How do I stop offending people with my anxiety?
April 13, 2009 12:27 PM   Subscribe

I left Easter dinner early due to anxiety. My family is angry. How can I make everyone happy?

(Extremely limited background: It is well-known in my family that I suffer from depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, my family does not "believe in" anxiety or mood disorders. I've essentially been told to "walk it off" by all of my close relatives.)

I get panic attacks due to anxiety and claustrophobia sometimes. For the second time in as many major family holidays, my sister has invited me to what seemed like a small family affair, and turned out to be a major party with friends, screaming kids and yelling at the TV all in one cramped space. I do want to see my family, but these events are far too stressful for me to manage. On Christmas I was all but dragged out of the basement while having a panic attack so people could sing "Happy Birthday" and shove a cupcake in my face (my birthday was coming up). I left immediately afterward, which, according to my mother, upset more than a couple of people.

Yesterday at Easter I had to leave between dinner and dessert because I started to get that "I'm about to implode or possibly die" feeling. I missed saying goodbye to a couple of people in my desperate attempt to leave the building, and when I spoke to my mother today she reported that my sister felt offended that I'd left and others were angry with me because of "the way [I] acted." The conversation made me feel like the world's biggest asshole. I'd figured telling someone "having a panic attack, will catch up with you later" would be enough of an explanation, but I was incredibly wrong.

I obviously have to apologize to my sister and the other people I snubbed, but I can't come up with a good enough reason for my bad behavior. I know saying, "I was going to have a panic attack" will seem like a weak excuse or like I'm trying to get people to feel bad for me. How do I make this right? How could I have handled this situation better? What should I do about future parties?
posted by giraffe to Human Relations (38 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I think you handled the situation just fine - you took care of your immediate, emergency need.

Apologize if you want for leaving early, say you weren't feeling well, and that's it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:31 PM on April 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It seems to me like you're blaming yourself for having a panic attack, which a) is kind of silly when you think about it, and b) is counterproductive, in that it raises the stakes/pressure on not having a panic attack in future situations, which itself increases the risk of panic attacks.

On the other hand, it makes sense to try to figure out a way to excuse yourself gracefully in future. Have you thought about "I'm not feeling very well," which is true? And, if people press you for more information, and they are uninformed or willfully ignorant enough not to "believe in" panic attacks, you might mention some of your physical symptoms--"I'm feeling nauseated" or "I'm having a little trouble breathing" or whatever your physical symptoms are.

I'd figured telling someone "having a panic attack, will catch up with you later" would be enough of an explanation, but I was incredibly wrong.

You were incorrect, but you weren't wrong. "I'm having a panic attack and I need to leave" should be an ample explanation, if offered courteously and candidly. The fact that it isn't considered an appropriate explanation in your family circle is their glitch, not yours.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:33 PM on April 13, 2009 [14 favorites]

Best answer: You are going to apologize? These people refuse to recognize your condition and you are the problem? If you want them to do the same thing to you every holiday then yes, by all means, say you are sorry to them.

Stop visiting on holidays. If your explanations have been firm and sincere then they are never going to listen to you and continue to manipulate you in order to get you to their events. Make a date to have dinner together on an odd weeknight with just a few of them. Invite them over to your place. But don't go near that place if you get even a whiff of garland.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:33 PM on April 13, 2009 [7 favorites]

Best answer: "Unfortunately, my family does not "believe in" anxiety or mood disorders. I've essentially been told to "walk it off" by all of my close relatives.)"

If I were in your position, I'd avoid spending any time with said family if that's their attitude.
posted by MattMangels at 12:37 PM on April 13, 2009 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Is it possible to contact the people who were invited and say, "I really appreciated your understanding on Sunday when I had to leave so suddenly and much earlier than expected. I'm still figuring out my threshold for [crowded rooms/loud parties/whatever]. Having supportive family members really helps me deal with my anxiety, and I am so sorry that I didn't get a chance to say a proper goodbye. I can't wait to see you next time."

Seems to me that explaining yourself over and over again isn't helping. Graciously assuming the best of them (even if you know it isn't true) gives your family members the chance to be a little more gracious in return. If they have more questions about the nature of your anxiety/mood disorders, then awesome, answer them and help them understand more if they want to. Otherwise, say "Love you!" and hang up.

