Theoretical Thursday

I’m not suicidal. I don’t think it’s fair to say I ever  have been. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t day I wish I could just crawl in a dark hole and stay there or sleep for the next year because it’s all just too much. Today has definitely been one of those days.

The day didn’t start bad. I had a tough time getting up this morning, but hey, I’m a college student, studying science, with bad anxiety, chronic migraines, and bad allergies, and insomnia. I didn’t think anything of it.

My first class was okay, a little boring, but overall fine. Then lab which was fine. Then I had a little bit of an awkward break so I got lunch.

Then came my last class of the day. It started fine. I mean, new material and we went through a lot very quickly, but nothing crazy. Just enough that I couldn’t afford to miss any of the class. About five minutes into class it all went down hill.

My anxiety decided to make it’s favorite appearance and ended up having an anxiety attack. Thankfully it wasn’t a panic attack, but it was a pretty bad anxiety attack. The attack itself lasted maybe twenty-five minutes. But as anyone who gets anxiety attacks knows, the effects don’t end when the attack itself does. I was still dealing with heightened anxiety and the physical effects that go with it: abnormal breathing, increased sensory perception, feeling slightly detached from reality, exhaustion, abnormal body temperature fluctuations, restlessness, a little dizzy, slight tremor in my hands, and, my personal favorite for when the attacks happen in class, difficulty concentrating.

Nothing in particular set the attack off today. For those of you who get attacks a lot, we know that certain stressors are more likely to trigger an attack: fights with those we’re close to, sudden financial changes, hormonal fluctuations, etc. For me today, nothing set it off best I can tell. It was more like everything just kept building and my mind was freaking out so much that my body decided to join in. Some days it’s like an action potential: one things sets off an attack. Today was like temporal summation of graded potentials that finally hit threshold and set it off. Little things just kept coming and I wasn’t paying enough attention to notice that the anxiety was growing more acute.

So I finally walk home and thankfully my roommate was in a different lab and wasn’t home. I put on music, pulled out a handful of stories, and curled up in my bed in the cool dark. I cried for about 10 minutes, calmed down, and got ready for a lecture I had to go for the pre-med organization that I belong to.

It’s hard, forcing yourself to do things that you don’t want to. I would have been perfectly fine laying there listening to music and reading and hiding from the world. But I also knew I was still in a downward spiral from the attack in class. So I washed my face and drove back to campus for the lecture. I knew that if I forced myself to go to the meeting that it would engage my mind in things other than the overwhelming anxiety and desire to just sleep.

The worst part about having the anxiety attack is that I just feel out of it and very subdued most of the rest of that day. But I’m also very easily irritated and I tend to be extremely sarcastic and borderline rude if someone is being stupid when I’m like that. Even if they aren’t being stupid, sometimes just something they’re wearing will irrationally irritate me.

Days like this are just hard because I sit in this limbo between wanting to be alone, in the dark, and really just not in reality, and desperately needing to ground myself with other people and the outside world. But it’s hard to force myself to be around other people because I’m afraid I might get irrationally annoyed by them and make them not want to hang out with me and I can’t afford to be in a bad spot with my friends. I don’t have that many of them and I spend enough time feeling alone, I don’t need to add to it.

The biggest problem with downward spiral during/after an anxiety attack is that you start imagining what would happen if you just suddenly weren’t around. You start to theorize who would miss you and who wouldn’t notice. You start to want to go to sleep and not wake up. You consider what would happen if you just left; packed a bag and took off in your car for who knows where. You just want to be in any other situation. It’s not that you’re suicidal or that you want to die, you just don’t know how to handle reality any more. But it’s hard to talk about it because a lot of people start to assume you’re on the verge of ending you life or doing something horrific. Generally, a large number of us having these feelings aren’t suicidal, we wouldn’t actually do anything, we just need to escape into our own minds until we can handle the real world.

Theorizing what a different life would be like probably isn’t very healthy. But some days, it’s just easier than dealing with the real world until your mind can sort out your real life. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go escape into my mind for a while. I’ll be back in reality in the morning. Or in a little while. I just need to figure out reality without actually dealing with it. My brain, for as unsafe as it makes me feel some days, sending me into anxiety attacks and such. is the one totally safe place for me to be.

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