I’ve dealt with anxiety my entire life, at least I think so. I didn’t really realize this until recently. I thought it was something that started in my New York City college days. I remember being in my one room rental on 31st street and waking in the middle of the night agitated, hopping off the bed and wandering in circles, heart racing and perception skewed. Things stretched as if I were ten feet tall. That was the first time I recall the night panic that I so often suffer from.
In reality in happened in different forms throughout the years. It was stomach pains when I struggled with math in the fourth grade. It was nausea when I was visiting an unrequited love in Boston. We went to the top of the John Hancock building and I thought for sure I was going to throw up on the elevator. It was claustrophobia as I sat in the lecture hall with three hundred other students taking my Art History final exam. I felt like I was trapped in the wide open,that everyone knew I was going to rattle apart at any moment.
My first real full blown panic attack came at the end of a relationship. It wasn’t even that serious but in my head I made it something it wasn’t. I had tickets to a concert that night and the person I was seeing told me she didn’t think it was going to work out. I went to the concert after, determined to have a good time. It was Morcheeba at Irving Plaza. I remember it being a good show and that one member drank an entire bottle of wine during the performance. The panic didn’t happen at the show or the train back to Queens but early the next morning. I awoke agitated like I had in the past, tossing and turning trying desperately to relax, which just made things worse. I got up to shower and shave and found myself staring into what I thought was a funhouse mirror. My right side numb all reality skewed. I had never experienced anything like it. I thought for sure I was having a stroke or heart attack but somehow I finished my morning routine got dressed and went to work. I think I went to an ER in the city but don’t really remember. I do remember one nurse almost laughing when I mentioned stroke and that I was “too young” to have a one.
Late night anxiety and panic has been the format my mind decided was the best way to deal with issues and stress ever since.
It has reared its head in an especially ugly fashion the last few weeks. Starting as agitation and working its way to the most severe panic attacks I have ever experienced as of last night. I have a great therapist whom i will see tomorrow and a psychiatrist who can hopefully prescribe me something better or stronger than what I take now for anxiety.
I had means and methods of calming myself during these episodes (including drawing) but they have recently fallen woefully short. I’ve gotten advice from friends and given things to try, really looking for answers anywhere. I’m not really pro or anti medication but understand better after last night why people self medicate. I would have done almost anything to be back in control of myself. Even thinking I couldn’t stand to live this way for very long. When you can’t escape from your own head where can you go to feel better?
I’m determined to get a grip on things. In many ways I’m in a better place now than I have been in a long time. I have more direction and passion in my life but I have also taken more risks which have yet to pay off. The balancing act is a precarious one.