This is not the easiest post for me to write. It is hard to admit that we are not perfect. It is not easy to discuss our failures and it is so hard to admit that we have thrown in the towel.
Last weekend I left for my first vacation (or even stay away from my home!) since my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) last November. I was extremely anxious about it going in. I was worried about a whole multitude of things. But the biggest and nastiest fear, lurking under the floorboards of my heart, was that I wouldn’t be able to do it. That I would get sick and need to go home, or be too anxious and need to go home, or never even leave the house to begin with!
I went in with a plan. I made lists, did research, and checked and double checked everything. I set myself up for success.
Things went well the first couple of days. The best parts of it were being able to spend time with my family and just laugh, be ourselves, and forget about our everyday worries for a little while. I have an amazing family. They make me laugh like no one else can, comfort me in a way that only years of strong bonds can teach, and they understand me better than anyone on this planet.
Don’t get me wrong, I was anxious those first few days. But it was like the pot was boiling with only half empty water. I wasn’t worried about it boiling over. Things were controlled. Looking back, I was needing to take my Xanax much more often than I normally would, but that is ok! It is what it is there for.
But then on my third night of vacationing I fell apart.
I think I was starting to feel the physical toll of being out in the sun, swimming, cliff jumping etc. It scares me – not cliff jumping, MS – Even though I feel it almost every day, every time my right leg goes numb and tingly it scares me. I tried to remind myself that I have felt that feeling before, it just means I need to rest and I will bounce back in a day or two.
I think I was also having a really hard time being away from the comfort of my routine and familiarity of being at home. I was letting it get to me that my meds weren’t in the same place they always are when I need them, that the bed made my back hurt and crunched like diaper every-time my husband rolled over next to me, that I didn’t have my dog to snuggle and pet when I started to feel the anxiety simmering closer and closer to the surface of the pot.
I don’t know what caused me to boil over. I was fine one moment and in the throes of a full-blown panic attack the next. All I could keep thinking was that I NEEDED to get off this island and go home. My husband tried to calm me down. I took my meds. We went back to our lodgings and laid down and tried to ride out this attack. But I just couldn’t shake it.
We ended up leaving the trip early due to my anxiety. I felt like a failure. I felt like I was giving up on something that I had JUST been so proud of, my courage. I felt weak. It was not a good feeling. I think I cried the whole ferry back to the mainland.
I let myself feel sad for the rest of the night. I allowed myself to feel guilty for leaving the wonderful trip my mom and dad had planned for us. I allowed myself to feel anxious and terrible, but just for a little bit.
I knew I had made my choice, and although I might be a mess right now, that is OK.
It is OK not to be OK. It is ok to admit that you have given it your best shot and you need to go home and rest now. It is ok to say I can only push myself so far. It’s ok to admit that I might not be quite as strong yet as I though I was.
I did a lot of self reflecting on the drive back home. I think it is important for me not to feel ashamed for not being able to stay the whole trip (something I really wanted to do not just for the fun and sun, but to prove something to myself as well). I think it is important for me to recognize that I did my best and that I will continue to work on it. That does not mean I am not strong.
I will continue to work on techniques to manage my anxiety. I will continue to meditate and live in the present. I will continue to be grateful for the little things throughout my day.
And some day, when I am ready, I will try again!