This is the first blog that I have written at over 30,000 feet and I’ve chosen to write it now to try and take my mind off the pain in my ears. I was in a lot of discomfort on the descent into Bulgaria a couple of days ago and my ears clearly have not recovered in time for this flight back to the UK. I admit to feeling very anxious about how I will cope with today’s descent into Luton Airport!!
On the subject of anxiety, I regularly get asked how I am these days now that I have chosen to talk about mental health for a living. It is ironic that I spent over 30 years trying to avoid speaking at conferences for fear of a panic attack and I now spend every day of my life asking if I can speak to large groups of people. I still get very anxious in the hour or so beforehand and catastrophise total panic but to date I have been able to control my breathing during every talk.
In the days of corporate life my mind believed that when I was presenting it was ‘NOT okay to be not okay’. I thought that my delivery had to be perfect and that I was always being judged. I remember the last time I spoke at a conference I had a real battle to control my anxiety. I got through it somehow but my boss described it ‘as not my finest hour’ which was her polite way of saying you were not very good today. At that precise point, I decided to never speak at a conference again; little did I know then how breaking my own silence would change my life.
I warn my clients when they book me for a talk that I may have a panic attack whilst I am telling my story. However, I now suspect I probably won’t as I no longer fear having one because it would only authenticate my story of privately suffering with anxiety. I am also proving repeatedly that your mental health is so much better when you believe that it’s okay to not be okay.
Overall, my mental health is the best it’s ever been in my adult life. I will always suffer severe anxiety in certain physical situations when I am not in control but I make sure wherever possible to avoid such moments. I still blame the big bully who used to sit on me in the park until I screamed for giving me some sort of phobia for all that stuff.
We are landing soon so I will finish writing and concentrate on trying to minimise the pain in my ears. The hostess has promised to bring me a cup of very hot water to hold just under my ears during the descent. What’s the betting my eardrums survive but I burn my ear lobes!!!
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