Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fear of Fun

(aka Vacation Anxiety)

The reason I haven't been posting too much of a personal nature is because I have been completely overwhelmed with anxiety over an upcoming Family Vacation.  That is, a trip with my extended family over the holiday next week.  The last time I went on a week-long vacation with my extended family, I had the most severe relapse of my nine years with CFS, couldn't get out of bed for days, and wasn't speaking to anyone by the time I left because I was so upset by the way they all ignored how sick I was.

I was not in favor of this upcoming trip, but my mother insisted.  She says it's her retirement gift to herself.  Everyone else is so excited they can't stand it (except my husband who knows my challenges intimately).  So, on top of everything else, I also feel horribly guilty that I'm not looking forward to this trip and that I'm not feeling more grateful.  After all, my mom is treating us and my sister's family to this expensive beach resort in Jamaica - what kind of a freak wouldn't want to go, right?

Besides that horrible past experience, I have been obsessing over every aspect of the trip:
  • How will I manage the 4-hour plane trip and 90-minute shuttle bus ride?
  • What if my room is far from the restaurants, beach, etc. (that happened on yet another family trip and I barely made it to meals)?
  • How will I cope with a week on a tropical beach when I can't be in the sun for 10 minutes without getting a painful burn (and sunscreen doesn't help much)?  (due to Lyme treatment)
  • How will I cope with a week's worth of conflicts when my mom wants to eat meals hours later than I need to eat?
  • How will I manage with so many nights in a hotel room (I sleep horribly in hotels)?
  • And on and on and on...
I've still been feeling pretty bad this week, so that just adds to my worry.  Ken gets home one night and we leave first thing the next morning, so I'm also worried about getting everything ready on my own.  And, of course, there is some resentment over all that I won't be able to do that I would love to do - enjoying the sunshine, spending hours playing on the beach and in the ocean with my kids, doing all sorts of active things at the resort, even staying up late to enjoy my family's company and being able to enjoy a drink once in a while.

See what I mean?  I'm driving myself crazy, plus I feel like an ungrateful, bitter daughter.  I usually pride myself on my optimism and positive attitude, so my negative attitude over this is even more upsetting.

I'm doing just slightly better today, maybe because it's getting closer and I've gotten a lot done this week or maybe because I feel slightly better physically today.  I contacted the resort, and they said they could provide Gatorade for the boys (which was a huge worry), so that's good.  Maybe I should also call about the room location, instead of waiting until we check in.

I'm sure it will all work out OK in the end (or it won't but I'll survive it).  My kids are over the moon excited about this trip.  I just wish I could share in their happy anticipation, but I know what kinds of challenges I will face.

OK, here are some positives:
  • I will be on vacation, so that means no responsibilities for a week, a huge relief after taking care of everything by myself for the past two weeks.
  • Ken will be back with us.
  • I will have lots of time for reading (though I'm worried that's all I'll be able to do).
  • The kids will have an absolute blast.
  • No grocery shopping, no cooking, no dishes, no laundry. 
OK, so that sounds good, right?  Hmmm..maybe I should list those last four items separately...

I'm going to try to have a better attitude, really, I am.  I hope it will be better than I expect - I will probably be able to enjoy some of it, right?  Right??


Kerry said...

I totally hear what you're saying. If in the same position, I can imagine myself feeling exactly the same way. I'm afraid I don't have any useful suggestions to solve the problem, but know you're not alone. There are people out here like you, what get what you're saying.

Anonymous said...

Wow that is a lot to deal with!! Going away from your comfortable home to place where you have little control, having to spend more time with people than you're used to, being in foreign country, so many kinds of stimulus/stress! If other people are side-lining your concerns that is even more stress. Good luck! I'm a selfish human being who probably would have said flat out 'no' to begin with, so I think you're being pretty good, actually. But then my worst nightmare is to somehow ever end up in a tropical country, even temporarily. Even summer here is too much. If it was a vacation to Iceland I would go, hahaha!

