Monday, July 22, 2013

I Went on a Road Trip and Didn't Die

Fun story. I had a panic attack on our honeymoon.

We'd been living it up on the cruise boat for a couple of days, and the night before our first excursion — parasailing in Key West — I freaked out. I get anxious when I travel, especially when I don't know what to expect, or feel like I can't stop and take a time-out when I need one. So there I was in our room, sobbing because I didn't know how long I was going to be trapped on a little boat.

Of course, as soon as I was on said boat, and going up in the air, I was — mostly — fine.

Back in March, we started talking about our summer vacation — a road trip through the central U.S. with M's parents, stopping in St. Louis, Chicago and Madison, Wis., to visit some of his extended family and take in some sights.

When M mentioned this trip, I was simultaneous excited and completely freaked out. I had never been to any of those cities, and I wanted very much to cross a few more states off my Life List. But in the past, I haven't done that well with road trips. Or really, being in cars at all. I feel trapped when other people are driving. I feel embarrassed about having to ask whoever's driving to stop. I effectively avoided being a passenger for years by volunteering to drive anytime I would be expected to ride with others, and if I couldn't drive, I would try to get out of the trip altogether. (And yes, I did spend some time in therapy a few years ago, and it did help.)

But I didn't want to try to get out of this one. I was scared, but I didn't want my fear to control me. I wanted to be able to see our family. I wanted to meet some of Matt's family for the first time. I wanted to see and do new things, and I didn't want to miss out. I was sick of spending years avoiding, avoiding, avoiding.

I worked hard over the next few months to try to keep myself in check, especially in stressful situations.  I made sure other people drove me everywhere, even if I didn't want them to, so I could practice keeping calm. The anxiety has not gone away, but when we finally got in the car to head out on our trip, I didn't feel the need to jump, screaming, from the moving vehicle. I'd call that progress.

I was not 100% okay during this road trip. In fact, there were a couple of moments when I was downright not okay. But I'm choosing to stay focused on the positive, and the fact that I remained relatively calm through most of a very, very long car trip. I did the best I could, and for now, that is good enough.

And with that, I'm ready to start recapping our trip. :)


  1. I have the exact same kind of anxiety - I'm a little more okay in cars, because you can pull over at anytime, but the boat thing especially freaks me out. We went to Disneyland with my family one year and they all wanted to do the canoe in the river w/ the Mark Twain boat and I had to sit it out because I was afraid I would have a panic attack and have nowhere to go. You're not alone!

    1. Thank you for sharing. It makes it feel easier when there are others who deal with the same things you do. Anxiety often feels like such a lonely thing.

  2. Congrats on being able to control your anxiety better! I have trouble with claustrophobia from time to time, especially on the subway.

    I look forward to reading your trip recap(s). :)

  3. This sounds so stressful, but I'm glad you were able to power through and hopefully enjoy yourself!

  4. Congratulations on your trip and dealing with your anxiety. I am a nervous driver and usually prefer being the passenger, so we would make a good team. :)

  5. Good for you for not letting your anxiety control you and being able to power through the family trip. Looking forward to catching up on your recent posts!