Traveling With Anxiety
Living abroad or traveling and struggling with anxiety? I've suffered from panic disorder and anxiety since high school, yet I've been living and traveling abroad since 2007! Keep reading as I share which app I use to contact a professional therapist while traveling and how I first reached out for help while living in Madrid, Spain.
What Having Anxiety Is Like
When I was younger, I got very sick from a virus when I was in middle school. I developed extreme vertigo and hyperactive eye movements. I couldn't go to school or be around movement (crowds, car rides, etc) for months. The doctors never really figured out what happened or why, but I've been experiencing panic attacks and anxiety ever since. The best way to describe it is that I start to feel disconnected from my body. Thoughts race through my head and my heart begins to beat faster and faster. If I don't relax, breathe deeply or become aware of my surroundings using grounding techniques, I spiral into panic which usually results in me feeling completely disconnected with my body and like I'm dying. It's quite bizarre, but thanks to the help of my former psychologist in Spain and current therapist on the Better Help app, I now have a better understanding of what is happening to my body and how to control it.
Reaching Out For Help
My now husband, but boyfriend at the time, encouraged me to reach out for help two years ago when I was living in Madrid, Spain. I went to therapy sessions once a week and David encouraged me to see the fee as an investment in myself, my future and my well-being. He was right. Since taking that first step (which was REALLY hard to do, I was terrified) I have come a long way. There were times in Spain when I couldn't be alone because I would spiral into panic. I did whatever I could to avoid being alone (calling or texting people, planning too many activities, etc).
I remember that during my very first visit to the psychologist just talking about my anxiety sent me spiralling into panic mode. It was really, really difficult at first. Her techniques were creative and theatrical based, which was a good fit for me. She gave me readings on what was chemically happening in my brain so that I could better understand everything, along with tasks to help me reduce the fear involved with being alone and panicking.
Later that year, after several months of therapy, David and I moved abroad to Australia. I didn't go to any therapy for a few months while we settled in, and I wasn't coping very well. I was starting to avoid being alone again.
Therapy from an App?
One day I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw an ad for Better Help. It interested me, but I didn't think much of it. A few weeks later, I saw it again and decided to investigate further. Better Help connects you with a professional therapist who you can contact 24 hours a day via chat, phone call or video call. I usually chat with my therapist during the week and schedule a phone call once a week.
The price. I pay $35 USD a week for the service including 24 hour access. In Spain I was paying 60 euros a week, so I think that the value is absolutely amazing. I know that some therapists in the US charge $150-$200 USD per session, so I think that the price is quite fair. By the way, most of the therapists onBetter Help are from the US.
Convenience. I really like being able to contact my therapist at any time. Instead of saving everything for one weekly session and trying to remember my entire week, I can write to her when I'm in a moment of panic or feeling anxious. Then, we can schedule a phone call live session.
My therapist. This is my second one on the app (I will explain the first one in the CONS section...) She is so knowledgeable, skilled and friendly. She helps me understand the science behind anxiety, and also helps me with marriage counselling as well when needed. She's patient, kind and understanding.
My first "match." My first assigned therapist with the Better Help app was awful. I live in Australia and my therapist was living on the East coast of the US. This means that the only time that she had any sessions was when I was asleep or at work! While she was nice, we could never find a time in common to talk. Luckily, that's when I was matched with my new therapist. It was fate!
The app can be a bit buggy. The app itself isn't mind blowing, but I'll take a few glitches here and there if it means I can work with a great therapist. Sometimes it freezes, etc., but I don't really find this to be too much of a problem.
If you are traveling, or even just looking for a good alternative to expensive therapy, I highly suggest looking at Better Help. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety or panic attacks, please reach out for the help you need!
Thank you so much for reading, and please share with anyone you think may need this!
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