A few years ago I was suffering from intense anxiety when I nervously boarded a plane to visit my friend Sara in San Francisco. When I got there, I was depressed and didn't want to leave her home.
One day, Sara asked me if I wanted to see any sights in the city. I Said I'd like to visit the De Young Museum. She drove us there; I was relieved we didn't need to take public transportation as we could hop into her car and leave if I got too anxious. After arriving at Golden Gate Park though, Sara couldn't find a place to park and went home leaving me there.
Before Sara left, she gave me instructions on how to take the Muni home. I got out of the car, and it was freezing cold. I walked down the sidewalk, and I was ready to go home. The line at the museum was too long and I didn't want to queue. I then saw I was near the Botanical Garden. I went in to the gift shop there and struck up a conversation with the ladies in the shop about the cold weather. One was a member of the garden and gave me a free ticket.
With the ticket, I went into the garden intending only to stay for a few minutes close to the entrance. That way I could easily exit and go home. I started by looking at the black bamboo, and I walked a little further. Soon, I was in another section of the garden, looking at the tall redwoods. I was shocked that the trees can survive and thrive in the middle of a city.
I continued walking and went into a section with many herbs and different aromas. I learned that San Francisco's prior name was Buena Yerba or Good Herb. My curiosity overtook me and I forgot about my anxiety. I walked further still into an area with plants from Australia. By the time I exited the garden, I had seen sixty percent of it.
By taking the step to leave the house in the first place, I had taken the first step in challenging my anxiety. My thoughts said, "What if I have a panic attack? What if..."
During a trying year when it was hard to leave my home due to extreme anxiety, I had flown an hour to San Francisco, and I had left my friend's home. I was anxious when Sara went home because she was my crutch. I thought we'd be spending the day together. I thought she'd comfort me if I had a panic attack and drive me home.
One step led to another and soon my fear disappeared and I saw and smelled the different fragrances of the garden. From funky Australian fauna to tall redwoods, I saw most of the vast Botanical Garden and learned about different plants. On that day in San Francisco, I conquered a part of my anxiety. This willingness to go out and explore would help me alleviate more anxiety in the months ahead.
A Moodscope member.