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How a Little Boy on the Bus Helped Me Overcome My Anxiety

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I was sitting on a Greyhound bus going from Florida to Pennsylvania. From the moment the bus departed, I started having mini panic attacks. My body refused to relax, and I was unable to stop the scary thoughts that were constantly swirling in my brain. Minutes felt like hours; hours felt like days. After a few hours passed, I was certain we had to at least be somewhat close to Pennsylvania.

“Welcome to Alabama”

“I’m going to die here,” I thought to myself.

Knowing we had only reached Alabama was unsettling. I felt like I had nothing left. My strength was gone, I felt like crying and I felt completely alone.

We stopped at a massive bus station in downtown Alabama. I could barely drag my trembling body inside, but I found a way. I had no money, so food was out of the equation. I started panicking so much the people around must have noticed.

I found an attendant and asked where the closest hospital was. He informed me there was a fire station across the street.

The firemen looked at me, heard my horror story and immediately checked my blood sugar and monitored my blood pressure. They must not have been too concerned, because they gave me a Coke and a hamburger and told me to have a safe trip home.

As I made my way back to the bus, I noticed there were significantly more people boarding than before. More people watching me having a panic attack was not ideal. There were coats and luggage all around, but I found my seat amongst the herd. As I felt my world closing in around me, my anxiety skyrocketed.

At this point, most of the passengers were asleep, except for one. There was a little boy, maybe 6 or 7 years old, sitting across the aisle from me.

“Hello,” he said.

“Hi buddy, how are you doing?”

“I’m going to my mom’s house. She lives very far away.”

“That’s cool. Do you like riding on the bus?”

“I don’t know. My mom is waiting for me.”

“I don’t like the bus very much. I can’t sleep.”

“I’m gonna stay awake the whole time so I can see my mommy.”

We talked sporadically for a few more minutes. I got up to go to the bathroom, and when I returned to my seat he was sleeping. As I sat back down I realized the entire time we were talking, I didn’t feel an ounce of anxiety.

The little boy was the only person willing to talk to me, and it came at the best time imaginable. Before we spoke I was at my worst, like my total collapse was just around the corner. He entered my life, and the conversation we had was just enough to take my mind off myself.

When he fell asleep I was truly sad. His excitement was genuine, and he possessed an innocence that, for most of the trip, I had lost. As we crossed over the final state border on our journey, I glanced outside and was not immediately overwhelmed with fear. I looked back over at the little boy, who was sleeping on his grandfather’s shoulder, and quietly said, “Thank you.” He did more for me than any adult I encountered on that trip.

Little did he know for most of that bus ride, I wanted to see my mommy, too.

Originally published: November 4, 2015
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