Take care and keep repeating to yourself about the no laundry, no cooking, no groceries, no housework.


Renee said...

Oh my gosh! I will say it again....oh my gosh! Sue, just reading the list of challenges you have ahead for you stressed me out. You have cause to be anxious. As an objective (can I be that objective as your friend???) observer, I feel you are handling this very very well. I don't see you as a bitter daughter at are trying to take care of yourself because you know the consequences if you don't. I think it would be a great idea to call ahead and explain what you need for a room, etc. and see if they can even provide you with a scooter or wheelchair if you need it to get places so you can save your energy. Maybe you can have foods in your room to give you energy before the meals..etc. It is really wonderful that your husband is so aware of what you need, etc. He can be your buffer when necessary. You said they all ignored how sick you what you can, but most importantly do what you must to stay okay. Don't feel guilty about taking care of yourself, Sue and don't let anyone else make you feel that way either. Easier said than done when it involves loved ones I know.
Stop beating yourself up.
As far as staying out of the sun..that is a must with Lyme treatment. It can make you so much more sick or get rashes that last for months. Just tell people , "My doctor told me________"
Okay, enough acting like I am your's the bottom line. You always turn things around and into something positive...and I am sure you will with this too...and there will be moments you will enjoy~ You will figure out what to do ahead of time and what to do in the moment....and with your husband standing by will all work out~
Lifting you up in prayer...

Pris said...

I don't think your fears are unreasonable at all. You're not being childish. You're asking very realistic coping questions. I've rarely had away time and had to cancel this last hope for one because it simply would've been more than I can handle. Do you have a push chair? We keep one in the car trunk, but you'll be flying. I would guess you could rent one. Ride to any far out eating places. If the meal is scheduled too late, tell family you'll have to find food on your own , eat earlier and rest so you can enjoy them more the next day. In other words, go on YOUR version of the trip. I feel for you. Not a good pressure to deal with.

Sue Jackson said...

Oh, my gosh, now I am feeling overwhelmed with...GRATITUDE!!!

Thank you so much for all of your kind and supportive words and advice. You have made me feel much better and much less guilty about my worries.

Knowing that other people understand means so much!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, my wonderful cyber friends!


Toni said...

Wow, Sue. I hear just what you're saying. I'd have all the same anxieties (one difference being that I couldn't even consider the trip). Tomorrow, our son and family are going to Santa Cruz for five days. They invited us to come but I can't go even though it's only five hours away. (And Tony won't go without me.)

Their invitation brought up all my disappointments about not being the kind of grandmother I wanted to be. If we could go, we could take care of their three-year old and they could have some "couples" time together -- just the two of them.

So, I'm thinking that travel just brings up all those anxieties for all of us. One of the reasons I'm afraid to go is because I don't know what the bed will be like or what the noise level will be like since if I don't sleep well, I have no chance for a day out of bed.

But here's the good news: there are so many unknowns for you here that I'm betting more than one of them is going to work out in your favor and you're going to be pleasantly surprised by...well, surprises! And that, in the end, you'll be glad you went. I say this because you seem to do well when you travel, at least that's what I recall reading -- all the trips to Oklahoma, etc.

Make a list, prioritize, take deep breaths, wait for Ken, and try to welcome the unknown.

dominique said...

Since I severed my finger and am typing with 2 fingers, I will keep this short. I totally concur with Renee! And HAVE SOME FUN!

Sue Jackson said...

Oh, Toni - thanks so much for the comfort and support. Yes, I do handle our road trips well, but flying and staying in a hotel is a whole different world...not to mention 6 days with my extended family! Yikes! A weekend with them wipes me out.

But I'm sure you're right and I'll be able to enjoy some of it. It's got t be better than the last one, right?

So sorry you're missing out on your family's trip. As much as I'm dreading this trip, I hate to miss out on stuff, too, especially where the kids are concerned, so I do understand.

