No planes crashed. No one tried to smuggle drugs in my checked luggage. I wasn't quarantined because I had secretly been contaminated with radiation.
None of those things even came close to happening--but I thought about them all. More than once. I thought about the plane crashing every time there was turbulence. It felt like an earthquake.
But here I am, safe and back in the place that I worked so hard to escape: southeast Georgia. It has now become my refuge.
This whole experience taught me that I have some issues to work out with myself. I don't know a single person in Japan who was as terrified as I was. I realized that my anxiety is really starting to interfere with my life in negative ways. It used to just be a weird personality quirk that makes it impossible for me to enjoy roller coasters and driving, but this time, I felt physically ill. No matter what the news was saying, I couldn't relax. My heart raced for three days straight and I barely ate or slept. I was constantly wired on adrenaline.
Buying a whole new plane ticket to leave Japan a week early might seem rash to some people, but I know that it was the right choice for me. Even if I wasn't in immediate danger, my mental health demanded that I leave.
I am grateful that the nuclear situation in Japan is not as horrific as it seemed in my mind. I am still trying to digest the magnitude of the destruction brought about the earthquake and tsunami. I am going to help Japan in whatever ways I can, and I will help myself. That's where change begins.