Anxiety in Barcelona

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Time needs to slow down. Last week I was in Barcelona and now I’m back into my routine of work, gym, work and sleep. It’s almost as if the holiday never happened.

However, it did. The incredible architecture will forever be remembered, as will the vivacity of the city.

It’s such a change of pace in Barcelona. For a big city, it’s one of the most chilled out places I’ve ever visited. But it took me a couple of days to chill out myself before I could fully appreciate all Barcelona had to offer.

Mum and I flew out to El Prat airport on Saturday, arriving around lunch time. The taxi was waiting for us with our name on a whiteboard just like in the movies. We got to the apartment very easily, checked in with no major language difficulties and sat in a park down the road for an hour before we could get into our room.

It all sounds really simple now. But at the time my anxiety was giving me anxiety. I’m not a great traveller. I hate being out of my comfort zone and away from the things that make a place feel like home to me. But I’d done New York a couple of years ago with a friend, I could easily handle a few days in Barcelona with my mum.

But I was really anxious. There’s no way to really describe it either other than the term social anxiety. Even that doesn’t seem to fit the bill though. If it were a holiday of socialising with big groups and meals out, then yes I could understand that but that’s not the type of holiday this was. It was cultural, full of sightseeing and museums. How could I have anxiety about that?

After about 24-hours in the city though I was finally beginning to feel like myself. The anxiety had lifted almost completely. The noises in the evening of loud bangs became normal – but they were enough to induce anxiety on anyone after everything that’s been happening in the UK recently. Food became less of an issue and I actually wanted to eat again – appetite is always the biggest struggle for me during periods of anxiety.

It was exhausting putting myself in the mind frame to overcome the anxiety though. It always is. Sitting around and thinking about it just makes things worse which is why we were up early and out of the apartment by half eight every morning, and chilling in the evenings by 6pm watching Grey’s Anatomy on the iPad (a comfort that I knew I’d need when away from home).

I’d come on holiday with my mum for the first time in almost ten years. I wasn’t going to let my anxiety spoil it for the both of us. And I’m glad I didn’t because I would have missed out on some amazing sights.

The first two days we lived on the open-top hop on and off bus. This got us around the city really easily and allowed us to see far more than we would if we were to take the Metro. The only downside was on the second day when we needed to be at Park Güell for 4pm and the bus was taking its time picking people up at the other end of town. We made it though – just.

The rest of the holiday we walked everywhere from the apartment. Down to La Rambla was a good 40 minute walk which warranted a drink and a croissant as a well-done.

I should have worn my FitBit to track just how far we had walked but in the heat, when you’re tired and out of your comfort zone, it felt like we’d walked for miles. But the painful feet and tired legs were well worth it all in the end.

It was a holiday full of Gaudi. From mosaics to stained glass, the man had great eye for colour and detail. To live in a city with such creativity must be incredible. But at the end of the day coming home is always something to look forward to.

The camera captured some of the great sights we saw and the memories of traveling with mum will be something I’ll always remember. She’s already waiting for our next city break, whenever that may be. Though I know I’ll be anxious to go away whenever it is, I know it’ll also be absolutely fine. How could it not when there’s so much good to see in the world?

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fuck this: living with mental health