Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Why I bother.

What exactly happens to me when I have a panic attack - and I've had them since was a teen, at least - is hard to pinpoint and hard to describe. I've tried to reason it in and out of therapy a million times. It can't just be that I get the urge to call someone a dozen times too many. It can't just be that I'm trying to bother someone. It can't just be that I'm in the mood to be all dramatic and mess up my friendships.

Something usually happens that disrupts me. Like I'm feeling sick, or someone doesn't return a phone call. Or someone says something a certain way to me, like they say goodbye to me at the beginning of a 20-minute drive home, and it just sets me off to worry or wonder what's wrong or fret and talk about it or fret and sulk or fret and lash out or just fret and fret some more.

Then, all my fears hit me, the reasonable and the unreasonable and the worst-case scenarios, and the loneliness surrounds me. And I want to talk to someone about it, feel safe about it, but I can't seem to reach anyone. Friends aren't available. The therapist's only got voicemail.

Even sometimes when I rationally *know* everything's fine, something *feels* wrong. If I reach someone, and they ask me what's wrong, I'll tell them, "Nothing, really." Which is true. And they'll wonder why I called. I called because, for a moment or for a day, I don't feel safe or I don't feel secure. And I know I should know better than to bug someone. The tiny, little slight that caused my freakout is tiny and little, but everything - for a minute or for longer - feels just doomed.

And I sit on my couch, and I've been sitting there for 20 minutes, not moving. Or I start to talk aloud to myself. Or I sit in my parked car for longer than I should, perplexed and unable to move forward at all. I list in my head all the people who I could talk to, and none of them are available or none of them want to hear my bullshit. Because it really all just is bullshit, I think. I *know* it's minor, even though it *feels* major, and I come off like the Boy Who Cried Wolf. I *know* it's minor, but I can't stop feeling the panic, anyway. That makes it even more frustrating.

I'm diagnosed as obsessive, which I wish meant that I kept a cleaner apartment. I don't obsess about germs. I obsess about people, where I stand with them or if I'm liked or how I seem. I have *safe* friendships, friendships that I feel secure in or friendships that I trust and don't worry about. These friendships don't usually cause me to make a dozen, panicked phone calls, which I am occasionally prone to do, but these friendships are the ones that I can turn to when I just need to calm down. I've not learned yet just to go to sleep when I have a panic attack or am unreasonably depressed about someone. If they happen in the early evening, I'm stubborn and don't want to sleep, thinking that maybe someone who can help me (and that changes, based upon situation) will just call. If they happen late, I think that I can figure out what's wrong and, to some degree, "solve it."

Usually, though, I just have to be by myself and relax a bit and wait out the paranoiac worry, wait for my brain to regain its reasoning. I always think it'd be easier if I could just hold someone's hand during it, but that's not the best course of action.

I've been off my pills, which don't stop the panic attacks but do stop me from being so antsy or edgy, for over four months. I don't like being on my pills. Last night, I thought I might need them again. I think I maybe do.

What caused the panic last night was that I feel I've lost a friendship. I feel almost certain that it's changed, that it's gone and that it's all my fault. There is no evidence to suggest that things have changed or ended, in fact there's evidence to the contrary, but I feel like I've tested too many boundaries or become entirely too unreasonable. Last night, the conflict in my head culminated with me intentionally having to lose some people's phone numbers so that I wouldn't call them too much ever again. Not that it should matter to me, even though it does, I don't think they want to hear from me, anyway.

In a panic, things happen suddenly. Moods change quickly. My manners go out the window. My tact disappears. I'm at the mercy of whomever I'm on the phone with or in front of or trying desperately to impress, and I don't have complete control over where my mind goes.

There are differences between what I *know* and how I *feel.* People who think I'm too smart to do the stupid things I occasionally do maybe don't fathom the level of disconnect that goes on between my reason and my emotions.

I worry. I worry and worry and worry. And I get frustrated. And I yell at people or yell at myself. (When I was much, much younger, I would freak out, cry and beat myself with my fists upside the head. One time, my mother had to hold me still because I was inconsolable, screaming about how I didn't trust "the future." I've gotten more disciplined and controlled since then. Trust that I'm much better nowadays.)

It's hard for me to understand the "drama," as people sometimes call it that. That makes it sound like I'm faking it or embellishing it. I basque, sometimes, in having a story to tell, and I know that. But when I've worked myself into some kind of unnecessary frenzy that I know is beyond reason, the "drama" is not fun for me. The feelings are real. The worry is real. I feel the tension in my shoulders or the pit in my stomach. Knowing I'm being completely ridiculous - yet not being able to completely quiet the fears in my head - is not fun.

The minor causes of my latest freakout have been mostly clarified. Things like that just happen. As I said, I rested on it, and things looked better in the morning. I've taken the necessary precautions to establish better boundaries between me and my friends, after worrying over it for a couple days and, worse, spending a rainy Fourth ill and in the company of my mother. And it would be better for me if I naturally knew just to *do* something, without narrating that I'm doing it. But I don't always work things out the way I should.

Once the panic's over and I'm done being embarrassed about it, that's when I usually can be better off by myself. Right now, it still kinda feels like I'm trying to explain myself or that I'm making dumb excuses for behaving like an ass.

It's odd. A couple weeks ago, the things that bugged me weren't even factors in my existence. A couple weeks from now, my panic attack will probably just strike me as really silly.

This is how it always happens.

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