay for it. If you can afford it.....

Thatwaslulu Tue 22-Nov-16 09:02:06

A PP is right - unfortunately avoidance makes it worse, so therapy focusing on exposing yourself to the fear gradually weakens its hold on you, but it is scary to think about. I have developed anxiety about using the tube, just at the time when I have taken a new job in London. I get the bus from the station to the office but on days when I am running late I have to try the tube and 9 times out of 10 I can't manage it without a panic attack. I have started small by going into a tube station for a brief period but not getting to he hehe hehe tube, and gradually built up to getting the tube one stop. I'm still a work in progress.

Musicaltheatremum Tue 22-Nov-16 09:16:14

You need ID to register at a GP. Registering as a pseudonym is not an option.

Truckingalong Tue 22-Nov-16 10:17:10

I was also going to ask how old you were, as my anxiety (triggered initially by losing both parents close together) has been amplified by the menopause.

Truckingalong Tue 22-Nov-16 10:21:16

I travel a lot with work too. It can be very stressful but I try desperately to think, what will be will be. If I'm late or miss a train, so what, it's not the end of the world. I realise of course that being late isn't great and it's not like I simply don't care but I try to accept the stuff that's outside of my control.

sparechange Tue 22-Nov-16 10:28:12

Agree with the suggestions of CBT but can you give yourself something to look forward to when you are in the city?

I had horrible anxiety when I started travelling for work but would treat myself to a manicure or massage for the trips with the worst travel
Researching where to go would help me familiarise myself with the area as well.

My 'treat' now is a nice book. I have a friend who always washes all her make up brushes in hotels using the free shampoo and soap from the room, because it isn't her soap or hot water being wasted!

Pseudonym99 Tue 22-Nov-16 12:43:25

You can use any name you want. As long as it is not to commit fraud. The NHS cannot refuse you treatment on the basis you have no ID. And since when do you need ID to register with a GP? Just pull a name out of the phone book or something

CrushCrazy Tue 22-Nov-16 13:35:43

Thatwaslulu get a folding bike! I have a tube phobia and to be honest I'm ok with letting that one slide as the tube is truly a hideous place. My colleague got stuck in a tunnel for an HOUR the other week. I would've literally gone crazy if that was me, so I'm not prepared to risk it. Agree with not letting the anxiety take over but I now have a workable alternative to the tube that I'm happy with. The folding bike has changed my life, no more worrying about the tube or being stuck in traffic on a busy bus!

sparechange Wed 23-Nov-16 15:10:40

And since when do you need ID to register with a GP?

Since forever where I live
Passport and bill to get registered. Same now to attend a hospital

As is totally right hmm

Jedimum1 Thu 24-Nov-16 00:24:05

Same here, a bill with address and full name, plus passport or birth certificate.

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