How My Mental Health Ruined My Holiday
The general day to day tasks stress me out. Like, really stress me out. I write lists of things to do and get pissed off when I don’t complete them all. I’ll spend hours cleaning the house in preparation for a visitor popping in for a brew. Work often fills me with dread. A trip to the shop takes an hour and two cigarettes to prepare for. An unexpected call or knock at the door has made me hide, crying on the landing. And then there’s parenting on top of that. Am I getting it right? Is she happy, well rounded, secure? The whining, the begging, the constant demand for my attention. It’s relentless, draining and some days I just can’t be arsed with it.
A break away was just what I needed. My husband planned a surprise. The trip was announced on Mother’s Day, the destination revealed on my birthday, and we were to fly out on our fourth wedding anniversary. Gorgeous, historic Venice. Suitcases were borrowed, my passport renewed. I even shaved my legs. A chance to meander through narrow mazes of streets, soak up the culture, eat whatever and whenever we wanted, drink coffee and eat gelato in the sun. No restrictions, no responsibility, bliss.
It could not have been more opposite. Sure, I ate an ice cream. I spent hours looking at architecture, Mirano glass and sickening couples in gondolas. But I spent the majority (or so it felt) of the holiday feeling anxious, tense and too fucking hot.
I’ve had panic attacks before. Stomach knotted, shaking, hyperventilating in tears. But this was in a totally different league. Vomiting, sweating, the skin on my arms felt as though it was on fire. My legs were shaking so uncontrollably that I thought my body was going into shock. I sat, holding my face, hoping to die. I’ve only felt that ill once before, just after giving birth, suffering a haemorrhage. Flash backs to that time made the anxiety spiral further.
Suffering with an illness on holiday is never a good time. I had a bad cough in Athens years ago and was miserable. Communicating with 112 operators and paramedics in Italy made for a fun game. I can recall sitting in some wheelchair type thing in a hallway, next to a woman with a drip in her arm, wishing I was dead. Praying to God to please let me die. I was administered with Benzodiazepine and sat back out in the hall. The fire like skin feeling would come in waves, my head started rolling from side to side as my exhausted body was begging to sleep. Eventually I became calm, we paid our bill and got a taxi back to the hotel. I don’t even remember getting into bed.
We tried to salvage the holiday. We planned a chilled day. I slept in late, we mooched about, got take away food and sat by the water. And then there it was again, the burning feeling, stomach churning, cold sweats. Even typing this makes me start to feel it. I abandoned my gelato and begged my husband to get me home. I had to call time on Venice.
The airline wouldn’t switch our flights, or let me fly at all, without a ‘fit to fly’ letter. There was no way I could go to the hospital or see a doctor. I couldn’t leave the hotel. The holiday insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of a new flight as it was my ‘choice’ to cut the holiday short. We paid the money, packed our bags and left the next morning.
I was so embarrassed, ashamed, that the weird bullshit that goes on in my head had ruined the break that my husband had so lovingly planned. Checking out of the hotel. The expense. How do I respond to ‘how was your holiday? Did you ride on a gondola?’ No, I didn’t. I didn’t get to ride on a fucking gondola because my brain is so wrongly wired that I’m ridiculously sensitive to any change.
So, holidays are out. I’m home, surrounded by my own things. When I venture out I can come home if I need to. Daily life is the same, monotonous. It’s as stressful as it was before, I didn’t get the luxury of a few days relief. It’s confirmed to me how ill I really am. My life is becoming so, so limited. I can’t talk on the phone, I can’t drive, I can’t go many places on my own, I can’t sit in the garden if neighbours are out in theirs, I can’t work full time, I can’t invite people round on a whim, so many things. And now I can’t explore the Earth. I wouldn’t have got to see much of it anyway, unless I received an unexpected windfall. But to not have that freedom, it’s suffocating. I’m so restricted. My world is getting smaller and smaller. Soon I’ll just be a little cocoon, turned completely into myself, a life of nothingness. It’s pathetic, but also wonderfully appealing.
Posted on June 29, 2014, in Uncategorized and tagged anxiety, anxiety attack, bipolar, bipolar disorder, BPD, depression, holiday, Italy, mental health, mental illness, panic attack, travel, Venice. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.