Back in 2015, I wrote a post called We Need to Talk. I wrote it fresh out of high school, thinking I understood what it meant to deal with the crazies between your ears.
I had no idea what I was talking about.
Let’s jazz things up a bit.
Over the course of this summer, I meditated, went skydiving, ran races, read books, went backpacking, tried acupuncture, and made dozens of new friends. And also, I lost my mind.
For the past several years, I’ve lived a relatively stable state. I worked my ability to handle bad moods and shelve bad thoughts. But a couple weeks into this summer, when my life was the epitome of perfect, things went cuckoo in the chicken shed, as they say. (Actually, they don’t. I totally just made that up.)
For alternating periods of time, I’m in highs and lows. Each lasts about a couple weeks, with some breathing space in between.
Here’s a new truth: “High” does not mean happy, and “low” does not mean sad.
- You’re running down a very steep hill. You rack up momentum and your legs pump faster and faster. That split second when you’re at peak velocity, on the breath-hitching brink of losing control: hold that second for a week, and you’ve got a high.
- There’s a vacuum pressed against your ribs, and your brain’s eating sand. You’re Atlas with the world between your shoulders, but instead of standing, you’re sinking. That’s a low.
Here’s another new truth: We should not be allowed to throw around the phrase “panic attacks.”
I had my first one this August. I’m pretty sure it’s all on me, karmatically. Before, I’d brushed off a “panic attack” as an amount of time during which one experiences a lot of panic. (Throwback to when I defined “unprovoked” as “not provoked” in response to a trauma-inducing cold call in 7th grade history class.)
This is a whole new playing field. During a panic attack, neither your emotions nor your body belong to you. In other words, nothing belongs to you.
- You have an out-of-body experience, except in your body. This reality feels like an alternate one, but at the same time, you have no idea what the real one is.
- Lines blur among living creatures. Humans and trees and woodland animals are all gears and contraptions of flesh and breath.
- That scene in Inception, when the other people in the dream start glaring with latent hostility at our good pal Leo. [Hans Zimmer organ-gasm], and everyone in the room is suddenly out to get you.
- Your stomach churns. You’re nauseous. You may feel pukey, or even be pukey.
- Your mouth tastes like gasoline.
- Your heart slams so hard, you can see your shirt vibrating.
And there’s an impending sense of doom, this irrational, ugly, bottomless fear. It’s weird. Even now, as I look back, I’m like, Lmao there’s no way that actually happened.
I don’t like doctors. But during that first panic attack, I was in such an altered state, I thought I might hurt myself. It felt like there was another mind in there. So I called for a psychiatrist.
I couldn’t get the appointment. I had to be referred. And to be referred, I had to attend an appointment with a primary care physician, whose next open slot was in three weeks. I hung up and called the crisis hotline. They told me to see a psychiatrist.
By the way, if you don’t have insurance, it’s around 300 bucks for an initial consultation. (To make myself clear: that is approximately 250 hot pockets. That is a LOT of hot pockets.)
This is why people don’t get help.
And this is only the beginning of what I’ve got to say.
One last insight: Maybe “stay strong” doesn’t always apply. Maybe it’s just as important to accept that we can be weak, and still powerful beyond measure.
I’m signing off for now. I’m setting aside my blog and taking a hiatus from the social media. I’ll be back when things start falling into place, though. Until then, keep in touch by giving me a share and a thumbs up on Facebook, or by following this page using the blue menu over on the top right.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT ME. I’m still going to meetings, falling down stairs, flipping off catcallers, running from insects, and hauling ass down the street to catch the bus. Only now, all my cards are on the table. I’d like yours to be too:
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