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Travel anxiety and feeling like a failure

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Travel anxiety and feeling like a failure


Travel anxiety and feeling like a failure

Hi all! My big girl (19) with GAD decided to take a big overseas trip solo. We had a lot of chats prior to the trip expressing concerns about how she'd manage, but she was too stubborn to hear it. The whole trip turned out awfully - homesickness and panic attacks - and she ended up deciding to come home less than two weeks into her trip. She's been bedroom bound since she got home and I just don't know how hard to push. I wonder what other parents would do in a situation like this?

Prolific scribe

Re: Travel anxiety and feeling like a failure

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Hi @MumTeach 

I'm sorry to hear that your daughter's trip didn't go to plan. It sounds like you really tried to prepare her for the big adventure beforehand though, which is really great to see - even if she didn't seem responsive to it. Travelling overseas solo is a huge challenge for anyone, nevermind someone as young as your daughter who struggles with GAD. She really did so well to go in the first place! I'm wondering if you've been able to shift her focus onto that at all? I imagine she's feeling pretty disappointed that she had to come home early, so getting that praise and change in perspective from you might be really helpful for her. What do you think?


I'm also wondering if she has supports in place to help her with the GAD? Does she see a GP or therapist about this at all? It might be worth making an appointment with them to see if there's any strategies they can suggest for your daughter at the moment whilst she's finding things especially hard. We have some more info on this here.

Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: Travel anxiety and feeling like a failure

So sorry to hear your daughter's trip flopped and was such a disappointment. I can just imagine her excitement about going and then the crushing disappointment and sense of failure. I went overseas when I was 22 and was with friends some of the time but on my own too. Within a week of leaving I'd had my wallet stolen and had lost my passport. I rang a friend back in Sydney from a payphone in Heidelberg and was a mess. Travelling in Europe was so different to getting around in Australia and as a young backpacker on a low budget, you are roughing it and it's not always safe. I ended up living with a family in Germany as a nanny and they suited me very well and I went to a local church and got to know people and didn't move around a lot which suited me well. 

These days I'm a parent to a 19 year old son and 17 year old daughter. My daughter wants to become a professional ballerina and could well be heading overseas next year and she has anxiety issues and has lived in the same house all her life and known some of her close friends since birth at playgroup and I could see her struggling like your daughter so it was good read your message. I've just started taking her to the psychologist to get some help with HSC special provisions. 

My daughter sounds a bit similar to yours and she always retreats to her room...good or bad. It can be a real struggle to reach her especially when I know things have gone pear shaped and there are times where I've had serious concerns about her mental health. I actually went and did the Lifeline Suicide Intervention course because it was being offered free to local residents through Rotary and there's often somebody not doing too well and I thought it would be good to be skilled up and it has been. 

What I find works with my daughter is sending her text messages or photos of something like maybe our dog or a funny outfit I saw at the op shop that day. It's harder  to start this off but once we got going we have our own little language going. I have serious health issues and have been home a lot lately and discovered Salvo's Online and it's been fabulous. She had a really rotten day a few weeks ago and I got on there and found a few dresses and sent photos through to her and bought them. She loves pink and I managed to get her a beautiful pink sequin dress for $25.00 and she looked like a movie star when she tried it on. I've also bought a few things for myself and have asked for her opinion and just photographed the screen and sent a text through. I also find very weird stuff and text that to her and we have a laugh. 

I also check in with my kids and they're used to it now. I am a big fan of the RUOK  program. At the same time, not everyone wants to talk about their issues and my daughter is one of those. So having them know that you're alongside them is good too, although it's really hard when they're locked away in their room!! 

I also thought I'd touch on just how difficult that first few steps can be when you've hit rock bottom, or at least believe you have. I've always been a big fan of a quote from Lao Tzu: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" However, that makes the whole process seem relatively easy. All you need to do is take this one step and the rest falls into place. However, when things are really tough, you often have to break what seems like the first step into a series of seemingly invisible microsteps. While these steps are agonizingly simple and it's tempting to despair and feel there will never be any progress, they start to add up and hopefully before you know it, you're leaping hurdles. 

I am in this very situation myself. I have a lung condition and my lung capacity suddenly dropped from 50% to 30% and I'm frequently short of breath and my lips were turning blue. My goodness. It was a wakeup call. Fortunately, I've had physio and still have weekly occupational therapy. I started back on my 10 minute walks when I was walking 5000-10,000 steps a day in January  and there are some days it's easy and other days I seriously struggle. I also use a devise where I have to breathe in and try to lift three balls up in the air. At `first, I could only lift the first ball and now I routinely raise the second and when the third balls started to rattle and start moving, I was over the moon. Sometimes, I can raise all three and other days I'm back to two, but it's progress. I also do diaphragmatic breathing and that had to start from scratch too. I also pursue my interests and reward myself, whih is important too. Having some kind of light when you're in a dark place is so important. 

Lastly, I've never tried sending cards or letters under my kids' closed door and I don't know how that would go, but when things were tough for me many years ago, my friend used to send me little notes on the back of postcards she'd picked up on her travels. and they meant the world to me. This might be a good way of acknowledging where you're daughter's at and that you understand and are there for her (these were always important to me with my mum and dad) but there is also that need for her to start taking those very tentative first steps. 

I hope this is helpful. Being a parent isn't easy at times, especially when our kids are hurting no matter how old they are. 

Best wishes,