A Solo Walk with Anxiety


This weekend I took a walk up to Mt. Tabor park by myself to get some exercise and take some photos. Seems simple enough, right? I just needed to put on some sneakers and charge my camera battery and go. But it was a struggle to even get out the door. I stood in my living room, camera in hand, for about 15 minutes just staring blankly out my window, my mind whirring. 

Oh heyyyy Anxiety.

My struggles with anxiety have been all over the map - from little blips here and there to full blown days of barely breathing and laying on the couch miserable. I always feel anxiety in my throat and lungs so breathing becomes a challenge. I never quite know what's going to trigger it as things that normally don't bother me at all can at times set it off. Such was the case this day.

I normally really like to be alone. I go to the movies alone, I go grocery shopping and cook dinner alone. It doesn't bother me. But for some reason, Sunday it decided to really bother me. I couldn't stand the thought of going outside ALONE, walking through the neighborhood ALONE, being in the park ALONE - sadly (in my mind) taking photos and having strangers pity me. All I could think was "What's the point in going alone? I really don't want to be alone ahhhhh"

Somehow, after disassociating for a little bit, I forced myself out the front door and into the street, using my headphones like emotional camouflage. It has been raining non-stop all week and this was the first day of spring weather and I convinced myself that if I didn't get out and absorb some Vitamin D before the gray skies returned I would regret it. As I clutched my camera to my side and made my way up to Mt. Tabor, Anxiety started running its mouth. The people eating in the little neighborhood Thai restaurant were definitely staring at me. Those teenagers in that car stopped at the light were laughing - at me! In fact, every person in every car stopped at the next light was definitely staring and laughing at me. I was walking so fast my calves started burning, nearly power walking trying to escape these imagined judgments. And all this while simultaneously chastising myself for being so ridiculous. Anxiety is anything but helpful. 

I have a lot of strange anxiety surrounding photo-taking as well that started to creep in around the time I got to the park entrance. So I am just hiking up the hill into the park a total mess. Which, you know, is not my preferred way to be in the world. But I was already there and the sun was starting to lift my mood a little so I pressed onward. I was worried about feeling alone and I definitely did experience a lot of loneliness seeing all the couples, picnicking friend groups, and people walking dogs. I wandered around the trails and started to feel more comfortable and ended up walking several miles and taking some lovely photos. 

Here's the thing: The loneliness didn't totally go away. The anxiety didn't totally go away. But that's ok. I managed to experience those negative things and work through them a little bit with the help of some exercise and sun. And that's ok.

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