Anxiety | A tale of visas, passports and gag reflexes

By nature, I’m an introvert. As a child I was incredibly shy. My family denies that I could have ever of been anything but outgoing, strong willed and argumentative. I remember differently, I remember the social anxiety quite well. It once manifested itself at the age of six in a rather embarrassing way.

There was a school performance and every class had to perform something. My first grade class was to sing ‘Yankee Doodle’ (an Anglo-American song with it’s roots dating back to the Seven Years’ War) in front of the rest of the school and parents. I was dressed as Thomas Edison, wearing a pair of heart framed sunglasses and a lab coat to give the illusion of science like intelligence. Lovingly placed in the front row, mid-song I projectile vomited off the stage.

I had consumed ravioli for lunch. It was not pretty and, trust me, people don’t forget.

Anxiety (aŋ-ˈzī-ə-tē) n.

1a : painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill  b : fearful concern or interest
2 : an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it

The ways in which anxiety manifested in 6 year old me continues to this day. Why is this relevant? Because it happened to me – on a street corner in Zagreb.


I had my big visa appointment. I call it big because this is my last attempt. Three strikes and she’s out kind of scenario. Despite the shit weather I found myself in good spirits when I showed up at my appointment. I was soaking wet, but feeling positive.

‘Passport and signed application, please’

I had just left my visa appointment and hailed a cab. The weather was atrocious so I chose to take a cab from the British Consulate to the city center. In the cab I held back. I hadn’t eaten because I know that in times of high stress I will, inevitably, find myself dry heaving or throwing up.

The second I had paid the cab driver I hit the pavement running to escape the rain. Under the shelter of an awning I caught my breath and began dry heaving.

‘Well at least I’ve not vomited. That’s so embarrassing.’

Like clockwork, I vomited right then and there.

Image Rainy day in Zagreb, Croatia

The importance of my passport

I had been so confident and positive going into my appointment that morning but then something happened as I was concluding my appointment.

‘Excuse me, sir. May I have my passport back?’
He looked at me strangely for a moment and then with conviction said, ‘Do you want a visa?’
‘You can’t have your passport. We will contact you within 5-15 business days and then you may either come and collect your passport or may have someone else whom you assign, to come and collect it for you.’

I understand it is normal to submit your passport when applying for a visa; however, since it is my only legal form of ID outside of the US, my attorney assured me they would not. I was thrown off when I did not receive my passport. It really threw me. Originally I had intended to leave Zagreb on Thursday and work my way down slowly through Croatia back to Omis. This was now not possible, or unwise at least.

My passport is the only thing I ALWAYS carry with me. It is one of the few things I always keep on me or in the safest place possible. I didn’t realize how much this document really meant to me, however, until I found myself in a foreign country without it.

My anxiety has gone through the roof since I’ve been without it. I originally wrote this post on Tuesday but couldn’t find the energy to finish or post it until now. I’ve noticed I’ve been less prone to take risks or explore without this document. I’m not saying I take any huge risks while travelling but I am certainly more guarded since my passport is not with me. ‘Five to fifteen business days’ is a long time to be without my passport. The five day mark will be this Tuesday; the fifteenth business day will be in October so I will be unable to return to my seaside village of Omis for a little while. That is, unless they process my application quickly this time. *fingers crossed* I’ll find it much easier to enjoy myself and I’m optimistic that I’ll be far more productive as well, without this issue looming any longer.

Looking forward

Image best things in Croatia

I feel positive about this application. I’ve done all I can and really hope to be in Scotland by November. I don’t honestly know what I’ll do if it isn’t. My anxiety this time has been concentrated on the loss of my passport rather than concern for my application. I’m enjoying my time in Croatia and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to see this beautiful country, meet the kind people and indulge in the lovely cuisine. The attractive, tall men aren’t bad either 😉

I’m certainly not the only one with visa and passport woes or life anxieties. A few people shared their stories in my last post on visa issues and it was greatly appreciated and informative. So, I’m turning the ‘mic’ towards you now. I’ve found it’s nice to have a reminder that we’re not alone in these life situations. If nothing else, I hope the manifestation of my anxiety during a school performance made you laugh… if we can’t learn through these experiences or at the very least laugh at them, then what’s the point?

Anyone care to share their moments of anxiety or self-deprecating stories such as my ‘Yankee Doodle’ incident?

No judgement will come from this American Burd.

Image signature and red lips

5 thoughts on “Anxiety | A tale of visas, passports and gag reflexes

  1. When my family needed to get our visas for the Netherlands, the Dutch consulate in Chicago took our passports – which was nerve-wracking because there was about 22 hours difference between when the passports (with visas) were to be returned to us at my parents’ place in Boston and when we had to leave for the airport to go to Amsterdam. It was several days of sunk-in-the-gut panic while we waited. Though I did manage to keep everything down. 😉
    Best of luck with your visa. =)

    • American Burd

      Thanks for sharing, Ace! That’s quite the time crunch! I’d have been nervous as well! I’m happy you were able to keep things down, I’ve just got a horribly weak stomach. I see from your blog that you’ve got two furr babies as well! I might be sending you an email asking for tips on moving my own kitties across seas. I have a feeling mine will not be so pleased with me!

  2. Ohhh babe! This makes me so sad. For you as a little girl and now. All will be okay, it could be worse… the Croatians could have your passport and then you may never get it back. For now it’s in the safe hands of the Royal Family (well almost)… biggest of hugs and I’ll be thinking of you as the next 5-15 days pass. xx

    • American Burd

      Awww, thank you so much! I’m feeling much better, but the first few days were stressful. I didn’t realise that my lack of passport could make me feel so crazy. 5 days down, no more than 10 business days to go…

  3. Z on

    well i hate to do this instead of leaving some silly embarrassing story of my own, but i just read the article listed below and thought of you the whole time. i also thought of me too, of course. i also have some crazy anxiety and i always seem to make it worse. guess what? even during my breathing exercises i forget to breathe and start itching my eczema wounds! (i guess that’s an embarrassing story). this article helped me though. the passport will come back to you. the visa issues will be resolved. you will go to scotland. positive affirmations…if you say them long enough they will brainwash you!!!!

    <3 from an anxious Lupus girl (not a girl with Lupus)

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