In the future, it's okay ask the host how many people are going to be there and say that you can only stay so long. It's also okay not to go at all. Your family doesn't have to think so, but you need to take care of yourself first.
posted by juliplease at 12:38 PM on April 13, 2009 [12 favorites]

I obviously have to apologize to my sister and the other people I snubbed, but I can't come up with a good enough reason for my bad behavior.

No. They need to apologize to you.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:42 PM on April 13, 2009 [30 favorites]

This may not be the most honest way but.....
Fake A Cell Phone Call would serve your purpose nicely!
After taking the fake call, exclaim to the people nearby a plausible excuse why you need to leave. Have them pass the word on to the other guests.
posted by boby at 12:45 PM on April 13, 2009

You didn't have an outbreak of bad behavior. Bad behavior is, off the top of my head, starting drunken fights with family members, loudly and rudely rejecting food, yelling at other people's kids without cause, and any one of a jillion other things people do at holidays.

You've got an illness, you cope with it as best you can, and you're working on your coping mechanisms. Those mechanisms may, at any point along the process, be totally incompatible with the expectations of your family-- who don't believe that you have an illness at all, anyways, and have accordingly set their expectations as if you were exactly like them.

When these people can realize that you're not them, you're not gonna be them, and that you're a work in progress in a paradigm they refuse to deal with, they'll come to you and apologize. Until then, you don't have to say shit other than "I'm sorry you don't see it that way, but how I choose to deal with my illness is between myself and my doctors, and is not open to your criticism."
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 12:48 PM on April 13, 2009

Best answer: If a friend got a severe case of migraine at a party that you've thrown and had to leave, would you feel offended or hurt? Would you demand an apology? Of course not, that would be a childish reaction and very unemphatic of you. You have nothing to apologize for or feel bad about, your family on the other hand should form a line.

How to handle the situation in the future? Simple. Don't show up. Seriously, you are under no obligation to go through emotional hell just so your family and relatives can feel all holiday-y and shit.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:58 PM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

That your family made you believe it would be a small affair and then had the whole ruckus in attendance suggests that *they* behaved poorly, not you.

I'm as social as they come, and never had even close to a panic attack (I'm the guy that can give a wedding toast off the top of my head), and my family functions are just fucking outta hand. Almost started yelling yesterday at the noise, and there's only six kids! (okay, six that can walk.) Point is, a lot of people think their little fucking angels couldn't *possibly* be a problem, it must be you. They're dead wrong.
posted by notsnot at 1:04 PM on April 13, 2009

I can't come up with a good enough reason for my bad behavior.

That's because you didn't do anything that qualifies as 'bad behaviour'. It sounds like you politely dealt with a social-anxiety problem, and you did it the right way; excuse yourself and leave. Bravo. You have nothing to apologize for.

What should I do about future parties?

Anxiety like this gets worse when you avoid things that trigger it. You should, for your own sake, make yourself participate in these uncomfortable situations, even though you know full well it will make you anxious and panicky. This is called exposure, and is the primary way these type of fears are treated.

Metafilter, while incredible, does not treat anxiety as well as a qualified mental health professional. If this type of fear is interfering with your quality of life, you might think about seeing a therapist. These types of issues are very common, and a good councilor can give you some quick and easy tools for ratcheting down the anxiety.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 1:07 PM on April 13, 2009

Something I tell my friends who have issues with their families not treating them with respect is this: Your family should treat you better than your friends, not worse. You should get more sympathy and support and understanding from your family. They should not get a free pass to be big jerks just because they're family.

What would you do if you had friends who treated you this way?
posted by Kimberly at 1:07 PM on April 13, 2009 [8 favorites]

It doesn't sound like you can make your family accept that you actually have a medical reason for your behaviour. Would it work better to start framing it as a non-negotiable desire? If your sister misrepresents the nature of a social gathering, leave when this becomes clear. If a gathering changes into something that you think you won't be able to handle, leave. Don't wait till you're panicking, do it pre-emptively. Your family are being disrespectful assholes, honestly, so acting the same way might be your only chance. Eventually they should realise that if they want to see you they need to not lie to you. They might never recognise the reality of mood disorders/etc, but it's a lot harder to argue with 'I just don't want to/don't like it/won't do it'.

