A panic attack

I know there are simply a million posts that describe the experience of anxiety or a panic attack, swiftly followed by a fervent plea for compassion. But I am not going to plea for compassion. Because quite frankly, it’s my problem. Not that I don’t want compassion, not that I don’t deserve compassion, but because I want it freely given. I’m not going to guilt-trip anybody into giving compassion and I’m not certainly not going to be that asshole that places herself on a pedestal of misery demanding to be ranked highest among us mortal suffers. I’m sure you, reader, have your own shitty life too. (But also, if you also experience this, know that my heart is with yours. You are probably the coolest ❤ )

Anyways, here it goes.

You are lying in bed, trying to drift off. And the covers are wrong. They are too tight. They are maladjusted little bitches, the sheet is trying to fucking strangle you, and you move frantically to get the covers to lay smooth, just so, and you find yourself breathing hard. But you lay back down, and the pillow is too hard, and you find yourself worried. You fluff it. But you feel something in your gut. A sharp, tight knot. So you lay there, and you then remember that thing you said.

That’s right. That thing you said this morning. When you turned to her and the words came out wrong. And you aren’t even angry anymore. You are afraid. Because she took it the wrong way, probably, that thing that you said. She probably hates you. You repeat the words in your head. Did you say them this way or that way? Did you emphasize the “you” or the “right?” It becomes very important that you recreate the memory. You start murmuring the words a little. You toss and turn and it becomes very hard to think.

You can barely remember the event at this point. Only that she didn’t laugh, her eyes seemed worried. Were they worried?

She hates you. And thoughts aren’t really happening now, but an overwhelming sense that you can’t control this. It’s like you went hiking drunk, and now you are falling down a cliff. No, that’s wrong. It’s like you drank five cups of coffee, presented a speech, and then fell down a cliff. That better captures the energy of it. And everything is terrible.

You are terrible. And then, a certain part of your memory returns. You begin to remember in chaotic sequence, every terrible thing you have ever said, might have said, or thought about saying. You worry about butt-dialing your mom that one night you complained about her at bar. She heard everything. You know it. You definitely, definitely butt-dialed your mom. She is so ashamed of you. Why are you such a fucking mess up? And remember that one time, in fourth grade, when you lied about your test? And remember that one time that your swimsuit top flew up a little in tenth grade. Or that time you sort of implied you like that one boy in undergrad. Or that time you didn’t call your grandma back and then she died a week later. Yeah, you are terrible. You should die. It would be better.

And it’s your fault, by the way. In case you had any lingering doubts. Everyone else is fine. Why do you have to be like this? The sequence repeats for a while, cycles back and forth, hurried, desperate, and despairing.

And then you might sob for a bit, or rock back and forth muttering “I’m a bad egg” (my panic attack favorite) for 5, 10 minutes. And, in a moment, the worst is over. You feel very very sleepy. But your head feels clearer, and you feel maybe ok. But you wonder, why am I like this?