While you are here – please check out my home page!
My Creative Writing Group Sessions always leave me feeling like I have taken a little journey into a new world of endless possibilities, a world where it can be of utter truths or pure fantasies. At other times these sessions take me back in time challenging forgotten memories. Our sessions not only give us an opportunity to engage in creative writing exercises, they also give us the opportunity to listen to others whilst they share their precious words.
CREATIVE WRITING HOMEWORK – SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
Unfortunately, I was not able to attend this particular creative writing session. The Creative Writing Facilitator had set some creative writing homework which I was able to complete. We were given an image of post card, featuring a traveller’s suit case that was covered in travel stickers. Using this as a source of inspiration we were tasked with writing a piece 500 words or more, about what the image resonated for each of us when we looked at the image itself.
MY CREATIVE WRITING PIECE
Once I sat down at the computer and started writing, I found myself not being able to stop. The 1,700 words just seemed to pour onto the page before me. After I had exhausted my thoughts and reached a satisfactory end, I stopped and read over what I had written. My travel adventure which I had titled ‘I am packed to go’ had truly covered nicely what had occurred on that particular night and I had found that inclusive within my story was a sharing about how I suffered largely from anxiety and panic attacks. I wasn’t sure whether I should have included this in my story but without it would have robbed my story of a significant insight into my experience. After reading out loud to my creative writing session group this week, I felt more confident in sharing to the wider world. I also said to myself that more people need to be open and forthright about such things in order that there is a greater understanding of these conditions. To also show that anyone can be a victim of anxiety and panic attacks. So here’s my story, my personal story about one particular travel adventure I had some years ago.
Title: “I am packed to go!”
“It was approximately midnight and I had just arrived at one of the largest International Airports in the world – Guangzhou, China. I had been there before, on a number of occasions in my role as a ‘Product and Business Development Manager’ for one of the largest formal wear companies in the southern hemisphere! Well this is what the company commonly touted and it was reasonable to believe after being with the company then for a number of years. Tripping here to Guangzhou was not too daunting, as I normally arrived during the daytime and was usually greeted by a driver whom had been sent out by the company I was visiting, to pick me up and take me directly to the them and then onto my hotel. This always made me feel safe and secure and I have to confess impressed me to have such treatment even though for some business travellers it was the norm, for me it was a real novelty which I came to really appreciate and enjoy. Being a woman on my own, in a strange country and not being able to speak the language, meant this kind of service ensured that I was able to get on with what I had to do business wise and for me personally ensured that my anxieties didn’t escalate out of control. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sense of adventure travelling to a country I have not been to before; and a country that was so vastly different from my own country of Australia, but travelling did at times make me feel very anxious.
What was different about this particular trip was that I was not visiting the same company again – I was to attend a world-wide trade fair. This meant that I would have to make my own way from the airport to my hotel room and then back and forth to the fair. This may not seem such a difficult task to seasoned travellers and to those that live in the said country, but to me this seemed daunting. During my travelling with this company, I always felt like I was a fraud! A fraud – meaning that I had something to hide or you could interpret it as something that I hadn’t revealed. On the outside of my person, I portrayed a confident and knowledgeable professional which I was, but on the inside, there was this other me! I suffered all my life from depression at times, anxiety seemed to be a daily battle which would often lead into panic attacks, sometimes they could be minor and at other times major. But at all times I tried my best to manage my condition in a way that did not allow others to know or see my inner turmoil. An inner turmoil that had manifested during my childhood where child abuse, family violent and the wrath of an alcoholic father had to be endured. I never shared these feelings with others at my work, and nor did I really ever shared them with loved ones either; and in actual fact I really didn’t know myself – just how much personal trouble I was in until many years later when I under took counselling for severe depression and anxiety after the diagnose of my husband’s lymphoma and the sudden death of my 25-year-old son. So, this particular travel experience was leading me into feeling vulnerable and hence I was feeling anxious and in a state of panic. But I also need to say here, that I always seemed to find the funny side of life … and this travel adventure story does have a funny side.
As I went through the usual security airport departure checks during this particular trip, I thought to myself ‘it’s OK…just get a taxi and show them the address of the hotel and you will be alright’. What I didn’t know at this particular time, was that there were many illegal taxis’ where taxi drivers would target incoming travellers to get into their illegal taxis’. I found myself being hastily approached by a young Chinese man who asked me if I needed a taxis and I replied “yes”. He tried to take my baggage from my hand which surprised me and I held onto it with a strong grip and said “no”. He try again and for some ungodly reason I relented and allowed him to carry it. He then proceeded to move quickly up ahead of me and at first I thought “O my god…there goes my luggage!”. He looked back around and waved at me, indicating to follow him up ahead which I did thinking – “follow the luggage!”. We finally, at what had been a long distant hastily pace reached what I thought was a taxi. Something in me stopped me thinking for a second, but before I could blink, the man had thrown my luggage into the taxi’s trunk, opened the passenger side door indicating for me to get in, which I did, in a stunned state. Before I knew it, the door was closed and to my surprise the man jumped into the passenger front seat and not the driver’s seat. I was shocked, and then when I looked over at the driver’s seat there was already a man sitting in it. All of a sudden I felt trapped…the man in the passenger’s seat turned around quickly and asked me for the address I was going to, which I dutifully handed across a piece of paper with the said address, trying to look like there was nothing usual about this situation.
