I’m on my way to Geraldton in WA for a business retereat. I’m a nervous traveller and I always have been. Anxiety used to control my life and these days I’m mostly on top of it. Each trip I do, I’m less nervous. I guess it comes with more experience and new learnings each time on how to lessen the anxiety. There were so many times when I thought I’d never be on the other side of anxiety, I thought it would always be that way. But now, here I am, travelling to the other side of the country, on my own and feeling (mostly) excited.
As I was walking and dodging people, I don’t know how, but I noticed a young lady on the phone in tears and I heard the words ‘panic attack.’ People were walking past totally oblivious, or ignoring her because they weren’t sure what to do. I kept walking, I’m not a quick thinker and my brain always needs time to process things. I checked in and walked back towards security. I suddenly remembered the young lady and doubled back to look. She was still there on the phone and in tears. I walked over and asked if she was OK, and she told me she was having a panic attack.
My heart was pounding. I could feel her pain and I knew this feeling too well. My heart was hurting for her. I sat down next to her and waited until she got off the phone. She was taking short sharp breaths and could barely talk. I told her my name and explained I’ve had anxiety, I get it. She had missed her flight and that triggered the panic attack. Yep I got that too. I’m too familiar with that anxiety-induced can’t-think-straight-or-make-decisions brain fog. I sat and chatted with her for a while and explained what I had been through and what had helped.
At the end, she was breathing and smiling. She thanked me for stopping to help and I thanked her for letting me help. I was a random total stranger and she let me in. We hugged and said goodbye. (Probably the first time I’ve hugged a stranger.) I walked away thinking, wow, I could not have planned that. How did it happen that I walked past and actually heard her say ‘panic attack’? How did it happen that I had so much time between flights and could sit and chat until she felt better, with nowhere to rush off to? How did it happen that I’ve been through it and knew exactly what to say? What made me stop?
When we stop focusing on all the distractions and create space in our minds, we notice more. We’re more aware of what’s going on around us and we see messages meant for us.