To do this, you're going to have to start believing that you being upset (by being there) is just as bad an outcome as people being upset by your departure. One of these things is going to happen, and all you can change is your own behaviour - leave on your own terms so you at least get to say goodbye.
posted by jacalata at 1:09 PM on April 13, 2009

Best answer: I used to have this type problem so I understand how overwhelming the crowd is.

You have done nothing to apologize for. From now on tell them you will see them other times, not on holidays/family parties. Do NOT apologize. Tell them instead that you are sorry they don't understand your medical needs and that it's best if you see them one on one from now on. If they argue tell them you will talk to them later and HANG UP.

(when I used to run into people who didn't understand my medical needs I would sweetly inquire as to when they got their M.D. degree.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:17 PM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have a feeling that yours is not the only mood disorder in the family.

If someone needs a break from whatever social situation they are in, they get to take a break. No excuses or apologies needed. I'm sorry your family doesn't get that. Chances are they never will. But it doesn't mean that you shouldn't be able to take care of your own needs guilt-free.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:17 PM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

PS-I used to have a deal with my choir director when I was a part of the worship team-if I felt stressed, overwhelmed or panicky I slipped off stage quietly and found a quiet place to be so I could calm down and destress. No questions asked.

Maybe you can make a deal with your family like that-with the alternative being you don't go over there otherwise? They need to adapt to you whether they believe you or not. Period.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:21 PM on April 13, 2009

Best answer: In the future, could you not come up with other reasons to leave the party for a little while? Making a beer run, for example, or picking up a friend at the airport?
posted by Rock Steady at 1:22 PM on April 13, 2009

They're attitude can't help. I know when I am suffering anxiety, I can deal with it better if I'm not in a situation where I wind up feeling trapped because it'll be inconsiderate or whatever to leave and deal with the fact I'm having a panic attack. In that moment, anything other than focusing on calming down and taking control is just going to make things worse, or at least leave you more prone to worrying about anxiety when you get into those situations in the first place.

I nth that you have nothing whatsoever to apologise for. OK, when I've had anxiety problems around people I have apologised, but they've all at the very least pretended to understand and not been dickish about it at all. If your family aren't going to be understanding, and will keep this sort of selfishness up, I'd tell them you're just not going to trust them again, no matter how small an event they claim it to be.

And as St. Alia points out, whether they believe in anxiety or not, surely they care about you whatever your behaviour? If they can't be accommodating of your needs, then they don't deserve your time. I'm sorry they're not being decent about it, but I'd deal with meeting your needs due to the anxiety at least until you can gain some control over it.
posted by opsin at 1:28 PM on April 13, 2009

Best answer: Is it possible to contact the people who were invited and say, "I really appreciated your understanding on Sunday when I had to leave so suddenly and much earlier than expected. I'm still figuring out my threshold for [crowded rooms/loud parties/whatever]. Having supportive family members really helps me deal with my anxiety, and I am so sorry that I didn't get a chance to say a proper goodbye. I can't wait to see you next time."

I think this is a great suggestion, and if these are distant/rarely seen relatives, I'd say it's doubly great. They might not understand something like a panic attack, generally, but I quick phone call or a little note that says "Sorry we didn't say good-bye; thanks for understanding and I'll see you soon!" should go a long way.

As for your sister and your mother, I would ignore that sort of behavior. I love my mother dearly, but she sometimes does the same thing--tries to play my sister and I against one another, or tries to act as an arbitrator. The problem is that it's not her place. If your sister is that upset about it (and it's possible that she's just blowing off steam to your mother and didn't even want her to say anything), she should talk to you herself; you're both adults! I would tell my mother that, but refuse to engage with her on the subject of my sister's feelings otherwise.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:32 PM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Gyah, that post of mine really ought to start with the word 'their'.
posted by opsin at 1:34 PM on April 13, 2009

Best answer: Call your sister, and say, Thanks so much for the excellent Easter dinner. You know I have trouble with large groups, so I had to leave, but I really appreciated being included. I love you guys.

Next holiday, tell them you have other plans and go to the movies. Join them for dessert and coffee if you're up to it. Try to visit with them in smaller groups to make sure your relationships are solid.

