I was lying awake the other night, listening to Xander cough and cough, shivering in the still cold air, when it happened. The tightness in my chest, the tingling in my fingers, the inability to just Turn Off and go to sleep, and suddenly, the world was spinning and my ears were ringing and I couldn’t catch my breath. I knew what was wrong. I knew it was all In My Head. But knowing that didn’t make the panic go away.
I haven’t had a panic attack in years. I’d forgotten how much they suck.
It was one hell of a panic attack, too. It lasted through the next day – a day I had to spend in bed because I couldn’t walk without bracing myself against the wall lest I just up and fall over.
Eventually it went away. They always do.
Not all the way.
The anxiety has been growing, slowly. Building in that insidious way that anxiety does. I convinced myself that it was just This One Thing. This one issue. Once this event is done, I’ll feel better. But then the event ended and my stomach was still twisting around itself into these knots that sat in the bottom of my stomach.
And I know this part, too. That anxiety like this is not about Something. It just is. It doesn’t matter what is going on, or not going on, that’s not how it works. Because life is life and there is always Something. And most of the time Something is good.
But my brain still obsesses over all of these Somethings, these sometimes inconsequential and pointless interactions, things to do, what-ifs, until it’s all just spinning around in my brain like those horrible G-Force rides. I stop thinking about one thing only to have another thing pop right in until I’m breathless and exhausted and pretty much convinced that the entire world is about to end and I’m the only one who knows it.
It’s stupid and annoying because I know, I KNOW, that the world is not ending. I know that tomorrow will come and it will all be OK. I know that I am not going to end up, like Bridget Jones feared, dead and alone, half eaten by wild dogs. I mean, I only have one dog, for starters, and she’s not actually wild.
I wish it were an easy fix of saying “Oh, I’m having a panic attack,” and then it magically going away because I was able to put a label on it. I wish I could stop these idiotic thoughts from taking up precious Glee space in my brain just by telling myself to stop worrying about it.
Instead I’m just walking around, vaguely dizzy, hoping it doesn’t get worse, and hoping that I’m aware enough of what’s going on not to let it put me in bed for another day.
It’s also encouraging me to give the dog some extra snacks. Just in case, ya know? Don’t want her to get too hungry.