I’ll have a couple of hours of deep sleep and then wake up in a nightmare like state. What have I forgotten? Why did I say that thing I said at 10.12am to Barbara from accounts 3 weeks ago? I’m paralysed and stuck back to when I was living in hell all those years ago. Rich is next to me so my conscious knows that I’m safe, but it’s really quite hard to accept and believe it. I’m awake for the next couple of hours, closing my eyes and falling asleep for brief moments in time before I’m woken up by the crushing fear of nothing and everything all over again.
I wake up to my alarm finally at 7.30am, so I know that I did fall back into somewhat of a deep sleep at some point. When did I fall back to sleep? What time did I last look at the clock when I was awake? How much sleep did I actually get and will I be able to concentrate at work all day after very little sleep?
Chest tightens – my mind reminds me that I’m a piece of shit and will be terrible today and everyone will notice that I’m struggling and judge me for it as I proceed to get ready. I’d like to say that the first bout of anxiety of the day is the worst, but that would be a lie. The most taunting? Perhaps. And most definitely not my favourite way to start the day.
My chest remains tight as I make my journey to work. I panic about everything along the way. I’m not good enough rings through my head as I get on the train, I don’t deserve a job, career, anything that has me leave the house and I’m lucky to have it. That person writing on their notebook opposite me would do my job better and she knows it.
I get into work and make my morning coffee and forget about it all for the time being. I find a sense of normality and that debilitating feeling of everything and nothing just seems to dull. For a short while, I feel nothing, perhaps I’ve almost become detached from my body and from everything around me. I feel nothing. I feel nothing for anything and welcome the idea of being alone.
Almost like I’ve blinked and woken up here, I find myself in the toilets. Chest tight, struggling to breathe. My mind is so heavy I feel like I might just burst. Tears streaming down my face, I’m trying to be as quiet as possible so no one comes in and hears the new girl having a panic attack in the toilets. This panics me more. It’s getting more painful, is this just another panic attack or am I having a heart attack this time? Jesus, I can’t breathe. I’m screaming inside and its getting louder and louder, its piercing almost.
Somehow it ends and I wait until the toilets are empty before I wash my face and wipe any stray makeup. I return to my desk and carry on for the rest of the day as normal. Laughing along with the office jokes, and getting involved in the conversation, only… if you asked me about what happened an hour down the line then I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you because it was like I wasn’t really there.
At home that evening I’ll have another panic attack. Rich will talk me through it and remind me when I need to breathe. I might grab on and hold onto him for dear life, or I might hold onto myself and it is like he’s not there other than hearing his voice. His reminders and telling me that I’m going to be okay are almost like they’re being played out around me rather than him speaking them. That’s how detached I can get. It helps though, even if his voice was just being played out to me, his voice pierces through the attack slightly.
He will hold me and wipe my tears when it’s over. I’m unlikely to get another one that night but I feel drained. I feel like an attack is just lying in wait to happen again. The anxiety has more control than I do at this point. My head is still noisy and my chest is still tight but I can be distracted for a while. My temper is short and to be honest I’m probably not that nice to be around.
So, is this anxiety or am I just crazy?