Tonight on the way to dinner I’d barely hit the road before I felt strong anxiety coming on. I gripped the car wheel tightly at the top and, when that didn’t feel just right, moved my hands into different arrangements that never felt secure. The AC was blasting in my face and I took deep breaths over and over. I pictured my mom sitting in the kitchen eating the roasted artichokes I’d just made before I left and thought Well, that was the last time I’m ever gonna see my mom because I was about to have a seizure followed by an aneurism, swerve off the road into a guardrail and die. I don’t even remember what my dad was doing. Why didn’t we hug bye? How’re they gonna tell Rick I’m dead? I rifled around in my purse for meds at a stoplight but couldn’t find any. I’d run out. I forgot to restock. Shit. I mashed the gas and raced to my destination, knowing if I could just get to where I was going my anxiety attack would subside. I was meeting three friends for dinner – a low pressure social situation. But it was in public! There would be people there! I might ralph everywhere and humiliate myself! There might be extremely bothersome fluorescent lights! There would! There might! This is it, sorry for wrecking your Lexus mom and dad, bye mom and dad! Did I just begin to drift? No that’s my imagination. No, no, no. Am I here? Is this it? Thank god. I pulled into a parking space, concluding an experience that was not unlike the Willy Wonka boat ride from hell.
If booze is handy when my meds aren’t, I cruise into the self-medication zone. When I get a cocktail down, usually my anxiety-induced nausea subsides and my heart slows down. When I ordered a drink with my friends tonight, though, it didn’t work. I put my forehead in my hands and ran my hands across my head and over my hair over and over. I fiddled with my fingers. I told them I couldn’t relax. I admitted I self-medicate w booze. They understood my plight and, while it’s not great, I do what I can to survive when I genuinely think death is imminent.
My mental unrest never receded tonight. Even as I type I feel jumpy and my brain seems to be 1-2 seconds behind my actions, which alarms me. What’s wrong with me? At the same time, my body is exhausted, completely spent after being tense for so many hours, unconsciously holding my muscles tight while in survival mode.
A regular ole Tuesday, folks, imagining the last time I’ll ever see my parents over and over and over. With artichokes!
Written on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.
Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: No, You Don’t “Have Anxiety”
Mental Health: Psychiatrists
Mental Health: Compassion Fatigue and Hyper-Empathy
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