anxiety

I had a panic attack today

I’m okay now. I think. 

I was at work, in a meeting we have everyday. I started getting really hot and buzzing with a nervous energy. I felt like I couldn’t breathe and like I was falling. The whole world just felt sideways. 

It was so sudden and so unexpected, and not triggered by anything. 

And I did it all silently because disrupting the meeting and embarrassing myself felt like it would only make it worse. So I just tried to wait it out and I left early. My boss was totally cool about it and is letting me work from home tomorrow. 

So, I came home and Rich made me lie down and take my temperature, and I have a low grade fever.  I don’t know if one was a product of the other, but it is what it is. I took a long nap but still feel exhausted. 

I have similar experiences to this more often than I’d realized now that I’m thinking about it. I just feel so trapped for no reason. Times in class or work or even relaxing at home when I just get a flood of overwhelming feeling, and I push it deep down to keep hysteria at bay. 

It occurs to me this isn’t normal. 

feeling

A song about grief and depression

“Winter In My Heart” by The Avett Brothers. Give it a listen.tree-530324_1920.jpgThis song describes exactly what depression is like to me. It’s about how you feel stuck and blue, even when you’re supposed to be celebrating:

A million colors fill my eyes
The roman candles and the stars
Calendar says July 4th
But it’s still winter in my heart

(Side note, a later lyric references August 1st, my birthday, just a coincidence, but perhaps makes it more meaningful to me in particular.)

Recently listening to it, I thought about grief, mine over the loss of my grandfather last November in particular. I felt like my family moved on and felt better so much faster than I could, that everyone felt normal again when I still feel this giant hole:

They say seasons turn in time
Theirs are changing, why won’t mine?

I don’t have too much else to say about it other than that it helps me and maybe it could help you, too. And to The Avett Brothers, thank you

real life

My boss is doing me a frighten 

Update on my silent office from my last post: I told my boss that the silence in the office was just too much for me because he asked if the other intern and I had any problems with anything from work to office life, and he had NEVER HEARD THAT BEFORE.

He was like, “That’s a new one, usually if it’s about noise, it’s like ‘so-and-so types too loud.'” You didn’t read that wrong, the noise complaints are usually about the volume of TYPING.

SO, now I’m not only concerned about the silence making me crazy, I’m afraid I’M the one my office mates will be complaining about. Because like I’ve said I’m not a quiet person, and even though I’m trying not to disturb them, I still sometimes eat chips or do that thing where you laugh but you don’t you just blow extra air out of your nose or god forbid softly say “whoops.” 

The other day,

I sneezed. 

And I am notoriously a loud sneezer. 

Sorry, guys. 

anxiety, feeling

Peeing in a skirt

That’s what I’m doing right now. Peeing in a skirt. Well, really I’m peeing in a toilet wearing a skirt. Wait-no-I’m wearing the skirt, not the toilet. I mean, this building is fancy but not that fancy. Actually this paragraph was pointless as I finished up my business a while ago. 

I’m hiding in the bathroom of my summer internship. It’s the end of my first week here and I have mixed feelings. It’s with an internet security company and the office culture is awesome. There’s only like ten people who work here and they are nice and cool and super smart. The main thing that bothers me is how utterly silent the office is. This is a problem for more than one reason. One, at my college job, which is awesome and which I’ll return to in the fall, I work with a bunch of, you guessed it, college aged people. There a big groups of friends and it is hardly ever quiet and even if it is there’s usually music playing somewhere. But here, there are occasional conversations, always short and always about work, and other than that, just the soft clack of computer keys. 

Another reason this is a problem is silence does anything but help me think and stay on track with a task. I start thinking about how what if I just shouted right now? Would everyone jump or would they even hear me, maybe it is so mind numbingly loud that it seems silent but they really wouldn’t even notice. Am I even real? Oh god to I have to fart? Don’t fart, don’t fart, don’t fart. What if they really can hear me? 

But the biggest problem with the silence is that I am not a quiet person. I sing and hum and talk to myself and more inanimate than other humans. Or sometimes I think of a funny saying or something and just really have to hear it out loud. 

