[Apologies in advance for quite a long post]
[TRIGGER WARNING: I’ll be describing an anxiety attack. Beware all ye who enter here]
It’s been a rough week. As some of you may know, this anxiety is relatively new to me. While I’ve had depression for the last…forever, I’ve only had anxiety attacks since I left my job last year. I don’t know what it was that finally kicked them off, but they’ve been getting progressively worse. Saturday night was a particular doozy. Sat waiting for my wife to get ready, it started. That first pang, like a little bell ringing in my chest. I’ve got to the point where I instantly start to do my breathing exercises. Nip this fucker in the bud. Most times it helps, at least cuts the attack short.
This Saturday, it was having none of it.
It got worse as I got in the taxi, worse again as I stepped out. And as I sat across from my wife at the restaurant table, the vulture’s talons dug in. Sat across from me, a pair of worried eyes watched as I deflated. The restaurant was unbearably loud, a desert heat came from somewhere and I think it might have just been me. I tried to hide the fact that I was having to breathe through it. I sit with my hands over my mouth a lot anyway, but when you’re actively breathing through your nose and pretty much whistling it back out through your mouth, there’s little hiding it. But I knew that I couldn’t leave. If I got outside, I wouldn’t get far. And there’s nothing worse than crouching with your head in your hands in the street with people watching you to make your anxiety worse. And more than that, I didn’t want to let it beat me. As soon as I run home whenever the anxiety hits, it’s won. I’m done. I don’t know how to come back from that defeat.
I could feel tears starting to burn my eyes. Something had hold of my heart and was squeezing it.
It feels like dying. Self-waterboarding. I was getting dizzy, now.
I grabbed at the wine glass and chugged it down, hoping the alcohol would ease the tension (it would be so very easy to have a drinking problem). I even tried to eat, hoping that the forced breathing would help, the concentration necessary to make a goddamn fajita would give me a focus. The food just knotted in my stomach. My hands felt uncertain and that became frustrating.
It took well over forty-five minutes for the feeling to dissipate, every minute an age, riding the edge of fight or flight the whole time. It essentially ruined everything about the meal. But, eventually, I think the alcohol kicked in. It can’t have been the breathing because that just made me feel like the room was spinning.
I sat in that wooden chair, in a loud room full of thankfully oblivious people, and held on for dear life; stripped naked and tortured like Daniel Craig in that scene from Casino Royale (damn, if only I looked that good naked, even during torture).
Yay! Anxiety is such a fun ride!
And it’s been like that going on two weeks. I’m sat here right now, with that first jangle in my chest. I can’t seem to shake it. I can’t sleep. Every time I close my eyes, I feel dark water closing in around me. And then I snap awake, gasping for air, needing to stand, to move, just to prove that I can. The flight response, of course.
Earlier this year (I’m not sure if I mentioned it as I wasn’t posting regularly at the time) it developed to the verge of agoraphobia. Every time I had to step out of the house, I would pause on the doorstep, unable to go further. If it hadn’t have been for the potential of letting people down, I think I’d have stayed at home. That’s quite often the only thing that keeps me moving. I’d be a disappointment, and I already feel like one to myself, so I’d rather not share the wealth on that one. But that potential for disappointment keeps me moving as much as it keeps me down.
Nothing’s ever simple is it?
Anyway, that’s what’s up with me. How’re you?
Thanks for reading.