Thanks for comforting me when you're feeling bad yourself! You're a wonderful, loving, giving person, and I've learned so much from you!


Anonymous said...

Oh Sue, I wish you the best. Remember this is your VACATION TOO! You deserve to set your health and well being as your number one priority because you and your family are the ones who have to pay the price. I hope you have an enjoyable time. You do not sound like a whiner!!
We were able to take our family to Hawaii this past August. It had been a long time since we had a vacation and our son was diagnosed. It was great to get him out of the house. He didn't want to go, thought it would be too exhausting, that he wouldn't be able to have fun or enjoy himself. Well I just told him we would take it day by day, moment by moment,that he could chose what he wanted to do/not do ended up being a great, great trip and he discovered how relaxing the water/ocean could be for him. We made time for lots of rest and down time. Great memories!!

Jennie Spotila said...

FWIW, here are some more practical suggestions:

- I completely agree with the suggestion to call the hotel now and request a certain room location. The resort website probably has a map on it and you can gauge where you might want to be.
- I also completely agree with the idea of using a wheelchair. It's likely the resort will have a few - ask now! Also, there are scooter rental companies that will deliver to your hotel - try 1-800-scooter (I forget the URL).
- Noise canceling headphones have saved me many many times. Mine are from Shure. I don't even turn on my iPod sometimes - I just put in the headphones and it cancels a lot of the noise. I can't travel without them.
- For the sun - beach umbrellas! I burn to a crisp without one.
- Pick an activity at the resort that you can do with the boys, or at least watch them do, and schedule it as a special time for you, Ken and the kids.
- Snacks will be key, as will scheduled rest. And don't be afraid to be a beach bum: "No thanks, I think I'll sit here and read for awhile."

If all else fails, try Toni's "Weather Practice." It's transforming how I deal with frustration and other negative emotions! Thanks Toni!

Anonymous said...

By the way, I've heard you can get oxygen on an airplane if you tell them you aren't feeling well. Might want to check into this if you feel bad on the plane.

Take care!


Anonymous said...

Can you talk to your mom about your feelings? Can you show her your post? Will she be supportive and empathetic? Or is she kind of like my mom and that is not really an option for you?

If I agreed to go on such a trip, I would feel perfectly justified to spend most of my time resting in my room, regardless if anyone "got" it or supported me. In fact, that is exactly what I did on a 7 day Alaskan cruise with my mom and sis several years ago. I got judged and disbelieved but that was "their" problem, right? And I had a really good time for the most part doing what my body told me I could do, NOT what my mom and sister told me I should do!

The more you worry, the more you are going to trigger physiscal symptoms... so make your decision about what to do and then knock off the worrying! :-}


Anonymous said...

I would like to say what others have said - you are not alone in this anxiety. We went on holiday 45 mins drive from home to a self catering cottage this year and that was a big challenge and a bit daunting! At Christmas we are going to go to stay with my partner's relatives and that is about two and a half hours away (the furthest I have been for a long time and I do find being in the car very stressful and over stimulating neurologically) and our room will be up two flights of stairs. Her family are great and will try their best, but all those people, filled with alcohol at times, and her dad being so deaf he needs the tv on full volume and I cannot be in the room with him and the tv (he won't admit to being deaf so has no hearing aid), and last time I spent Christmas with them the smells of all the meat cooking for two days solid made me feel really sick... well, as you can see, I am a little scared too!
I hope that you will find ways to assert your needs and find comfortable and quiet down time between bursts of travel and holiday fun. I am sure you will come home with some really good memories. I am sure I will too...

Never That Easy said...

I am a bit behind (sorry!), so I hope you are enjoying your week in the tropics, but I just wanted to say that I understand your anxiety, and I wish you all the best.

I've often said that I just need a vacation, but the thing I most need a vacation from (my body) would just come with me anyways, so what's the point.

I hope that you are having some fun and relaxation, even with all the challenges.