Panic Across the Pond

Last year, my stepmother said that her wish for her 60th birthday (which is in June) would be for L and me to come to see her and Dad. Initially, we said yes because we hadn’t seen them in a year and 60 is a milestone.

L and I talked about it more and more, and decided that we should go earlier so that it wouldn’t be so hot and the flowers would be in bloom, etc. We finally decided to go in April.

Here’s the thing, though. My dad and stepmother? They live in the Netherlands.

I’ve been there twice. Once in 2000 and the second time in 2005. So it’s definitely been a while. And both times ended up being wonderful. I got to go to London the second time around and fell in love with the city.


So I should feel fine about this, right?

I am not. I have been a wreck since we bought the tickets…in FEBRUARY.

I remember the first time I had a panic attack on a plane. I was in a window seat, sitting next to two very nice older gentlemen. All of a sudden, I felt this anxiety wash over me, and the man sitting next to me said, “You look green.”

Luckily, I didn’t need the air sick bag, but I never wanted to go on a plane again. And that was a problem because at the time, my dad lived in upstate New York, and Mom and I lived in Houston. I think other than those necessary arrangements, I didn’t step on a plane again.

That changed in 2000 when I finally figured out that depression medication would be the only saving point for me. The first one that worked was Effexor, and after taking it for a few days, I began to feel like I could do ANYTHING. In fact, just a few weeks later, I drove to Dallas from Huntsville for the first time. It was scary, but invigorating.

That’s when Dad started putting the idea of going to visit Holland. He actually flew to Houston so that he could make the trip with me. I am grateful, because I honestly don’t know whether I could have done it on my own. And since it was pre-9/11, people could sit with you at the gate. My mom came and brought me what I call my “comfort bear,” which sits on my desk to this very day and comes with me in any situations where I feel anxious: surgery, doctor and dental appointments, etc.


But I digress. The fact that I haven’t been able to sleep at night and (when I don’t have a deadline, of course) sleep the whole day is unsettling. I haven’t been taking care of myself at all.

I am the heaviest I’ve ever been, and that’s heavier than the last time I saw my father. He was extremely upset at how much weight I had gained, and I don’t want to show him how I look now.

I can’t change much of that now. Because the reality is, we leave in less than TWO WEEKS. I’ll do my best to take walks, but I know that I may be in agony quite a bit and that scares me.

What I NEED to focus on is the benefits of this trip. This is the honeymoon that L and I have never had. We’ve been married for 7 years, but we’ve really never had the time or the money to go anyplace exotic.

This will be L’s first trip out of the States. I know he’s nervous, but he’s loading up his laptop with many…many computer games that should keep him occupied.

I’ve already started a list of what I’m going to take on the plane: coloring books, knitting, etc. I am hoping that the Zofran and Xanax will make the ride go smooth.


Come April 21, we’ll be on our way…whether I’m ready or not.