From an airplane window is where I found my inspiration. I knew it was time to share my story.
I have always loved flying. Not just being in the air, but the entire process. Booking a ticket is fulfilling in and of itself. The worst is over. I always pick a window seat. Luckily, my elbows have never been hit by a beverage cart! I always hated it for Drew Barrymore.
For someone who has panic attacks for no reason, you'd think that flying would stress me out. It doesn't. Not once have I experienced a panic attack in an airport or on a plane. Not with a fox and not in a box.
When I get to the airport I feel cool, calm, and collected. I've actually tracked my heart rate during this process and it's been under 50 bpm on several occasions. Amazing! I get through security no problem. I have the patience of a saint. I can see how people would get super anxious at this point. Everything has to come out of your bag, put in its own tray, and down the conveyor belt it goes. They take everything from you and all you're left with is that one thing you forgot to take out of your pocket. SANITY! Sometimes they want that too.
See how easy it is to THINK about being anxious? I often think about what's to come even before it gets here. I work myself up. This is one situation though where my anxiety disappears.
After security I go straight for food. Almost always you'll find me standing in line at Starbucks. I know. That's not food. But do you see the priority now? MUST HAVE STARBUCKS! Food comes next. I am not picky and will eat just about anything. I drink and eat. I am happy.
I make my merry way to the restroom and have a little winky tink. Then I sit in some chair, play on my phone, and finish my coffee. I always get a Venti Iced Coffee, No Classic, 2% milk. Pure bliss. A vice. A comfort.
Getting on the plane gives me control. I know that I have the ability to be patient and kind. We've all seen videos displaying the horrors people experience in flight. I hate the thought of people going through such things. I show everyone respect and hope that my demeanor creates a warm and welcoming environment.
I like meeting new people. I won't usually initiate the conversation because I don't want to disturb anyone who might already by unnerved, but I'll open right up when someone talks to me. If they can't find their seat belt I don't show frustration when they have to dig around for it and accidentally brush the outside of my thigh with their pinky. IT HAPPENS PEOPLE, GET OVER IT! I would do anything for anyone on an airplane if it meant ensuring they were comfortable and safe.
Then there's the flying part. I always look out the window during take off. Landing too. Sometimes people around me are praying, texting, or calming their children. I just look out the window.
I am so amazed that a hunk of metal (and other parts) can fly through the air and remain there. Just flying along. It's incredible. I really take it all in. It's like looking at a mountain and trying to fathom how it got there. Or how Lake Michigan can seem so endless. Speechless moments meant for the mind.
Obviously everything gets smaller the higher you go. Your world becomes a Polly Pocket! I loved those toys. The coolest part is watching things take shape. Have you ever noticed how neighborhoods are set up into grids? Or how farmland is either in the shape of a square, rectangle, or a circle? How about the on and off ramps? They are fun looking--like a toy race track--fun loops and curves. I see rivers and railroad tracks and feel as if I know where things are going. It's like everything has a purpose and now it's explained. Everyone can see true colors.
This is what makes me feel normal. This is what takes my anxiety away. Gives me hope. I can always be myself on an airplane. On the ground it's not as easy. You have to hide sometimes and take the shape of something you'd rather not.
I love flying because we all look down on the same world. Everything is a grand idea from the air. Shouldn't we all feel grand?
Next week...Starting my journey at the University of Notre Dame...
Hi, my name is Stephanie Ryckman.
Welcome to my personal blog, documenting my journey through mental illness. My goals are to encourage and educate. I want others to be proud of their story. Together we can make this world a better place. I also want to educate others so that our society has a better understanding of mental health. Whether you've been diagnosed or not, you have a role in this.
I ask that you bare with me for a minute. I want you to think of someone you love. You just found out they have cancer. Take a deep breath. Think about what you would say to them. How would you treat them? Would you buy them flowers? A card? Would you plan a special outing with them and spend quality time with them? Would you console them? Of course you would.
Now imagine that person were to tell you they were suffering from Depression instead. Or Bio-polar Disorder. Severe Anxiety. What would you do now?
I suffer from Major Depression and Anxiety and it should be taken just as seriously as cancer. I'd like a card or maybe a happy text message once in a while. Or some flowers. I'd like you to spend quality time with me instead of fearing me. Even just a smile or a hug will do the trick. And if you're still unsure about how you feel, just listen. That's all.
At times my mental illness gets the best of me. It can be really scary. And just like cancer, I cannot control the fact that I suffer from depression and anxiety. It's not just about what I cannot control though. It's about my actions, my will, my support system, and the severity of my illness.
I'm sharing my story with you because mental illness is real. Whatever your story, I ask you to read with an open mind. I also ask that you embrace your thoughts and reactions. At the end of the day, we need to take better care of ourselves and each other.
I have not gone through this alone. My wife has been my #1 supporter. She holds me when I need to be held. She cries with me. She takes the time to learn about depression and anxiety. No matter what, she is on my side. She never makes me feel alone. Her experience is just as important. We don't always get to hear about the challenges being faced by someone who is taking care of a loved one with mental illness. In addition, my family and my friends have found ways to support me. I've gotten books, essential oils, financial support, phone calls, silly text messages to make me smile, and unconditional love! Every little thing helps.
Always know that you are supported. There is help. I'd love to hear your story! Don't worry, everything will be okay.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being here.
I just want all people to learn and grow together.