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A Fun Trip…Until My Anxiety Spiraled Out Of Control

On MLK Jr. Day, I decided to make the most of having the day off with a day trip to the Hudson Valley in New York. I like to take solo day trips when I can. It’s something I’m actually really comfortable with even though it stresses my family out that I travel hours away all by myself.

The day of the trip, I was so excited I practically sprang out of bed. I got up and made myself breakfast, which is something I almost never do. Usually the only reason I eat is because my boyfriend will make me something. But this day, I was up before him and I made an egg sandwich for me AND for my boyfriend.

Not only did I make myself breakfast, but I also made myself a sandwich for lunch. I had all of my camera gear charged up. Everything was packed and ready to go. I was off to a great start and ready for my waterfall adventure in New York.

The Trip

My two and a half hour drive was great I was passing the time with my Spotify liked songs on shuffle. Most people hate driving, but driving for hours and hours doesn’t bother me. It’s really just another way I get my me-time. I especially love driving to the mountains because the views are always so breathtaking, even from the road.

What’s not to love about this view as you’re driving?

I made it to my destination in one piece. And, the conservancy I went to was even better than I was expecting it to be. It featured two stunning waterfalls. One was 150 feet tall! You can view the video of my visit, but I’ve also attached photos below.

After this, I drove an hour west to the Catskills to check out another waterfall. The drive through the mountains on the scenic byway never fails to take my breath away. I got to the waterfall and enjoyed an awesome partially frozen waterfall.

Anxiety Joins The Trip

Now, I’m going to get into the anxiety. It started with me getting anxious about the fact that I hadn’t peed since 6am (it had been like 7 hours). It was manageable anxiety, but still anxiety. Since it’s the winter and I was in the middle of the mountains hiking, there were not bathrooms at the trailheads. Due to the lack of access to bathrooms, I was not drinking as much water as I should have been. Mistake? Probably.

I then stopped at a coffee shop in Catskill, NY and get a hot chocolate hoping there was going to be a bathroom. I didn’t see one, and the anxiety rises slightly. But, it was still manageable. Since I paid for a parking meter, I decided to explore a bit downtown. On my walk I stumbled upon a needles and syringes disposal box. I immediately went back to my car.

I looked at the map and noticed not far from downtown Catskill there was a small park on the Hudson River. So, I drove there. When I’m out, I like checking out little parks I find. But, there was definitely a little part of me that was hoping for a bathroom… But, as I said, it’s the winter so of course when I got there, there was no open bathroom. I pulled the handle of the bathroom at the park and it was locked. So, I left and continued heading back to Connecticut.

Views from the park in Catskill, New York.

The Journey Home

I sent my boyfriend a text to let him know I was officially on my way home, while also letting him know I hadn’t peed since I was at home earlier in the morning. He was like “no way” and for whatever reason his disbelief intensified my anxiety. I started to get a little panicky, but continued onward because what else was I supposed to do?

So, I was driving through no man’s land on some state routes in the mountains and hills of New York. I drove by some gas stations and grocery stores and then got pissed at myself for not stopping at them to go to the bathroom. For some context, I hate using public restrooms because I am a germaphobe. I don’t even like using the bathrooms at work or at other people’s houses.

Finding A Bathroom

Finally, I reached the little town of Millerton that’s on the New York/Connecticut border. It’s a super cute small town, one that I’ve stopped in before. I finally decided to just attempt to go to the bathroom in one of the gas stations. First, I tried a Cumberland Farms, and of course the bathroom was out of order.

My honest reaction when I saw it was closed: “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

After, I got up the courage to go to the gas station that’s two buildings over. Thankfully, that one had a bathroom. It smelled like cigarette smoke, but I was just thankful to have a spot to go to the bathroom since I was still 100 miles away from home.

I didn’t want to be that person that used the bathroom and bounced. So, I bought a lemonade and a hand sanitizer because I was out and ya know, it’s a necessity to a germaphobe.

When I got outside, I noticed that the cap to the hand sanitizer (it was one with a pump) was unscrewed. I didn’t want to go back in and ask to swap it out because of anxiety of being a burden. My brain was definitely like “what if it’s tampered with or poisoned” but then I was like whatever. I just wanted to go home.

I got into my car and I cracked open my lemonade and immediately chugged some. SUDDENLY, I started to panic because I didn’t remember hearing the snap that typically happens when you open a brand new bottle. I started to panic thinking that the lemonade was poisoned or drugged. Full blown anxiety attack ensues and I’m 100 miles/2 hours away from home. I cannot make this up. This is…living with anxiety.

Reaching Out For Some Opinions To Try And Soothe My Anxiety

I texted my brother in a joking tone about my little predicament, asking if I should not finish my drink. He responds “Probs not lol.” Queue more panic because I already drank some. I was not expecting that answer and I started to really spiral. The anxiety symptoms hit me like a freight train. He then tried to tell me it was probably fine and to not worry about it. But, it was too late.

I then texted my boyfriend and I was just honest. I told him I was basically having a nervous breakdown. Thankfully, he didn’t tell me I’m crazy, even though I was acting completely irrational, convinced I’d been poisoned or something. He even went as far as doing some Googling for me and asking me some questions and he told me I was likely fine since I didn’t have any symptoms. He said he doubted someone would drug or poison some random lemonade since there’s no motive. Not once does he make me feel bad or insane.

Stuck With My Anxiety & My Thoughts

I was stuck with myself and my thoughts for hours. Lots of time to think about it. I started getting mad at myself saying I shouldn’t have stopped at the gas station. Or, I shouldn’t have bought anything there. Then, it was “why didn’t I check to see if the seal was intact on the drink?” I refused to touch the drink for the rest of the ride. I wanted to throw it out, but then I was like “well I can’t, what if they need to test it for poison or drugs?”

Then for some reason during this meltdown I start to panic about touching the handle at the park back in Catskill. I thought about the needle and syringe drop off and I thought that seemed it seemed like a bad area. So naturally, my panicked brain was like “what if there was fentanyl on the handle and you’re going to OD?”

I literally had thoughts of wrapping my car around a tree because I was just so overwhelmed that I wanted to die. All of this stemmed from not being sure if the seal on my lemonade was secure or not. Odds are it was fine, but I couldn’t see reason. There was just an impending sense of doom and despair. If you don’t have an anxiety disorder, this kind of spiraling probably makes no sense to you. But this is the reality of having an anxiety disorder.

So, What Happened After?

I got home safely and I immediately washed my hands and then rinsed my mouth with mouthwash. Even as I was doing it, I knew it was irrational. I was terrified to kiss my boyfriend, thinking I might have some dangerous substance on my lips that would harm him too. I got into the shower ASAP because I felt like I was covered in dangerous germs and poisons.

This happened yesterday, and happy to report I’m totally fine and still breathing. I can look back at this now and see just how irrational it was. Honestly, I can kind of laugh about it now. But in the moment, it was definitely not funny.

I’ll leave you with this: Anxiety is wild. Please be nice to your anxious friends and family. We are not okay😂😭

BUT ALSO, if you had the day off for MLK Jr. Day, I hope you enjoyed your day!!

– Kailey

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