A cancelled hair appointment became my catalyst to write after a road trip to Colorado

Today I had an incident happen that wasn’t related to my trip but it was the catalyst for this buzz.

My short term memory has not been the best over the past two years. My doctor said it could be medication related and/or stress related. I had an appointment scheduled with my hair dresser today. I was called on Saturday morning and reminded of it. My sister ended up in ER last night and I was worried, staying up later than I usually do. I got a call this morning after finally falling into a deep sleep asking if I was coming. I said no, I forgot and apologized sincerely. I was then asked if I could get there at that moment. I didn’t have a car because my husband took it and quite honestly, I was still in a fairly deep slumber so the answer was no. She went on to tell me that I would have to give my credit card the next time I book an appointment and put 50% down. If I didn’t show, they would keep the 50%.

I felt enraged when I heard this because I received not one but two calls over the past year that she was ill. One appointment was accommodated by setting me up with another hair dresser, the other was re-scheduled. My last appointment I had with her was cut short. I went in to have my hair colored and cut. By the time she was done with the color, she asked me if we could do the hair cut the next day because it took longer than she anticipated and she had to get home. I went back the next day for my cut without any complaints. So, why is it that it’s okay for my stylist to miss appointments but I get treated like a bad person when I have to miss? I don’t blame her for it because she works for a ‘spa’ and her boss seems to be a bit hardcore. I was ticked at her boss. No one told me about this ‘clause’ until I wasn’t able to make it today. Needless to say, I got a hold of them when I was thinking a bit clearer, expressed my opinion and told them they have lost a customer. I also shared with them that this rule is not conducive to good customer service and they will lose more clients over time. Life happens, and it’s a shame we live in a society that is so business driven that some business owners place profit over people. When businesses place profit over people, they are doing an dis -service to themselves in the long run.

Anxiety, just when you think you might be beating this disorder it comes back with a fervor. There is very little I hate but I want to shout, “I hate YOU Anxiety!” An incident happened today that angered and inspired me to write.

People before profit reaps many more benefits. Happy customers are return customers. Do I feel bad that I forgot my appointment, YES! Did I feel like a child being chastised today, yes! I felt like I was dealing with an employer instead of being a customer. Today, brought up a lot of crap I thought I had laid to rest. I called my Therapist today because I realized it’s been a while since we’ve met. It’s time to get back into therapy full-time. Therapy is a life saver. I was making progress prior to becoming ill which was before our trip so it’s been almost 8 weeks since I last met with my therapist. I look forward to our next session, it’s been too long and it’s amazing how much work can be reversed if you don’t keep up with your therapy. My mind began to spin about 4 weeks prior to leaving for Colorado, also known as Intrusive thoughts.

When my mind is spinning it actually obsesses over and over, these are called intrusive thoughts which are common with Anxiety Disorder or as my illness is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Here are a few examples of the frustrating, stupid thoughts that entertained my mind for weeks:

  • Will my hotel room(s) be clean
  • The A/C better work well and not rattle, oh my God, what if it rattles- the front desk will get tired of hearing from me.
  • If it’s hot in Colorado I hope my son and his wife have their A/C turned down enough because I don’t want to ask and put them on the spot. Do you see a theme? I hate the heat, my body loves a bit of a chill.
  • I worried about hitting larger cities and traffic- that worked out fine.
  • I fretted over falling asleep earlier and getting up earlier. My anxiety keeps me up until the wee hours of the morning so, needless to say, I have a hard time getting up too early. Again, I didn’t want to disappoint my grandchildren by showing up at the home by noon or after. They wake up early and the thought of disappointing them really stressed me out.
  • I wanted to be in control of where we went and when we left. Why, because I knew what I felt comfortable with and if I don’t get enough sleep I am prone to panic attacks.
  • “Wanting to be in control,” vs. being in control are two different things. I expressed what I wanted to do and I also wanted to just chill at the house part of the week since we had such a long drive there and back. The entire trip was over 3300 miles. My worry was legit because my kids are normal 30 something parents who love to get out and enjoy life.
  • I also tend to worry about getting sick when too far from home. I know, right? Crazy thoughts to focus on?!!

We left for Colorado two and a half weeks ago. The trip was long over due. I hadn’t seen my grandsons or grown children in almost a year. I admit, my mind was spinning with what most would consider thoughts of nonsense about 4 weeks before we even hit the road. I kept trying to remind myself that once we got on the road my worries would dissipate. Much of what I worried about was control, the control I felt I needed to avoid developing a full blown panic attack. I worried about the control I needed to maintain so others (especially my grandsons) wouldn’t be exposed to a side of me I never wanted them to see. I didn’t want them to think their Nana was nutty or uncomfortable to be around. I just wanted to feel normal without incident.

We arrived without incident. Hotels were great on the way down. We traveled I-70 which I find to be a better route than I-80. I-70 has fewer semi-truck drivers and no tolls. It’s also more scenic in contrast to I-80 which is full of semi-trucks. Things seemed to be flowing until about mid-week or so. I wasn’t sleeping well and it was catching up with me. As much as I wanted to control my environment, it wasn’t possible when you are with 3 other adults and children who want to do ‘kid stuff’ too. As I write this, I’m beating myself up all over again.