Even so, the quiet office isn’t the part that really gives me mixed feelings about this job. It’s that I’m in the wrong place for me professionally; I don’t work with security. I make iPhone apps and sometimes work with WordPress themes and plugins. I don’t have experience in the areas I’ll be working with this summer and I’m terrified I’ll do terribly and let down my boss and coworkers and fellow intern. Even if I can do it, what if I hate it? I mean, I already know it’s not my cup of tea, but if I hate it? What then? Can I even put this on a resume if I don’t want to do more work like it? I can’t quit because then I’ll have no money and a bad reputation in the industry community. 

I had a panic attack last night. I just spent all day on the verge of tears and felt like I couldn’t breathe and when I started telling Rich about it I just broke and freaked out. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about talking to a doctor and asking about anti anxiety medication but I don’t want to look like a druggie and I don’t even know if they’d help. But something’s gotta be better than nothing. 

I know that Billy would tell me to take time for myself, but how do I do that when I don’t have time? 

Thank God it’s Friday. Maybe the weekend will give me some time and some breathing room.

But it looks like the coast is clear to leave the bathroom. 

essay, real life, thoughts

Relationship Status

love-600488_1920.jpg(image source)

(I wrote the following essay to enter in the New York Times Modern Love College Essay contest. I didn’t place, but I’m still really proud of what I wrote, so I thought I’d post it here! You can read the winning essay here, which I really enjoyed reading, too)

In fifth grade, my friend told me she wanted to marry her “elementary school sweetheart.” She was “dating” a boy in our class. Even then, I knew dating as a ten-year-old is moronic. I didn’t understand the “relationships” my classmates were in; they didn’t go out, they didn’t do anything. They held hands occasionally at recess or during lunch and maybe slow danced with each other at the school dance or sat together at a basketball game, but that’s as close as they got to dating.

I understood that it was really just a status symbol; the popular kids were the only ones with “relationships,” but that didn’t stop me from wanting one.

My first boyfriend was in seventh grade. His name was Jamie and he sat directly in front of me in Pre-Algebra. He was dating another girl, Cheyenne. She and I sort of became friends as I strove to hang out with Jamie, going so far as to join their lunch table. Eventually, she broke up with him, and the next week I asked Jamie out via note in math.

I tapped him on the shoulder and handed him a scrap of paper that read, Will you go out with me? Jamie turned around after reading it.

“Who is this from?” I rolled my eyes, pointing at myself.

He was hesitant but said yes, and we were official. Cheyenne was hurt, and I apologized but pointed out that she’d broken up with him. Typical Junior High stuff.

Jamie and I sat together during lunch with my friends instead of his. I spent the entire time sitting next to him, holding his hand, and completely ignoring him. I talked only to my friends, happy as a lamb that I finally had a boyfriend.

When I started writing this, I was going to talk about how he wasn’t a great boyfriend, how I had to beg him to go to the winter formal, and how he had a weird, kind of mean sense of humor, but it turns out I wasn’t a great girlfriend either. We only “dated” for about a month. I imagined during that time all sorts of scenarios where we’d go on dates or kiss, but none of them came anywhere close to fruition. We did, however, slow dance awkwardly at the winter formal, while fervently not looking at each other.

Eventually, Jamie and I had been sitting at different lunch tables and not really talking that much for a while, and I’d been considering how to end it with him; lunch tables are very important in Junior High. Then, a mutual friend came up to me and said, “Rachel, I’m sorry, but Jamie wants to break up.”

A smile broke across my face, and I thanked him.

“Well, that was not the reaction I was expecting.”

I thought again about how relationships seemed like they were nothing more than status symbols, and I didn’t want one anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I had crushes and liked the idea of a relationship, partners who have each other’s backs in everything, but none of them at this point seemed real.

I made the (possible) mistake of always liking my best guy friend. I was a tomboy, but that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt when a guy friend, whom I’d had more than just friendly feelings towards, told me, “You’re not a girl, you’re Rachel.”

But then I was friends with someone who liked me back.

His name was Chris, and we met my Junior and his Freshman year of high school. He was in marching band with me, and I thought he was funny, cute, and smart. He liked musicals and books, and I liked him almost immediately. We were fast friends.

Senior year, I was the TA for his English class and we carpooled to school. We’d done a lot together in the year since meeting, and even our mothers had become friends. We’d gone on shopping trips, watched movies, gotten dinner together, etc. In September, his English class was studying Shakespeare’s sonnets and writing love poems. The teacher picked his up and started reading, “Long car rides–”

“No!” he shrieked, turning red. I thought about how many long car rides we’d been on; even just coming home from band competitions in his mom’s big truck, it’d been more than a few. I hoped against hope, but thought, No, it can’t be me.

