I, like many people commute to work every day. For some reason, I felt the need to share with you, how difficult that simple tasks are for me. Something as inconsequential as taking the bus to work can insight pure terror in me, even though it’s something I do every day, twice a day, for the better part of 18 years now.

The day starts out like any other, leave the house at precisely 6:45, walk to the corner, avoiding all cracks in the street. The bus arrives around 6:55, if it does not, the anxiety skyrockets of course.

…The bus pulls up, is it a bus driver I recognize? Is he a good driver? Will he be safe? I get on. Show my pass, which of course has been in my hand ready to go for minutes in anticipation of the bus showing up. Now, to find a seat. The seat must be an empty row, on the side of the bus opposite the sun. It must be between two empty rows, and it must “feel” right. Of course, if this perfect seat is not available, again,the anxiety spirals out of control. Every stop, I examine the passengers getting on. Are they clean? Do they look like they might smell? Please don’t sit next to me, keep going. Someone sits in the seat in front of me. Wait, they just put the seat back into my knees, they’re touching me. My heart is now racing, why would they do this? I kick the seat a bunch of times but they don’t get the hint. I move awkwardly and find a way so that their seat is not touching me. I –think- I’ll be ok again. I can still feel my heart pounding and am very uncomfortable. Next stop, now the bus is filling up. There are currently 36 passengers on the bus meaning there are 13 more seats; one of which is next to me. I move into the space to make the seat less appealing. I look into the window reflection to examine each of the passengers getting on. Please don’t sit next to me…. Made it through another stop. 5 seats left, and two more stops. Next stop, there’s 7 people getting on, now my leg is shaking, I’m grinding my teeth, there’s no avoiding someone sitting next to me now. Then It happens, A 6ft tall, medium build man sits next to me. I immediately note the edge of my seat and ensure that I am on my side, and he is on his. Wait, now he has something in his pocket and it’s brushing against my leg. This is horrible! I move to try to avoid it but then I’m faced with the seatback in front of me again. It’s either seatback or the leg of my fellow commuter. I want a shower. What’s that smell? Does he smell? Is he sweaty? I need a shower. Get me off this bus. Then I have to watch the traffic, if the bus hits traffic it makes me stress, I cannot be late. Granted, I take a bus that puts me in the office an hour early just because I obsess about being late. We pull into the bus station and my anxiety is so high that I have a pounding headache, it’s time to take more Ativan, walk to my office and try to calm down.

Going home is much the same. I leave my office at precisely 5:00 (tardiness is an OCD trigger to me), I get to the line for the bus at 5:05 exactly, which puts me in the front of the line so that I can pick the “right” seat, and then I can pray for an easy ride home.

Now, I’ve got my iPhone, I’ve played the most relaxing music I can find in these scenarios. I’ve looked out the window, done breathing exercises, etc. It’s just not –helping-

4 Comments
  1. princesswarrior 10 years ago

    I am so sorry you deal with so much anxiety with the bus. I live in a very country like setting so if you don't have your own vehicle it's very difficult to get around. Although this past May-June I went to DC and took the Metro and the bus. I had more anxiety with the metro thinking about floods since it was underground, people attacking us and of course….who is dirty and is this seat dirty and what other kinds of germs could be around me. I am thankful that I do not have to take a bus everyday. When I get home I don't like to sit on my furniture with the same clothes on that I wore in public because of the transference of germs. I think listening to music might be a good bet for you since you seem to like that. For me, the bus was about knowing my surroundings and being prepared for a fight in case I had to defend us.

    Prayer is always the most powerful thing you can do because we lean on God's strength to get us through the day…."When I'm weak that's when I'm strong because I know where I belong inside your (God's) grace…."

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  2. coffeedad 10 years ago

    I do have a car, but I live in central NJ and work in NYC; so driving in is not realistic. Driving in NYC would be even more hair raising than commuting!  Thanks everyone for all your thoughts, they're greatly appreciated.  🙂

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  3. eoian13 10 years ago

    hang in there

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  4. lcfc68 10 years ago

    ocd is a hell hole..

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