Not often can I use a B movie title pun for a title of my blog, But when I can, I use it proudly! It was a bad day yesterday. Along with my depression, I can get bouts of extreme social anxiety. When I have something to focus on, like work, I can focus my mind and get moving. Other days when I can’t keep my mind focused, I can lay in bed and never move. Most days I can handle it, or it doesn’t bother me, but yesterday was a bad day.
I am an introvert by nature. I can stay at home and not go out and be happy as clam. This of course does not fit a man who has a wife, who is a stay at home mom and deserves to get out of the house, two kids who need to socialize, and friends who want to know you are alive. I had a precious day off yesterday and was relaxing from the madness of retail. I had a wonderful birthday girl who needed to spend her money. The family starts to get ready and I am being lazy (or so I thought) by being the last one to start. As I am getting dressed (jeans, hoodie, awesome fuzzy eared hat) I feel my body start to rebel against me. One of the ways I can fight it is by being as outgoing as possible and wearing something really cool (for affirmation) or something weird (like my awesome hat) for a laugh.
This time it doesn’t work.
While walking to the car, I ask my wife to drive as I am feeling dizzy. I get in my van, take off my hat and sunglasses, and pull the hood over my eyes.
And I suffer.
If you have never had an attack such as this, it is hard to describe. I wish I could just say your bones ache or they feel like razor blades under your skin but its more than that. Imagine that you are naked in front of a crowd of strangers with all the embarrassment and shame that can bring, and you just said the wrong thing and they are judging you because you are not saying the right words to a speech you thought you memorized. Take that feeling and combine it with the stress and worry of taking a test that you have about a life or death decision you have to make tomorrow and you still have another 20 hours to sit and think about it in a quite empty room. Now, with both those things affecting your mind, your body starts a bone cramp, where it feels like you bones themselves are trying to tear themselves apart. You actually start shaking because your body is in pain that you cannot stop, quantify, or even believe could be real, but it is because you are feeling it right now. Lets talk about how you have symptoms like a migraine where sound and light are also physically painful but you can’t block it out no matter how hard you try. Your stomach is queasy from the butterflies dancing in your core, just like you telling your childhood crush that you like them and you are waiting for the response. Add a dash of you being told you are a complete and utter failure and will never succeed at life by everyone you have ever loved or who believed in you. Now imagine ALL those hitting you at once.
That is as close as I can get to describing it. Even reading back through this, it sounds lame in my mind to what it actually feels like. There is pain and suffering like nothing I have been through except the previous times I have been through it. Even knowing how bad it is does not prepare me for it.
You want to cry, vomit, scream, vent, die all at the same time, just so it will end.
And the worse part is, and this is the kicker for me personally, you know somewhere in the maelstrom of despot and despair, you have a resolute thought embedded in rock. This thought.
I shouldn’t feel this, this is not right, there is nothing wrong with me, and I shouldn’t be feeling this way.
But you do feel this way.
And there is nothing you can do about it.
And it is my fault I can’t change myself.
You drown in guilt, and pain, and acid. You are lost and hopeless. You have nothing left.
And that is a glimpse of what an anxiety attack is.
This all happens in the matter of minutes. It feels like two forevers and a day, but in reality its not long. The fall to the bottom is not that far but when you are in air it is an eternity. I wish I could say, I fought through it. You don’t. All you can do is survive. You can come out swinging, fighting with all of your being. It doesn’t work. You come out the other side as best you can and pick up what is left of your soul. You put the pieces back, clean up what you can move on. You learn and move on. You find things to help you next time. A blanket, a song, or a TV show.
Or a plush pony.
Even with my little Fluttershy, it was a bad day. I clutched at my totem against this wave of darkness with all my might. Some days you cannot fight it. You survive.
And hopefully that is enough.
Hug a pony my friends.