My anxiety and IBS has completely changed the way I travel.
Travelling is one thing that you can’t avoid unless you want to seriously diminish your quality of life. It is such a norm that it has put a lot of pressure on me in recent years because I think as an outsider it is one of the hardest issues to understand. Someone without IBS would not consider crapping yourself in a car full of people and someone without anxiety would not be petrified when the subway stops midway between two stations. I have just learnt to adapt as best I can…
There are many different factors that affect how I feel when travelling:
- Do I feel comfortable with the people I am travelling with? – if we are taking the car and my IBS kicks in, would I feel comfortable asking them to stop at the next service station because I am desperate for the toilet
- How far am I going? – if I am travelling 10 mins to the local shop then I am fine, but once my journey is more than 30 mins, I begin to over analyse it and prepare for any problems that I might face
- Is there a toilet on board? – my IBS is far better on trains and planes because I have access to a toilet should I need to go
- Can I escape? – I am far more likely to be anxious if I can’t leave when I want
- Am I in control? – if I am in control of a vehicle then I tend to feel more relaxed, because my mind is occupied and I know that I can stop when I want
My least favourite ways to travel
- Subway – no toilet, no way to escape, no fresh air, busy and hot. Need I say any more?
- In the back of a 3 door car – my biggest concern here is being unable to escape. I am always anxious when travelling like this and it has caused me embarrassment in the past. I once met my partner’s parents for the first time and had to request that they sat in the back of the car
- Boat – here there is really nowhere to hide. What if I need the toilet in the middle of the sea? Do I jump off and go in the water?
- Aeroplane – you can read all about my issues with flying here
Preparing for a journey
- Empty my bowels – before going on a journey, I always spend 10 minutes on the toilet to make sure that I don’t need to go on the way
- Choosing my place – I always feel more relaxed sitting down, close to a bathroom and an exit. This is something that I can usually control and therefore makes me feel better
- Medication – I don’t take medication every time I travel, but I usually keep a Lormetazepam on me as a precaution. This just gives me peace of mind that if I lose control, it is there
- Knowing the route – this is much easier if it is a regular journey, but with the help of Google maps, I can always plan for stops along the way if I need to
So that was a brief insight into my mind when faced with travelling. The best method I have found to deal with it is to surround myself with people that at least try and understand and when possible I will always travel by bicycle.
It would be great if you can share your experiences of travelling with IBS or anxiety in the comments, to help anyone else that can relate feel less alone.