As the plane taxied toward the runway I glance out the window and see our First Nations Aboriginal flag flying proudly in the wind; for a second it takes my attention away, and almost like a sign; don't panic, the old people, my ancestors have my back.
It's back, my heart beats ferociously, where I can physically see the movement against my shirt; with that my mind begins to race again.
Lately, it has been every time I get on a flight, do I begin to have these mini anxiety attacks where I am short of breath, struggle to breathe and like there is a net around my heart n lungs slowly squeezing the breath out've me.
I begin to practice what I preach, mindfulness. I slowly rub my index finger and my thumb together bringing my mind back to present. My mind is frantically running through every possible worst case scenario I can think of; I scan the female flight attendant, up and down to see if she could be possibly concealing a gun to plot a terror attack, I am seated in the very front seat of the plane so I am constantly peering over my shoulder as if the passenger behind me will try stick a knife into my neck at any moment. A little shake of my head, as if to bring me back to reality.
The next thought is, as if I am facing my own death with the plane crashing. Will my family know that I love them? Will I get to hug Court & the kids again? What will my funeral be like? Will anyone even come?
Again, I am to breathing deep, 4,7,8 inhale 4 seconds hold that breath for 7 seconds and then exhale for 8 seconds.
I am terrified, tears begin to well in my eyes, but in the surface I look calm as can be, cool as a cucumber; but on the inside I'm a nervous wreck, gasping for air and clinging to life.
The reality is, none of this is real, none of these thoughts can hurt me and hopefully the plane doesn't go down and I can live another day.
These are the tricks my brain plays on my almost daily. I know I can't control what goes into my brain, but I know and as I breathe through it; I CAN control the outcome.
This happened to me today, everything that you read above went through my mind whilst I was on the plane from Dubbo to Sydney. Whilst doing my 4,7,8 I literally sat and counted the 'seconds hand' on my wrist watch for 17 minutes during the flight. That's 1,020 seconds (yes I can count that high) and I would of went longer if I had to & if that's what I had to do to bring my heart rate down and my head back to present. That very step is what directly contributes to my resilience.
I am now sitting at Sydney airport, waiting to board another flight, this one longer - to Perth. Will it happen again? Who knows but I know I have the tools to get through it...
Many might ask, but why would you put yourself through that sort of mental chaos by living a life that involves many flights? I mean, I've travelled to 5 states in Australia & 30 states around USA delivering The Enemy Within - 100s of flights, why continue to do it?????
Yeah I love doing what I do, but there really is only one answer - helping people, helps me. By helping other people in my travels, I am helping myself.
One day at a time;
It May Battle Me; It Won't Beat Me