By the time we were closing in on the last two days of our vacation in Colorado we all agreed to go to Estes Park and check out the shops at the base of the Rockies. I began taking photos without a care in the world. It was a beautiful day and I felt great when we first arrived. We began to walk toward the city center and all of a sudden a major panic attack hit. My mind was screaming, WHY now?!! I became very dizzy, hands were shaking and I felt like I was going to pass out. Good timing Lisa… that was one thought going through my mind and the other thought was sure panic (pun intended) Is this really a panic attack this time or am I going to die, more panic sets in! We found a place to eat because I felt if I ate and let my medicine kick in it would help. After an hour or so, the panic attack subsided. We had enjoyable day once it left me but my guilt stayed with me but I didn’t die. You shouldn’t have to feel guilt over an illness you have no control over but it’s common, sadly.

I realized when we returned back to my son’s home later that night what was bothering me… it was smoldering in the back of my mind– I mentioned to my grandsons that we could take them out on paddle boats I saw at a lake we visited. Bad move on my behalf, sharing with them something that would be fun to do. They were looking forward to it but I found out it was going to be 96 degrees that day and I forgot that ‘Papa’ probably couldn’t use a paddle boat due to bad knees. I was anticipating that I had to tell my son we’d have to change plans but I feared upsetting him. I finally got my nerve up and he said, “The boys have looked forward to this all week, they are going to be really disappointed.” At this point my anxiety kicked in and my words were jumbled. I became defensive, raised my voice and said, kids are adaptable and should just be happy their grandparents want to spend time alone with their grandchildren. I remember telling him that kids will get disappointed in life but it’s how we manage the message as adults which help them to adapt and accept change. Now, I will admit- those words were used but I think I was yelling them, not talking to my son at that point. I think I even said, kids need to understand the world doesn’t revolve around them. I believe my son picked up on the fact that I wasn’t myself and he used words and changed his tone so we could have a conversation instead of an argument. To be quite honest, when my Anxiety disorder becomes full-blown, I have a hard time recalling what I said or what was said to me. It’s as if my mind shuts down due to overload. To make a long story a bit shorter, we agreed that the boys would have fun at Cabelas seeing the display of animals, pushing the buttons to hear the calls of the animals and watch mini-movies about them. My son said they would love the aquarium in the store as well. Getting ice cream would be our final destination, so all was good in the world again or so I thought.

When we left Cabelas we decided to hit Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steak Burgers with the boys. I was hungry and the place looked like fun. It reminded me of Johnny Rockets without the spunk of the waiters. We walked in and there was a major crowd. Anxiety Disorder and crowds don’t always mesh. I was on a mission, get to the counter and order our food. I felt a bit dizzy before we walked in but wasn’t concerned. I went to the counter to order while my husband and the boys found a booth and waited. As I was standing in line vertigo hit me, my hands began shaking uncontrollably and again………… I felt like I was going to pass out. I remember nudging a woman and telling her to move because I was dizzy (I’m sure she thought, wow… she sure is one dizzy chic and rude too)! I barely remember ordering the food but I do recall telling the young man who was taking my order to hurry up, I’m very dizzy! He looked at me like I was a crazy woman, who could blame him? I finally got my receipt which has your order number on it and handed to my husband while I was shaking uncontrollably. He whispered, what’s wrong, are you OKAY? I said, “No, I’m having a bad panic attack.” He told me he’d get our order and to just sit and relax. I sat and thought it would pass. It didn’t. I was trying to chat with my grandsons across from me hoping it would take my mind off of the panic attack. The boys were so innocent and thrilled to be there. Unfortunately, even chatting and laughing with the boys didn’t cure my panic attack. My husband kept suggesting I go to the car and rest while they ate with hopes my panic attack would subside by the time they came out. I fought going out there because I didn’t want to miss out on the fun but the panic attack won. I ended up telling the boys I needed to go out and and rest for a bit because I had a bad headache. By the time they returned to the vehicle I was beginning to feel better. Good timing panic attack! I’ve found over the years that there seems to be a mix, maybe it should be coined the perfect storm for a panic attack– I only had 4 hours sleep the night before, I was still feeling very guilty that we weren’t able to take my grandsons on paddle boats, a large crowd that surrounds me seems to set my panic off for some reason, loud and consistent noise, which it was extremely loud in this place along with some machine that was making a high pitched sound seemed to bruise my brain. That was the perfect storm and panic ensued. The good news, by the time they arrived to the vehicle I was feeling better and we headed to one more store because we also told them they could buy one item each for 10.00 or under. I know, we are big spenders eh?! They were excited. Luckily, our last stop went without incident.

Aside from what I wrote about my anxiety and panic attacks, the trip was wonderful. I don’t regret driving out to see my kids but I do know I won’t drive out there again. It’s too exhausting even when you plan a side trip. I need to remember my limits for my own health. I knew this was the only vacation we could afford to take this year and there were things I wanted to do that were adult activities. I think that gave me an added layer of stress or possibly internalized frustration which was no-one’s fault.

I look forward to my therapy appointment, it’s long over due. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are dealing with issues that seem too big to tackle after all, it took years for your brain to process input in a manner that isn’t healthy. It takes persistence and some time to re-train the brain so you are able to function with much less anxiety and the hope that panic attacks will eventually become just a memory! Please look up EMDR, it’s very helpful to anyone suffering from anxiety which is brought on by PTSD and PTSD covers a lot of territory, many people are victims of it and are unaware. Don’t lose hope. I think my anger today was just what the doctor ordered, it was a reminder that I still need a lot of therapy and a wake up call.

Another version of this article was posted on beBee.com

Originally published at medium.com