Your family is ignorant, perhaps willfully so, but they're your family. It's nice to maintain a loving relationship if you can. If they really won't accept your needs, it's okay to tell them you have a) a migraine or b) severe diarrhea/puking. The best thing about using diarrhea/puking as an excuse is that you can start to go on and on about it and they'll beg you to shut up.

For many years I skipped family holidays. When I started going to family events again, I always made sure I had some Xanax with me.
posted by theora55 at 1:35 PM on April 13, 2009

Oh, also I'm rarely an advocate of lying, but if this is such a loaded issue with my immediate family, I might not talk about the panic attack as my reason for leaving. "I need to step out for a minute for some air," should suffice, and it's a perfectly polite and legitimate reason and way to excuse yourself.

I've had panic attacks in the past, though I haven't in years, but I do get claustrophobic, and I've never (even with my crazy family) run into a problem with excusing myself this way.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:36 PM on April 13, 2009

Shoving a cupcake in your face when you tell them you need to be alone that moment is unacceptable, yes. But leaving a party when you feel overwhelmed without anyone doing anything to you (everyone's running around but no one is making you the center of attention) is rude.

A quick apology to your sister who was hosting the party would be good, but make sure that you explain that she was also wrong - say "I thought it was going to be a small gathering, I didn't realize there'd be so many people, and because it was not the party you described at first, I felt overwhelmed and needed to leave and I'm sorry if I offended anyone, btw the ham was delicious." Make sure she knows what exactly caused that, not to make her feel guilty but to make her realize that yes, it was a problem that this is how the party turned out, and that's why you left, not because you wanted to offend anyone.

Next time, can you try taking a walk or taking a break instead of leaving without saying goodbye? Just a quick quiet word to someone "not feeling well, going to get some air" and come back a half hour later. You might feel better and no one will get offended.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 1:45 PM on April 13, 2009

eaving a party when you feel overwhelmed without anyone doing anything to you (everyone's running around but no one is making you the center of attention) is rude.

No, it really isn't. If you're having a panic attack, you're not feeling well (physically as well as emotionally).

Leaving a party when you don't feel well is not "rude". It just isn't.

If it were a migraine or an ulcer or irritable bowel, I doubt you would describe it as "rude" to leave a party when you were having painful symptoms, so why make a distinction for illnesses that have a psychological component?
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:56 PM on April 13, 2009 [14 favorites]

How can I make everyone happy?

I'm sorry, but you can't and it's not your responsibility to do so. I suspect (because of my own experiences) that this belief contributes to your anxiety. Up thread, there is a lot of great advice about what to do in general, so I won't cover it, but this one, learn that first you can not make everybody happy, whether you are well or not, whether you are a superachiever or not, someone, somewhere important to you will not be pleased. That's okay. That's their perogative. You don't have to take it on board. What they think of you is none of your business.
posted by b33j at 2:24 PM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

So what's more "rude", KateHasQuestions: leaving a crowded gathering without saying goodbye to everyone because you're about to have a panic/anxiety attack? Or staying at the party (which is full of family members that refuse to believe you have an honest-to-god medical condition) and having a full-bore anxiety attack in front of everyone? This may or may not involve hyperventilating, uncontrollable sobbing, vomiting, shaking, screaming, fainting, et cetera. I have no idea what happens to the OP when they have an attack, but the last time I had an anxiety attack that's pretty much what went down, and I really would not have wanted to do that at a crowded party.
posted by palomar at 2:35 PM on April 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Hello, me!

Seriously, I have severe panic disorder, and it's only in the last few years that I've been able to handle family events for any length of time. I tried to cover up my attacks out of embarrassment and shame. The fear of disappointing my family just made my attacks worse. The hallmark of panic disorder is that you start to panic about panicking. As you know, sucking it up just doesn't work. (Your mother = my father, btw)

Maybe your family is just full of assholes - that's certainly how they're acting. However, let's give them the benefit of the doubt first. You need to educate them. Find some links about panic disorder on a well-regarded site like WebMD (or whatever medical site they would regard as trustworthy). Tell them that you feel symptoms X, Y, and Z when you're in any confined, noisy situation - not just when you're around them. (If it is just them, a white lie won't hurt here. They're taking it personally when they shouldn't.) Tell them you're sorry they feel snubbed, but that wasn't your intent and you're seeking help for your condition (you ARE, aren't you?). Only say you're sorry they feel that way - you haven't done anything wrong. NOTHING.

