Today started out well. I made the trip into Chester to meet a friend from my university days I haven’t seen in years. The sun was shining in a blue sky with white cotton candy floss clouds and as I walked out of Chester train station I was feeling good and contemplating some other changes to my diet. We met, we hugged. It was just like old times and the fear that the reunion would be silent and awkward disappeared. We went to the pub for a catch up drink (wine for me please!), sat in the little court yard outside the bar. Life was good. I was enjoying the fresh air and laughter despite the cold.
I’m not what you would call a drinker. I have a drink maybe once a month, if that. The problem is that some days I can have a few drinks, be full of giggles, and stop there. Others, the more I drink the more depressed I become until I don’t want to stop drinking. On days like that, the amounts I can drink without even realizing as well as the mixtures of things I put in my mouth are down right frightening. Anyone who’s seen me in this mess has probably seen a whole new side of me they wouldn’t like too much. Somehow it’s as if the booze is pealing away the veneer and exposing the scared damaged person I am underneath. All the things that have hurt me in the past seem to come back in some huge gang to slap me around the face and bully me. They spin around in my head faster than the room I’m sitting in. I’m convinced that I see my troubles with double vision too. They seem so. They appear twice their usual size when I reach out to try and push them aside I always seem to miss. My brain is in its already half pickled state by this point. concludes that the only way to deal is to keep drinking until either I get knocked to my senses by the acid taste of vomit (thankfully this is very rare – only having happened twice in my life) or I pass out and sleep it off. I don’t usually get hangovers, nor is it normal for me to forget what happened the night before. Sometimes I’m not sure if this is a blessing or a curse.
I fought with this drinking issue much too early in my teens than I care to admit and eventually I won. Well in truth, I didn’t so much win as walk away. I was just about teetotaler for my early twenties. Now I’m older and I love to enjoy a nice drink on a good day, particularly if that drink is a cocktail somewhere sunny and the company is good. I’ve learned to recognize which way my mind is going so that 98% of the time I know when it’s not a good idea for me to drink or carry on drinking.
As we were sipping the vodka and coke back at my mates place, (I was rationalizing in my head that my ban of fizzy pop could start tomorrow for the sake of a nice reunion with an old friend) I was quickly coming to realize today… NOT a good day. I stopped drinking. Now you’ll have to trust me that I had not consumed a large amount at this point and was by no means what my friends and I would call “wasted”. In fact, I wasn’t even feeling tipsy (even though telling you this means admitting that I sang along to Cher loudly and very badly even when I was sober) but still I was too late to stop the panic that followed.
As panic attacks go, I consider this one to be mild. My assessment of this is not based on how I was actually feeling but more on what others around me were able to see. I didn’t hyperventilate, I didn’t pass out, I never cried – I just got… quiet. The thin sheet of eerie calm though barely covers the chaos going on in my head. At any moment the panic could punch through and I’d be a shaking mess probably doing more than one of the things mentioned above. If you look really closely you could probably see my hands shaking – that’s if I haven’t shoved then in my pockets in an attempt to conceal the crisis. I’ve said before I HATE admitting I need help, so I sit almost silent trying to control the shaking, get hold of my breathing and loosen the vice that seems to have clamped itself tight around my chest, willing the racing heartbeat that’s tapping out a rhythm on the inside of my skull to just SHUT UP a minute so I can think. I can’t tell you what I’m scared of. I don’t know what frightens me. There must be a trigger of some sort, I would think and sometimes I can identify it and tell you. Others like today I have no frikkin’ clue. I just know that I can’t move for fear.. Why is it that when I have a panic attack I want to grab hold of someone I trust and press myself right into them till I actually disappear? Why is it there are so few people on my list of possible victims? (If you find yourself on this list please take it as a compliment. It just means I trust you with my life and somehow you make me feel safe from whatever it is that has wormed its way into my head and scared the living daylight out of me. Also note that while I really really want to grab hold of you this way you probably have more chance of winning the lottery than me actually acting on my wish) and why oh why are all of these chosen few MALE ?! When I have just as many female friends I trust just as much – in some cases more (answers on a postcard please 😛 ).
I had to call for help to get home. I needed back up. The rational part of my brain needed reinforcement before it could face the 10 minute walk to the train station, let alone the 40 minute train trip that seemed to stretch out in front of me further than the eye could see.
To the person that answered that call: Thank you for saving my ass once again… you help more than you know.
For the person I left behind: even though he offered me his bed and asked me to stay, I’m sorry I had to go for my own mental health. I don’t want to give into this anymore. I’ll be back soon. I promise.
To the ones of you that know panic understand what I’m talking about I’m talking about. Find people to call, keep fighting don’t give up try to remember the sun always comes back after the rain.
And for those of you who think it can’t be THAT bad, pull yourself together, what a lot of fuss over nothing or that somehow I am a weak person… all I can say is I truly hope you never come to understand.
Today ended up a bad day. I’ve moved into damage limitation mode. I will not give in. I’m going out tomorrow and it WILL be better.
K.S.: I got home and someone was there to open the front door.