Normally in my travel posts on this blog, I like to share what I got up to and what I enjoyed in the various locations I have visited. But this post is a bit different, I want to talk about how I felt being in Las Palmas, not what I did. It has nothing to do with the city though, and I don’t hold it responsible for this experience, it was about what happened in the run up to my trip. I mentioned in my last post that, in an effort to “cheer myself” out of my depression (bad idea), I went to London (alone) and it did not go well. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t stop crying and couldn’t listen to music. I ended up coming home early and staying with my parents for a few days. However, I’ve travelled a lot by myself in the past and I didn’t want to not be able to do that anymore. In a way, I was glad that I had booked this trip so long ago. It meant I had an opportunity to get back on the horse, as they say. But I was nervous about it; mainly nervous that it would end up going the same way as my trip to London.
It was a very weird holiday, for many reasons that I won’t go into now. The thing I want to focus on is my anxiety because honestly it was all consuming. It was so intense, it made it really hard to function. It was supposed to be a relaxing holiday; I wanted to sit on the beach and enjoy the sun. Or rather, figure out if I enjoy such a thing. I hadn’t been on a sun holiday since I was a teenager. For the past few years, I’ve gone on a trip at the end of every November because I work for an American company and get a few days off for Thanksgiving, but they’ve always been busy city breaks. This year, back in May, I decided that I wanted to try and have a relaxing holiday to see if I liked it. In hindsight, I’m really not sure if this was a good or bad idea. Maybe having more things to do would have helped me work through my anxiety. But maybe it would have made it a lot worse. Regardless, there I was in Las Palmas, trying to figure out if I enjoyed the sun and struggling to keep myself from going crazy.
I took things really easy. I walked a lot. I sat in my apartment a lot. I tried to write but it was a struggle. I wanted to try to explain how it felt, I wanted to get it out. My mum has asked me in the past to explain what anxiety is like and honestly that question boggles my mind. I don’t understand how anyone could not just know how it feels. It’s so much apart of life for me, that it’s hard to grasp the idea that there are people who have never felt it. When I was deep in it in Las Palmas, I wanted so much to put it into words, to explain how it felt, as if maybe that might help alleviate things; as if putting it into something tangible would help transfer it away from me. But I’m not sure any words can truly convey the feeling, it’s so deep, so raw.
None the less, I did try and this is what I typed into my notes while I was in Gran Canaria in an attempt to express what my body was experiencing:
“My anxiety is at an all time high, the not knowing, the uncertainty of it all. It’s like I’m searching for something but I have no idea what I’ve lost. I feel like I’m about to burst, or maybe implode, but either way, I’m going to lose my footing in the explosion. I‘m wandering around, doing things just to do them. Breathing with no goal, other than to just keep going. I feel tired. Tired of carrying all these emotions around with me. The anxiety is wearing me down and I just want to feel calm. I just want the anxiety to stop. But it doesn’t, it ebbs and flows; some moments I can almost feel it start to dissipate, but then it’s back full force and I’m right back in it, every single piece of me. I feel it in my stomach, in my core. It’s so real, so tangible. My brain is trying as hard as it can to convince my body that everything is okay, we are safe. But my body isn’t listening. It’s panicking. Anxiety doesn’t understand logic. My breathing gets a little more strained and I feel it in my chest now. There are all these emotions building inside me, but they’re hard to figure out. I feel full, overwhelmed, but everything is so wedged in that I can’t seem to let it all out. I feel sick, I feel scared.”
I think I was just trying so hard to process so many emotions, that I ended up just feeling completely scrabbled. It felt like 10 radios were playing at the highest volume all at once, each trying to give me important information but I couldn’t distinguish anything from the chaos. The noise just engulfed me and I couldn’t turn it off. But the main thing is I survived. It was hard, but I made it through it. On the last day, I went and lay on the beach for a bit, leaving my phone at the apartment. It was a very brief moment, but I did feel at peace lying there with the heat seeping into my bones.
If anyone reading this is having a hard time with anxiety, I would suggest taking things as slowly as you need to and holding on to any fleeting moments of relief. I tried to distract myself as much as possible (for example, I researched every single result from my last blood test, what each thing they tested for meant and whether my result was good or not), and that did work a little bit. It didn’t make the anxiety go away, but it did make it more manageable. But there were times were I just sat in my apartment and had to try as hard as I could to simply take some deep breaths, hoping that things would get just a little bit better soon. Hopefully someone can relate to this post and the fact that you are not alone in feeling this way also helps.
I feel a bit sad that I didn’t get to properly experience Las Palmas, but I did the best I could given the circumstances. I’d love to go back in the future and truly explore Gran Canaria, as well as the neighbouring islands. Hopefully next time I’ll be able to enjoy my time there and maybe get a chance to see if I actually like relaxing sun holidays or not!