Educating my family has made a huge difference in the quality of the time I spend with them. I'm no longer on edge, waiting to be crowded or pressured, waiting to feel panicky. If I do start to panic, I excuse myself and they understand why. 90% of anxiety is the pressure you feel not to feel the way you feel. Give yourself permission to freak out and it will almost all go away.

Feel free to memail me.
posted by desjardins at 2:37 PM on April 13, 2009 [3 favorites]

...I've essentially been told to "walk it off" by all of my close relatives.)
I left immediately afterward, which, according to my mother, upset more than a couple of people.

Tell all your close relatives to "walk it off". No-one ever died of mistakenly believing they were snubbed.
posted by rainy at 2:48 PM on April 13, 2009 [6 favorites]

I think a polite fiction is needed here for everyone to save face.

If they don't believe in the existence of panic disorders, then you can come up with a more acceptable illness to excuse yourself with. Something like migraine headaches would do very nicely. Start by seeding it into casual conversations with family members - "Oh, by the way, I had another migraine yesterday. It was awful. But how have you been?" Allow them to spread the word via the family grapevine. After it takes a life of its own, you can just trot it out at the next gathering. If anyone asks you about medications, just say you've tried a few but couldn't tolerate the side effects.
posted by metaseeker at 3:35 PM on April 13, 2009

Best answer: : I obviously have to apologize to my sister and the other people I snubbed, but I can't come up with a good enough reason for my bad behavior. I know saying, "I was going to have a panic attack" will seem like a weak excuse or like I'm trying to get people to feel bad for me...

I think I understand your problem. I have two pieces of advice.

You're having trouble coming up with a 'reason' for your 'bad behavior,' but you're not actually trying to come up with a reason - you're trying to come up with a rationalization that will impress and satisfy people who thought that the correct reason is not satisfactory. Your intentions are good - you want to create peace in the home - but, to paraphrase the guy whose miraculous resurrection Easter is supposed to celebrate: if they had no faith in you when you told them the obvious truth about why you left, how can you expect them to believe you when you come to them telling them a convenient rationalization?

My second piece of advice actually comes from my psychiatrist, who is a credit to his profession. He once said something interesting that I've been thinking about ever since. I was telling him about a childhood secret I had that I'd kept since it happened - that I'd first had sex with a neighbor girl when I was seven years old. I told him that, if I'd told my parents - hell, if I told my parents now - they would've felt horribly guilty, and would've blamed themselves for being bad parents. My psychiatrist smiled when he heard this and said: "why do you think you have to protect them? They were protecting you from a very young age." He told me that that's a childish way of seeing it, and that many children, even when they grow up, play a similar role of trying to protect their parents and family from themselves. You're doing the same thing: you think that they can't handle the fact that you have panic attacks just because they're acting aloof and insulted. The truth is, they're human beings, and they're adults; they should be able to take it.

The trick - and it's a very difficult one oftentimes, believe me - is not to feel any guilt whatsoever. 'Hey: I'm sorry if anyone was offended yesterday when I had to leave early, but my doctor has told me that it's necessary for me to leave social situations when I'm about to have a panic attack. This is something that's necessary for my health.' That's it. If anybody has questions, they can ask them, but don't indulge their urge to see you as having done something wrong. That's what you're doing now - indulging them - and that's why you're feeling the way you do.
posted by koeselitz at 3:37 PM on April 13, 2009 [5 favorites]

There are some people who can never be sufficiently reassured that they are liked and important enough. Do your mom and sister often complain about the "rudeness" of others - the neighbor who leaves her recycling bin out "just for spite," the cashier who rolled her eyes, etc? If so, there is really nothing you can say to them to reassure them that your behavior is not a snub. They don't trust people, and they've created their own personal hell. Practice emotional detachment from it.
posted by desjardins at 3:55 PM on April 13, 2009 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I do not think you need to apologize, other than saying you are sorry that they did not understand your situation. However, if family harmony is important enough and you want to avoid more anxiety, simply apologize as asked and move on. Next time, have a predetermined time you are leaving and let everyone know. Then leave at that time. Figure about an hour after you arrive. You can always make a phone call and find out you can stay after all.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:07 PM on April 13, 2009

I left immediately afterward, which, according to my mother, upset more than a couple of people.

