I knew the bar i intended to sit my ass on a stool to drink a pint and watch the minutes. It was one that is not real busy and i could definitely hide in there without talking to anyone. Still, i started about two blocks from the bank. Should i go to, a thousand others on my way? Should i text the remaining six people in the world i like to join me? Should i stay on target and just get to where I wanted to be?
It was already starting and i didn't see it. I went, ordered my beer, slid my dollars to the waitress and sat at a corner table alone. I sipped from the pint watching people pass the open window, others at the bar talking about whiskey and work. My heartbeat was calm. Temperature reasonable. Head at peace. I read some emails, exchanged some text messages and was relatively content.
I walked to the movie theatre and bought a vegan cookie to eat outside while i waited for more minutes to tick and tock. A sparrow dove at me from the tree under which i sat. I startled and moved. My heartbeat was still calm. My temperature reasonable. Head was at peace. I ate my cookie.
I checked in to the screening and took my commemorative magnet and pin before getting a seltzer and taking my seat five rows back and in the middle. Fifteen minutes to dark. I was still fine. People flooded in, but i had a buffer. Two seats to the left. Two seats the right. Two people directly behind me, but no one between me and the screen. Ten minutes to dark. I was fine.
Then my eyes hurt. i took off my glasses. My head pounded. I grew hot. My heartbeat raced. My thoughts raced. My airway closed and my breathing became labored. I looked around and no one else was panicked. Nothing changed in the theatre. We were not under invisible attack. Well, I was being attacked. No one noticed and no one came to my rescue. I had to get out of my seat. i had to get to some place with more air. I had to get someplace where the force pressing against my ears and eyes had room to move away from me. I picked up my handbag and looked to my left, then to my right. I had to pass five people on the right and two on the left. The right was closer to the door. The right is the way i came into the theatre. The right way was the only way that made sense. I excused myself over their legs, purses and popcorn hoping i didn't bump anything or anyone, not for the embarrassment of spilling something, but because if anything touched my body i will have known i made the wrong directional choice and would have to turn back to go left.
I pushed the door open and tried to breathe the outside air. I still could not open my lungs. I walked away gasping and holding my bag wanting to fall on the ground in tears. I looked for my sunglasses to buffer my eyes from the setting sun in the overcast cloudy sky. Left on the coffee table at home. I told myself i could do this. I couldn't feel my legs beneath me. I couldn't see the traffic i walked into while i made my way to the bus. I took my seat and put my little bag on the seat next to me to indicate, no you may not sit next to me, and watched out the window as the streets moved to the back of my periphery.
I stepped onto the blacktop. Just two more blocks until home. i can do this. I walked in front of another car without apology. I turned the corner and looked up to a porch to a neighbors house that usually gets a hello. no neighbor. breath. i didn't have to choke out any words. Walked in the middle of the street to buffer myself from the kids playing on the sidewalk. Two more neighbors on their porch. Can i get away with a wave? I sighed heavily and made a noise as my hand went up into the air. Not a word, but enough of a salutation to pass. The Carolyns are sitting three doors down calling out to me. I try to just wave and pull my keys from my handbag. There's a red cup on my step with two ice cubes. i turn to the cat in the car behind me. "Is this your cup?" He looks at me as if I used foreign words - and who knows - maybe i did? I repeat myself using all my energy. "Is this your cup?" He responds, "nah, you can toss it." I place it upon the trash from the weekend in the trash bin i haven't had it in me to put away since last week. If it was his and he wants it, it's not spilled out, but it's not on my step to coax ants for a visit.
I turn the key, yell at my dog to stop jumping. She jumps on the couch with ears down because she knows she forgot we don't do that anymore. I shuffle to the kitchen to give her a cookie for remembering, even if she messed up at first, turned the container's lid to pull out food for her bowl. I put the other dog in another room to close the door and let him eat without her interest in his bowl. Turn on the tub and sink thinking the warm water will cycle through my pores and relieve the anxiety. It didn't. I'm not sure if the water made it worse, but it certainly didn't help. The steam was choking me. The pungent fragrance of rosemary and mint cut through my throat and I was mad at myself for buying that scent of shampoo. I let the water out beneath me and feared falling when i stepped out from the slippery ceramic.
Wrapped in a towel, i opened the door for my guy and sunk into the couch with two dogs at my feet. I just needed to breathe. I just needed air. I still was struggling. I took a quarter dose of my anti-psychotic, looking at the time, knowing it was too early in the evening to take the full dose. I considered that this was not anxiety. I could not reason why my body was shutting down although it was speeding up in every way. My skin was prickly. My eyes burned and tears fell from my cheeks. my nose felt swollen. I looked at the bottles of medication and knew none of them would help me.
A sweatshirt and underwear was excruciating to pull onto my body. I wrapped up in a comforter and smelled the moisture being pulled from the air by the machine in the window. I had to get out of the house, but outside was worse from what i remembered the evening to be.
It was that moment - when i wanted to be out of the house, but needed to be in it more - that i realized it was an anxiety attack. Or a panic attack. It was an attack. From the inside. I wanted to write then about it, wanted to get it out, but the thought of stringing words together in any cohesive form was overwhelming. I couldn't' even look at my laptop. I just sat there in silence helpless against the attack.
I know that was a long way to go. I know that was a lot of words. But that is what i experienced from the onset of the episode until i can't remember what happened to end it. I woke today exhausted. I can't remember my dreams which have been vivid since i started taking seroquel. I still feel like i'm walking through a cloud and i imagine today is going to be completely non-productive. I expect it.
On the train today, i considered the moments I survived last night. I labeled it anxiety. And then i remembered i used to use the words anxiety attack. i sometimes used the words panic attack. I used the word attack. Attack: an aggressive or violent act. Attacked from my insides. I keep saying it because i thought those words over and over while i sat sipping my iced coffee in my routine.
It's the kind of attack in which no one runs to rescue. And if they do, it sometimes makes it worse. It's the kind of attack one must battle on their own. It's the kind of attack that movie goers and bus drivers and neighbors can't even see. It's a forceful and viscous assault on my mind and body. It's a punch to my spirit and stability.
I don't know what i'm getting to with this - many times I don't. I suppose it's just another explanation of my madness. A journal of bedlam. I wish it ended here. i wish that will be the final attack I feel. It's doubtful that's true. And for those looking for a reason, or claiming there is something external that causes this, know that it strikes without warning. It happens while in a routine. Within the benign that i carry myself through a thousand times (and also when chaos is an external factor), there is an attack, and there is nothing i can do but fight to get to a safe place where i can heal before going back into battle.