Posts tagged with "anxiety"

Thoughts On Missing A Play

In post war England, an immi­nent mur­der is announced in the local paper. A mur­der does occur, but not the one expect­ed and it is Miss Marple who comes to the res­cue to solve the mys­ti­fy­ing case.

Two tick­ets, but I’m on the down­swing. It’s the intro­vert­ed end of my cycle and I can’t meet new peo­ple or go out­side with­out feel­ing some kind of anx­i­ety. I used to live two blocks away from the the­atre, pass­ing it many times but nev­er in atten­dance. I always kept an eye out for a play I want­ed to see — Equus, or Hamlet, or Picasso at the Lapin Agile — but noth­ing piqued my inter­est. This time, the oppor­tu­ni­ty pre­sent­ed itself, Pearl dou­ble-booked with extra tick­ets, and I could­n’t say no.

I force myself to go.

It’s a lit­tle warm to be wear­ing a blaz­er, but noth­ing else affords me the pock­ets for my Moleskine, pen, lens cloth, and iPod. Waiting at the bus stop, I write.

At this time on a Sunday, I’m usu­al­ly wind­ing down. Taking out the garbage, doing the dish­es, fin­ish­ing off an entry, get­ting things squared away for anoth­er week. Instead, I’m head­ing out. For days I’ve been try­ing to write about how jum­bled I feel. There have been new devel­op­ments, both good and bad, leav­ing me with a mix­ture of excite­ment and dis­ap­point­ment. The most I can say is that it makes sense, how I feel, and I can trace every emo­tion to a cause.

The bus comes. On it, I lis­ten to my music but I can’t get in the right head space. Nothing fits. I’m not feel­ing sad, or hap­py, or jad­ed, or ener­getic. I skip song after song.

Stepping off the bus, my ago­ra­pho­bia begins to choke me.

Continue read­ing “Thoughts On Missing A Play”…

No More Tea

Thumbnail: Hong Kong milk tea with menu

Walking in, the first thing to notice is the aro­mat­ic smell of fresh­ly brewed tea that per­me­ates the air.

They wait on us using Cantonese with var­i­ous accents, an assort­ment of dialects from minor provinces. They rude­ly throw the dish­es on the table, and tell me that I can’t take pic­tures of the menu. My par­ents com­plain to me about the ser­vice, about their main­land man­ners, and say that they’ll nev­er come here again.

I slow­ly sip my tea, and leave before it’s half fin­ished. Even on a full stom­ach, I can feel myself get­ting uneasy.

The caf­feine is mak­ing me anx­ious, a sub­tle reminder of the pan­ic attack I suf­fered last year.

It’s been six months since I’ve had a glass of authen­tic Hong Kong style milk tea. No more, I’ve decid­ed.

Saturday morn­ings won’t be the same.

Awakening: Cause

Worry does not emp­ty tomor­row of sor­row — it emp­ties today of strength.

—Corrie ten Boom

It start­ed with a sin­gle pan­ic attack, at work, in the mid­dle of the day.

Heart rac­ing, dif­fi­cul­ty breath­ing, par­a­lyz­ing ter­ror, fear that I was about to die.

If you’ve ever had a bad trip off psilo­cybe, or mag­ic mush­rooms, the effects are very sim­i­lar. Not that I’ve ever had a good one. Half an hour into inges­tion, I start to feel nau­se­at­ed. At the back of my head there’s a creep­ing sense that some­thing is wrong. My hands start to trem­ble, my mind feels like it’s shud­der­ing. Eventually, there’s a com­plete uneasi­ness in the body, both phys­i­cal­ly and men­tal­ly. Around that time, the body reacts quick­ly to rid the stom­ach of what­ev­er is caus­ing these symp­toms, and vio­lent­ly ejects them in the form of vom­it­ing. Stems and caps come out as dark brown flecks, and you won­der how eat­ing some­thing so small thing can make you feel so ter­ri­ble.

But with a pan­ic attack, there’s no expla­na­tion. No sense of pre­ven­tion. No float­ing fun­gus in the pool of your toi­let you can point your fin­ger at and say, “I’m nev­er doing THAT again”.

It comes with­out warn­ing, with­out obvi­ous rea­son. All you want is to end the attack. To crawl into a cor­ner and hide. To tear off your stran­gling clothes. To die.

Afterward, you’re not won­der­ing what you’re going to lis­ten to on the way home, or how to get the atten­tion of that cutie in the porce­lain depart­ment, or when you’ll have time to go buy more sham­poo. All you’re think­ing about is when the next one will hap­pen. All you’re left with is a bunch of ques­tions and a sense of insta­bil­i­ty. I have my sus­pi­cions, but I’ve cho­sen not to write about them until I’m cer­tain, some­thing which I believe will come in time. There’s no sim­ple diag­no­sis, no easy answer.

Recently, sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered that the word “wheeze” can acti­vate asth­ma attacks in asth­mat­ics. The mind trig­gers an asso­ci­at­ed emo­tion­al response, and the body man­i­fests the reac­tion. It’s the same after a pan­ic attack. Sometimes, peo­ple with pan­ic dis­or­der can bring on an attack just wor­ry­ing or think­ing too much about it.

Not that I have a dis­or­der. The fear of an attack isn’t detri­men­tal enough to stunt me social­ly, and does­n’t pre­vent me from func­tion­ing as what the DSM IV would con­sid­er “nor­mal”. It was only a sin­gle episode, but habit of con­stant self-eval­u­a­tion means that the threat of it hap­pen­ing again is always there. It’s in the back of my mind whether I’m at work, or play­ing games, or cook­ing din­ner. Every minute of every day becomes a strug­gle not to think about it. And when you know you feel like dying dur­ing an attack, you start to won­der whether it’s worth liv­ing at all.

People face this ques­tion when they’re diag­nosed with ter­mi­nal ill­ness­es. Told that they have only have a few years left, they live more in those num­bered days than they do in their entire lives until then.

They awak­en.

The Awakening Series

  1. Introduction
  2. Cause
  3. The Reborn Dreamer