It’s 12:00am and I have HGTV playing on the TV in the background while I alternate between typing and coughing up the residual vomit in my throat. I am anxious and wide awake. I can’t stop shaking and my chest hurts. I’ve already googled how far the closest hospital is (22 minutes). This is what a night with the panic-stricken version of me is like.
If you recall from a previous post, I mentioned that I had planned to drive home to Northern Virginia for the holiday weekend. I have felt fine and even excited all day today. I hit the road at 6:00 pm, right on schedule. I had picked up dinner and snacks earlier in the day and I was all set with a new audio book. The drive was running smoothly until I hit Tennessee (which was about 1.5 to 2 hours into my drive).
Suddenly I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom (spurred entirely from my nerves) and noticed that there was no exit to be found. Stretches of roads like this make me feel trapped and like I don’t have any control of the situation. What if I feel sick and need to vomit, what do I do? The sky turned dark, it started raining and I started crying. I pulled over at the rest stop and called Stephanie sobbing.
She managed to talk me down and cheered me on to keep going. I had to stop two more times to go the bathroom, but after an hour and a half, I made it to my destination: a random hotel in the middle of nowhere southern Virginia. I checked in right around 9:15 and was feeling really good. After settling into my room, I called up Steph on the video chat and we talked for an hour or so. I took a quick bath, got myself ready for sleep and turned on the TV to relish in the cable.
And that’s when everything took a turn. My stomach started cramping, my body started shaking and I began envisioning a long night of counting down the hours until daylight. I had already taken a Zofran (nausea) on the drive so I turned to my Hydroxyzine (anxiety) for relief. I picked up my phone to text Steph and let her know that I was pretty sure I would be returning to NC in the morning instead of continuing my 5 hour trek to Virginia. 20 minutes later I found myself in the bathroom, head in the toilet.
This is what happens when I get anxious now. I work myself up so much to the point of vomiting. I also reached an all time low tonight. [Beware, I am about to share a gross and embarrassing story.] Tonight, while my head was in the toilet, I shit my pants. Or more specifically, my underwear. I couldn’t stop vomiting enough to move to the toilet and grab the trash can until it was too late. So now there is a pair of shit stained underwear and a mess of my dinner in a trashcan and literal shit on the hotel towel. Needless to say, everything smells awful and I have now confidently determined that I cannot drive to DC.
Anxiety is illogical, I know that. And despite the fact that I have always been able to talk myself down, I don’t know how to fix this. Here’s why my brain thinks we can’t drive:
- If something happens while I’m driving, I could be too far away from anyone I know to come help me.
- I may start feeling anxious to the point of vomiting and won’t be able to do anything if I don’t see an exit because I’m the one driving.
- I don’t know what the rest of this drive is like and what the exit situation is like.
- I don’t think I can go more than 30 miles without an exit.
- I have to drive 7.5 hours by myself on Wednesday.
- If I decide not to go, my parents will be disappointed.
- I will be disappointed, if I can’t do it.
And just so you know, I used to drive between Charleston and Virginia. That was a nine-hour trip that I regularly split up, but have also knocked out in one day. I also used to be able to drive in the dark. Now I am a shaking, smelly ball of nerves. I wish I knew when or why it happened. I wish I could fix it. I wish I were a stronger person. I wish I could be the person who travels the world by herself without even a second thought. I’m not giving up, but I certainly feel discouraged.
I apologize a little for the realness of this post. But only a little.
Also I recognize that I’m basically stuck in 2002 and this is my Xanga. Sue me.
P.S If you’re anxiety-free, please go out and see the world.
P.P.S. Writing this helped a bit. But it’s coming back so I’m returning to Netflix and the town of Pawnee.