It was just after 9:00 am and Matt was already sweating through his shirt as we entered The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando. As we stood in line at Ollivander’s Wand Shop, at least six people came up to the costumed young woman at the door and asked variations of “What is this?” or “Is this a ride?” without preface. Her response: “It’s a demonstration of how the wand chooses the wizard!” She told me one day she said this seven hundred and fifty-two times.
Akeyla had pretty much had it with Hogsmeade by 10, while Astrid wanted to move there. And this is how Key and I found ourselves in the loudest, flashiest, noisiest section of the park on rides that practically gave me a seizure from sensory overload.
Last summer, I posted about how I have Bipolar Type 2 but now I’m totally cool and stabilized and stuff. Apparently, I lied. Here are some common bipolar triggers, from actual medical internet websites: travel, noise, heat, crowds, stressful situations. In fact, I think the DSM should be updated to knock out all other triggers for mood disorders and anxiety attacks and replace them with two words: THEME PARKS.
By the time our family hooked up again in the Circus McGurkus Café Stoo-pendous™ I was in a state of agitation and going nowhere good fast. I ditched to the restroom. The goddamn Dr. Seuss-themed restroom, into which Dr. Seuss crazy music was being piped.
As I do with most emergencies, I went to Twitter. I DM’d my bipolar friend, Eric, the other member of the two-member #TeamBipolar. (Our tagline: You never know what to expect. We’re having t-shirts made). Several calming DMs and a Klonopin later, I was 50% ready to face the kids, if not the park.
Aaannnnnddd…then Astrid begged me to go on the Harry Potter rides with her. So of course I did. Because if my kid wants to go on goddamn Harry Potter rides with her mom, she’s going on goddamn Harry Potter rides with her mom. Fuck you, bipolar.
The Hogwarts ride basically flies around an Imax theater from hell as fast and as jerkily as it can, while some sort of “plot” unfolds on movie screens in front of you. Or something. I’m not sure. I closed my eyes early on, which just left me with a lurching stomach and no visuals to support it. I could barely stand when we got off.
Aaannnnnddd…then Astrid begged me to go on the Hippogriff roller coaster with her. And I love Buckbeak as much as the next Harry Potter fan, so how could I say no to her?
The Hippogriff roller coaster is the worst roller coaster in the world. There is no coasting and little rolling. Instead, you speed around a slightly squashed ellipse as fast as you can, so that your entire adult weight is thrown against your tiny daughter, smashing her into the side of the carriage over and over for three minutes. She loved it. I did not.
I needed to sit. We found Matt & Key, cooling off in a splash area. The heat index was soaring toward 100. I was fading.
As with hypothermia, you don’t realize you should be taking action. You just want to lie down in the snow and go to sleep. Or in this case, on the burning pavement.
So I told Matt and Astrid to fly around on a final Jurassic Park ride. I would just sit on this bench in full sun, thank you very much. Forever, apparently. Finally, I texted Matt:
Me: WTH are you?
Matt: 30 minute wait but we are in line now so no turning back.
Me: OMG I am dying.
Which had the beneft of actually practically BEING TRUE. For I sat on that hot sunny bench while Key ran through the fountains for much, much longer than I should have. When Matt and Astrid returned, it was all I could do to trudge. And trudge, and trudge, toward the car.
I made it to the Jimmy Buffett themed restaurant when I collapsed, giving new meaning to wasting away in Margaritaville.
Paramedics were called, ice chips dispensed. A wheelchair was brought. A wet towel tossed over my head. I looked like this:
The next day, we tackled Epcot. As we entered the gates, Matt pulled me aside and looked straight into my eyes:
“If you need to stop, the safe word is anxiety.”
* * *
Linking up with the Yeah Write Speakeasy!