How to stay cool so that no one can see you are terrified.

My palms were sweaty, my breath was short and shallow, and my heart was beating incredibly fast. These feelings took over me like a bad case of the flu, but I did't have the flu. I had anxiety. Actually to call it anxiety doesn't convey the extreme nausea that was forming within me. Claustrophobia set in.

A couple months ago, My dear friend, Camille and I were having a glass of wine and watching our daughters play. She described how she was planning a road trip to Philadelphia with her mom and brother. The week before, I just found out that I needed to attend a conference in Delaware, and I was dreading the weekend away without my family. When she mentioned her road trip, I thought "Brilliant!; I'll pack up my family and we'll make this the summer we took a road trip to the north east." Why didn't I think about this before?

Sam and I talked about it that night, and we agreed. The summer of 2015 would be "The road trip to Delaware summer." I felt incredibly excited. Sam and I were wanting a break from our jobs for a while. We both felt stressed at work for a long time, and a road trip was going to be the perfect way to relax. The phone wouldn't ring constantly, we wouldn't check our emails, and we would experience all new parts of the country we've never seen before.

Then I remembered a summer vacation I took with my parents and sisters about 20 years ago. It was marvelous. We visited the Statue of Liberty in New York City; we saw "Beauty and the Beast" on Broadway and even stayed in the same hotel as The Back Street Boys. We did all of these things, and also ......... traveled along the highway UNDER the city in a tunnel. It was horrifying. I remember smelling exhaust, seeing water leak through the cement walls and when I saw break lights in front of us, I knew I would never get out of there. I wish this experience was a made up nightmare, but it was real, and it trenched a deep road straight to the vivid memory department in my mind. 

Just when I started to write the recipe for the 2015 Summer Road Trip:

  • 1 cup of relaxation
  • 1/2 cup of sight seeing
  • 2 cups of family time 

I mixed all of these ingredients together and, as if I reached across the counter, a whole entire bag of anxiety accidentally dumped into the bowl. It got all mixed up with the relaxation, sight seeing and family time. There was no way I could get it out now.

I did what I thought was the most obvious thing to do. I made an appt with the Dr. and talked him into prescribing me Xanax. The plan was to carry this pill in my purse just in case i got stuck in a tunnel. Obviously, this is very likely in the north east. When we were inputting our destination in the navigation system in the car, we found an option called "Avoid Tunnels." That's right - this is obviously a real thing.

Four days into the trip, I felt incredible. I was so relaxed I would tell myself that I could enter a tunnel right now and not even notice. Then we hit downtown Washington, D.C. I panicked. I pleaded with my husband to please get off the highway and cross the Potomac River when we could still cross on a bridge. I saw the grade of the highway declining, and I knew for certain that we were headed under the river.

My palms were sweaty, my breath was short and shallow, and my heart was beating incredibly fast. These feelings took over me like a bad case of the flu, but I did't have the flu. I had anxiety. Actually to call it anxiety doesn't convey the extreme nausea that was forming within me. Claustrophobia set in. My mind took control and wouldn't have anything to do with deep breathing exercises.

Well what do you know? The only way to cross the Potomac is in a boat or on a bridge. Well, that's a relief. I'll just hang onto the Xanax in case we make it up to Baltimore.