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

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. 

therapy

Bye-bye, Billy – reflecting on my first experiences with therapy

Earlier this week, I had my last session with Billy, my therapist through my college’s counselling center (name changed), since the school year is ending and he’s graduating (Congratulations, dude!).

I know he’s a person. Obviously. I wondered about things in his life and wanted to ask about them, but I felt like I wasn’t supposed to. That I was supposed to talk to him only about my problems in the same clinical way you tell a medical doctor that your ears are ringing or your knee is broken or your spleen is falling out your belly button. And maybe for some therapy-goers, this is the perfect kind of communication for their specific cases. But not so for me. For my intake meeting with someone besides Billy, I felt like I didn’t have enough time to answer questions because there were so many, as the center uses this to determine the best kind of therapy they can offer. For my first session with Billy, I felt like I had too much time to answer his questions. I scrambled to find the “right” answers so we could keep moving, get to the route of the problem, again, like with a medical doctor when they ask questions trying to pinpoint and diagnose you. That’s what I thought I wanted from my experience at first.

But after my second session, I hadn’t been given a diagnosis or treatment plan or anything you would expect from doctor’s visits. I wondered why, am I worse than I thought? Or are my perceived problems just me being whiny? Would I seem like a drug-seeker if I asked about if there was medication I should be taking? Despite these thoughts though, I also kept thinking this is helping me and I realized that this, going to counselling, was my treatment plan. I got more comfortable talking in our sessions, and wasn’t always looking for the “right” answer. In our last session, only our 4th or 5th, unfortunately, we reflected on our short time together. I told him I thought he had helped me, that I was doing better and looking at things more positively. I told him about the shirt I have that reminds me of my grandfather, which I wear when I’m having a hard, sad day, but I haven’t worn it probably since I started seeing him. I told him about why I started therapy and my influences and support. Toward the end, I asked if I could ask about his real life. What followed was just an organic conversation, which was completely mutual and the most happy and comfortable I’ve been in a session. At the end, he told me, “You were courageous to sign up and start therapy for the first time, and you’ve shown a lot of commitment to making your life better.”

When I left, I was feeling genuinely the most happy I have in literal months, and I drove around, taking the day off, and driving around, doing some shopping, and working on setting up my new apartment.

I took this picture after leaving my appointment and posted it on social media with the caption “Today is a very good day.” And it was.

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anxiety, therapy

Thoughts during therapy

Yesterday was my second ever therapy session. The first one, which I wrote about beforehand, was last week and was an intake meeting, so it was a bunch of questions. My second one got more into things, so here’s a stream of consciousness from my session yesterday:

  • Billy (my counselor, name changed),  you’ve got a boss beard, bro
    • Am I allowed to talk to you as a person?
  • Your voice is really soft
    • Is that a prereq to becoming a shrink? Or do they teach you that
    • Is this your real voice? Like the one you talk to your friends and your cousins and your mom with?
  • Am I gonna cry right now?
    • Oh god, Billy can tell I feel like crying
    • He offered me tissues, that bastard
    • Am I supposed to cry during these things?
    • I don’t want to cry
    • I am not going to cry
  • I wonder if I’m an interesting case, or am I just run of the mill
  • Am I being too whiny?
  • I forgot my water bottle in my car
  • I don’t deserve to feel sad
    • I’m a white, straight, middle class person from the United States, I’m being dramatic
      • You’re allowed to feel however you feel, listen to Billy, your feelings are valid, besides no one deserves to be sad, no one wants it, calm down
  • Does Billy like me?
    • Would he like me if we like met in the food court and just started talking?
    • I care what people think about me, but I try not to, I just don’t want to be a pariah
  • They keep asking me if I want to kill myself, I don’t want that
    • Wait, do I? Do they know something I don’t know
      • No, I know I don’t want to die
  • Ask me more questions, Billy, I’m rambling
    • You’re in charge here, reign this crazy in.
    • I just want to put everything in perspective, you don’t know my life, I just remembered a minor detail that maybe means something?
  • Are you taking notes? I feel like I haven’t seen you take any notes
    • Oh shit, I forgot this was on camera
  • This is my second session ever, I’m basically an expert
  • I don’t think I’m making enough eye contact, but this isn’t like a normal conversation so
  • I feel like I keep justifying my feelings, saying like “I feel like everyone feels that way sometimes.”
  • I keep trying to show that I’m empathetic, saying “I’m sure they didn’t mean anything by it, they’re just stressed, too”
  • What do you want from me?
    • Am I saying the right things? Are there right answers?
  • I am so drained
  • This is helping me