Over the weekend, we went to Berkshire East. Our plan was to go on the Thunderbolt Coaster. We arrived, purchased our tokens and walked over to the line. My husband jumped and was gone in a flash, then it was my turn. I got in the seat and buckled up. As the attendant explained the braking system I could feel my heart start to race. As he spoke, I watched a dozen eager little kids standing in line as they waited for their turn. I looked back towards the attendant; I couldn’t do it.
I’m sorry I said, I can’t. He laughed and said it’s really not that bad. Ok buddy, I’m sure it’s not but the thing about anxiety is it’s not rational. It promotes fear at the worst possible times. It’s uncontrollable and crippling and makes us do and say things that aren’t really us, or we don’t really mean.
Two trains of thought collided in my head. One supported the just do it idea and the other, something along the lines of: run for your life. While everyone in the world was working for this weekend, all I could wish for was Monday. At that moment I longed for my routine, for work and for zero chance of having to get on this mountain coaster. Anxiety is like addiction. When I’m experiencing it, I will do anything to escape it. I will beg, plead, steal, and lie. Not tangible things, but experiences from myself and others.
So I unbuckled and got off. I told myself I would wait until my husband came down the mountain and I would try it again. A young boy ran up to the cart as I got off. He jumped in and threw his hands in the air “whoo hoo” he cried as he buckled himself in and within a matter of seconds he was gone.
I may or may not have shot him my signature eye roll – a facial tick I’ve been perfecting for 28 years now.
Within a matter of minutes, the line had lengthened to include full-size humans. How could I ever risk a repeat of what just happened?
Eventually, I spotted Vinny and when he spotted me, the first thing he did was shake his head. I braced myself for the 21 questions that were equally as frightening as the coaster.
Why didn’t you go? What’s wrong? Are you going to go now? Why can’t you just do it? Me: I don’t know.
“I don’t know” is the problem. It isn’t a cop-out for lack of a better word, it’s the truth. I don’t really know why I didn’t do it besides the fact the anxiety told me not too. This is what many people without anxiety don’t understand. We’re not in control of it – it’s not that simple. Eventually, he gave up asking me to go and he went two more times. I never worked up the courage.
My advice, from experience, is if you or someone you love experiences anxiety in any capacity, inflicted by any type of situation or thing – find compassion. For yourself and for others. Seek understanding, and please never, ever, force yourself or someone to do something thinking it will help to “get over it”. Anxiety doesn’t work like that.
As for me and this mountain coaster – I have three tickets that never expire and a vendetta against my anxiety. But if someone wants to take those tickets off my hands – that’s fine too.