My Story Part 2: Problems With Homeland Security

After the festival panic fiasco and a short birthday stop, I headed down to Joshua Treee. It was the middle of the summer and hot as hell.    We got there in the middle of the night. I’d never been there before. We parked the car somewhere and watched the sun come up over the whimsical looking trees.

I also had Totoro with me, he loved it:

Totoro having a blast at Joshua Tree

Totoro having a blast at Joshua Tree

We made our way down to Arizona and stayed with a few friends, and then finally headed off to the UFO festival.

There were billboards advertising this place for hundreds of miles. "Have you seen the thing?" "Stop at THE THING!" I was disappointed to find that it was actually just a gift shop. Unless I missed something.

There were billboards advertising this place for hundreds of miles. “Have you seen the thing?” “Stop at THE THING!” I was disappointed to find that it was actually just a gift shop. Unless I missed something.

We were unexpectedly halted in our attempt to get into Roswell.

The road ahead was blocked off. We had to pull off to the side of the road where we were stopped by a large group of Homeland Security guys holding large guns. It was unsettling in and of itself.

A man asked through the window if we had any illegal immigrants in the vehicle, to which I said I didn’t. He then asked if they could search my car. Taken aback a bit, I declined.

“Pull into space number one, ma’am,” was his reply.

So I did, because who’s going to argue with a group of tough looking armed men in the middle of the desert in the middle of the night during a thunder and lightning storm? No one, that’s who! (Okay, maybe there are some people who would, but I am not one of them, so there)

They had us get out of the car, and then they proceeded to take everything out of my car and search it. Five times. While I sat on a cockroach infested bench with five men holding very large rifles surrounded me.

When they didn’t find anything, they brought out a dog. A dog.

Because I have the best luck ever, the dog immediately began barking it’s head off. Joy.

After much more searching, they found an empty marijuana pipe in the car. It wasn’t mine. I don’t smoke pot. As of right now I think it’s been seven years since I smoked. It gives me horrible paranoia and panic attacks. And I’ve been taken to the ER twice in high school after smoking pot. The pipe was my friends, and I had no idea it was in the car.

I immediately started internally freaking out. What were they going to do? Send me to prison? Handcuff me?

All of these thoughts began flooding me as I imagined the worst.

They didn’t do anything but scare the hell out of me, make us throw away the pipe, and then let us go after giving us a very stern talking to about how if there had been any marijuana in the car “we would have sent you to federal jail.”

It was scary at the time, but I’ve found myself reliving this moment for years to come… It made a big impact on me for whatever reason, and I feel like I have to include it in the story of my panic disorder. It happened right around my panic disorder was really starting to come to the surface, and was one of those things that just made me feel completely unsafe, and a little bit more untrusting of the world (although of course it could have gone much worse).

But we drove away from that homeland security checkpoint, and into a whole new kind of weird and terrifying which was Roswell, NM. I wasn’t prepared for the experiences I had there, and it was pretty weird, and kind of scary most of the time. But I’ll write about that in the next installment.

Click Here for Part 1 

Advertisements

My Story Part 1: My First Panic Attack

I’d like to tell my entire story of how my panic got to be so bad, so I figured I’d start here. I’m not going to write my entire story out in one blog post, because I honestly feel at this point I could write a book. So I’m going to attempt to break it up into pieces.

So, I’ll start at the beginning – my first panic attack.

I was a few weeks away from turning twenty-one years old, and I had just embarked on what would be a three month long road trip from California to New York and zig-zagging around states in between.

I’d driven up to Oregon, and then was going back through California to stop in my hometown for my birthday before driving to Roswell, NM for a UFO convention. I figured on the way I would stop by this huge festival that was going on in Santa Rosa.

My friend and I found parking, got out of the car, and walked to the festival entrance.

There were all these dirty hippie kids gathered around outside. Nothing I was unfamiliar with. Hell, they could have been people I knew, except I didn’t know them.

They were passing around suspicious looking drink containers and talking about drugs.

I didn’t touch anything, but I suddenly became acutely aware of the amount of drugs (specifically hallucinogenics) that were around me. I began feeling strange and shakey. I was overcome with a feeling of unease and dread.

Something was wrong with me… but what?

I told my friend I wasn’t feeling well and needed to go. So, we went into downtown Santa Rosa.

The feeling didn’t go away, and I became convinced that somehow someone had slipped me drugs. Or that I was dying. Or both.

I spent hours walking around, feeling as though I was completely disconnected from reality. I felt short of breath, I felt, well, all of those awful panicky feelings that I’ve come to know so well.

I was just looking through my photos and realized I have pictures from that day. Here you go:

Photo of me having my first panic attack. I don't even know what to say about this photo other than, I'm glad I've since changed my hair, and it's kind of ironic that I'm sitting in front of a giant hand because I needed a hand more than ever at that moment,

Photo of me having my first panic attack. I don’t even know what to say about this photo other than, I’m glad I’ve since changed my hair, and it’s kind of ironic that I’m sitting in front of a giant hand because I needed a hand more than ever at that moment,

Also, don’t be too hard on me. It’s taking some serious guts for me to be putting this out accompanied by that photo right now… and since I’m feeling gutsy, here’s one more picture from that day:

I think the amount of strange things I came across that day didn't help. But I was also kind of baffled by the oddness that seemed to be around every corner, while feeling completely out of my mind, and trying to retain some semblance of being normal. I don't even know what I'm sitting on here.

I think the amount of strange things I came across that day didn’t help. But I was also kind of baffled by the oddness that seemed to be around every corner, while feeling completely out of my mind, and trying to retain some semblance of being normal. I don’t even know what I’m sitting on here.

Eventually that god awful panicky feeling went away.. kind of.. but it also lingered. It lingered because I began developing completely irrational fears, and I began fearing that feeling coming back.

And because I feared it so much, it did come back.

Looking back on it, I found myself panicking in some of the strangest places, which I will write about later. Some of those places include: the middle of the desert while being held by homeland security, a meeting for people who have been abducted by aliens, the secret service questioning me on my political beliefs in Pittsburgh, PA, being stranded at a national rainbow gathering in Cuba, NM. I honestly don’t know how I got myself into some of the situations that I have, and now that time has passed there’s probably a lot of humor hiding in some of the panic inducing predicaments that I’ve gotten myself into.

Anyway, to finish the story, I never ended up going inside the festival. Instead I became amused by the sheer amount of snoopy statues and other random statues that I found around that town. And I still ended up going on my road trip… and I don’t know how I did it. But I’ll tell the rest later 🙂