On Saturday evening, DA sent me a text asking if I wanted to go to his cabin from Sunday morning to Monday evening. I felt both excitement and dread at the prospect and asked J if she could be my voice of reason. I hadn’t been outside of the city in over a year and that scared the heck out of me, but DA is a good guy and his cabin is way in the sticks and very relaxing to be at. After a lot of discussion, I texted DA back, let him know my limitations, and if he was ok with that, I’d go.
He’s known me long enough (and has been kept up to speed on my illness enough) that he was fine with my limitations and so he would be by at 10AM the next morning. I talked a lot more with J about it and she said that if I got into trouble, she’d come and pick me up or meet DA halfway – whatever it took. I packed most of my stuff that evening.
The next morning, J and I went to the grocery store to pick up some stuff for the trip. We got home, I finished packing, and we waited for DA to arrive. I was quite nervous.
DA arrived and we took off toward his cabin. It’s almost a two hour drive from home and we used the time to catch up (we hadn’t seen each other in several months). I was nervous all the way, but it was at a level that I could handle pretty well.
Once we got there, DA said, “Are you okay?” When I said I was, he replied, “Okay, that’s the last time I’m going to ask you. If you need anything or just need to sit down or go for a walk, feel free and no pressure.” I appreciated the gesture and took him up on it a couple of times.
We spent the day fixing up his dirt bike and quad and then cleared deadfall from one of his dirtbike trails. It was good work and kept me focused and not dwelling on my anxiety. Chopping up and loading the dead tree for firewood was particularly good for that… and it showed me just how out of shape I am.
That evening DA cooked chicken for supper and it was excellent. We hung out, listening to music and talked about how our lives are going. Before I was moved into a different section, I worked for DA for about twelve years. We know each other pretty well. He talked about how work was going, which brought back a flood of anxiety but I did okay and quickly changed the subject. He asked a lot of questions about what it was like at the hospital and I was happy to fill him in.
We called it a night at about midnight. As I was getting my sleeping bag ready on the couch, a flash of light caught my eye – a thunderstorm off in the distance but on its way. I was exhausted but excited – I grew up out in the country and I love a good thunderstorm.
I’m not sure if it was because I was in unfamiliar surroundings or because I didn’t have a good way to get in touch with J (the cellular reception out there is just this side of nonexistent) and didn’t want to wake her up, but the storm really did a number on me. I was terrified. I turned on my flashlight and pointed it at the ceiling so I could see where I was but it didn’t help. I took some PRN lorazepam and quetiapine but they didn’t seem to help. One storm would blow through and I would have a HUGE panic attack, then it would quiet down for a little while before the next one blew through. There was so much lightning that I could have gone outside and read a book.
A little over four panicked and extremely long hours later, I managed to fall asleep.
When I got up, I tried to put the previous night out of my head but the anxiety was still there, along with a good heaping of embarrassment. Fortunately, I was able to keep myself quiet enough that it didn’t disturb DA in his room but it was still really embarrassing for me. I’m over 40 and suddenly scared of some thunder and lightning. What else will cause me to panic, and when will I find them out? In the middle of a shopping mall? At home by myself? Out at a restaurant with J?
Anyway, DA and I had blueberry bagels with cream cheese for breakfast and then got back to work clearing the bike trails around his property. I was tired, but things were going along pretty well until I was driving his quad while towing the little log trailer he just finished refurbishing and I got hung up on a tree by the trailer. It was so loud – BAM! – that I was sure I’d broken something. Another panic attack hit me, right in front of DA. I tried to keep it from showing but I could hear myself saying. “I’m so sorry, whatever the damage is I’ll pay for it” over and over.
Only after DA checked out the trailer and quad and I did a bunch of grounding exercises did the panic start to dissipate. In its place was – once again – embarrassment. At least I wasn’t walking around, waving my arms and crying like sometimes happens when I’m panicking.
We cleared three more trails and stacked the logs back at the cabin. Around 3PM we started to clean up and get ready to head home. Still embarrassed about everything, I didn’t talk much but we got everything ready pretty quickly and got on the road. DA did most of the talking but thankfully he didn’t seem upset about anything. He’s a good friend and a good guy.
He dropped me off at home at about 6:45 and when I got inside I got a huge hug from J. It was so good to see her again and to be home. I took a quick shower and checked for ticks and then we sat down and had supper. It was so good to be home.
I just re-read this and it looks like I’m an ungrateful guest. I’m not – I really appreciated DA asking if I wanted to go to his cabin and really enjoyed hanging out with him. The only problem was that I don’t think I was ready to be away from home overnight. The experience gave me things to think about and showed me several things that I still need to work on, so that’s a good thing.
If DA asks me if I want to go out to his cabin again soon, will I? I don’t know. I think it’s something I need to talk to Dr C, Dr W, and J about, but I do know one thing – if I do go, it’ll have to be for the right reasons. Not because I think I have to or because I feel I owe someone something, but because I WANT to go.