Panic in Paradise
(New York Times)

When friends ask about my Maui honeymoon, I tell them that Brian and I didn’t leave our hotel. Wink, wink. “You must have had a really great time!” everybody chuckles. I want them to imagine that we enjoyed a tantric Hawaiian escapade, frolicking like soap stars in 600-thread-count sheets.
I actually spent my vacation in sweat pants, eating room-service burritos from a Styrofoam tray while propped on pillows, stuffing myself like some deranged queen, watching “The Golden Girls” reruns while my husband paced from my bedside to the balcony that overlooked a golf course.

Every morning, he’d unlock the hotel-room safe, look at our plane tickets and wander outside.
“We can leave right now if you want to,” he’d say, golf course in the distance. “We could get a refund.”

The trip was the pinnacle of years of panic attacks I’d fended off with antianxiety drugs that never quite seemed to click. In Hawaii, they climaxed in agoraphobia, a common offshoot of panic. Since panic can happen anytime and anywhere, the urge for shelter and familiarity is natural. Sadly, I was far from home, and my sense of familiarity came from Bea Arthur.

Panic attacks are little deaths.

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