At this point in time, there was inside of me, a raging panic attack screaming to get out! The taxis torn off in a bust of energy and then I started to image all sorts of horrors, “I am being kidnapped for ransom”, “I am going to be murdered” or “I am going to be sold on the white slave trade market in Europe!”. I was in an even bigger panic by now, and tried to seem as calm as I possibly could; as there was no way of getting out of the taxi – it was travelling at great speed on a freeway to what I hopefully wanted to believe was my hotel. At this point I was looking for some form of taxi identification and/or a driver’s ID – there was none in sight so this compounded my thoughts that I was going to end up dead somewhere and nobody would know where to find me. So I decided the only thing I could do was to ring my husband, yes that’s right, my husband way back in Australia. Yes, wake him up in is safe and sound bed and tell him that I am in a taxi off to being possibly killed. So I rang my dear husband whom answered the phone with a groggy voice and where upon I said – “it’s me – Karen, I am on my way to my hotel”! He said “good and how was your flight”? Now you have to remember I didn’t want the taxis driver or the passenger to think I was thinking I was in danger, I just thought if I show any form of panic that it might make the whole situation worst. This was very easy for me to do, as I was an expert at not showing panic on the outside! Somehow I had communicated with my husband that I was in a taxi and asked if we could talk until I got to my hotel destination…he realised something was up and understood that was all I could say. So we talked about my flight over, talked about the weather, talked about home, talk about what I was going to be seeing at the trade fair because – it was almost a 45 minute drive and this mobile phone call ended up being the most expensive call I have ever made in my life. Halfway through this, what I can now call an adventure, all of a sudden the taxis stopped at a crossroads, the passenger’s door flew open and the passenger ran off into the night. Most peculiar I felt, but at least now there was just one possible kidnapper/murder I thought with husband still on the mobile at my ear. The taxi driver started driving down lanes and then back onto main streets, then back into lanes which seemed like forever before we came to a sudden stop…well it felt like a sudden stop. With my mobile phone to me ear and my eyes directed out of the window of the taxis towards some signage on what seemed like a hotel, I saw the hotel name that was a match for the name on my paperwork from my work – “thank you god” I said to myself. Suddenly a sense of great relief came over my body and my mind. I paid the taxis driver and jumped out of the taxis, grabbed my luggage from the trunk of the taxis and headed up the stairs of the hotel with my dear husband still hanging on the mobile in his comfy bed back in Australia. In tears and in laughter and all at the same time, I then told my husband all was good, I am safe and sound at my hotel and in one piece, I explained to him in full what had happened and that I couldn’t think of anything else to do – I said to him, with some humour “at least with the mobile GPS you would have been able to find my body”.
On recalling this travelling adventure or misadventure when I got back home to Australia, I did have a very big laugh at myself … all the fears I had and how they had my imagination running wild. I discovered later, that it was an illegal taxi and found out that these drivers target passengers coming out of airports – luring them to taxis’ parked away from the designated taxi ramps. So this image of a suitcase that has lots of travel stickers on it reminds me of the many travel adventures I have had, travelling alone for business, with my anxiety and panic attacks in co….”
© Karen Robinson, September 2015
CREATIVE WRITING INSPIRING ART!
After each creative writing session, I personally like to use my creative writing stories to inspire an art work. These artworks are not ‘masterpieces’ but are an important part of a therapeutic process that I enjoy; and helps complete my art for therapy journey after each creative writing group session. These particular paintings/art works are produced in a quick and spontaneous manner and are unlike my other painting method which is planned and takes many, many hours to complete. I enjoy both methods!
I hope by sharing this very personal story, a part of me that talks about being a person who experiences anxiety and panic attacks opening, will help others know and understand that there is nothing to be ashamed about such human conditions. That we all at times in our lives find ourselves being inhibited by such human experiences, some of us more than others.
NB: For the purposes of this weblog series “Creative Writing Group”, I will not be mentioning any names or personal details of participants or even the name of the organisation that runs the sessions. Individuals have the right to privacy, so it will only be about my own experience – and broad statements about each particular session. I hope you will understand.
Whilst you are here – please check out my home page! My Art Therapy Journey – A window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytelling…by Karen Robinson