I'm taking a break from my essay volumes to recount a story, an episode from the other night. This is how I can best describe what happens to me when my anxiety is triggered.
The other day was a recipe for the perfect storm. The lead
up has just as much to do with the attack as the trigger. We had a busy weekend
with zero down time for us to just chill. It was Sunday afternoon and we had
just ridden a charity ride with Ryan as the on route bike mechanic and me
volunteering to accompany him. The ride was challenging in many ways and was
difficult on us physically and mentally. It was Sunday. We still had to get our bikes home, get ourselves showered and get ready for the week. I wake up before 5am. This is my harsh reality and furthers the anxiety of Sunday night duties.
We had obligations to attend a family dinner at my parents'
house. We did the shorter distance at the ride which left us arriving at the
house earlier than expected. There were a lot of people and 4 small children.
My aunt from England was visiting and I hadn’t seen her for probably 20 years.
That was a treat and the reason for the reunion. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my
family. I would never say anything bad about them, I realize this is a rarity, but it's hard for me to handle. I
love that I have a good relationship with all of them and there is not a single
person I wouldn’t want to see. It's just that it's hectic. The Scully family is a bit rowdy and loud.
It’s not you, it’s me.
Social situations are like murder on my psyche. I hate this
about me. People and events give me massive amounts of anxiety. Crippling
anxiety. Massive amounts of irrational crippling anxiety. I have a limit as to
what I can handle and that’s about an hour. Max. So when we arrived earlier in the afternoon I was already anxious.
There was also food involved which is totally fucking
normal! Not to me though. After burning over 3000 calories over the two days of
riding I SHOULD be dying of starvation. Instead, I sat down and felt sick. I
ate a little. I felt sick a lot. As I sat there I could feel myself going
downhill. My stomach was turning and there was a mild headache forming. Each
scream from a child zipping across the room was like a blunt lawn dart in my
skull. I’m trying to focus but it’s not helping. I’m there but I’m thinking
about the hot shower at home. I’m thinking about the silence and the simple
pitter patter of ferret feets running across the apartment floor. I’m totally
checking out of my surroundings because it's been a couple hours already. I’m digging deep into my safe place. Suddenly I’m
brought back to reality and dessert is coming out. None of which I usually eat
for gluten and sugar reasons. I’m also seriously nauseous and seeing this is
making me feel worse. I glance at Ryan and give him that “I’m not feeling well”
look of terror that he knows so well.
I am arguing inside my head. How do I just leave when it’s
not time to go? I still want to see my beloved far away Aunt and my cousins who
I didn’t feel I finished catching up with. My uncle just showed up and I didn’t
even get a chance to talk with him. Stomach turning. Just leave. Another
kid goes zipping across the room in a craze of mayhem. There are suddenly too
many people in here and too many conversations to follow. I want to be a part
of all of them, yet I want to die.
I look at Ryan again. He’s falling prey to exhaustion and
fatigue and has chosen to stand to stay awake. It’s time to go. It’s only 7pm.
I attempt to make a final push to the feelings of
overwhelmingness. Away with you assholes, I am trying to focus on the present.
I want to be with the family but I CAN’T THINK AT ALL. This was important to
me! The battle persists moment to moment inside my fragile mind.
I get up and start getting my things together. Distractions always help my anxiety induced nausea. It's not helping. If I don’t
get out of here like right fucking now it’s not going to end well. I can feel
myself shaking so I test my blood. I’m terrified that I might be low and have
to consume something when I feel I'm going to be sick. Double plus anxiety induced fears. I always over-bolus at my
parents because each time I am hopeful I will actually eat. I never do. I was relieved to see I wasn't low - yet (I went low later after we got home). I
looked over at Ryan again. I think he rolled his eyes in secret because this situation happens to me all the time and it's always irrational. I
tried to hold it together. I suddenly feel so very alone.
With each passing minute I feel myself getting hot and
shaky. I feel like I’m going to pass out or tip over. I feel like I’m really
going to be sick. I tell myself it’s anxiety and that I’m not actually going to
be sick but the fear won’t subside. I’m in full blown anxiety attack now. My
heart is racing and I just want to cry. This is my family goddamit. MY FUCKING
I quietly and discreetly ask my mum if she minds if we
leave. I’m not feeling well and I’m having an anxiety attack. I tell her this
is just too much for me to handle today. We got there too early. Of course she
doesn’t mind or at least that's what I convince myself because to think that she is unhappy with my inability to deal with this is enough to send me over the edge. 7th layer of hell.
A few hugs and high fives with the kids and I open that
front door. The rush of cool evening air immediately fills my lungs and I breathe
it in as desperately as my hyperventilating self can handle. Instantly it starts stifling the fire. I get in the car and
put my head down. I rub my temples and close my eyes. I breathe. I almost cry.
I bitch for a few minutes to Ryan about how much I hate this part of me. About
how much I want to be with my family and how much I miss them. He rubs my leg
as I drive home white knuckles on the steering wheel and scrunched up painful grimace
across my face. The closer we get to home the calmer I become.