Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Panic Attack in Vegas

Last year my partner and I and a few friends went to Vegas. I thought the airplane ride was going to be the worst part but it wasn't. Saturday night, I was already upset about something that had really set my OCD off. I was already starting to hyperventilate by the time we left the Flamingo Hotel. We headed across the street to Caesar's Palace. Everyone was excited and in a great mood. Except me. We were going over there to the food court to get a cheap dinner and gamble.

Looking down at the floor in Caesar's Palace, this is what I saw:

I have already told you that I don't step on lines, changes in color or patterns on the floors or cracks on concrete. The floors in the casinos are all a mish mash of color and spirographical designs to keep your eyes off the floors and onto the slots and tables. I, however, am always looking at any walking surface to make sure I don't step in the wrong place. I went into the bathroom and started to absolutely lose it.

By the time I came out, I was crying and trying desperately not to make a scene. I was now having trouble breathing and my heart was pounding. J decided to take me back to our hotel room at the Flamingo. I told her, no, she should stay. I knew how to get back. But, boy, am I glad she came with me. We were at the back of Caesar's Palace and had to walk on that carpet all the way to the front, with me trying not to touch a line. Of course, walking on my toes, my feet were touching lines left and right in the swirling patterns, and I was losing it fast. I felt like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark trying to dodge the holes in the floor that caused poisonous darts to shoot out of the walls after stealing the idol.

After we made it out of Caesar's, J took my arm and took me down the sidewalks in front. (The photo on the left is definitely not of Vegas. Ha ha!) More lines and it was dark. I told her I could make it across the street by myself, but she insisted on taking me back. We proceeded across the street through a crowd of people, me crying and trying not to look up, 1) because I didn't want to step on any lines, 2)I didn't want people to see me panicking. I figured that all thought I was drunk and had been arguing with someone.

When we got back to the Flamingo, we went in through the Margaritaville entrance. Again, I told J that I could go back upstairs by myself. I was in the middle of a huge panic attack. I really thought I was going to pass out as we walked through this:

Try not stepping on those lines. I was literally walking on my tiptoes by now. And with each line I "hit" I was getting more and more upset. I remember getting in the elevator and there were other people in it. I was so embarrassed for J. But she stood by me, held on to me. She kept saying, "We're almost there. Not much longer." I thought we were in the clear until we got off the elevator on our floor and were faced with this all the way down the fricking hall:

After we got to the hotel room, it took me a long time to calm down. I felt like I ruined her entire night, begged her to go join our friends, but she still would not leave me there alone. Around midnight we ordered room service and watched T.V. And that has to be one of the worst panic attacks I have ever had and I have had many. Do any of you readers have trouble with walking on lines? Let me know. And if so, you might want to stay clear of the casinos when you're upset.

I am happy to say that I found some cool OCD blogs today. Their links are on the right >>>>> so check'em out, would ya?



  1. Hi! I'm glad we found each other's blogs!

    What is the fear you associate with stepping on lines? I know a lot of folks with OCD but have never gotten the chance to get to know someone like you!

  2. I don't so much have a "fear" of stepping on lines and changes of pattern/color. I just get very panicked. I also feel like I will be unbalanced and fall over if I touch one. The funny thing is: I used to "step" on every crack and line, and the compulsion was reversed when I was in CBT therapy. So, yeah, I'm a Jack Nicholson now except I really don't get upset about small tiles, except for when they change color; then I have to step into the next color without touching the edge.

  3. Yeah, casinos might not be the greatest place to be when you are in the middle of an OCD panic attack! But if you do have OCD and this type of avoidance in particular, and if you were working up your ERP hierarchy, this would be a great exposure opportunity! But yeah, it sounds like it would definitely be too overwhelming if you ended up in this sort of situation before you were ready. Those are some pretty cruel carpet and tile designs!

    It's funny that you mention Vegas. When I was doing pretty badly, I was invited to go to there with a few friends, but there was no way they were ever get me to go on a trip like that! Casinos were full of OCD triggers for me, but in a different way entirely - it seemed that there could be nothing filthier than a Vegas hotel casino where people come to have a good time, get drunk, and touch lots of things that other people touch - like money, cards, and slot machines!