Before I begin, I want to send a shout-out to my virtual friend Katie, because her recent post actually inspired me to do…well…what I’m about to tell you I did.
Vacations are hard for me. Just search my blog and you will see that pretty much every time I’ve gone on vacation, I’ve had at least one horrific emetophobia-induced panic attack.
Last February for my husband’s birthday, I tried to plan a surprise getaway. After about one day I broke down and told him my plans, because I suck at keeping surprises. Hotels are hard for me because a) eating anywhere besides home is hard, and b) I had a few bad experiences at hotels as a kid and my associations are strong.
But I really wanted to do something nice for his birthday, so I tried to suck it up. Everything was going great – until it wasn’t. I had such a HUGE panic attack that we had to leave after a few hours. Yep, I couldn’t do it.
I was so angry and embarrassed and frustrated that my stupid anxiety ruined what could have been an awesome getaway for us. Not only did my anxiety affect me, but it affected my husband and our bank account – we weren’t able to get a refund.
This past week my husband and I were both feeling a bit extra tired and worn down – not uncommon for this time of year. After reading Katie’s post, I decided I would try again. I would try to surprise him with an awesome one night retreat at the hotel we went to for our honeymoon.
This time, I kept the secret. I stealthily packed up our car while he showered on Sunday morning and left a note in the glove compartment for when I revealed my big plans. After church, I passed over the note and BAM!
You can check out the approximate look on his face in this picture when I told him we were going to his favourite hotel RIGHT then, and that everything was already booked and taken care of.
The entire drive there, I was scared it would just be a repeat of our last “vacation.” On top of everything, my emetophobia has been flaring up lately and even in comfortable situations and I find myself panicking for no reason other than the fact that my brain hates me. What if I ruined this all over again?
But I was more determined than last time. More determined than ever to defeat my emetophobia, even if that meant panicking on the bathroom floor for hours while my husband slept soundly in our king-sized hotel bed. Even for just one night.
So I did some usual ‘rituals’ (a.k.a eat the bare minimum, take Gravol, drink only water), and I hoped for the best. As the night went on, I got more and more anxious (night is the worst time for my anxiety), but I didn’t give up. We went out to the movies, enjoyed some time around town, and eventually got back to the hotel around 10 pm.
I crawled into bed, knowing it would be a long night. Knowing it would be frustrating, and sweaty, and scary and uncomfortable. But I didn’t care. Not this time. My dad used to tell me that every time you give into your fear, it wins. It wasn’t going to win this time, I was.
After probably two hours of drifting in and out of panic, sleep, and frustration, I finally fell asleep. And I made it. I survived.
In one night, I may not have been able to completely destroy my anxiety. It was still there. It still got me, just a little bit. But I still consider this a win, a success. Every time you ‘do it afraid,’ you kill that anxiety just a little bit more. Last night, I got a pretty good stab in.