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. 

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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

Counseling?

I signed up for a counseling session at the center on my campus.

Students get 12 free individual sessions a year, or unlimited group sessions. I think individual sessions will be best for me; it’ll be hard enough for me to talk to one person let alone many. (She said, posting about it on the internet for millions to see.)

I’ve never done anything like this before, so I’m pretty nervous about it, but I think I need this. I’ve always been weird and anxious and a little messed up, but I didn’t grow up in a family that talked about mental illness, or if they did, it was just my dad telling people on commercials for depression pills to  “just stop being so down all the time.” As if it were that easy.

I know what depression looks like for me though.

In high school, specifically sophomore year, I had a long stint where I would go home in the middle of the day because I felt sick. But I only felt sick, there were no tangible signs, like throwing up or having a temperature. I just didn’t want to be anywhere or have to do anything, I had no energy and felt listless and tired and pointless. I just wanted to stay in bed and nap and read books and forget about my insecurities and the evil voices in my head.

My depression is like an ugly little monster in the back of my brain, who whispers mean things to me and makes me think they’re true. He tells me my friends don’t like me, that I’m bad at my job, that people who are nice to me laugh at me when we stop talking. I fucking hate that guy.

But, I’ve been really happy in the last few years. I’ve gotten occasional visits from that little monster, but nothing too extreme. Recently, though, he’s been around, not saying anything very specific, just draining my energy and filling my head with buzzing noises to distract me from my real life.

My family went through some loss in November and December of last year, and that’s what kind of set me off on this particular bout.

Lately, I’ve stayed home from work and school some days. Coming back to this semester has felt pretty overwhelming, and my social life has suffered because I’m throwing myself into school and work, and they’re taking all my energy.

I am reminding myself to try to be calm, happy, and confident and to do the stuff that helps with that:

Stuff that makes me happy: thinking putty, My Little Pony, watching YouTube videos, tiny mystery toys, Pinterest, talking to my best friend about everything (even just over text), making people laugh

Stuff that makes me calm: reading, book binding, coding, writing, being with my boyfriend, learning all the words and singing along with songs

Stuff that makes me confident: makeup, Instagram (@racheltheharvey for ordinary life stuff, @rachelswatches for makeup), feedback (even if it’s critical, so long as it’s constructive), being productive, helping others learn

 

My first counseling appointment is in the middle of March, and I plan to continue going at least semi-regularly for at least this semester. I hope it will help me have more calm, happy, confident, normal days.