Back-to-Back Attacks

Sitting on the couch at 3:42, feeling my hands shake and my heart race, curious to the cause but knowing the answer. “I need to eat” I mutter to myself. Counting the hours on two hands between the last time I ate something, knowing very well the caffeine is feeling stronger due to my empty stomach and the lightheadedness won’t be far off if I don’t consume anything soon. But I know I do not have the time for a meal.

Wandering into the kitchen, opening a jar of peanut butter, breaking apart pieces of a graham cracker to dip within, “that’s high enough in calories, right?” I internally ask myself. I reach for a spoon, dipping it into a jar of honey as I realize the soreness in my throat is stronger than yesterday. “Are the weather changes bothering me this much?” then I remembered the multitude of times I screamed this morning.

The anxiety attacks are growing more frequent. I constantly feel overwhelmed. I wonder if it is like drowning, but I am not trying to gasp for air. It is a weight on my chest which will not let up, it grows heavier with every passing moment. “How many more weeks of this?”, I reach for my phone to count, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Eight more weeks. I question if I should make these next eight weeks a timeline for self-improvement. “Yoga daily?…but where is the time”, I barely have enough hours in the day for sleep, and even then I’m awoken by thoughts so strong I swear they’re real. “Yes, that will be done”, “the formula must be like this”, there’s never a break, my weekends are startled awake at 4 AM unsure of if I need to begin getting ready. The jerking reaction occurs at least three more times.

I can see myself pulling away, text responses are growing shorter. “Yeah”, “okay”, “sure”, “thanks”, “I’m just working”. I know I’m growing distant from those who make an effort to show they care. The intent is not purposeful, but I know my energy cannot be expelled anywhere other than work. “If I have a conversation on this it will branch into that, I will spend hours over small talk when there is barely enough time to breathe deeply”. It’s ironic, pouring hours on end into the thing I hate. Working so hard to stay off social media and technology due to its toxicity, due to the horrid ways it makes me feel. Yet here I am attached as if it were a lifeline when I am ever so vigilant about removing the intravenous from my veins.

It feels like quicksand. Removing one part of myself out from its grip, studying the horrid effects on everything it touches. Finally feeling free, then realizing it has snuck its way into another aspect of my life, pulling me down even faster as I struggle harder, wishing to be removed.

Is it worth it, I’m constantly asking myself this. It’s not, I know it, but I have to push through. Eight weeks is not long. I tell myself I’ll use the money to better myself, workout classes, spa days, but as soon as I receive it the amount it’s sliding through my hands without a pause being spent before it hits my account as the time this process consumes from my life is being taken from making dinner or requiring additional lattes simply to keep me awake.

I know it is not worth it. As my anxieties increase I grow more disturbed. There are images in my mind which won’t leave. Ones that terrify me, making it harder to sleep. Imagery of the post traumatizing moments with those I care for deeply, on the cusp of life and death. I want it to end. Isn’t it crazy how my mind can race hundreds of miles per minute from this anxiety yet the most crippling imagery I wish to wash from my mind remains stagnant.

I reach for help. “Please, I need you. Can you tell me a story to keep these thoughts away from my mind?”, listening to a familiar voice. But I feel the tension growing within, the words come out before I can process “no not that, something that’ll help me, distract me”. My attitude feels out of my control. I’ve been here before. I’ve burned bridges and dented relationships in this state. I do not wish to be here again. I am not fond of this person, but I know she will not leave my body until the pressure is lifted from my chest. But the pressure will not be lifted until I have set myself free. Eight more weeks, “how long has it been?”…one, two, three. “I’ve done three”…”I’m 27% there, slightly over a quarter”. “I can do this, I can do this” but just how much damage will be caused over the course of the remaining eight weeks. I do not know.

I breathe deeply and hope not much. The lesson learned from all of this is to trust my gut. Do not take on more which my knee jerk reaction believes to be an excess of what I am capable of. 56 days, averaging 2-3 anxiety attacks per day, 140 more to survive. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. “It will be okay”

-M.S.

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