Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about how Oscar’s regular meltdowns in the car had made me a really nervous driver. He was a terrible, terrible passenger and once spent a whole half an hour car journey screaming. In fact, he regularly spent a half an hour journey (sometimes longer) screaming, and with me being the only one that could settle him, and also the only one that could drive the car; it always left me in a bit of a pickle. It made me have to be prepared for every journey – to time it to perfection in order to try and avoid the instant screaming. Sometimes it worked and other times it didn’t. You could never ever tell which journey wasn’t going to go right, and in the end I just learnt to block out the noise and focus on getting home as safely and quickly as possible.
We recently changed him into his next stage car seat and initially, he was extremely happy. At first we kept him rear facing but he still cried a lot and so we turned him round and it was instant happiness. Oh, I thought, this is wonderful. Car journeys will now be much better.
That was until he started suffering from car sickness.
The same pattern arose on each journey that we made. About ten to fifteen minutes in, he would do a little cough, get a little bit aggy, and then he would vomit all over himself. And then he would cry lots because he had just vomited all over himself and he wasn’t happy (I don’t blame him, I wouldn’t be either). But it completely ruined our new but short-lived easier car journeys, and once again, made me anxious of getting in the car with him. So much so that I have started to avoid even taking him out. Zach has recently had birthday parties that we purposefully haven’t taken Oscar to because we just didn’t want him vomiting. And when I did have to take him out in half term, we took the train instead as the journey was just as easy (although this is also another issue that I will go into below!). We have another car seat that we are going to try out but it needs to be tested on some short journeys first to see if it helps at all.
So to say I am anxious about driving with Oscar in the car is an understatement. I still panic at the thought of getting stuck in traffic with him (because of the previous regular screaming sessions), and am forever checking Google maps to see if there are any red routes – to figure out if I need to take a diversion somewhere. And now I panic that he is going to vomit and be unhappy!
The thing is though, the anxiety happens even when he isn’t in the car. When I am alone or just with Zach, I still can’t stand the thought of getting stuck in a jam. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago when I left a friend’s house (alone), I got stuck in a couple of jams. Only little ones, but they were ones where I had no idea what was causing the problem and no idea how long it was going to take. I was having to get home for bedtime and could just envisage me being really late and Oscar having a meltdown at home because he was tired and needed mummy to put him to bed.
As soon as I got a little bit stuck (I ended up in a lane that I could not escape from, a bus was at the front of the lights and the lights were green but for some unknown reason, no-one was going anywhere), I started panicking. I find myself getting all worked up, thinking about all the worst case scenarios that might happen because of this issue. My heart starts beating faster, my hands go all clammy and my head starts to feel funny. I used to be such a confident driver. I once sat in gridlock on the M6 for two hours when there had been an accident and they had completely closed the road. It didn’t bother me. I just dealt with it. It’s such a different story now!
The worst thing though, is that it’s no longer just in the car that the anxiety arises – there is another place where it happens, and in all honesty, I can’t believe it.
It happens on trains.
Yep – me, the person who spent eleven years commuting into London, gets anxious on the trains! It’s ridiculous isn’t it? I feel like it is. But it’s there. The same fast beating heart, the same clammy hands. Overground or underground, it doesn’t matter. If the train is going at speed, moving along nicely, I am pretty ok. But as soon as it starts slowing down for unknown reasons, or even worse, sits for a while in a tunnel – that’s it. I am in sheer panic mode. And I don’t even know what I am panicking about! I always make sure my bladder is empty (a habit from commuting whilst pregnant!) and I have never really been one to suffer from claustrophobia. Heck, I was commuting in the midst of the London bombings all those years ago and was on a train just a few days later when they reopened the underground.
Like being a confident driver, I have always previously been a confident commuter.
Whilst I think about it though, it happens on planes too. Previously a confident flyer, now if I am on a plane I spend the whole time worrying that something bad is going to happen, that the plane is going to come down.
It seems that no matter what mode of transport it is, it makes me nervous, agitated and anxious.
I just don’t know where it has come from. I am much better if I am with people. People that can distract and reassure me.The other half is wonderful. Since it is mostly him that is having to do the reassuring, he really is wonderful.
I have found something that keeps me calm is having a sweet or lolly in my mouth. That allows me to keep the breathing under control which in turn helps to keep the racing heart less racy. The other weekend I was heading to meet my Sister in London and I grabbed a pack of Fruitella’s for the train. I ate a couple, they kept me calm and all was well (it was actually my sister that got stuck on the tube for ten minutes and she made me feel better when she said some mild panic went through her after a while of being sat on a train going nowhere!). I also put my headphones in and listened to a podcast – blanking out everything seemed to work. I guess when I commuted all the time, my head was always in a book so I was never paying a huge amount of attention to what was going on.
And when we went on holiday last year, within about thirty seconds of being on the M25, we hit traffic – a temporary (and thankfully short lived) road closure whilst they cleared a collision ahead. Thankfully Oscar had fallen asleep immediately upon setting off, but I was in utter panic that he might wake up and just go mental at the non-moving car. And even more thankfully, there were some sweets in the car from Zach’s hairdresser trip. I nabbed a lollipop and it worked an absolute treat (and was my discovery of how I can help myself to stay a bit calmer in these situations).
I am not saying that sweets are the answer to anxiety. I am well aware that my very minor anxiety is nothing compared to the anxiety that some people have to deal with. But this is all new to me. I have never been an anxious person and I hate that this has sprung on me. Along with sweets, I know that rescue remedy previously worked for me in nervous situations and I keep meaning to buy a bottle to keep with me or use before I am getting in the car or on a train.
I am really hoping that this is a short lived problem. I am hoping that somehow we get through the car sickness stage and that driving Oscar around becomes easier and therefore I am less panicky about what might happen on the journey.
The train thing, well I am not sure how that will stop because I don’t take them often enough (at the moment!), to try and overcome the problem. For now though, I just have to deal with these new feelings, these new nervous situations that I find myself in. If anyone has any tips or advice, it would be very welcome!