When I asked him about it later though, he sighed, closed his eyes, and said, “I wrote about you…”

My heart felt like a balloon, filling my chest and deflating quickly, taking all the air in my lungs with it.

When I asked him why, he said, “Well, I mean, you’re smart and you’re pretty and if I was going to date anyone, I would want them to be like you.”

We got ice cream on our first date. We dated for almost two years, until right before the beginning of my sophomore year of college.

Chris was a lot of things to me, a lot of firsts: my first real boyfriend, my first kiss. He made me more confident and sure of myself where I’d previously been insecure.

But at some point, as in most relationships, we passed out of the honeymoon phase. He wasn’t controlling, per se, but he wanted me to do things I didn’t want to do, like join a sorority, things that made me feel like he was living vicariously through me. And I felt like he always wanted me to prove myself, prove I trusted him, prove I loved him. We argued sometimes. I always thought it was stupid when people in high school relationships said they argued, like what could you possibly have to really fight about? And it was stupid. We argued about the most petty, jealous subjects like me having male friends or us not being able to make plans because of family or school. One or the other of us always apologized though, and he’d say something vapid like, “I think we’re stronger for this.”

While I was away at college, Chris and I talked on the phone at least once a week and texted almost every day. He came to family dinners at my grandma’s and I went to as many of his concerts, plays, and competitions as I could. I’d visit him at home and we’d spend all day watching movies or playing video games. He would hug and kiss me, and the first time we said I love you, he whispered it so softly, and my balloon heart blew up so big, I thought I’d burst.

I look back to our last summer together with mixed feelings. I was more happy and independent than I’d been in a long time. I don’t think Chris liked that; I think he wanted me to need him more, but I didn’t notice that until later.

At the end of summer, as my birthday approached, I planned a date, which Chris was very noncommittal about. I thought that was strange, he usually had an opinion about everything, but chalked it up to his tiredness from being busy with band and work. The day before my birthday, I was at my best friend’s house when Chris called me.

I answered and started talking about our date, asking about his day, and generally just babbling happily.

“Rachel,” he interrupted, “…I think we should stop dating.” I had a moment of floating disbelief, where nothing felt real, and I stared into space, disbelievingly.

“You’re serious?” I asked, shakily, “You’re not joking?” Sometimes he pulled terrible pranks just like this.

“No, I’m not joking,” his voice shook a little, like this was hard for him, too. He continued, but I wasn’t listening anymore.

“Okay, well, bye,” I said numbly.

The phone call lasted less than four minutes. Four minutes, also known as less time than it takes to order a pizza.

During my relationship with Chris, I never really thought he was the one or anything, but I’d still imagine our future together. I imagined making dinner together or wandering around our neighborhood in the middle of the night to look at the moon. But the person I imagined wasn’t Chris. He was not the kind of guy to help cook or even stay up past 9 p.m. He was not the one and even worse I wasn’t even in love with him anymore by the end; I was in love with the idea of the relationship and where it could go. Also, his mom was awesome, but I digress.

My point is, after all those years of not being in a relationship and witnessing bad examples, I had been in a relationship just to be in one. Not initially, but towards the end, it was still all about the status of it, the idealizing of it.

A few months later, I started hanging out with Rich. We worked together and would get lunch or dinner during the week. We’d sit and talk for hours after we’d finished our food, laughing and sharing stories, until we both hoped the next meal we shared would be a date. Then, in February last year, it was, and again, we stayed long after our food was gone. It just felt so real.

Rich is witty and funny and caring. He’s a great problem solver and an even better bullshitter. He plays with my nephews, jokes with my family, and still talks with me for hours on end. He makes me feel beautiful, smart, and important. He encourages me to do whatever makes me happy and never asks me to change who I am. He loves me and all my flaws and never lets me doubt that. He’s someone I want to share everything with, who I’m completely honest and silly and me around. He is who I imagined making dinner and going on midnight strolls with.

Now, I know that I don’t want to be with someone just for the hell of it; I want to be with someone who unequivocally loves and accepts me.