I would not immediately accept this as being true at face value. Sometimes when people are uncomfortable with something or have emotionally charged expectations of other people, they project their feelings onto (or into) other bystanders, and even exaggerate other people's responses, to lend support to their own feelings about the situation; ESPECIALLY if they are inclined to manipulate other people.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:37 PM on April 13, 2009 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: I want to thank you all for your thoughtful answers. It really means a lot to me. I don't know why I keep thinking that my family will suddenly "get" me and unfortunately, this is probably something I should give up on. Actually, that ridiculous shred of hope is probably the cause of a lot of my problems with the family.

At the moment, my plan is to call my sister and a couple of my other, closer family members and thank them for understanding. As much as I would like to be indignant about the situation, I'm getting married next month (ack) -- I need to pick my battles to preserve what little sanity I have left. Mom said that she doesn't see me enough, so I think a small family dinner is probably in order.

For some stupid reason it never occurred to me to ask my doctor for Ativan or something else to deal with occasional stress, so that's something to mention at my next appointment.

I have a feeling that yours is not the only mood disorder in the family.
Bingo. I'm pretty convinced my mother is depressed. I was hoping she'd consider seeing a therapist when her mother died, but no such luck.
posted by giraffe at 5:17 PM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

As someone who has had family party freak outs, I understand your pain. My family has no sense of ending- if you leave without a "good" excuse, you are being rude and hurting someone's precious feelings. (And there is no good excuse- an invitation in my family is really a demand to stay until the various Alphas are done with you.) That's why I practice the three hour rule- three hours is plenty for almost any interaction. And after three hours, it's time for a scenery change. Not only does this give me something to focus on when stressed out by what seems like something that will never end, it also lets me plan my exit and leave gracefully before I start telling people what I really think of them. (It also helps to show up on time.)
posted by gjc at 6:18 PM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Speaking from the "Geez, why do I keep that shred of hope?" World HQ, let me just add my support. I got a bit of a reputation for not being involved in family activities, but I also ended up with more self-awareness and comfort than they had.

It all boiled over when, trying to tell me to "deal with it" after one of my aunts had insulted me and treated me like her servant, my other aunt told me that picking on each other was just how we related to each other. A little lightbulb went on in my head: this was the same woman whose first stories to me were of how her brother had made fun of her (the brother who, it should be mentioned, now lived in a garage), and who now could barely leave her house from her depression.

Why should I listen to her?

I needed to have them do things on my terms -- come to me instead of forcing me to come to them, tell me that they wanted me at family functions because they WANTED me, not because I was just "supposed" to be there. If they didn't, no big deal; I wasn't being made to feel uncomfortable and unappreciated. If they did, I played along until things went haywire and then politely excused myself. Their standards are NOT my standards. I'm the one who can break the pattern.

Good luck.
posted by Madamina at 6:32 PM on April 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I could be totally off-base here, but I suspect that this incident looms far larger in your mother's mind than the mind of anyone else at the party. If your mother is anything like mine, she constructs an elaborate mental model of how an event ought to go—including how her children will behave. If you deviate from her expectations, she'll be prone to experience emotional upset out of all proportion with reality.

If this sound familiar, then it's not your fault. You have no obligation to apologize to anyone, because the offense is mostly imaginary.
posted by paulg at 6:44 PM on April 13, 2009 [4 favorites]

I sympathize. I always bring my own car to family stuff so I can sneak out any time I want, and I have done that more than once. I *really* hate the "so-and-so is leaving, let's all say goodbye" routine (especially if I'm already anxious) so I tend not to tell anyone, or just my mom if she's there.

Usually no one asks me about it, but if they do I say a friend needed me or something.

Recently I had a cousin ask me why I missed our grandma's birthday party. To tell the truth it was because I had a wicked headache, but not a migraine. But I said, "yeah, those migraines are awful and if I don't get my meds down and keep them down, I start vomiting and need to go to the ER." Which is true. That derailed the conversation into his telling me about his ex-wife's migraines. Changed the subject quite nicely.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:35 PM on April 14, 2009

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